Search results for " bike lanes"

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Enrique Peñalosa plans to give Bogotá the best transit system in the developing world
An economist who once advised Colombian President Virgilio Barco, Enrique Peñalosa is now a revered urban planner in the city of Bogotá. Having once served as Bogotá mayor from 1997 to 2001, Peñalosa is now back for his second stint and pledges to provide his city with the best public transportation system in the developing world. In his first term as mayor, Peñalosa was responsible for widespread changes in infrastructure and public space in Bogotá. These included a 40 percent reduction in vehicle usage within the city; replacing parking spaces with green sidewalks and street furniture; developing the TransMilenio bus rapid transit systems; building a major public library alongside two others in low-income areas; and creating expansive green spaces. Peñalosa also pioneered regulation on social housing that included a minimum square footage on new builds. Dario Hidalgo of CityFix sings the new mayors praises, citing how the bus rapid transit system (BRT) is "one of the world’s most heavily used", with over 2 million passengers a day using the service. Like any good economist, Peñalosa is a strong supporter of efficiency and growth. Now, with his self-laid foundations,Bogotá can begin to move forward again. Not dwelling on the past, he has plans to upgrade the BRT system, merging it with the rail network as well implementing more bus lanes. On top of this, Peñalosa plans on doubling bicycle usage in Bogotá. Naturally, when a such changes are proposed, the issue of financing these changes surfaces. An estimated $13-20 billion is required with the state being left to cough up $7.1 billion after accounting for all government revenue streams. The solution? Peñalosa is seeking to implement fees for personal automobile travel into the city, similar to the congestion charge in London (which has generated $1.42 billion since 2003). Despite these possible methods of financing, it is very possible that the new Mayor will turn to the private sector to secure further funding in order to secure the implementation of the new services.
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Philadelphia set to appoint the first-ever Complete Streets Commissioner
Philadelphia officially recognizes cyclists as a constituency deserving special protection. This week, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the creation of a "Complete Streets Commissioner," a new position in city government to oversee the creation of more bike-friendly infrastructure. But the story gets complicated from there. Historically, Kenney is not the most ardent supporter of "complete streets," a term coined by the National Complete Streets Coalition to describe roads harmoniously designed for cyclists, pedestrians, public transportation users, and cars. In 2009, as a City Council member, Kenney introduced legislation to up fines for headphone-wearing bike riders. His co-legislators are not too enthused about bikes, either: The same City Council gave itself veto power over proposed bike lanes in 2012. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia lead the creation of the commissioner position. According to Philadelphia Magazine, the Bicycle Coalition organized a mayoral forum for Democratic candidates, where each would-be mayor claimed to support "Vision Zero" objectives. The group issued a platform last year during election season, outlining reforms needed to make safer streets. Sarah Clark Stuart, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition, maintains that "creating a commissioner who is thinking about and looking at all transportation modes, and how to make them safer and work better for everyone, that is new. And what that signals is that there is a dedicated, high-ranking official who is assigned the responsibilities to marshall citywide resources and set policy toward the goal of making Philadelphia's streets safer for everyone." Why isn't Philadelphia's Office of Transportation & Utilities assuming these responsibilities? In a shift towards a "strong-managing-director form of government," Kenney is simultaneously creating the Complete Streets Commissioner position while closing the Office of Transportation & Utilities. Clarena Tolson, the Deputy Managing Director of Transportation & Infrastructure, will continue to oversee street maintenance, water, some of the complete streets program, as well as synchronize operations of the Philadelphia Energy Authority and SEPTA. There's no word yet on the application process. Urbanists, keep your ears peeled.
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Royal Flushing
The Flushing waterfront is targeted for development.
Courtesy NYCDCP

Don’t be fooled by the name: Main Street in downtown Flushing is decidedly nongeneric. One of the busiest commercial strips in New York, Main Street’s shops and restaurants cater to the 69 percent of Flushing residents who identify as Asian, particularly the neighborhood’s sizable Chinese and Korean populations. As in East Harlem, East New York, and Long Island City, the Department of City Planning (DCP) is studying rezoning possibilities for Flushing West. The DCP would like to activate underutilized industrial space along the waterfront, giving the downtown room to grow westward.

