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New York Times article "Taking Back the Streets"

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  • Christopher Miller
    From the New York Times, 6 April 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/nyregion/thecity/06stre.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=woonerf&st=nyt&oref=slogin Taking Back the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 10, 2008
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      From the New York Times, 6 April 2008:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/nyregion/thecity/06stre.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=woonerf&st=nyt&oref=slogin

      Taking Back the Streets

      By JEFF BYLES
      Published: April 6, 2008
      NEW YORK’S streets are as gritty as the city’s reputation, traffic-
      clogged canyons of concrete where New Yorkers, on foot and in
      vehicles, jostle and growl, exulting all the while. Stared down a
      Hummer lately? Yet there is a growing desire to tame New York’s 5,800
      miles of streets, sidewalks and highways, which constitute the city’s
      principal social space.

      The most highly publicized effort is Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion
      pricing proposal, which was approved by the City Council on Monday and
      as of Friday evening was awaiting a vote by the State Legislature. But
      ideas for calming New York’s historically hectic streets go far beyond
      congestion pricing. Those ideas, moreover, seem to signal a shift in
      the basic thinking of what streets are for.

      “For decades, the Department of Transportation’s job has been to move
      vehicles as quickly as possible,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the
      agency’s commissioner. “We’re taking a look at it a little bit
      differently now. There is a tremendous hunger for what we can do to
      make it easier for people to get around, to improve the quality of our
      streets and plazas, to make it easier for people to linger.”

      These street reformers — planners, architects and urban officials from
      around the globe — are questioning the conventional street-curb-
      sidewalk motif, challenging the dominance of cars, and devising ways
      to use street furniture, plants and even radical new vehicles to
      transform the experience of the street.

      While they do not necessarily agree on the particulars, the advocates
      often share an excitement, a feeling of being present at the creation.

      “Let’s go to the next level,” said Ethan Kent, vice president of the
      Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit group based in Manhattan, “to
      create great streets that really draw out the life of the communities
      they’re meant to serve.”

      Here are 10 ideas, some modest and some ambitious, some already in
      place and others just a gleam in the eye, that the new crop of urban
      dreamers are proposing.

      (...)

      The article continues for two more web pages to discuss the ideas,
      captioned woonerfs (residential courtyard-streets), play streets,
      bicycle boulevards, pavement hierarchy, green grid, mental speed
      bumps, swaled sreets, lanescapes, gentle congestion and urban
      acupuncture.

      Christopher Miller
      Montreal QC Canada
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