Jane Jacobs Square, New York, New York. © Massengale & Co LLC, watercolor by Gabrielle Stroik Johnson. Before and After: Looking south on Bleecker Street from the intersection of Bleecker and West 10th Streets.
The debate continues over how to make New York City’s streets less crowded, safer and better for people as well as cars. Some, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, call for congestion pricing in Manhattan, although so far the New York State Legislature has not allowed that. Mayor Bill de Blasio and groups such as Transportation Alternatives promote Vision Zero, aiming for zero traffic deaths in New York City by 2024.
It’s worth looking at European cities, which have led the movement to make city streets that are as good for public life as they are for driving. In recent months, I’ve visited four of the cities with the most innovative street designs: London, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
London and Stockholm were the first major European cities to have congestion zones, and Sweden also gave us Vision Zero. Amsterdam and Copenhagen are the cycling capitals of Europe, although they have taken different approaches to making places for cycling and walking.
We can use the best of their ideas in New York — and indeed in other American cities — to reduce driving, air pollution and traffic deaths, and make streets where people want to get out of their cars and walk.
Amsterdam — Speed Kills and Shared Space