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.