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September 20, 2007

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Love your screen name, Boychick.

Actually, these are halcyon days for those who want greater equity in the way public space is allocated in New York. As reported in yesterday's Times, a small stretch of Ninth Avenue is being reconfigured to provide a separate, protected space--formerly a car lane-- for cyclists and pedestrians. Large concrete planters will discourage drivers from entering the protected space

And then there's Congestion Pricing, which will attach a cost to the decision to drive into the country's most congested central business district, the revenues to be used to fund mass transit expansion and improvements.

Two years ago, such policy proposals would have been dismissed as fantasy. Even if they don't survive in their present form, it's clear that local (and national) transportation policy is embracing public and alternative modes more and more; and that policymakers are at least beginning to question development that relies on private transport as a primary mode.

I know it was a rhetorical question, but...

Traffic Engineers don't think. They do. Over and over again. Little equations related to curb and gutter, slope of roadway, compaction of subsurface materials. These are the finger food of every good traffic engineer's tea party.

Now traffic planners, that's a different story. These are the folks paid to think about traffic, but generally not about pedestrian issues. However, all is not lost, because somewhere along the line someone said, "What we really need is a good multi-modal (or intermodal) planner." These guys work with the traffic planners to integrate pedestrian, bicycle, and mass transit planning into traffic projects. I would find one and explore this issue. I am sure that every bureau has one. If not, its time to say, WTF New York! 'cause that's why you have cross walks running into Sycamore trees on Staten Island. (Of course, if I have to park, that's the place to do it, in the real slim shady under the Sycamore tree.)

Thanks for your comment, Karla.

You know, I never thought about making that sort of separation. Good idea. Of course, you'd have to leave a significant amount of space for vehicular access and egress, but you're right: it would make drivers think twice.

Don't know if you saw the article in today's Times about the first protected bike/pedestrian lane scheduled to be installed shortly along Ninth Avenue in Manhattan, from 16th to 23rd Street. In that arrangement, parked cars and a raised sidewalk with large concrete planters will define the physical separation between cars/drivers and bicyclists/pedestrians.

I can't tell you why, but more than congestion pricing, this relatively small change is an indication to me that we're actually beginning to make progress in reclaiming the streets.

That's really something. I'm kind of surprised there's no curb between the parking lot and the sidewalk as there is between the sidewalk and the street... maybe a four inch rise in pavement would make them second guess their parking choice. The crosswalk one gets to me the most, though.

You need to get all 'Jimmy Justice' on these folks!

Yes the arrogance that comes with encasing yourself in metal and glass is evident here. This includes the gotta-park-as-close-as-I-can and get-out-of-my-way.

But enough of our sad complaints - Across the boulevard from the donut shop-isn't that the pretty walk-way once encounters upon turning right when exiting the ferry? It is a nice place to stroll. Are there plans to extend it?

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