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Guest on The Infra Blog: Janette Sadik-Khan, Author, Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution

Posted by Steve Anderson on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Janette Sadik-Khan - Photo by Olugbenro PhotgraphyJanette Sadik-Khan is one of the world’s foremost authorities on transportation and urban transformation. She served as New York City’s transportation commissioner from 2007 to 2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, overseeing historic changes to the city’s streets—closing Broadway to cars in Times Square, building nearly 400 miles of bike lanes and creating more than 60 plazas citywide. A founding principal with Bloomberg Associates, she works with mayors around the world to reimagine and redesign their cities. She chairs the National Association of Transportation Officials (NACTO), implementing new, people-focused street design standards, which have been adopted in 40 cities across the continent. She lives in New York City.

Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution
Streetfight is a handbook for urban revolution because it is the story about the transformative power of streets and the future of cities. The book shows how to read the street and rewrite the road, and it shows how investing in infrastructure for walking and biking and buses can help traffic move better, and make the streets safer and better for business. To build the cities that we need for the future it’s going to take more than an evolution, it requires a revolution.

Moving Beyond Car-Centric Cities
Mobility choices—making it easier to walk and bike and take the bus—they’re not lifestyle amenities, they’re really investments in the safety and economy of a city. And so it’s really important to move fast. It doesn’t take years and years to get these kinds of changes done, and it doesn’t take billions of dollars or megaprojects to make your city better. Instead of endlessly debating theoretical changes, I think you can try a project on in the short term and see how it works. There is nothing more powerful than the proof of the possible on the ground.

Progress Is Visible Around the Country
In New York City in the six years under Mayor Mike Bloomberg we put in almost 400 miles of bike lanes, we put in seven rapid bus lines, we put in 60 pedestrian plazas, and launched the largest bike-share system in North America…Houston and Los Angeles are in a surface-transit renaissance. You’re seeing plazas in places like Chicago and San Francisco and Boston and Atlanta, and you’re seeing protected bike paths showing up in car-dominated cities all over, and they’re not just for riders but they actually make the streets much safer for everyone whether you’re walking, whether you’re biking or whether you’re taking the bus.

A New Road Order: Recognizing the Potential of Our Streets
What we’ve found in New York City is that it is possible to integrate transit and biking and walking and driving, and they can play well together if you don’t make them fight over the scraps. I think you’re seeing cities and city leaders really looking differently at their streets and discovering the incredible opportunities that have been hidden in plain sight in the asphalt for decades…I think the future of cities depends on the decisions that we make today on how to use them more effectively and more efficiently.

Making Streets Work Better for Everyone
What we’ve seen is that people really want to be in places, whether they’re young or old, that are safe, that are fun, where the quality of life is good and they’ve got lots of ways to get around that don’t involve driving…I think that what we need to do is also update our cities and update our streets to reflect the way that people want to use them…And streets make up a quarter or more of the public space in cities, so they’re really our front yards, but most people don’t even think about the way they’re designed. And so what we’ve seen is that we can remake them, reclaim them, redesign them so that they work better for everyone.

Download full version (PDF): Janette Sadik-Khan on The Infra Blog

Street Fight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution

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