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Community / Public space

Video: New York streets' 10-year transformation

Around the world, cities seem to be turning against cars. Madrid’s moving towards a car-free city centre; World Car Free day, founded in France in 1998, has now spread to around 1,000 cities in 35 countries. Of course, in most cities, car-reduction measures usually take the more subtle form of bike lanes, pedestrianised streets and improvements in public transport. 

In New York City, measures like these have been introduced over the past 10 years to cut back on congestion and make the busiest areas of the city a little more pleasant. This video, shot and edited by filmmaker Clarency Eckerson Jr for Streetsblog NYC, tracks changes to specific areas between 2002 and 2013:

In footage from five or 10 years ago, cars and yellow taxis sit in stationary traffic, while in later years they appear to be overflowing with cycle lanes, street furniture, potted plants, pedestrianised roads and urban beaches.

Of course, no one’s claiming the city is now some kind of urban utopia, but pro-cycling and walking measures do seem to be having some effect: during 2011, traffic volumes fell by 1.8 per cent despite a population increase of around 100,000, according to the latest figures released by City Hall

For more on this, watch this Ted talk from Janette Sadik-Khan, transport commissioner of New York between 2007 and 2013, on how “bold” transport experiments have improved the city’s streets (from a completely objective standpoint, of course).


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