Flushing’s new zoning proposals aim to spur mixed-use growth.

The Flushing West Neighborhood Planning Study (FWNPS) is building on a master plan initiated in 2011 by the Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation. With a $1.5 million Brownfield Opportunity Grant, the LDC tapped SHoP, AKRF, and Mathews Nielsen to study zoning and land use between Flushing Creek and downtown Flushing. The master plan outlined strategies to spur economic development, add affordable housing, improve city services and infrastructure, and broaden access to the waterfront.

The FWNPS is now in its environmental review and public scoping phase. The plan’s rezoning proposal targets a 32-acre, ten-square-block area east of Flushing Creek, bounded by Northern Boulevard, Prince Street, and Roosevelt Avenue.

Since May, the DCP has invited residents to articulate Flushing’s core needs in a series of public meetings. Residents identified primary concerns, like building more housing for seniors, preventing displacement of small businesses, improving streetscapes for pedestrian safety, creating separate bike lanes, building more recreation space, and cleaning up the heavily polluted Flushing Creek.

Thomas Smith, director of studies for the DCP’s Queens office, explained that existing zoning in downtown Flushing “already allows for a significant amount of development potential.” The zoning encourages hotels (because of a low parking requirement), and buildings with wide, low bases topped by residential units.

New zoning would encourage similar mixed residential-commercial development, and adhere to current land use near Northern Boulevard: heavy manufacturing on the waterfront and light manufacturing inland. Those fearing a Williamsburg- or Greenpoint-style tower building boom need not worry. Airport zoning for LaGuardia, across Flushing Bay, sets restrictions on the height of buildings in adjacent neighborhoods.

Though plans from 1998 set out to beautify the waterfront, today the public access area is narrow and uninviting. Downtown streets leading to the water are long and drab, doing little to entice the eye and move pedestrians creekside. The proposed zoning changes would allow for a 40-foot-wide access area, a new street network, and restaurants and shops along the waterfront. At a November DCP public hearing, councilman Peter Koo praised the DCP’s plan, but encouraged the agency to clean up Flushing Creek, claiming that “no one wants to go there because it stinks!”

Besides poor water quality, the affordability of affordable housing is a top community concern. Smith explained that the rezoning would allow for affordable housing rates at 25/60 or 30/80. Translation: In some new construction, 25 percent of units will be available to households making up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or, 30 percent of units will be available to those making 80 percent of the AMI. In 2015, the AMI for a three-person household in New York City is $77,700 for a family of three. If approved, the plan could add 938 total units of housing. Of those units, 516 to 619 units would be permanently affordable.

Jung Rae Jang, an organizing fellow at the Flushing-based MinKwon Center, noted that the AMI affordable housing guidelines are a poor fit for the neighborhood, which has an AMI of approximately $39,000. To Jang, “the city’s 25/60 plan simply does not address the [average] income level of the Flushing downtown area, and for people who are making less than that.”

A coalition of community organizations has formed the Flushing Rezoning Community Alliance to speak out on the zoning changes that could negatively impact current residents. The DCP hopes that, after a public comment period, the neighborhood plan will be approved by fall 2016.

