Friday, March 19, 2010

meet janette sadik-khan

The 2010 LA StreetSummit kicked off last night at Occidental College in Eagle Rock with a lecture by New York City's Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan: a bike advocate, complete streets engineer, and all around uber-sweet human being.

In reviewing the incredible successes of PlaNYC's pedestrian- and bike-friendly initiatives, Janette made sure to emphasize a few key points of her overall design philosophy. To paraphrase:
  • Urban reform doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. You can do a whole lot with a can of paint and some imagination to paint the city "green."
  • Urban reform doesn't have to involve huge sweeping changes. Instead, experiment bit by bit in small increments. If it doesn't work out, no bigs — change it back and move on. If it does (e.g. the awesomification of Times Square) make it permanent.
  • Safety is paramount. Use women + children as your benchmark, not spandex-clad cycling evangelists. If moms + their kids don't feel safe cycling on the streets, you've still got work to do.

She spoke to a packed auditorium that interrupted her talk with frequent fits of spontaneous applause, followed by a lengthy Q&A session propelled by a palpable hunger for advice and wisdom on how to achieve similar results — i.e. 200 miles of new bike paths in 3 years! — right here in LA. Janette's combination of idealism guided by pragmatism gives her an utterly charming small town sensibility, only applied to a massive, world class setting like New York City. An amazing person. Someone build a freaking statue of her already.

More pix of this inspiring night on my Flickr photostream.

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Los Angeles, CA, United States
Writer, designer, and urban planning geek.

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