Once again, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) delightfully surprises the design community with another major leap forward in making city streets a public realm for all users (I can't tell you how odd it still feels to write that). As if the impressive, incessant roll-out of bike lanes, successful implementation of the "Select Bus Service", and the unprecedented changes to Times Square and its environs weren't enough to pique the imaginations of New Yorkers used to streets built for cars, NYCDOT has just issued their "2009 Street Design Manual". Planners and Engineers, get ready for a thrill!
Don't let the year in the name fool you; if you've endured the rigors of learning the ropes of roadway design in New York City, then you know well enough that such a comprehensive document has never existed to guide the designer through the complexities of one of the most challenging processes known to man (Full disclosure: that might be a slight exaggeration). It is with great joy (and relief) that I can dispense with the ten-times-photocopied half-sheet details and loose collection of materials assembled over the years that substituted for a comprehensive design manual, and share with you a document that stresses the importance of accommodating all modes, offers a broad range of design treatments, and is bursting at the seams with visual examples and precedents from around the world (for illustrative purposes only, of course!).
So don't waste any more time reading my banter, dig into the 2009 Street Design Manual right away and discover the eerily new NYCDOT; it may in fact be the perfect set of guidelines for other cities to adopt in their pursuit of a safer, more balanced public street space. Enjoy!