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Meet The Green Line: How Perkins Eastman would remake Broadway through Manhattan into a 40-block linear park
By now, the "Bilbao Effect" is metonymy for a culture-led revitalization of a postindustrial city driven by a single institution housed in a starchitect-designed complex. The wild success of Manhattan's High Line generates regional seismic effects—the Lowline, the QueensWay, and the Lowline: Bronx Edition all cite the high queen of linear parks as their inspiration. Upping the ante, Perkins Eastman unfurls the Green Line, a plan to convert one of New York's busiest streets into a park. The Green Line would overtake Broadway for 40 blocks, from Columbus Circle to Union Square, connecting Columbus Circle, Times Square, Herald Square, Madison Square, and Union Square with pedestrian and cyclists' paths. Except for emergency vehicles, automobiles would be banned from the Green Line. The proposal has precedent in Bloomberg-era "rightsizing" of Broadway. Traffic calming measures closed Times Square to cars, increased the number of pedestrian-only spaces, and installed bike lanes along Broadway, reducing vehicular traffic overall. In conversation with Dezeen, Perkins Eastman principal Jonathan Cohn noted that "green public space is at a premium in the city, and proximity to it is perhaps the best single indicator of value in real estate. [The] Green Line proposes a new green recreational space that is totally integrated with the form of the city." Value, moreover, isn't linked exclusively to price per square foot. Replacing two miles of asphalt with bioswales and permeable paving could help regulate stormwater flow for the city's overburdened stormwater management infrastructure. Right now, rain falling to the west of Broadway discharges, untreated, into the Hudson, while east of Broadway, stormwater gushes straight into the Hudson. What do you think: is the Green Line on Broadway feasible, or totally fantastical?    
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Designer envisions a Miami Beach that embraces the rising sea
This year's Art Basel/Design Miami was a wash. The tallest stilettos could not save feet from floodwaters that inundated streets and forced partygoers under small tents. Even when it's not raining, water bubbles up through stormwater grates and sewers, a result of the city's porous limestone bedrock. Miami Beach is a barrier island that is routinely battered by hurricanes and floods. With global warming, the bad floods will only get worse. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NASA, and NOAA predict sea level rise between eight inches and six feet by 2100. For these reasons, Harvard GSD's newly established Design Office for Urbanization selected Miami Beach as its first focus site. Though unaffiliated with Harvard, a recent Florida architecture grad would make a great contribution to the program. Designer Isaac Stein, at West 8's New York office, envisions a solution for incorporating rising seas into Miami Beach's urban design, Vanity Fair reports. While completing an undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Miami, Stein drafted a plan for a mangrove forest, raised buildings, canals, and other design interventions that will bend to, not fight, the rising seas. The plan focuses on South Beach proper, from 5th to 15th Streets. One of Miami Beach's main thoroughfares, Alton Road, would be raised on stilts to accomodate floodwater. Trams would replace cars, and bike lanes would be installed along Washington Avenue, roughly parallel to and a few blocks inland from the Atlantic. Historically, Miami Beach's western (bay) side was lined with mangroves. Stein's plan restores the mangrove forest to provide a natural buffer against rising water. Canals would be cut in the medians Michigan, Jefferson, and Lenox Avenues. The resulting fill could be used to raise buildings and roads 1.5 feet above grade, would safeguard the city against six feet of sea level rise.
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Petersen Automotive Museum
Michael Bodell

Wilshire Boulevard is impressive for both its length as well as its remarkable collection of notable architecture, much of it pedigreed within L.A.’s historical time line beginning in 1895. Wilshire was also made for the automobile. Over the decades it has evolved into a mélange of typologies and styles, to be viewed by most Angelenos through the rearview mirror of their car rather than by the lone flaneur pounding the pavement. To attract attention in the parade of largely unremarkable architecture that makes up the majority of building stock along the boulevard, only the brash and bold will do.

The newly redesigned Petersen Automotive Museum by architects Kohn Petersen Fox stimulates the senses. Brash and bold it most certainly is, with an undulating steel facade wrapped in slick red and silver ribbons of LED-lined steel panels. The ribbons project from the eclipsed shell of Welton Becket’s Seibu Department Store supported on tubular struts. Produced in Kansas City and brought to L.A. by semi-truck, each ribbon was computationally designed to fit together in the field, thereby reducing on-site coordination. Expertly engineered, flawlessly fabricated, and installed on time and on budget by Matt Construction and Zahner Inc., this energetic renovation of the original Petersen is KPF’s romance with the visual image of aerodynamics of a racecar in a wind tunnel. But this flirtation reads as an excuse to produce visual exuberance, and what we’re left with is an articulated billboard, nostalgically hawking the cosmetics of a familiar, and more primitive digital age.

Courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum

However, no one can debate that the Petersen now visually owns the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire. A monster truck previously blasted out of the old museum’s facade in an attempt to communicate the contemporary program within. A sleek wrapper has replaced those marketing gimmicks, but programmatic ambiguity remains the architectural imperative of the new Petersen. Becket’s big box is still formally present, but now clad in KPF’s red and silver skin, it’s got “bling” in surplus. Behind the stainless-steel ribbons is a utilitarian rain screen of red corrugated steel, completing a textbook example of Venturi’s decorated shed, but one that offers no clever cues toward its program, nor its larger cultural purpose.

