Sources say that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will name the replacement for outgoing Department of Transportation commissioner Iris Weinshall later this week. Word has it the job may be going to Kate Ascher.
Ascher currently works as executive vice president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation. She received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in government from the London School of Economics and her B.A. in political science from Brown University. Prior to her job at EDC she served as assistant director of the Port at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Ascher is also the author of one of my favorite books about New York City, The Works: Anatomy of a City. The Works diagrams, illustrates and lays bare the vast array of interconnected systems required to keep New York City up and running.
Read into this what you will but The Works very first chapter is called "Moving People" and the first section of that chapter is "Streets." If you didn’t know any better, reading that chapter, you’d think that New York City’s Department of Transportation is actually the Department of Reckless Driver Enforcement, Pedestrian Safety & Traffic Calming.
So, who knows? Maybe Ascher doesn’t realize that these great pedestrian-oriented ideas are actually only a pretty minor part of DOT’s operations as things currently stand. Or maybe this good stuff would emerge as the focus of an Ascher DOT. Either way, her book is great. Here are some illustrations from The Works…