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Guest on The Infra Blog: Janette Sadik-Khan, Former NYCDOT Commissioner and Strategic Advisory Chair, National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)

Posted by Steve Anderson on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Janette Sadik-Khan on The Infra BlogJanette Sadik-Khan served as the Commissioner of NYCDOT under Mayor Michael Bloomberg from 2007 through 2013. Internationally recognized for her expertise in transportation issues, public policy development and innovative finance, Sadik-Khan implemented an ambitious program to improve safety, mobility and sustainability throughout NYC, and ensured a state of good repair on the city’s roads, sidewalks and bridges. Sadik-Khan oversaw a series of innovative projects, including creating more pedestrian space in Times Square and along Broadway from Columbus Circle to Union Square, the planning and launch of seven Select Bus Service routes and the nation’s largest bike share program, the addition of 350 miles of bicycle lanes and the installation and design of 54 plazas citywide, and the publication of a Street Design Manual and Street Works Manual that defined new standards for creating more durable and attractive streets.

Under Sadik-Khan’s leadership, DOT received awards from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Women’s Transportation Seminar, the Municipal Arts Society, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.

Sadik-Khan’s contributions to public service and the field of transportation have been recognized with awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Institute of Architects, the National Resources Defense Council and NYU Wagner’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management. Pratt Institute, The New School and Occidental College have conferred honorary degrees on her for her work in New York City.

Before joining DOT, Sadik-Khan was a Senior Vice President of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a leading international engineering firm. Previously, she worked in Washington, D.C. as the Deputy Administrator at the Federal Transit Administration. Sadik-Khan holds a B.A. in Political Science from Occidental College, and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. She will be joining Bloomberg Associates in February 2014.

Updating Our Streets for the 21st Century
We’ve come a long way from where we were 50 years ago, and yet a lot of the design guidance for city streets is routed back in the 1950s and the 1960s. In order to create a word-class environment for people, you need to build streets that reflect 21st century needs and that are safe and that perform well and are diverse and economically performing.

We Need to See Change
The new Urban Street Design Guide that we [NACTO] have just published actually translates some of the tactical interventions we’ve made here in New York City into a new standard. It’s able to show that it is possible to change the streets of a city in close to real time and it doesn’t need to take a lot of money.

Cities Need to Be Innovators
In New York City you’ve seen that 64% of the public supports our bike lanes; you’re seeing 70% support for our pedestrian plazas; 72% support for our bike share program. Clearly the people are ahead of some of the traditional press and the traditional politicians, and I think the popularity has not gone unnoticed by officials across the country.

Getting Real Results Fast
I think the closer we can get to showing real-time benefits and a new vision of what the performance could be of your infrastructure–looking at our assets differently–you’re going to see much more support for infrastructure investment moving forward.

Cities Working With Citizens
We have to provide choices for people to get around in healthy, affordable ways by having effective bus networks and bike networks, and we have to look at our assets, particularly our streets, as the valuable resources that they are…Citizens coming together and demanding these kinds of changes is very effective.

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

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