Reclaiming the Street: A Decade of Recreating America’s Streets and the ‘Sadik-Khan’ Effect

Be inspired by innovations and projects that are transforming cities this November at the 2017 International Urban Design Conference.

Ms Rebecca Finn, Urban Designer Tract will be discussing “Reclaiming the street: A decade of recreating America’s streets and the ‘sadik-khan’ effect”.

In 2007, in response to decades of car-centric planning, New York City’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan led change that completely reimagined the city’s streets and drastically improved conditions for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the city.

Rebecca Finn

The most notable project was in Times Square where large swathes of the street were turned into a pedestrian plaza and blocks of Broadway were closed to traffic. The changes happened quickly and the materials were inexpensive. In a stroke of brilliance, New York City Department of Transportation referred to this one and the many other similar projects as ‘pilot projects’.

If they proved not to work they could be removed and the street could easily be returned to its former state. But, for the most part the changes did work. Times Square and other initiatives, including the miles of new dedicated bike lanes have now been turned into permanent features and the public realm in New York City has been transformed.

What Janette Sadik-Khan and her team did in New York City was admirable, but the nation-wide phenomenon that followed is nothing short of incredible. Similar projects popped up all around the country. The mood was euphoric in transportation and design circles. The concept of streets as places solely for the automobile was finally being seriously challenged. While the idea of trying to improve streets wasn’t new, the speed of delivery was. The ‘pop-up’, ‘temporary’, ‘pilot’ culture had arrived. A decade on, this culture has made a huge impact on city streets both around the country and around the world.

In particular, this presentation examines how streets have been reimagined in Los Angeles as a result of this movement. Los Angeles has long been the poster child for the car-centric city, but this image has been seriously challenged over the last decade. Three projects that show this change will be showcased: CicLAvia (LA’s car-free streets program), MyFigueroa (Figueroa Street Streetscape Project) and Sunset Triangle Plaza.

This Conference is an opportunity for design professionals to exchange ideas and experiences, to be creative and visionary and to contribute to redesigning our urban futures.

Register for the 2017 International Urban Design Conference here.

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