New York City has begun to transform major streets
New York City has begun to transform major streets

Big Apple takes a bite out of streets

New York City has been radically shifting space on its main thoroughfares away from cars, providing high quality cycle facilities, more space for pedestrians and better bus networks. Now research is starting to show the economic and social benefits.

Over the last few years New York has undertaken a major programme of work to improve conditions for walking, cycling and public transport, by removing space from motor traffic. 

Many of the hostile, 5+ lane wide, network of north-south avenues on Manhattan have been transformed, and high quality, wide cycle lanes installed. Removing capacity for motor traffic has resulted in massively reduced casualties, while the improvement to public space has, in some cases, led to improvements in the local economy.

9th Avenue's new design has resulted in:

  • a 58% decrease in injuries to all street users 
  • a 49% increase in retail sales (compared to 3% across the area) 
A big part of engineering a greener, greater New York City is improving our streets so they encourage people to walk and bicycle more”
Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner for Transportation
In other places lanes have been removed to create better public spaces for pedestrians. The changes have been pushed through - sometimes in the face of stiff opposition - by Janette Sadik-Khan, the Commissioner for Transportation. 
The city is also planning in 2013 to roll out its own bike share scheme - Citibike - which, like the London scheme, is sponsored by a major financial institution. The scheme, which uses the same design of bikes as used in London, has been hit by delays.  Annual membership cost is cheaper than London - where fares are doubling in 2013 - at $95 (£60), while trips are free up to 45 min, rather than the 30 mins provided free in London. Daily and weekly memberships are also available.
To find out more about the effects of New York's changes, download Measuring the Street: New Metrics for 21st Century Streets, below.
Chris Peck
Measuring the Street (NYC DOT)1.4 MB