I'm not complaining that Sadik-Khan only did one thing I asked. The things she did do for pedestrians - adding pedestrian space in plazas, calming streets with road diets and protected bike lanes - have made the city a much more pleasant place to walk. But I would like to see the other four things happen, and I have a few more. So here's the updated list, and I hope our new Commissioner Polly Trottenberg can make them happen.
Make sidewalk extensions standard. They're documented to make streets safer for pedestrians. They should probably be on every corner. In 2002, Bloomberg and Commissioner Weinshall missed a golden opportunity: they spent $218 million to install curb cuts at corners throughout the city, bowing to years of sustained pressure from disability rights advocates. They could have installed extensions at many of those corners, but of course they didn't. Trottenberg could make up for that by setting a policy that in the future any corners that are rebuilt will be rebuilt with extensions by default. Those extensions should only be omitted if circumstances argue against them, not the other way around.
Summer Streets across the Manhattan Bridge. Summer Streets has proven to be wildly popular for six years running, rain or shine, and it's time to extend it. A large number of livable streets advocates live in Brooklyn and already travel to Manhattan for the event. We could make it easier for them to attend, and bring some tourist dollars and recreation to Brooklyn, by extending Summer Streets east on Canal Street, across the upper deck of the Manhattan Bridge and down Flatbush Avenue to Prospect Park. Trottenberg may need some help from the NYPD on this: I've heard that the policing costs are very expensive, but that the police staffing levels are very much overkill, and many of those cops could be replaced by event staff with no decrease in safety.
Widen Penn Station sidewalks. Sadik-Khan has done great things for pedestrians in Herald and Times Squares, but it's well-documented that there's a heavy crush of pedestrians around Penn Station during weekday rush hours. That's where pedestrian improvements are needed the most. If you ride a CitiBike up Eighth Avenue at rush hour you'll see tons of pedestrians walking in the bike lane and buffer zone. Why not take a lane or two out of Seventh and Eighth Avenues and make them available for pedestrians?
Loading zones on every block. I've made the case that the lack of dedicated loading zones makes the city much more dangerous. The city's culture of double-parking, where "everyone does" something that's illegal and dangerous, poisons the relationship between motorists and traffic enforcement agents. Rampant double-parking encourages negligent idling practices. It also pits motorists defending their "right" to double-park against pedestrians who want narrower streets to discourage speeding, and cyclists who want protected bike lanes. The DOT is constantly reconfiguring parking on blocks around the city. What if every time they did that they set aside a space or two that was only available for loading and unloading, maximum occupancy fifteen minutes?
Allocate street space for food trucks and carts. In Midtown where sidewalk space is already scarce, there is often a bad crush around food carts. The food carts and trucks used to operate out of the street, but NYPD "crackdowns" have forced them onto the sidewalk. This is nuts. If people are upset that these carts are parking for free, or for meter rates, then the DOT can set aside some spaces where food truck operators can pay market rates for the space.
Reexamine parking restrictions. One awful legacy from earlier administrations is parking restrictions that add a travel lane or two to a street, but make it dangerous and inhospitable for pedestrians. Trottenberg could order a citywide reexamination of these zones and eliminate those that are most dangerous and least warranted.
Restore crosswalks. Similarly, there are several street crossings that are missing one or more crosswalks. Parts of Seventh Avenue South feel like a highway instead of a boulevard because there are no crosswalks for streets like Leroy Street and Waverly Place. There are other intersections - the corner of Forty-Eighth and Northern here in Queens comes to mind - where there are crosswalks on only three sides. Trottenberg should have the DOT staff look at all intersections that don't have crosswalks at all sides, and see if restoring the crosswalks could make the intersections safer and more comfortable for pedestrians.
Restore two-way flow. When Bloomberg hired Sadik-Khan, he told her that she could change the traffic flow on Fifth Avenue. This was supposedly a big joke, but I totally think Trottenberg should do it, and De Blasio should back her up. The city's avenues were converted to one-way for one reason only: to give the city's driving elite priority over its walking majority. If we no longer want to do that - if De Blasio wants to end that "tale of two cities" - then the single biggest change that will make our streets livable again is to eliminate all multi-lane one-way streets.
Rebuild the Queensboro Bridge pedestrian paths. This is a big, expensive project, but it would be a lot cheaper than the hundreds of millions the DOT has spent making the Brooklyn Bridge and the Belt Parkway easier for drivers. Right now we have a sidepath that is bearable if you're on a bike, but once I walked it with my son and the noise was really unpleasant. Compare the Queensboro Bridge experience to that on the Brooklyn or Williamsburg Bridges and you see that the grade separation makes a huge difference. But this should only be done if the outer decks are both returned to exclusive transit use.
Cherish our Really Narrow Streets. Nathan Lewis argues that Really Narrow Streets privilege the pedestrian and create an opportunity for intense commerce that cannot be matched by any street wide enough to handle cars and pedestrians together. We've got some of those here, but we give cars priority and cover them in scaffolding. Trottenberg should take a look at some of Lewis's examples and see what we can do to make them places where New Yorkers want to be.