Last year, everyone made a huge deal about the new pedestrian zones in Times Square and Herald Square. This doesn't really affect New Yorkers though, because most of us avoid these heavily-trafficked areas whenever possible. You know what affects NY pedestrians more than cars? SLOW MOVING TOURISTS.-
Times Square is one thing: if tourists want to walk as if a vat of jello is impeding their rapid forward motion that's fine. Let them stop in their tracks to take a picture of every single member of their family--individually--in front of a taxi cab. Let them inspect every single faux-grafitti'd "NYC" baseball hat being sold in identical stands along Seventh Avenue. Let them wait like a herd of Wildebeest at a street crossing, even when there is NO CAR IN SIGHT. Times Square is their territory.
The real problem begins when they cross down into ours.
When tourists venture out of Times Square into places where ACTUAL New Yorkers have to ACTUALLY get places, the meandering becomes a problem. And we get annoyed. And say "Ex-CUSE me!" as we shove by them, perpetuating the stereotype of New Yorkers are rude, unfeeling people.
Tourists on the right can examine every gum-stain on the sidewalk at their leisure, and New Yorkers can smile pleasantly as they walk by, their punctuality not impeded by people on vacation.
If you REALLY want to improve the quality of life for New Yorkers, work on that, Mayor Bloomberg.