Taking Back the Streets

By Richard Florida

New York Magazine's Michael Crowley profiles NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan's effort to take back the city's streets from the automobile (pointer via Brian Knudsen).

[E]ven though the Broadway plan has been pitched as a way to ameliorate traffic, it's apparent when touring Times Square with Sadik-Khan that the planning problem that most animates her is not car congestion but people congestion. 'This is a plan to pedestrianize a street, not to mitigate traffic,' says someone who has discussed it with DOT officials. 'This was a plan about greening New York, outdoor space, and seating. It was almost a happy accident that they found that traffic could be mitigated.'  In this offhand remark one can see Sadik-Khan's truly revolutionary vision. She has fashioned herself the city's streets commissioner, rather than the city's traffic commissioner, and has not been shy about imposing a vision of the 21st-century street that seizes it back from the automobile. '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.'"

As Matt Yglesias notes, most Manhattanites don't depend on, or even own, cars. Still the streets are clogged with them - mostly from commuters or so-called "bridge and tunnels." Closing off parts of Broadway is terrific. Now it's time to get some real congestion pricing in place.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2009/05/taking-back-the-streets/18307/