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).

 
 
 
 

Podcast: Brizzle

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees, in Bristol. Image: Getty.

This week, we’re off to an English city that, to my shame, I’ve been neglecting: Bristol, the largest city in the south west, and indeed the largest city in the south outside London.

I’m joined by Sian Norris, founder of the Bristol Women’s Literary Festival, to talk about the city she’s lived in since her childhood. She tells me what makes Bristol so liveable, why it’s struggling with inequality, and how it’s coping with the recent influx of London expats bidding up house prices.

Since we’re on his patch, I also spoke to Marvin Rees, who since 2016 has been the elected Labour mayor of the city. He tells me why he was so keen for Bristol to host the Global Parliament of Mayors, and why local politicians need to work together after Brexit. Oh, and he talks about his transport plans, too.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

Skylines is supported by 100 Resilient Cities. Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, 100RC is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

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