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Sadik-Khan: ‘Pedestrianization’ of cities is worth the struggle

Times Square is one of many areas in New York City where pavement for cars has been given back to pedestrians. (Stefan Georgi/flickr/cc)

Reconfiguring roads to better accommodate pedestrians and cyclists often stokes fears of increased automobile congestion. Janette Sadik-Khan, formerly New York City’s transportation commissioner, says that despite the pushback, the changes are worth the fight, CBC News reports.

Sadik-Khan helped the city add more than 600 kilometers (373 miles) of bike paths and “repurposed” 73 hectares (180 acres) of pavement into car-free zones, the article says. She was recently in Vancouver, Canada to promote her new book, Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution. She served from 2007 to 2013 under Michael Bloomberg’s mayorship.

A common response to adding bike lanes and pedestrian areas is the fear of severe gridlock, or what Sadik-Khan calls “carmageddon”. Even in progressive New York, “every inch” of pavement reclaimed from drivers was a fight, she added. “The result was none of the predictions came true,” Sadik-Khan told the audience.

In New York, retail sales went up along streets with protected cycling routes. Property values soared in newly pedestrianized areas such as Times Square. The former city leader noted that many staunch opponents warmed to her proposals after implementation.

Sadik-Khan now chairs the National Association of City Transportation Officials and is a principal at Bloomberg Associates.

CBC News

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