Herein lies the true problem for the Petersen Automotive Museum: The building’s dominating opacity doesn’t work for a block of Wilshire soon to be subway adjacent, and it is assumed, will host more pedestrians as a result. The few sections of glazing at the ground floor are certainly welcome, but the contemporary flaneur needs continuous storefronts stocked with spectacle in order to turn their gaze away from their smart phone. Becket’s original design was certainly no more transparent, but can be excused given its time and program—a postwar department store whose patrons entered from the rear through the parking garage. The contemporary museum visitor may often arrive on foot.

Courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum

To their credit, the design team at KPF did challenge the client’s brief, which ruled out a curtain wall for both its cost and environmental impact on the collection. They developed the entry as a concourse, or sectional promenade through the building that includes visual connections to the ground floor galleries and restaurant from the interior of the building. This nod to the changing urbanism along Wilshire allows the public to filter into the lobby from both the sidewalk and the parking garage at the rear, either to visit the museum, grab a meal at the restaurant inside the Petersen lobby, or journey onward to LACMA nearby.

The Petersen board championed opaque galleries as an obvious way to mitigate environmental and acoustic issues facing the design. Local architects House Robertson gave the windowless, showroom-like galleries a cosmetic update, but the interiors could have used a more aggressive spatial upgrade in order to push for a stronger urban interface. It is not unusual for another firm to handle the interior of a project this large, but House Robertson ought to have taken more cues from KPF’s facade. Save for a large, open spiral stair—spatially promising at first glance, it reads upon closer inspection as an uninspired cousin to the escalators that once traversed the original department store.

Courtesy Petersen Automotive Museum; Michael Bodell

Contemporary architectural discourse has already moved passed the computationally driven exercise of simply wrapping buildings as a means of expression. The really hot projects in the academy right now embrace a kind of complex geometry that migrates from exterior to interior in ambiguous ways, challenging how a building interconnects with both its external context and its users. There’s an opportunity for that moment in the concourse, and where the ribbons wrap to form a shallow brise-soleil on the roof deck, but without a material link from interior to exterior, the projected facade never gains spatial muscle, despite being cantilevered several feet off the primary volume of the museum.

“It makes better sense, of course, to acquire an existing disused building and impose your commercial personality on it with symbolic garnishes,” remarked Reyner Banham on the topic of iconic roadside architecture in Los Angeles: The Architecture of the Four Ecologies. But Banham was referring to a burger stand, not a museum. The Petersen board has a track record of searching for an iconic personality for their building by adding such “garnishes” to Welton Becket’s original structure, and the newest offering does little to improve the museum’s connection to the city beyond. While the Petersen’s founding mission may revel in the grand days of car culture, L.A.’s moved on to bike lanes and rapid buses, and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Purple Line Subway extension. Looking east down Wilshire Boulevard, one imagines subway riders emerging from below and skipping the Petersen Automotive Museum entirely beyond perhaps the quick selfie; it’s architecture and collection the vestige an urban idea that Los Angeles just doesn’t need anymore.

