AN EXCERPT from Street Design, called “The Problems With Modern Roundabouts” by Better! Cities & Towns, caused comment around the web in places like a private roundabout listserv. Traffic engineer Peter Swift and urban designer Geoff Dyer challenged us to a debate, which turned into more of a loveliest. You can hear it at Placemakers.com
A NEW YORK CITY MTA Bus almost ran me over this morning as I WALKED my bike in a crosswalk with a green light. Before he almost ran me over the driver honked at me, loudly, to tell me to get out of his way. And I repeat, I was walking in a crosswalk, with the walk light.
That’s what turn lanes and turn lights do. They give drivers the idea that they have a right to turn, without people getting in their way. And green turn lights and boldly marked turn lanes encourage drivers to go quickly and “take the lane,” because they are clearly in an environment set up for cars—just like in the suburbs. The bus was going at least 35 miles per hour, and so was a long stream of traffic behind him. If the bus had hit me while going 35 miles per hour, I would have almost certainly been dead. While walking with the light in a crosswalk, on an island where 80% of the people don’t own cars.
Earlier this morning, I was at the corner of Broadway and 56th Street and watched while pedestrians going both ways (across Broadway or crossing 56th Street) all had to wait after the turn light went green, giving drivers the go-ahead to turn left onto 56th Street. That should never happen in Manhattan.
FACT: There is an inverse relationship between a traffic engineer’s or DOT’s Level of Service (LOS) and the degree of walkability. That’s why in our petition to the US DOT we proposed a Walkable Index Number (WIN) for towns and cities instead of an auto-based Level of Service. WIN versus LOS equals walkability versus drivability.
Residents of Manhattan deserve better. So do all the tourists walking around the city. The only way Mayor DeBlasio’s Vision Zero pledge to reduce traffic fatalities in New York to zero will work will be to level the playing field and stop giving so much of the “space between the buildings” to the small number of people who drive in New York. Even the planet would be improved if we got over the idea that everyone has a God-given right to ignore the best transit system in America and drive into the city.
John Massengale was interviewed on “Everything Is Broken” on April 22:
The YouTube video above includes a slide show. Some of the slides are closely correlated with the interview, while others are only loosely connected. Click here for a higher resolution version of the video.
The video below only has an image of the cover and the audio track.
On May 27, Victor Dover will be on Baltimore Public Radio, WYPR.
A RECENT MAILING from the Congress for New Urbanism says,
Check out Victor Dover and other folks from Dover, Kohl & Partners in this new video about the Hometown Plan for the City of South Miami. The Hometown Plan was initiated over 16 years ago and continues to be actively implemented today. New streetscape improvements and infill buildings have created a walkable, urban downtown. Filmed by Nestor Arguello. Directed by Jason King, Dover, Kohl & Partners.
“How cars conquered the American city (and how we can win it back)”
Two quotes from the article by Henry Grabar:
John Massengale and I are standing in the middle of 1st Avenue at East 4th Street, in New York’s East Village, and he does not like the feng shui. He points to the thick, white lines in the roadway, directing drivers toward a left turn. “Automobile-scale striping,” he notes. “It’s telling you: ‘This is not a place for you.’”
Part instruction manual, part history, part manifesto, the book argues that it is the street, more than anything, that shapes the city. In traveling to cities around the world and interviewing residents, pedestrians and businesspeople, Dover and Massengale found a remarkable degree of agreement about which streets are nice and which are not. “If there is so much consensus on what makes a good street,” they ask, “then why are we still building so many bad and ugly ones?”
On March 14, 2014, John Massengale and Victor Dover delivered this PowerPoint presentation about Vision Zero to a roundtable organized by the Regional Plan Association.