When it comes to the rules of the road, most of us tend to ascribe streets an almost monolithic function: to get cars from point A to point B in the fastest and most efficient way possible. This makes sense, right? When we're driving we want to get where we're going as fast as possible, so why shouldn't we design streets and intersections in ways that help facilitate that expediency?
That's the same logic that has dictated official transportation policy in many cities for the last few decades, and it all rests on a base assumption that has gone unchallenged for years: that streets belong to cars. That was all until one urban visionary challenged the stasis by asking a simple question: What if we build streets for people?
While none of the ideas or concepts are new, the rate of adoption and implementation is what makes New York stand out, and is what elevated Sadik-Khan to urban celebrity status. Sadik-Khan led the charge in laying hundreds of miles of bike lanes and transforming largely trafficked commercial areas into public plazas within such a short time frame, that she forever transformed not only the streetscape of the city, but challenged the notion that urban change must be slow and fractional to be widely accepted.
|After: The pedestrianization of Broadway has created a much safer environment for pedestrians without detrimentally affecting vehicle traffic in the district. We are currently planning great free events from fitness to music in these spaces too.|
Janette Sadik-Khan just released her new book, Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, detailing her fight for more livable streets. We hope to see more of her ideas implemented not only in our district, but worldwide.
Check out our other Women's History Month post celebrating Jane Jacobs' contribution to Bryant Park's operating philosophy.