At some point or another, we’ve all been frustrated by the mean streets of NYC. Whether it’s due to the congested roads, delayed and crowded mass transit, or the lack of sufficient bike lanes, everyone seems to have a different opinion on how to improve transportation in the city. But if the future of New York City’s infrastructure is anything like the Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn’s vision, then maybe there’s a glimmer of hope for addressing some of NYC’s difficult congestion problems.
“New York City is a global leader in everything from fashion to food to finance—but (we) cannot afford to take this position for granted,” said Sadik-Khan in a column on Slate. “We compete with cities around the world to attract and retain businesses and people. Building streets that make it easier to get around and make the city more attractive for businesses and residents is a key economic-development strategy for New York.”
Promoting economic development through a more efficient infrastructure using environmental sustainability principles is all part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC project, launched in 2007, and already making huge improvements throughout the city.
“Early successes include new pedestrian areas in Times Square and other sites around the city, a new model for bus service and an expanded cycling network.” said Sadik-Khan, a fervent supporter of the Mayor’s initiative.
Sadik-Khan also talks about some of the innovations the city is working on in an effort to improve traffic flow and congestion. Currently, the DOT is working on developing state of the art traffic-management technology for vehicles. The city has already put some of these projects into effect Midtown Manhattan, including hardwiring “streets in a 110-square-block area with microwave sensors, traffic video cameras, and antennae to improve traffic.” Using advanced traffic algorithms, traffic engineers are now able to implement traffic-light changes in real time all with “the push of a button” in order to minimize congestion.
Pedestrians will also be getting some much need relief as well. The city is implementing a comprehensive information system “geared specifically to navigating New York on foot.” Part of this includes adding to the city’s 1.3 million street signs by creating new and improved “wayfinding” signs “with clear neighborhood-level maps that provide walking times to nearby landmarks and adjacent districts.”
And finally, one of our personal favorites, the much talked about private sector sponsored public biking system will also be launching soon, as the city prepares to unveil new biking lanes and the final results of the public biking program.
“More travel choices, reduced congestion, and a streetscape that reflects the city’s social, entrepreneurial, and cultural vitality will keep New York at the top of the list of the world’s best cities,” writes Sadik-Khan. We couldn’t agree more.