The Benevolent Robert Moses of New York's Streets

As New York City prepares to pedestrianize Times Square, New York Magazine profiles Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who they call "equal parts Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses."

"This simple but dramatic act will amount to bypass surgery on the heart of New York. It will become the most visible component yet of Mayor Bloomberg's citywide attempt to make New York's streets calmer, greener, and safer. And it will establish the front lines of a growing movement to tilt the balance of asphalt power away from the automobile and toward cyclists and pedestrians."

"...You'd think that closing Broadway to traffic would be seen as a grand egalitarian gesture. Returning a public amenity like the street to the perambulating masses should be a source of democratic harmony. And yet it's not. Plans like these never are. Perhaps it's the sense of a centralized hidden hand at work. Or maybe it's the fact that the streets are the ultimate shared resource, giving everyone a proprietary feeling about them. But redrawing the map of the city invariably stokes suspicion and resentment, and doing so at its absolute nerve center is being read by some as an act of provocation.

Sadik-Khan has been at her job long enough to know that one does not rearrange traffic in midtown lightly, so she has grounded her Broadway plan on assiduous analysis and computer modeling of traffic flow. She has managed a sophisticated PR campaign that has paid off with support from both the Times and the Daily News, as well as the business-improvement districts.

But even though her models suggest that simplifying the three-way intersections will enhance circulation, she has yet to convince many of the players who use Times Square the most."

Thanks to Reconnecting America

Full Story: Honk, Honk, Aaah

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