On the Street
Street Fighters Too
Primary Day: it is, for many New Yorkers, a time when the next mayoralty moves from the realm of the hypothetical to the realm of the real; the current administration recedes accordingly. But for a few hours at least, on a street corner in Bed-Stuy, the leaflet-brandishing volunteers seemed very far away, as Bloomberg administration commissioners, political appointees, local buinsess leaders and term-limited outgoing council member Al Vann gathered to celebrate a brand new pedestrian plaza. After all, what could be more Bloombergian than a new pedestrian plaza?
For the past six years, thousands of people a day have descended on a 150-foot long stretch of black top across from Borough Hall. There, nestled among planters and folding chair, Brooklynites and visitors, workers, students and tourists would all relax, meet up, hang out, maybe enjoy a shack stack.
Willoughby Plaza was one of the very first asphalt strips formerly dedicated to cars that was closed to vehicles, taken over and transformed into a space for pedestrians, helping to inaugurate the city’s popular if occasionally controversial NYC Plaza Program. Before Times Square and the Broadway Boulevard, before the new Grand Army Plaza or Fordham Plaza, before Janette Sadik-Khan even became DOT commissioner, there was Willoughby Plaza.
And now it is permanent, a thoughtfully designed, well-integrated piece of the streetscape rather than a bastardized piece of roadbed dressed up as well as DOT and the local business groups could manage. This is the dream for all 50 (and counting) of the city’s new temporary plazas, and 16 finished spaces are already in the works. But standing in the freezing cold with Commissioner Sadik-Khan and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz trading barbs, one wonders how many more plazas might be in store for the city.
Twitter has changed the way we communicate, and now it may change the way we drive, at least around Midtown.
This morning, the Department of Transportation unveiled new parking signs that greatly simplify and clarify on-street parking regulations. As Tranportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joked, “We used to have signs with 250 character on four different signs in three different colors. Now we can say it in about 140 characters on a much clearer sign.”
The redesign of 34th Street has come in for its fair—or unfair, depending on perspective—share of criticism in the lead up to today’s launch of Select Bus Service on the thoroughfare. One person who would gladly board that bus, so to speak? None other than Robert Caro.
Can we just install bike share already?
It’s hardly a secret that City Hall is pushing the benefits of two-wheeled, human-powered transportation. Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s Transportation Commissioner, has become one of the Bloomberg Administration’s most reviled figures because of her insistence on creating a space for cyclists on the city’s streets, in parks, and in other public venues.
As part of her vision, City Hall is attempting to implement a bike-sharing network that would allow residents to rent a bike to get from place to place. Docking stations or kiosks would be constructed to house the rental bikes.
Prepare to do the impossible, New York.
Back in November, Rod King told The Observer the secret to New Yorker’s happiness would be for everone to slow down a little bit. Or probably a lot. The city’s posted speed limit is 30 miles per hour on most streets, though who honestly follows that? Eastern Read More
The Bloomberg administration has endorsed a long-discussed bill that would require landlords to allow tenants the right to bring bikes into commercial buildings. The endorsement was made Monday at a City Council hearing by Janette Sadik-Kahn, Mayor Bloomberg’s notably active transportation commissioner who is coating the city with fresh bike lanes.
The bill, which Read More