Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution Hardcover – March 8, 2016
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“An inspiring read… The sort of book that should be read by every officeholder…But it is also a read for the rest of us. Anyone whose memory is longer than a New York minute who can remember when New York wasn't the pedestrian and bike friendly envy of cities the world over.”
—The Huffington Post
“Janette Sadik-Khan is like the child that Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs never had: an urban visionary determined to reshape the streets of New York, but with an abiding concern for the health of neighborhoods and the safety of their residents. If you care about the future of cities, read Streetfight.”
—Michael Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor
“Cities are where innovation, creativity and the unexpected happens, and Janette has helped make ours, New York City, safer, more livable and more profitable all at once. I watched these exciting changes happen, but the really interesting part is how she managed to implement these changes quickly and cheaply. That’s where other cities can use this as a manual for change on issues like health reform, education and the arts. This, then, is not just a book about transportation.”
—David Byrne, musician, artist
“This book is an urban epic as audacious as the changes Janette Sadik-Khan made to the map of New York City. She is a superhero for cities and an inspiration that streets built to human scale aren’t impossible, but merely awaiting those who dare.”
—Jan Gehl, Urbanist, architect, author
“To create safe and inclusive cities, being a visionary is not enough. You must also be an advocate, a communicator, a doer and, perhaps most importantly, a street fighter. Janette is that person and this is a book that provides the proof of the possible for citizens and their elected leaders everywhere.”
—Enrique Peñalosa, Mayor of Bogota
"Sadik-Khan's work will serve as a guidebook to city planners and traffic engineers everywhere, and motivate disenchanted urban dwellers to urge local politicians to make their cities more liveable."
“[A] bicycle visionary.”
—Frank Bruni, The New York Times
“Sadik-Khan manages to be equal parts Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses.”
—New York Magazine
“If [Robert] Moses had owned a pink fingernail of [Sadik-Khan’s] beguilement, he might have scored a bridge across the Atlantic.”
“[Sadik-Khan is] an urban visionary who cuts through the gridlock.”
“This is a feel-great read for those of us who love cities, especially as pedestrians and bicyclists. Along with local efforts, the book contains wonderful examples of national and global reclamation projects. The good news comes in daily as examples of successful street rebalancing projects continue to mount from all over the world, and advocacy groups that push for these changes grow and strengthen. . . . Fortunately for all of us, [Sadik-Khan] was wildly successful.”
—UrbDeZine San Francisco
About the Author
Seth Solomonow is a manager with Bloomberg Associates. He was the chief media strategist for Janette Sadik-Khan and New York City’s transportation department under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Solomonow has written for The New York Times and his hometown newspaper, The Staten Island Advance. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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The book is mostly a memoir, and a pretty good one. It's also a fairly good introduction to the philosophy behind the two NACTO guides, for bikes and for livable streets. My biggest complaint are the selective omissions. Khan, in the introduction, corrects a Bloomberg aide who describes the position as "traffic commissioner." "I'm the transportation commissioner," she corrects. Well, not so fast. At this time, NYC was embarking on the biggest transit project since BART, 45 years ago: the 2nd Avenue Subway Line. Not a word about it. Why? "Transportation Commissioner" doesn't run transit in NYC. Not surprising: not even Robert Moses was bold enough to take on NY Transit. And that still leaves out PATH, Long Island RR and the suburban bus lines (16?). Not mentioned is the fact that NY Transit is the largest bus system in North America without a single bike-on-bus rack. That's why she only talks about bus rapid transit: her definition of BRT is limited to the modified rights-of-way, not the bus operations. Go talk to transit about that.
Similarly, her much heralded "pocket parks" in odd-shaped intersection triangles were found through an inventory of sites to store snowstorm salt. There were some high profile exceptions (Times Square, the Flatiron Bldg.) but most were in old industrial/warehouse neighborhoods. Her "blitz 'em overnight" tactics worked because the building occupants were tenants, not owners, and didn't really care, except for the lost parking, which was often mitigated. When the condo boys move in, those odd lots will disappear or become walled off plazas.
If you are mostly interested in the bikey stuff, great. But if you want some perspective, I highly recommend a 1965 book by Henry Barnes called "The Man With Red and Greens Eyes." A small-town engineer from the sticks who works his way up to public works director in Denver gets the attention of the New York City Mayor in 1959, and is hired as traffic director to everyone's surprise: "who he?" He discovers a traffic nightmare. Resisting the calls of the daily newspapers to do something drastic, Barnes implements a series of odd-ball, cutting edge improvement, we would today call TSM. He makes every east-west street one way. He allows left turns only on signals. He installs the "Barns Dance," an all-red traffic signal phase just for pedestrians, letting them even cross diagonally. Oh, and the biggest single thing: "The first thing I did is get rid of those Godawful trolley buses and replace them with modern diesel buses." The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sorta.
Her underlying premise, that we have given over control of the precious and foundation streetscape to those who drive cars and trucks and have left behind bicyclists and pedestrians is exceptionally well documented and explained. She also manages to humanize those on both sides of the contentious debates that occurred repeatedly on a variety of issues during her tenure as New York City Transportation Commissioner. She also evidences an acute understanding of when and how to fight battles and, equally astutely, when to back off and wait for another day to engage in the fight.
What was particularly revealing was the degree to which even small steps, like placing a bike rack on a portion of a block could draw out adversaries who would fight ferociously against even this small change in the use of urban space. Her account of the many initiatives she undertook and what she and others had to do to succeed in them communicates both the good and the bad in representative democracy.
She is to be commended for what she accomplished for New Yorkers and the effort she made to share her learning with others. This is truly a landmark book in the field!!
Top international reviews
Sin adentrarme al contenido del caso de éxito mencionado en Street Fight, recomiendo ampliamente para aquellos que estén interesados en el proceso de "hacer ciudad" y entender de las externalidades que conlleva el proceso del diseño participativo y sobre todo de la idiosincrasia de las personas en contra de buscar el hacer una mejor ciudad, una ciudad para la gente.
Lessons to fight the blood war to make the cities safer and improve public vocabulary. Bring the pedestrians to the forefront of urban design. All cities need to learn this prioritisation.
One of the best work on urban planning of traffic and transportation.