This week we thought it might be fun to look a little into another city supposedly fighting a “war on the car.” Many of our previous posts have dealt specifically with the startling changes going on at the typical breakneck New Yorker pace in many of NYC’s most well-known spots, including Times Square. Shawn Micallef’s post on his visit to the Big Apple, along with our podcast interview of New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Minister Janette Sadik-Khan has given us a taste of NYC’s enviable successes, but has left out some of the remarkably similar challenges they faced, many of which will be all to familiar to Torontonians.
Recently, the NYCDOT has come out with a Street Design Manuel, which, although it has received far less press than the Broadway public space changes, may perhaps be far more important to public space issues in NYC. The manuel sets out the policies and guidelines used by the NYCDOT when making street and sidewalk improvements that prioritize sustainability so that independent agencies, professionals and community groups can take street improvement into their own hands. It is hoped that the manuel will speed up the implimentation of street improvement projects, as well as giving private businesses and the broader public a larger role in city planning.
Just like Toronto, however, not everyone’s ecstatic about the changes taking place in NYC’s streets. “Drivers furious over B-way blockade at Times Square” screams one New York Post headline from May 26. “Dangerous bike riders run wild with impunity in NYC” is another headline from last week, as well as another from the Daily News describing drivers fuming over a car-free Broadway. “Bloomberg’s bozo-biker boost” might as well have been copied directly from some of the opinion pieces being printed in the Toronto media, describing another mayor participating in “pedal-powered cheerleading.”
Yet, for some reason, NYC, despite all the “war-on-car-esque” talk taking place, is making giant leaps forward in its attempt to make the city more transit, bicycling and pedestrian friendly. So what is it that makes NYC different from Toronto when it comes to public spaces? How come NYC can close down a good portion of Times Square for non-car traffic when we can barely close down one lane on Jarvis to make some room for bike lanes?
Photo by adrimcm