PPS is excited to announce to you an exhibit we have just opened at the Urban Center Galleries at the Municipal Art Society. The exhibit Livable Streets: A New Vision for New York is the public kick off of the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign that PPS is running with Transportation Alternatives and The Open Planning Project.

The experience most associated with New York, and perhaps most loved about the city, is that of the pedestrian–walking city sidewalks, strolling around neighborhood streets–yet we still plan our streets mainly to enhance the speed of the automobile.

We strongly believe that the biggest obstacle–and biggest opportunity–to achieving better public spaces in New York is our streets. The myopic focus of New York transportation officials on moving vehicles has had serious consequences for the city, limiting its potential as a vibrant place where public activity can flourish and all modes of transportation are balanced. The city is now at a point where it can either stay the course of worsening traffic and perilous streets or re-define itself with great public spaces and lively street life. Almost every street in the city can better meet communities’ needs for greater accessibility, health, safety, and economic activity.

“If we continue to plan our streets for cars and traffic we will only get more cars and traffic, but if we start planning for people and places, we will get people and places.”
— Fred Kent

The New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign is challenging the city’s auto-centric transportation policy at every level, shedding light on the broader opportunities to support great streets and neighborhoods through smart investment in transportation and public space. We are working to connect neighborhood and city-wide leaders with each other and with powerful information and training. We are also getting short-term wins by working with communities to achieve specific street restructuring projects that bring significant benefits to pedestrians, neighborhoods, and the city as whole.

We hope that you will join the many people and organizations who are signing on to express their support for this campaign. You can also tell your stories or seek help for your community here.

And don’t forget to attend our exhibit and the many associated events at The Urban Center, 457 Madison Avenue at 51st Street (details below). All of the events are free, however it is recommended that you RSVP to rsvp@mas.org or 212-935-2075.

PPS is very excited to be focusing more of our energy in New York after having successfully reformed transportation policy and practice in other parts of the country. We will be releasing our New York City Commentary (a follow up to city commentaries we have done for London, Paris and Barcelona.) in the coming month.

We hope to see you at one of the upcoming events!

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EVENTS

Neighborhoods and Traffic: How Does Traffic Affect New Yorkers’ Quality of Life?
Wed, Feb 15, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

High volumes of neighborhood traffic not only impact our health, but also the bonds that form strong communities. Hear the details of a groundbreaking study that shows how speeding, congestion and other traffic issues affect the relationships residents have with their neighbors, their children and the places they call home.

Karla Quintero from Transportation Alternatives will present the results from the new report Neighborhoods and Traffic. Learn how traffic and street design affect New Yorkers’ perception, use and enjoyment of city streets. Karla examines the impact of traffic on New Yorkers’ quality of life and confirms Donald Appleyard’s findings first published in Livable Streets (1963).

Tom Samuels, leading traffic calming practitioner from Chicago (and former PPS employee), will discuss measures Chicago has taken to reconfigure their roadways and traffic control systems to balance pedestrian safety with traffic flow.

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Better Streets, Better Business: Fiscal Benefits of Better Streets

Thurs, Feb 23, 8:30 – 10:00 am

Todd Litman, founder and executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, will discuss the economic benefits of creating spaces that favor walking and biking over driving. He will focus on measures city and local businesses can take to set modal targets for biking and walking within the city as well as more specific commercial and retail districts; define the value of walkability in a strong economy and successful retail center and explore a variety of methods that address specific parking problems and encourage more efficient use.

Bruce Shaller, President of Schaller Consulting, will release his groundbreaking new report “The Auto in Manhattan: Necessity or Choice?” It explores the role of automobile travel in Manhattan’s economy, and the extent to which current auto commuters have existing transit alternatives. The report has far-reaching implications for how New York’s streets are best managed, apportioned and designed.

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Broadway as a Destination: What if We Redefined Broadway Around its Great Destinations?

Monday, Feb 27, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

While Broadway is the proud spine of Manhattan, in reality it is more of a thoroughfare than a great street. Broadway’s major crossings create some of the most unfriendly intersections in the city, but these problematic spaces also have enormous potential to become pedestrian-oriented destinations. A panel of local leaders will discuss transforming Broadway into a street with great destinations and more effective pedestrian connections.

Discussion questions will include: Can Broadway become more pedestrian-oriented? How can Broadway better connect and support the destinations it intersects? Can it become a boulevard with amenities and wider sidewalks? Can through traffic be limited? Can traffic be two-way? Can vehicle access be limited, with priority for taxis and buses?

Confirmed Panelists:
Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces
Savona Bailey-McClain, Executive Director, West Harlem Art Fund
Tim Tompkins, Executive Director, Times Square Alliance
Dan Biederman, President, 34th Street Partnership
Jeffrey Zupan, Senior Fellow, Transportation, Regional Plan Association

By looking at Broadway as a whole and highlighting current successes, obstacles and opportunities, this discussion is intended to be a catalyst for increased cooperation and vision, encouraging both small localized improvements and larger-scale rethinking of priorities and solutions for New York’s most important street. The discussion will also be highly relevant to other streets and intersections around the city. Indeed, many of the city’s major intersections, where important streets meet, are the least friendly places for pedestrians. If treated as squares and plazas (in more than just name), these car-dominated areas could become some of the most valuable destinations in New York City.

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Stickball: Past, Present, and Future of the Quintessential NYC Street Game

Wed, March 15, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Stickball was the ultimate New York street game, requiring only a broom handle, a ball, players and a safe street. Can it make a comeback?

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Connecting Neighborhood Activists with Resources

Mon, March 20, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Learn about resources – including technological tools, planning and advocacy assistance, videography, and media strategy – that the NYC Streets Renaissance provides neighborhood activists working to improve their streets and traffic.

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A very special evening with…

Enrique Penalosa
Former Mayor of Bogota Colombia

Wednesday, March 22nd

“If you improve the pedestrian qualities of the city you get improved real estate values. My main worry is equality and happiness, but many people think real estate values are more important, so the interesting thing is that both of them are benefited.”

Limited space is available for this event. Location to be determined. If you would like more information about this event please contact info@transalt.org

“…What we did, I like to emphasize, is nothing extremely expensive. It’s not great public works, I mean, maybe just to make a wide sidewalk on a bikeway, you know, it’s not something that is going to cost billions.”