Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Streetsblog: a great NYC urban planning blog

I've been really impressed by a newish blog about the streets of NYC, Streetsblog. It's a project of the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, and it covers the (slow) improvement of NYC streets as modern urban planning takes over from the (in my opinion) mostly misguided highway-centered development of the mid-20th century. Unlike my other favorite NYC blog, Curbed, it focuses on pedestrians and street culture rather than architecture and real estate.

Here are a few recent Streetsblog posts I noted:

Today, the Straphangers guild reported on the worst bus lines of the city, including the M14 crosstown bus that's slower than walking, and the M1 bus that tends to travel in herds instead of evenly spaced. (The bus I use the most, the M60 bus that runs between Columbia, Harlem, Astoria, and La Guardia, is actually quite punctual and evenly spaced most of the time.) Streetsblog notes the MTA's defensive statement that says that traffic = vibrancy, and then shows two photos of city streets, one of traffic-jammed taxis in Manhattan and the other of pedestrians in Copenhagen, and asks us readers to decide which is more vibrant. Nice. (Link)

A few days ago, Streetsblog posted a story about a plan in the works to redo a minor intersection, 9th Ave. and Gansevoort in the Meatpacking district. The interesting thing about the plan is the process by which the grassroots project looked at the problems at that intersection (horrible crosswalks, too many circling taxis, no street life) and figured out how to solve them. The solution involves restricting traffic by reducing four lanes to two, creating on-street areas for cafes to put seating, and adding public seating in the middle of the intersection. Looks great, and I hope they do it, that it works well, and becomes an example to others. (Link)

And then, in an example of the raison d'etre of blogs, spreading rumors, Streetsblog noted last week that Bob Kiley, the architect of London's highly successful congestion-pricing system (cameras take photos of your license plates and automatically bill you a few bucks for driving into downtown during business hours), will be moving to New York and will be heading up a study to see if/how this should be implemented here. (Link)

All this and nice visual design too...

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