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Oslo plans to make its city center free from cars in four years
Norway currently boasts three World Rally Championship drivers (second only to France), all of considerable pedigree, yet its capital city of Oslo is planning to remove cars for good. Along with the proposal to ban cars is the plan to build 37 miles worth of bike lanes by 2019 and a new system for handicap bus services and delivery vehicles. In a bid to reduce pollution, Reuters reported, politicians in Oslo said they want to be the first European capital to implement a comprehensive permanent ban on cars. With a population just under 650,000, Oslo has around 350,000 cars with most owners living outside the center but inside the city's boundaries. Emulating Paris' one day-a-year car ban, Oslo is bucking a trend many fellow European cities are following. Currently Brussels is trialling an eight month traffic circulation program involving the pedestrianization of its boulevards meanwhile the old cities of both Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia are completely car free. Shop owners in Oslo, though, fear the plans will hurt business, though it is worthwhile noting that the city is not banning all vehicles, so delivery trucks and the like will be allowed. Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, lead negotiator for the Green Party in Oslo has said "We want to make it better for pedestrians, cyclists. It will be better for shops and everyone." The plan also outlines the need for significant investment in infrastructure, most notably in public transportation that will have to support the growing number of users. Trials will be run after authorities investigate precedents in other european cities where plans have so far been a success. Aside from a marked reduction in pollution, the change will also make the city a much more appealing place for pedestrians and cyclists, something which the authorities are not alone in trying. According to Gemini, researchers from Scandinavian group SINTEF claim that much needs to be done about Norway's noise problem which is responsible for 150 deaths a year.
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This tangle of highways in Providence, Rhode Island, could give way to a green boulevard
According to Moving Together Providence has the potential to be a "world model for urban design." That is of course, if the city decides to go ahead with their ambitious proposal of tearing up the 6/10 connector which joins Routes 6 and 10 between Olneyville and the interchange with Interstate 95, replacing it with a bicycle- and bus-friendly green boulevard. Currently, the connector makes use of eleven bridges, nine of which are over 50 years old and are in need of repair. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation estimates that such restoration would cost upwards of $400 million. Moving Together argues that instead of using those funds to fix infrastructure that will inevitably have be repaired again, the money should be used to transform the connector into a green boulevard with special bus and protected bike lanes. That's something, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has said she would like to see take place. Today, the connector heavily prioritizes private and commercial vehicle access into, out of, and through the city center. This has been the case for so long now, that the system has since become deeply embedded into Providence's urban fabric. However, these outdated priorities may have to make way for the contemporary demand of more efficient transportation connections that address communal, environmental, and economic needs—the triple bottom line. Naturally, there is a popular concern that removing such a widely used highway will only increase traffic. Nevertheless, urban planner Alex Krogh-Grabbe dispels these fears, saying that traffic is only increased as capacity is added, a concept known as "included demand" whereby people only use a service (in this case the highway) due to its presence. In taking away a travel option, routes into the city are actually diversified, with drivers taking many different journeys via local streets. An example of this can be seen in New York City. In 1973, the West Side Highway was removed due to a partial collapse. At the time, some 80,000 vehicles used the highway daily. Officials were baffled when traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods didn't increase with the elevated highway's closure. Now that highway is a wide boulevard running alongside the Hudson River Greenway with a much used bike route. Another dramatic transformation can be seen with the Cheonggyecheon Highway in South Korea. Here the removal of the much used highway saw a 600percent increase in biodiversity, a 35 percent drop in particulate pollution, and up to a 50 percent increase in land values within the vicinity. Aside from the obvious health benefits, protected bike lanes bring economic reward, too. In New York City, local businesses on the 9th Avenue protected bike lane witnessed a 49 percent increase in retail sales (compared to the borough average of 3 percent). In terms of safety, studies have shown that such lanes can contribute to a 90 percent reduction in injuries per mile and as for reducing emissions, choosing to cycle to work can reduce household emissions by 6 percent—a viable options for half of the United States who live within 5 miles of their workplace. Buses, too, can aid in this area. Dedicated lanes separate buses from general traffic allowing them a faster journey into the city unclogged with traffic, allowing them to carry many more people. All in all, the scheme offers a progressive and viable alternative to the highway that now slices through the city. Whether Providence's residents will take to the idea though, remains to be seen.  
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You Know I'd Bike 1,000 Miles: New York City celebrates milestone achievement in bike infrastructure
The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) announced this week that it has created 1,000 miles of bike lanes (map) across the five boroughs. The 1,000th mile, on which just opened along Clinton Street in Lower Manhattan, is one of twelve new miles planned for 2015. Unsurprisingly, Brooklyn has the greatest stretch of dedicated bike lanes (310.7 miles), though Manhattan has the most lanes (around 122 miles) entirely separate from car traffic. New York City's 1997 Bike Master Plan called for 1,800 miles of bike lanes across the five boroughs. Current projects focus on creating safer streets, maintaining continuity between existing bike lanes, and meeting demand where ridership is high. As part of the Vision Zero transportation safety initiative, Woodside, Queens, is getting protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard (a.k.a. the Boulevard of Death) between 73rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue. As part of a Complete Streets program, an east-west bike lane along 165th Street in the Bronx will connect north-south routes in the borough. This year, after some delay, upgraded bike lanes came to the Pulaski Bridge. The bridge is a key conduit between Brooklyn and Queens that has seen its ridership more than double since 2009. The full list of proposed and in progress bicycle route improvements in New York City can be found here.
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Not a car in the world: Nashville neighborhood abstains from use of cars for a whole week

While major cities in Europe and across the world are experimenting with the car-free lifestyle, the American South is not likely on anyone's radar as the next to embrace the trend. A neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, however, has promised to not use cars for an entire week, leaving them at home as part of the "Don't Car Campaign."

