New York Times article "Taking Back the Streets"
- From the New York Times, 6 April 2008:
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
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