Gehl on Wheels

The Jan Gehl product roll-out continues apace. Last week, WNYC. This week, New York Magazine. Word has it Gehl’s team will be presenting Department of Transportation brass with some pretty big ideas for street space re-allocation. In the meantime, enjoy another interview with everyone’s favorite Danish urban designer:

Can New York really be tamed?
I don’t have any vision of taming New York, and I don’t think it should
be. I do think there’s an imbalance between the various uses of the
street that can be adjusted.

You still bike daily. Do you bike when you’re here?
Once
it’s reasonably safe, you can ask the senior citizens to bike. I shall
be happy to be the first. My younger colleagues bike a lot here to find
out how it is. It’s a matter of age and daring, and a few other things.

Like being crazy?
That’s your words.

Is London’s congestion-pricing plan working?
Traffic
has dropped there by 18 percent. And when London was given the 2012
Olympics, suddenly everybody was eager to improve the city very fast.
If you can only get an Olympics, everything will be fine.

How can we reduce traffic in midtown?
There’s a number of ways, but congestion pricing may be the easiest and most-proven means of doing it quickly.

So you think it’s necessary?
Did I say that? I didn’t say that.

With all the bike theft here, could a Copenhagen- or Paris-style bike-sharing system work?
I
certainly think so. These bikes would look different and be geared so
that they’d be a little bit awkward to bike long distances on. At first
in Copenhagen people collected them, but after a few years, that was
not so interesting anymore.

What do you think of the new bike lane on Ninth Avenue?
It’s grossly overdone. You can make the whole thing one third the width.

Have you told the city this?
Not yet. I will next week.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    He’ll be in New York on November 6 to give a talk at the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side.

    Maybe he can give them some pointers on sidewalk design; currently in front of there it looks like a design for the Israeli embassy in Beirut. Nothing says “community center” like car bomb barricades!

  • Larry Littlefield

    (What do you think of the new bike lane on Ninth Avenue? It’s grossly overdone. You can make the whole thing one third the width.)

    That’s because it was made wide enough for emergency vehicles, as reported here.

    Which has me thinking. But one all all the avenues and streets, have the bikers hop up on the sidewalk in emergencies, and all the congestion in the world will not harm bicycles, pedestrians, and emergency access. Then let ’em sit in traffic and fine them ruthlessly if they insist on driving here.

  • Mitch

    (What do you think of the new bike lane on Ninth Avenue? It’s grossly overdone. You can make the whole thing one third the width.)

    That’s because it was made wide enough for emergency vehicles, as reported here.

    Which brings up an interesting question: how do they accommodate emergency vehicles (and maintenance equipment, like sweepers and snowplows and pavement patchers) on bikepaths in Copenhagen? Will their approach work in New York?

  • Hilary

    Why in the world would he want it narrower? Look at the parallel Hudson River path. Except for recreational use on the weekend, aren’t they projecting similar traffic on a parallel route farther inland?

  • Jonathan

    Hilary, the only reason I can think of is that a narrower path slows down cyclists and makes it safer for pedestrians who are stepping off the curb. Must put that one on the list to ask him tomorrow.

    The other day when I went to look at the 9th Ave path, I heard another biker behind me say “Wow, a separated bike lane!” I was trying to be hardcore and blasé about it, but hearing someone else say it out loud made me realize that it’s really quite an impressive public work for our city. Hope it gets longer and connects up with Hudson and Bleecker Streets on the other side of 14th Street.

  • Tom

    Larry, AFAIK it was done to accommodate street sweepers, not for emergency vehicles. However, that does seem to be one convenient bonus working in favor of the “extra wide” separated bike lane – emergency vehicle access.

  • smallfry

    a narrower configuration would make this type of treatment more replicable. remember, on most streets current vehicular demand means that the width is much harder to repurpose than it was on 9th ave.

  • “If you can only get an Olympics, everything will be fine.”

    Uh oh!

  • gecko

    At the 11/6 event Jan Gehl described his consultants as raving about the wide streets in New York City and how much can be done with all the space.

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