Having started on September 19, 30 participants will go carless until the 25th. “Parking has been a big issue here,” said Jamie Brown, a member of the Nations Neighborhood Association (NNA) board speaking to the Nashville Business Journal. “The residential density is getting higher. One [house] goes down and two or three go up,” she said. “Now we’re starting to see condominium and apartment units." Elaborating on the parking difficulties in the area Brown went on to say: “We’re worried about how [new development] is going to affect our overflow parking in the street. We don’t have sidewalks in our neighborhood. The developers keep telling us this is a walkable neighborhood, saying it’s close to downtown. … We wanted to test that concept.” The NNA campaign to go car-less highlights the outdated transit system currently in place, adjudged by the Nashville MTA as insufficient for the growing local population. The city, according to the Nashville Business Journal, is fortunate in that it is walkable and pedestrian-friendly with plenty of bike lanes. Abstaining from car usage then shouldn't be that much of an issue. “People in other neighborhoods have reached out and told us this is a great idea,” Brown said. “We hope the campaign could be done by other neighborhoods.” The team of 30 who will record and document their experiences seeks to be a leading example of how a population can get by without being dependent on cars. They also want people to start seeing how capable their transportation infrastructure really is.
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Fernando Romero has a plan to green Mexico City with the Cultural Corridor Chapultepec, a park-like linear thoroughfare
Avenida Chapultepec in Mexico City began as a road for Aztec emperors. Over the years the broad boulevard, which leads from the old Colonia Centro to Chapultepec Park, hosted an aqueduct and the city’s first electric tram. But the 20th century wasn’t particularly kind to the thoroughfare. Pounded with traffic and gray with diesel soot, it no longer represents the aspirations of a contemporary Mexico City. But that might change. FR-EE, the Mexico City–based architecture practice headed by Fernando Romero, recently proposed a multimodal greenway to replace a section of Avenida Chapultepec. FR-EE’s proposal, the Cultural Corridor Chapultepec (CCC), remakes a 0.8-mile stretch from Chapultepec Park down to the free-for-all circular junction at Glorieta de los Insurgentes. According to the office, the two-level boulevard will have lanes specifically dedicated to bikes, skaters, wheelchairs, strollers, cars, and buses, with a central promenade for pedestrians. "This project will organize the surroundings, will double the green areas, will enhance connectivity and will celebrate the cultural diversity of the city," Romero explained in a press release. Renderings show a lush upper level promenade planted with shade trees and High Line–like foliage. Cafes and other retail spaces dot the new landscape. The proposal leans toward climate-sensitive features. The hope is that plantings will mitigate the intense “heat island” effect of a long, open surface in the middle of the city. Rainwater will be collected and recycled for irrigation and there are plans to provide solar cells for electricity. A proposal at this scale is somewhat of a departure for Romero, who works with expressive architectural form more than urban fabric. The architect, best known for his sleek and gestural Museo Soumaya, is currently working with Foster + Partners on the Mexico City International Airport. However, the design reflects the global influence of placemaking combined with infrastructural urbanism—a sustainable tonic that could benefit a super dense metropolis like Mexico City.
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Shifting Gears
Courtesy NYCDOT

On a New York City map, the seven-mile roadway that cuts through Queens is designated as Queens Boulevard. But to many New Yorkers, the notoriously dangerous street is known by another name: the Boulevard of Death. According to the city, 185 people (most of them pedestrians) have been killed on the boulevard since 1990; over that time, scores more have been seriously injured. For Mayor de Blasio—who wants to eliminate traffic deaths through a street safety campaign called Vision Zero—overhauling the Boulevard of Death was an obvious place to focus his attention.

