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Janette Sadik-Khan: A Reason to Love NYC in 2007

11:32 AM EST on December 17, 2007

New York Magazine's third annual "Reasons to Love New York City" issue hits newsstands this week. Reason #35? "Because the Head of the Department of Transportation is a Cycling Radical." While I'm not so sure that's a completely accurate description of the Commish, Anthony Weiss nicely sums up the change underway at DOT:

Nobody in New York City controls as much public space as the Department of Transportation, and for the first five and a half years of the Bloomberg administration, the DOT was what it has always been—a large, dull bureaucracy dedicated to moving cars and trucks around town. Run mostly by engineers, the DOT treated streets as an engineering problem: How do you move as many motor vehicles as possible, as quickly as possible? The streets themselves have mostly remained grim, unattractive, and (ironically) jammed.

But recently, the DOT has been championing some very un-DOT ideas. It has replaced parking lots and traffic lanes with chairs and umbrellas in Dumbo and the meatpacking district and installed a new, physically separated bike lane on Ninth Avenue; it is pushing the mayor's controversial congestion-pricing plan; and, in a symbolic act, it has given over three parking spots by the Bedford Avenue L stop to bike racks. Taken together, it's as if the department has awakened to the idea that streets belong to people, not their vehicles.

The difference can be summed up in one name: Janette Sadik-Khan...

Photo: Randy Harris

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