What a real city plan looks like
I played a few clips this morning from a Ted Talk by Janette Sadik-khan. You can watch/listen to the full version here, but if you're tight for time I'll give you the broad strokes. Sadik-Khan was mandated by New York's mayor Bloomberg to figure out a new mix for cars, buses, pedestrians and cyclists. As she notes, he's a data driven, best practices guy; he goes with what works and throws out what doesn't.
Sadik-khan has tried some very innovative things and she's done it shock-troop style. No long studies or consultation. Her crews choose a spot, cook up a plan and execute it with temporary infrastructure. That means instead of turning a little-used street into a park, they save money and just block it off with pylons and paint it green. The eye is fooled and people start behaving like it's a park. If that makes the neighbourhood work better and doesn’t impede the flow of traffic, then they spend the big money and make it permanent.
The New York experience has been remarkable. People have been drawn into the streets just to hang out. Retail business goes up. The number of accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists goes down. The number of people choosing bikes goes up. And here's the kicker: in many instances the speed and reliability of bus and automobile traffic has gone up as well.
It would be nice to try a few more or Sadik-Khan's ideas in Toronto but since it seems most people are convinced you can only work in favor of one transportation option at a time we're locked in the tedious "war on the car".
On another subject: you can click here to listen to our conversation this morning with Steve Paikin about the Ontario premiers he has interviewed over the last quarter century. What do they have in common? and why is Bill Davis still just about the perfect premier the province has had in the last half century. Always a pleasure to have Steve in studio. Listen here.