Sadik-Khan Introduces the New York City Model


DOT revealed its "Sustainable Streets" strategic plan last night, in the very same room where the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign held its kick-off event a little more than two years ago. Once again, Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was there. Here are excerpts from the presentation by Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who says that, rather than duplicate the livable streets efforts of cities like London, Paris and Copenhagen, her agency intends to implement "the New York City Model" of sustainable transportation and urban design.

Even so, one hears echoes of Danish planning superstar Jan Gehl when Sadik-Khan says DOT plans to "treat streets as valuable public places, rather than utilitarian corridors." Not that this is a bad thing.

Initial reaction to the DOT’s green blueprint, though, has been mixed. While praising "Sustainable Streets" for its forward-thinking objectives, Transportation Alternatives sees shortcomings in the lack of "a clear street user hierarchy" that would prioritize pedestrians and cyclists above motorists when it comes to design and management. TA notes, for example, that 90 percent of planned bus and bike lanes will be protected from other traffic by paint alone. In a written statement, TA also makes the case for an accelerated timeline:

By pushing the completion of many key goals off to 2030, the DOT is underestimating its own ability and making it much harder for T.A. and other watchdogs to hold the next two administrations accountable. Even with current rates of progress, there is no reason why the DOT cannot halve traffic fatalities, complete the bike network, and traffic-calm streets around city schools by 2015.

That said, also in attendance last night were NYC Transit Chief Howard Roberts, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and TLC Commish Matthew Daus. Their presence seems indicative of a burgeoning level of cooperation among city agencies, the first sign of which came a couple of weeks ago when Sadik-Khan and Roberts made their expansive joint BRT presentation. At that time, Sadik-Khan announced that Kelly has pledged an NYPD unit dedicated to bus lane enforcement. If this is any indication, at least DOT won’t be hemmed in by other bureaucracies as it carries out its mission.

We’ll have ongoing coverage and analysis of the new DOT doc. In the meantime, if you’ve seen it, give us your impressions.

  • It seems clear that when the Commish says she’s following the “New York City Model,” she means she will not lock herself into a set of goals or methods reflected by Copenhagen or Paris but instead will implement whatever she and the rest of the administration decide is the “New York City Model.” This is consistent with the TA analysis that the extended timelines and the general incrementalism of many of the measures, without an overarching paradigm shift as to mode hierarchy, means it will be all to easy for subsequent administrations to change course.

    All that said, this is clearly a good program and hopefully the beneficiaries of the incremental changes–pedestrians, neighborhood residents and bicyclists–will become energized to fight for the continuation of the sustainable streets program (and the Sadik-Khan Commissionership) after Mayor Bloomberg is out.

  • gecko

    A “Towards Zero Deaths Initiative” and 500,000 cycling commuters overnight as during the transit strike would be something to really crow about.

    Of course, halving the mortality rate is something.

  • Anarcissie

    If the city administration wants a lot of people to start using bicycles for commuting, they are going to have to do something more serious about making space for them than painting bicycle lanes which are neither observed nor enforced. So far it seems that they are going through the more obvious motions — painting lines on some streets — while avoiding anything substantial and therefore costly. Certainly the private automobile’s position as the pinnacle of the social order of the streets has yet to be challenged.

  • Transit Guy

    Obviously, you still want them to go further, and see more transformational rather than incremental improvements. I’m right there with you. From North Carolina, however, please recognize that we would KILL to have someone high up in NCDOT **understand** what this talented person is saying, let alone speak it.

    For a moment, pat yourselves on the back for how your advocacy has made a public statement like this possible in America. Don’t underestimate how far out ahead of the curve you guys are right now.

  • Jacob

    Let us not forget that the automobile takeover of streets did not happen overnight; a sidewalk narrowed here, a street turned one-way there. It happened so gradually at first, that no single project truly galvanized enough opposition to reverse the tide. Sometime between defeating LOMEX and rebuilding the subways, the tide was slowed. Now it is shifting the other way, and we are turning parking lots into plazas and car lanes into bike lanes. Let us build on this momentum and gradually reallocate and innovate our space. The tide is in our favor, but let’s not galvanize opposition by overreaching.

  • gecko

    Jacob, Automobiles kill and mame to dominate urban streets in complete abrogation of civil liberties.

    The ultimate symbol of the dangerous, wasteful consumerism and stupidity of our time, they have no place in an immediate future dominated by attempts to mitigate and adapt to a climate change crisis of accelerating proportions.

  • New York City model: when a car blocks a bike or bus lane, it is surrounded by pedestrians yelling: “Geddadaheah, ya creep!”

    (Joke: everyone on the list should know how much I love NY.)

  • Gargamel Traflaz

    I love playing Tuesday morning quarterback as much as the rest, but let’s not forget where we were just a few years ago. I know just about any livable streets advocate in NYC would be pleased if you told them two years ago we would have a progressive city attempting innovative solutions and have the cooperation of a DOT who you didn’t have to fight just to get a bike lane here or there.

    Nothing wrong with criticism of course, but allow yourself to be happy while wanting more!

  • gecko

    Gargamel, Two years ago we did not have tornadoes in Brooklyn and Virginia. I guess we can be happy we did not have one here today. Come on everyone be happy!

  • gecko

    A “Towards Zero Deaths Initiative” and one-half million cycling commuters emerging overnight could well provide the tipping point for morphing this city towards being truly carbon neutral or even carbon negative and a global onslaught of scale-appropriate actions to start mitigating global warming.

  • Jeffrey Hymen

    I love the juxtaposition of comments five and six. Some times we are our own worst enemy.

  • AaronJ

    Apparently there is no word in the plan about car-free parks. It remains hard for me to believe that the City is serious about any of this when it remains unwilling to take this basic, obvious, first step. Can the politically savvy readers of Streetsblog enlighten me as to where the opposition to car-free parks is coming from, and how it might be countered?

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Can the politically savvy readers of Streetsblog enlighten me as to where the opposition to car-free parks is coming from, and how it might be countered?)

    In Brooklyn, it comes from people in areas south and east of Prospect Park who work in Downtown Brooklyn and drive to work. The entire Brooklyn political class, in other words. A tiny minority of the borough, but a solid majority of the limited number of people who count.

    Those on the other side, however, are also a minority, and could be potrayed as the “rich” of Park Slope — who are packed into one bedroom apartments and ride the subway — against the “middle class” who have parking permits, cars, suburban-type homes, health insurance, and tax-free pensions.

  • Jacky Marissa

    Janette is this yours ? 187 62 7643 someone gave it to me

  • Jacky Marissa

    Hi janette just making sure I have the right person here. This post is old. Do u have any connection with David de blasio ??? If so, one of your employees gave me your social security number. I’m a stripper that he owes a large amount of money to for my services . Is there any way we can handle this??? Please contact me. The person I’m looking for his name is Scott cell 2673405361

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