Thursday, October 7th, 2010

New York’s Quality of Life Agenda

Thanks to Greater Greater Washington for pointing me at this incredible video about New York City’s livability agenda. (If the video doesn’t display, click here). This is simply a must watch.

What I’d like to highlight is how with all these initiatives, the sustainability angle is actually downplayed. If you listen to Mayor Bloomberg and Jannette Sadik-Khan talk, you hear them talking about making tangible, near term improvements in quality of life, safety, and bettering business conditions in the city. In short, it’s not about doing something to save the world or because it’s the right thing to do. It’s about doing them because they make sense for the city and New Yorkers.

Obviously New York is a unique place and these ideas can’t be lifted and dropped just anywhere. Other cities will continue to require a more prominent role for the automobile, for example. But the attitude of asking what we can do right now, today to create a safer, more livable city that is a better place to do business is one any city can take to heart. I hope America’s other metropolises are listening.

If you are wondering if this is really paying off for New York, the answer is Yes, and in a forthcoming post this weekend I’ll give a major demonstration of why.


New York’s Leadership in Transportation Design
Another Epic Public Space Win in New York
Janette Sadik-Khan on Changing the Transportation Game

Topics: Civic Branding, Economic Development, Public Policy, Public Safety, Strategic Planning, Sustainability, Talent Attraction, Transportation
Cities: New York

6 Responses to “New York’s Quality of Life Agenda”

  1. Carl Wohlt says:

    It’s pretty amazing to hear the mayor one of the world’s top cities talking about a relatively mundane topic like unclogging traffic – and seeing that as a key to enhancing business vitality and residents’ overall quality of life. It also helps to explain why certain great and powerful cities remain great and powerful while others go by the wayside. It will be very interesting to see how Chicago’s next mayor responds to issues such as this.

  2. Nashvillain says:

    The Times Square situation seems similar to the Cheonggye Stream renewal or revival in Seoul. In that city’s case, many businesses along the stream’s path were actually concerned about the impact of the loss of vehicle traffic along the route but as it turns out, the gain in foot traffic more than offsets the lack of car traffic as far as businesses are concerned. It seems common sense that people walking are more apt to stop and browse and actually buy things than are people zooming by in their cars. Not to mention the environmental impact (actual temperatures in the vicinity of the stream have dropped by something like five to ten degrees due to the increase in plant life and reduction of paved surface and vehicle traffic.) and the quality of life impact. It’s a popular place for Seoulites and tourists year round and makes for a fabulous event space.

  3. demonyc says:

    non-nyc viewers should keep in mind that they’re looking at video of improvements all over the island — not just times square — and those lessons will eventually reach to all the boroughs. it of course starts with the crowds and money. i live in the lower east side and even first and second avenue are getting 1/3 of the avenue devoted to bike and bus and parking.

  4. Alon Levy says:

    Demonyc: “eventually” means “never.” On 1st and 2nd Avenue, they’re building bike lanes only as far north as 96th, which for the record is the southern border of Harlem. The East Harlem community board protested, but the city ignored it. Ever since a bike lane project in Central Harlem faced community opposition, Transportation Commissioner Janette-Sadik Khan has written off all of Upper Manhattan as irredeemably committed to cars, and damn all the evidence to the contrary.

  5. Red says:

    Alon has a point, but I’d argue he’s somewhat overstating it. Just to cite one example, there’s an interesting bus transit project planned for 181st Street. I’m sure Alon knows about this and he probably has a good reason for not mentioning it. It’s certainly NOT true that DOT has COMPLETELY ignored poor areas of the city.

  6. Alon Levy says:

    Yeah, it’s true that there’s a project on 181st. It’s fairly useful for the poor – not the people living in Washington Heights, who have no use for this project, but the people commuting from the Bronx to Manhattan. It’s also not the place where dedicated bus lanes are the most urgent; that would be 125th.

    The way JSK’s racism works is a little more subtle than just wishing all minority neighborhoods ill. It’s more nuanced: it involves her refusal to engage those neighborhoods. The 181st Street project doesn’t involve the Washington Heights community board. Projects that would involve the community board, such as anything in Harlem, don’t happen. JSK and her defenders have convinced themselves that all of Upper Manhattan is anti-livability and pro-car, hence there’s no need to engage.

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