- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Viking; 1st edition (March 8, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525429840
- ISBN-13: 978-0525429845
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 42 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution Hardcover – March 8, 2016
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"No one has done more in less time to rewrite the future of New York’s streets."—Reclaim
“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
Janette Sadik-Khan is one of the world’s foremost authorities on transportation and urban transformation. She served as New York City’s transportation commissioner from 2007 to 2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, overseeing historic changes to New York City’s streets—closing Broadway to cars in Times Square, building nearly 400 miles of bike lanes, and creating more than 60 plazas citywide. A founding principal with Bloomberg Associates, she works with mayors around the world to reimagine and redesign their cities. She chairs the National Association of Transportation Officials, implementing new people-focused street design standards that have been adopted in 45 cities across the continent. She lives in New York City.
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.
Making dramatic changes to road designs in what is surely one of the most argumentative places in the world, requires an equal amount of ingenuity. It also takes a lot of patience and, as it turns out, superb data and analysis. All of this is explained with an accurate and compelling narrative. Closing iconic areas like Times Square to traffic seemed absurd when it was first proposed, but her superb planning and careful navigation of business and other interests in the area paid off. Traffic actually moves faster in the area, businesses who feared losing customers had an increase in sales and rents increased as people came to understand that the new design brought more people to shops formerly hemmed in by fuming, honking traffic. Yes she does occasionally give herself a pat on the back but she deserves it. What she managed to do in a short time is nothing short of breathtaking. And she tells the story well.