Video: New York streets' 10-year transformation

Before and after the introduction of a pedestriased plaza at the junction of Broadway and Times Square. Image: NYC DOT via Flickr.

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).


What we're reading: Understanding how the coronavirus spreads in public spaces

Risk assessment: It’s a holiday weekend in the US and UK, and where the weather is nice, people will surely want to go out. Vox has a handy chart for understanding the risks of coronavirus in different settings.

Covid-proofing: Social distancing has proven to be an effective way to slow the coronavirus, but it’s an emergency method that can’t stay in place forever. In order to get the economy going again, offices, restaurants and entertainment venues will need a dramatic overhaul. The Atlantic shares ideas to make that happen.

Vacation ghost town: With no indication of when people can safely travel again, resort towns are bracing for a summer unlike any other. CityLab reports that this weekend is the start of a critical period for vacation hotspots, but residents and businesses there expect tough times ahead.