In March, the Department of Transportation presented a $100 million plan to transform an especially hazardous 1.3-mile section of the street where 42 people were killed or seriously injured between 2009 and 2013. The plan would fundamentally change the geometry of the street by widening sidewalks, shortening crosswalks, reorganizing slip lanes, and creating pedestrian plazas and protected bike lanes.

“Work has begun to turn Queens Boulevard into a Boulevard of Life—literally remaking this street, rewriting its future, making it safe for all,” said the mayor at a press conference along the street as construction kicked off in July.


Transit advocates and numerous elected officials from Queens and around New York heralded the redesign of Queens Boulevard—especially its inclusion of protected bike lanes—as a “safe streets” homerun. But to these same stakeholders, the laudable transformation of Queens Boulevard is an exception in the DOT’s track record of creating safe streets for cyclists. In the Vision Zero era—after Michael Bloomberg waged, and largely won, the battle to make New York more bike-friendly—the so-called “bicycle lobby” and its allies are questioning the DOT’s commitment to protecting people pedaling around town.

As work was just beginning on Queens Boulevard, the DOT presented a $60 million plan to remake part of another notoriously dangerous roadway in New York: Atlantic Avenue. The redesign included traffic calming measures to protect pedestrians, but like many recent road diets proposed and implemented by the department, it lacked any bicycle infrastructure. To the added chagrin of cyclists, as these plans have been rolled out, existing bike lanes across the city have been worn into oblivion while others have failed to reappear following street resurfacings.


In July, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James wrote a public letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg inquiring about these issues. After lauding the department’s commitment to Vision Zero, she asked why certain road diets were missing bicycle infrastructure and urged the department to make bike lanes the “default option when a street is up for a redesign.”

Paul Steely-White, executive director of the non-profit Transportation Alternatives, said the DOT must be bolder about implementing bicycle infrastructure if it is serious about eliminating traffic fatalities by 2024. With the rate of bicycling increasing, neighborhoods clamoring for bike lanes, Citi Bike now doubling in size, and the mandate of Vision Zero, he believes the department has all the political capital it needs to do so. “It’s no longer a political issue, it’s simply a DOT performance issue,” he said. “There is a residual shyness from a lot of DOT professionals who are perhaps gun shy from the bike lanes battles of the Bloomberg years,” he said. “But politically, socially, we’ve evolved beyond that and it’s time for the agency to catch up.”


DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo said the criticisms levied at the department are not reflective of the reality on the ground. “People should be impatient, they should want things to come quickly, but there has been a process,” he said.

Russo explained that while certain road diets may exclude bike lanes, they can be the first step in convincing skeptical communities that precarious streets can become complete streets. “We have to get people from A to C,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean every single street has to have a bike lane initially or when you do a project.” In the Vision Zero era, he continued, redesigning a dangerous intersection might initially get priority over a bike lane. The idea is that once a street is made safer for all users (cyclists included), the DOT can go back to a community board with a more substantial focus on cyclist safety.


To Ben Fried, the editor-in-chief of StreetsBlog, a popular pro-transit publication, this strategy amounts to unnecessary “self-censorship” on the part of the DOT. Since road diets often meet community resistance whether they include bike lanes or not, the DOT “might as well propose the bike lane anyway,” he said. To many advocates, the best way to create support for bike lanes is to implement bike lanes.

As for the condition of the existing bike network, Russo, who bikes to work from Brooklyn, understands cyclists’ frustration about faded markings and vanished paint. He said the winter was especially harsh on existing lanes, but that “under Vision Zero we have money we never had dedicated to upgrading our markings, and we’ve been growing that operation.”

Overall, the DOT is bullish on its bike lane record—especially outside of Manhattan. The department highlighted bike networks it has proposed or implemented in Long Island City, Ridgewood, Queens, Brownsville and East New York, and around the Harlem River. Each of these plans includes a mix of bike infrastructure from shared lanes to protected lanes to bike pathways. In August, Commissioner Trottenberg also announced that the DOT would be presenting plans for a bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue, a project cyclists and local officials have been requesting for years.

The DOT plans to install 50 miles of bike lanes per year, at least five of which will be protected.