Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New York Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan

“One of the good legacies of Robert Moses is that, because he paved so much, we’re able to reclaim it and reuse it,” she says. “It’s sort of like Jane Jacobs’s revenge on Robert Moses.” - Janette Sadik-Khan New York Magazine

Last night I had the opportunity to attended a lecture called “Learn from New York.” The lecture is part of a larger Shifting Gear Series put on by the SFU City Program. New York’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan gave the lecture about transportation in NYC and their new focus on sustainable transportation. It was a packed house.

Janette Sadik-Khan is an avid cyclist and that show in what’s happening at the NYC DOT. The DOT is no longer planning around moving cars as fast as possible, but focusing on creating complete street that are safe and accessible to all. Janette Sadik-Khan said that New York is expecting an additional 1 million people to move into the city in the next decade or so, and sees cycling as a major component for getting people around. From the DOT website:
In June 2009, the NYC Department of Transportation completed the City’s ambitious goal of building 200 bike-lane miles in all five boroughs in just three years, nearly doubling the citywide on-street bike network while reshaping the city’s streets to make them safer for everyone who uses them. The same period also saw unprecedented expansion and innovation of the overall network, including the installation of 4.9 miles of bike paths physically separated from car traffic lanes, 20 sheltered bike parking structures and 3,100 bike racks, accompanied by a more than 45% growth in commuter cycling in that time.
The great thing about most of these improvements is that they are cost effective and mostly involved repainting lines on the road and placing planters on the street.

To encourage cycling further, New York City has passed legislation that requires all new buildings to have inside bike parking and old commercial buildings to have inside bike parking provided if requested by tenants. New York is giving Portland a run for its money in becoming the bike capital of North America. During QA time, the first question was “What is one thing that Vancouver could learn from New York?” The answer was to build separated bike lanes!

Another great that has coming out of NYC DOT is their new Street Design Manual. At last night’s lecture Sadik-Khan said that New York is partnering with other city to come up with a urban street manual that will replace Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices issued by the US Federal Highway Administration. She said that the MUTCD is too heavily focused on designing for highway and is not too relevant in modern, 21st century cities.

Anyway, check out New York DOT’s website which contains a wealth of information on their Sustainable Streets Plan.

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