Friday TED Talk: Janette Sadik-Khan: New York's streets? Not so mean any more

Danish urban expert and liveable cities legend Professor Jan Gehl will come to London in January to personally present his film about how our cities work (and do not) "The Human Scale".  Tickets are on sale now for the January 23rd screening at the beautiful Hackney Empire Theatre, and already selling fast.

To celebrate his visit (and do read the report he wrote on street conditions in London under the previous Mayoral administration if you have a chance) we are hosting a different streets, cities, people and cycling TED Talk here on ibikelondon every Friday - perfect for a bit of lunch time learning!

Kicking off our season of Friday TED Talks is outgoing New York Department of Transport Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.  During her tenure the sleepless city has seen Times Square pedestrianised, separated bike lanes be built on Broadway and the introduction of a city-wide bicycle rental system (dubbed "Mike's Bikes" after NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg).

New York's streets?  Not so mean anymore...

Jan Gehl will present "The Human Scale" at Hackney Empire Theatre on January 23rd 2014 - buy your tickets online now.

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David Hembrow said...

I really like that New York is making progress and I think the idea of making temporary changes to try things, as they've done, is good. However we have to be careful not get too excited about the claims for growth.

NYC is attracting a lot of attention to itself, but how much cycling is there really ? Figures from 2009 suggested that just 0.6% of commutes were by bike in New York and the graph presented by Janette Sadik-Khan in the video above suggests that growth in cycling has been about 20% by then. That's good, but it would leave the modal share in New York well below 1%. i.e. still lower even than London, let alone places which provide a better example of how to attract people to cycling.

One other thing. Note that paint is a temporary measure in NYC, not permanent as in LDN superhighways !

highwayman said...
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highwayman said...

David, please remember the resistance (the "Bikelash" sayeth the New York Post) to Bike Lane expansion pointed out by out-going City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn in the video: the bike-lane expansion is being fiercely resisted in many quarters by certain wealthy people in Prospect Park and elsewhere. Those bike-lane opponents were party to a lawsuit (also mentioned in the video) that contested the establishment of a new bike lane in that Brooklyn neighborhood. As far as I know, said bike-lane opponents lost the suit (much to the chagrin of the New York Post).

As for bicycle modal share, that's a larger challenge. Expanding the bike-lane network (including segregated bike-lanes) remains a work in progress. Further expansion of that network including support structures such as signage and cycle parking will take much longer. Part of this inertia stems from this "bikelash" resistance.

This resistance to bike-lane expansion stems from a prevailing attitude, that in spite of a larger, much more diverse population now riding bicycles in NYC, bike-riding remains viewed as a nerdy, marginalized, weird activity.

To change that attitude, cycle-advocates will need to lobby in-crowd types to embrace the bicycle as fashionable. Will anyone lobby the Sisters Kardashian? And why do I suddenly feel nauseous after writing that previous question?

Of more immediate concern is with the incoming Bill de Blasio Administration. Will they continue with Bike Lane expansion, or will it be neglected or rolled back? Many of the bike expansion projects have NOT reached poor neighborhoods. This all can still be reversed.

David Hembrow said...

highwayman: I'm aware of all that, and I agree with what you've written. But this is precisely why New York should ABSOLUTELY NOT be seen as an example in other countries. They've not achieved anything substantial nor necessarily long lasting.

While Sadik-Khan makes lovely presentations, she's not a person from a city which ought to be inspirational to people in other countries precisely because the results aren't there yet.

In cycling it's all about modal share. That is the measure of success. If people aren't riding bikes in large numbers then you don't have success.