New York City plans to install more than 1,500 protective barriers in high-profile locations to guard against vehicle attacks and other terror-related incidents.
The effort, unveiled Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is part of a $50 million investment in security infrastructure after vehicles were used to mow down pedestrians in 2017. Known as bollards, the cylindrical metal posts will replace concrete barriers that went up on sidewalks after vehicle-related attacks in Times Square and Lower Manhattan.
“In 2017, New Yorkers witnessed the horrible capacity of people willing to do us harm, whether it was in our subways, on our bike paths or in Times Square,” de Blasio said. “But we will not be cowed, and our expanded investment today in barriers and bollards in our public spaces underscores our resolve in keeping New York City safe from future attacks.”
The increased security measures come as the trend of cars as lethal weapons grows ever more common. On Dec. 21, the driver of an SUV plowed into Christmas shoppers in Melbourne, Australia, injuring 18.
In New York, eight people were killed and almost a dozen injured in October when a man drove a rented pickup truck down a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center. Five months earlier, a man drove his car through crowded sidewalks in Times Square, leaving one person dead and 20 injured. In between those incidents, a motorist in Barcelona killed 13 people in August as he drove a van down Las Ramblas, a popular tourist walkway.
“We have witnessed an increase in pedestrian injuries and fatalities as vehicles are increasingly being used as weapons to carry out attacks,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat said in a statement. “Safety bollards saves lives and help in our efforts to strengthen safety measures along sidewalks, popular tourist destinations, and high pedestrian traffic areas.”
Bollards already dot pedestrian plazas around Times Square thanks to a $50 million capital project completed in late 2016. The latest injection of funds will add more bollards to the iconic New Years Eve destination and expand their presence throughout the city.
The city conducted a review of locations, including business corridors, tourist attractions and iconic sites, to identify and prioritize locations for the protective barriers.
Starting this month, the temporary concrete barriers will be replaced by what the city described as “more attractive temporary blocks” before installation of the permanent metal bollards begins in March. The installation is expected to last over the next few years.