Press Releases

Press Release #08-049

New York City DOT Releases World Class Streets Report, Calling for Enhanced Public and Pedestrian Space

Report builds upon Mayor’s PlaNYC and DOT Strategic Plan

The New York City Department of Transportation today released World Class Streets, a report that presents new policies for the function and design of New York's streets. The 50-page report finds that the treatment of the spaces between buildings strongly determines a city's character and defines a planning approach that emphasizes walking, creating streets that serve as active public spaces and integrating interesting and attractive design into projects and public structures on city streets.

"The times are changing, from the problem of global warming to worldwide competition among cities, and our streets need to change along with them," said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "Until now, New York has not embraced a broad strategy for developing and caring for the public realm, but today, the world's best cities are strongly focused on quality of life. Designing streets as great places for people and not just as utilitarian corridors for vehicles takes full advantage of New York's density and vibrancy - it's a new frontier in ensuring that New York remains the greatest city in the world."

The report describes recent projects that embody DOT's new approach and lays the basis for implementing similar projects on a routine basis across the five boroughs. Street studies showed the need for public space enhancements in outer boroughs, finding that more pedestrians walk along Flushing Main Street than along parts of 34th Street in Manhattan, and that East Fordham Road in the Bronx sees pedestrian volumes higher than are seen in some European cities.

NYC DOT's World Class Streets strategies include its public plaza program, "complete streets" projects that explicitly accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, deliveries and buses in their designs, a new standard set of streetscape materials, well-designed street furniture, new public art programs, special designation of street space such as last summer's Summer Streets and projects to develop Broadway into the city's grand boulevard.

World Class Streets is intended as a companion volume to the city's new street design manual, which will be completed this winter. The manual will set forth technical detail for city streets under the policies described in World Class Streets and will guide not only the work of DOT, but other city agencies in all future work on the streets of New York City.

World Class Streets begins with an analysis of the City's public realm by renowned Danish urbanist Jan Gehl. Where many cities have enlisted Gehl to provide an outsider's perspective as they contemplate possible new directions, NYC DOT has used Gehl's work to directly inform the implementation of new policies and projects.

"New York is moving much faster and more thoroughly than many cities around the world that have acknowledged the need for sustainability and a high quality public realm," said Jan Gehl. "It is a real honor to be part of the team as Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Sadik-Khan transform the streets of New York."

DOT has identified areas in New York street network where improvements are needed. For example, some of New York's busiest streets are unattractive environments for both young and senior pedestrians, or are areas in need of better or newly designed public space. In following PlaNYC and the DOT Strategic Plan, DOT is moving forward with its multi-faceted street design program. The elements of these designs are visible across the city, such as:

Broadway Boulevard: A series of public spaces, parallel to a bike lane, in the area between Times Square and Herald Square.

Complete Streets Projects: A fully separated bike lane on Manhattan's 9th Avenue, which protects cyclists and narrows crossing times for pedestrians. This project is the first of its kind in the United States.

Safe Streets for Seniors: While traffic fatalities are on the decline, New York's senior citizens are still vulnerable in this area. New York is studying this issue and has begun to make changes at 25 areas across the city that have a large number of senior citizens and a significant amount of crashes.

Safe Routes to Schools: DOT studies and has begun to improve pedestrian safety around hundreds of the City's elementary and middle schools. DOT will be expanding the program to include high-priority high schools.

Summer Streets: A highly successful event this summer, when DOT opened seven miles of car-free streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park. Covered worldwide, this event highlighted New York's commitment to making sure streets are not just for vehicles.

Temporary Art: DOT has installed or created temporary art displays in public spaces from DUMBO to Washington Heights.

Bike parking: DOT is committed to adding 5,000 new CityRacks on New York's sidewalks. The new design will be both aesthetic appealing and highly functional.

New street design policies are an integral element of DOT's general sustainable transportation policy, which consists of mobility improvements through expanded bus, ferry and bicycle networks, safer streets with focus on schools and senior areas, sustainable operations and excellence and modernization in all aspects of the Department's work.