Janette Sadik-Khan: Streetfight

THU, MAR 31, 2016 (1:06:03)

As New York City’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan managed the seemingly impossible and transformed the streets of one of the world’s greatest, toughest cities into dynamic spaces safe for pedestrians and bikers. Her approach was dramatic and effective: Simply painting a part of the street to make it into a plaza or bus lane not only made the street safer, but it also lessened congestion and increased foot traffic, which improved the bottom line of businesses. Real-life experience confirmed that if you know how to read the street, you can make it function better by not totally reconstructing it but by reallocating the space that’s already there.

Breaking the street into its component parts, Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution demonstrates, with step-by-step visuals, how to rewrite the underlying "source code" of a street, with pointers on how to add protected bike paths, improve crosswalk space, and provide visual cues to reduce speeding. Achieving such a radical overhaul wasn’t easy, and Streetfight pulls back the curtain on the battles Sadik-Khan won to make her approach work. In the book, which she discusses with Professor Jerold Kayden, of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Sadik-Khan includes examples of how her way to read the streets has made its way around the world, from pocket parks in Mexico City and Los Angeles to more pedestrian-friendly streets in Auckland and Buenos Aires, and innovative bike-lane designs and plazas in Austin, Indianapolis, and San Francisco. Streetfight deconstructs, reassembles, and reinvents the street, inviting readers to see it in ways they never imagined.

(Photo: Flickr/itdp, image cropped)

+ BIO: Janette Sadik-Khan

Janette Sadik-Khan was Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007-2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, during which time New York City added nearly 400 miles of bike lanes and the first parking-protected bike paths in North America. Her department set in motion more than 60 plazas across the city. Sadik-Khan worked with the Metropolitan Transport Agency to launch New York City's first six rapid bus lines and oversaw hundreds of intersection and street redesigns that greatly reduced the city's traffic fatalities. She also oversaw the 2013 launch of Citi Bike, the nation's largest bike share system.

Currently, Sadik-Khan advises mayors of cities around the world as a principal at Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consultancy established by Michael Bloomberg to help cities around the world improve the quality of life of their citizens. She assists mayors and their teams in developing street redesigns in cities from Los Angeles to Mexico City to Rio and Athens. She is the author of Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution (2016).

+ BIO: Jerold S. Kayden

Jerold Kayden is the Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He previously served as Co-Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design and as Director of the Master in Urban Planning Degree Program. His research and teaching focus on the relationship between law and the built environment and public-private urban development.

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