Best of Manhattan, Worst of Sactown

New York Press gave Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, a “Best of Manhattan 2009″ award for spearheading the move to close Broadway from Central Park to Union Square:

If you’d told us a year ago that there would be bike lanes, planters and street furniture along Broadway stretching from Central Park to Union Square, we’d have called you crazy (or worse). The fact that Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, has managed to transform arguably the most iconic thoroughfare in the world (sometimes overnight) into a bike-friendly, pedestrian-conscious zone is nothing less than astonishing…

And while they’ve managed to close a portion of Broadway in NYC to car traffic, here in our City they’re talking about opening the only major pedestrian-only street in the area to automobiles. Talk about moving in exactly the wrong direction. We need a Sadik-Khan here in the state capital.

10 Responses to “Best of Manhattan, Worst of Sactown”

  • Tali says:

    “The mall was closed to vehicles in 1969 – a decision some say played a role in the area’s downturn.”

    :-O

    I’m genuinely amazed that pedestrianizing a street could contribute to its downturn. I’ve lived in a few car dominated cities in Australia and the UK, but the pedestrian streets have been bustling successes. There can be issues late at night, when unlike an enclosed mall, you can’t just have security close the doors to the public, but I’ve never heard of a failure like this, and the article linked to suggests that there have been other failures in other US cities.

    What went wrong in Sacramento? Are there too manyh other pedestrian streets in the area? To many malls in the suburbs?

    Just find this one genuinely purplexing. I’d accepted the idea that pedestrianizing shopping streets was a “slam dunk”.

  • ryan says:

    I am from Folsom CA and I have been spoiled by the MUP’s and bike lanes. I am in Montclair NJ for a couple weeks and working in Brooklyn, NY. Montclair has really narrow roads and would be horrible for biking, I don’t have one now and I am having withdraws.

    In NYC it is pretty crazy but I did find some of the streets with the green path on the side of the road for bikes. The green area extends to the front of the intersections for bikes. It is pretty cool. I wish I had a bike to ride around when I am in the CIty. Tomorrow and Sunday I will be rambling around doing to tourist thing and I can’t wait to see the hustle of the city and the bike messengers.

    Alan, if I see any cool things I will try to send some pics. I forgot my camera at home so they will be low quality iPhone pics. But hopefully I will see some cool things.

    -Ryan

  • Alan says:

    @Tali

    In my opinion, the reasons for the failures in the central part of Sacramento’s downtown are many and complex and have little or nothing to do with the pedestrian mall and car access. I’d say there’s zero probability that simply opening up the Mall to automobiles will have a significant positive impact on commerce in the area.

  • John says:

    Alan,

    I’m new to this website, and I think it’s great. I live on Southern California and I am up in Sacramento once or twice a year for work. I agree that Sac (and all our cities) need more auto-free zones, not less. Central downtown is as charming as it is because of its pedestrian zones, not in spite of them. What are the city planners thinking?

    John.

  • Alan says:

    @John

    Thanks, I’m glad you enjoy the site.

    As for what the City planners are thinking, I’ve yet to figure it out.

    Alan

  • Alastair says:

    Hi Alan,
    It’s funny that they use the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica as an example of a street that was revitalized because it was opened to car traffic. Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the major reasons that the Third Street Promenade is so successful is because it is CLOSED to car traffic. They really need to get their facts straight.

    Thanks for the great site.

    Alastair

  • Rick says:

    Alastair, you couldn’t be more right: Erin and I lived in Los Angeles for a few years before returning to her hometown of Sacramento, and we’ve always been amazed at the attitude of the local pols that seem to blame a lack–or too much–of something (tax revenue, the homeless, etc.) on not having cars around, as opposed to creating a space where (and I wish I could italicize this) pedestrians and cyclists felt safe, and weren’t in a hurry to buy crap. We always enjoyed visiting the 3rd street promenade (we bought the computer I’m writing this on there!), where one can walk for nearly a mile unencumbered by the fear of being run over by a starlet in a Hummer!

    I actually spoke with the Bike Guy for Sacramento yesterday with regards to our group ride next month, and I got the impression he does feel the pain… he’s a nice fellow, but I felt his position was one of attempting to explain the future to those that have difficulty understanding the present, and I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be at times.

    Still, like Candide on wheels, I remain optimistic. :-)

  • Dean says:

    K Street’s problems have little, if anything to do with its closure to cars. It’s very easy to park near K and walk in. Moreover, the mall there is as much of a retail graveyard as the pedestrian zone, even though the mall has underground parking.

    I’d like to see one bike lane on I and one on J so that riders can get all the way dowtown without getting (nearly) sideswiped and yelled at by impatient drivers who don’t know the vehicle code.

  • Billy says:

    Currently, bikes are not allowed on this section of K St. Opening up to cars also means opening up to bikes.

  • Billy says:

    Ya!
    http://www.bikeramento.org/2009/11/25/k-street-mall-open-to-bike-traffic/

 
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