Broken Streets

New York City has an enormous traffic problem. Streets are overrun with cars, pedestrians are jammed onto sidewalks, cyclists are forced into dangerous traffic, buses fall behind schedule, and deliveries, taxis, and emergency vehicles struggle to get through.

New York’s traffic-planning policy has traditionally focused on maximizing vehicular throughput. This approach – now widely recognized as outdated – fails to consider how pedestrians, cyclists, and transit-users can improve the total capacity of our streets.

Streets are more than just car corridors; they are valuable civic spaces and resources that need to be wisely allocated. Improving these public spaces is the simplest way to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

Undemocratic Use of Space

Cars are the most inefficient users of New York City street space. A sensible, sustainable transportation policy will prioritize transit users, cyclists and walkers.

Only 2 in 5 New Yorkers own a car — 1 in 5 Manhattanites owns a car. Yet New York City streets are almost entirely devoted to cars.

Traffic Harms Neighborhoods

Donald Appleyard, UC Berkeley Professor of Urban Design, quantified the impact of traffic on social ties. He found that people who live on low traffic streets:

  • had more friends
  • knew more neighbors
  • felt greater pride and stewardship

How Do New Yorkers Deal With Traffic?

In the summer of 2005, Appleyard’s research was replicated in four New York City neighborhoods. The results confirmed the detrimental effect of traffic on relations between neighbors.

How Do New Yorkers Deal With Traffic?

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