Thursday, July 16, 2009

New Amsterdam Bike Slam Part 1

In 1969, architect and urban planner Ulrich Franzen articulated, through the film below, a bold vision to reclaim Manhattan’s congested streets as open space free from cars and trucks. Forty years later, our sense of urgency about the ecological imperative of transforming how we transport goods, information and people from place to place has increased, but the terms of the debate about how to accommodate the various competing uses of our streets have not changed much. Road-based, limited-occupancy vehicles still provide the most flexible and often most comfortable routes around the city. Critics who pit cars against people often seem to forget that people drive cars, buy the products trailer trucks deliver and produce the waste that garbage trucks remove. These days, the policy prescriptions that aim to limit city-dwellers’ reliance on cars tend to take the form of disincentives and prohibitions, such as congestion pricing or restrictive parking. Recent design initiatives in New York City, most visibly the Department of Transportation’s appropriation of street space for quiet zones or bicycle lanes, represent pro-active steps in a positive direction. Read more here.