Wednesday, May 20 2009 @ 12:47 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
Imagine narrow European-style roadways shared by pedestrians, cyclists and cars, all traveling at low speeds. Sidewalks made of recycled rubber in different colors under sleek energy-efficient lamps. Mini-islands jutting into the street, topped by trees and landscaping, designed to further slow traffic and add a dash of green.
This is what New York City streets could look like, according to the Bloomberg administration, which has issued the city’s first street design manual in an effort to make over the utilitarian 1970s-style streetscape that dominates the city.
The Department of Transportation will begin reviewing development plans to see whether they align with the 232-page manual’s guidelines, and promises that projects with these features will win approval quickly.
“Lots of things have changed in 40 years, but this part of our infrastructure hasn’t,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner. “If we’re going to be a world-class city, we need guidelines that lay out the operating instructions of how we get there.”
The manual, to be released on Wednesday, culminates nearly two years of work involving more than a dozen agencies led by the Department of Transportation. By offering “a single framework and playbook,” as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg says in the introduction, the manual promises to simplify the design process and reduce the costs for city agencies, urban planners, developers and community groups.
Urban planners say that the document is long overdue, and that it promises to be as much a map to the future as it is a handbook for the present: getting people to think about streets as not just thoroughfares for cars, but as public spaces incorporating safety, aesthetics, environmental and community concerns.