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Walk21 NYC: World Pedestrian Leaders Take Manhattan

With all the recent, remarkable livable streets improvements to the streets of New York City, it's no surprise the 10th annual, Walk21 Conference chose us for its host digs. Visitors and attendees were treated to a cornucopia of pedestrian street infrastructure to salivate over and debate; including tours of the recently opened High Line to a special visit to the soon-to-be-restored High Bridge. Featuring a plethora of speakers, design charrettes and walking workshops, the three-day event drew experts from the UK, Austria, Japan, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Italy, and Australia, just to name a few.

We were able to speak with the organizers and as well as conference registrants, and also got to a chance to chat with some of those on the marquee such as Jan Gehl (Gehl Architects, Copenhagen), Janette Sadik-Khan (Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation), Kristina Alvendal (Vice Mayor of Stockholm) and Gil Peñalosa (Walk and Bike for Life, Ontario), about the future of walking and the vital importance of this conference in inspiring world leaders.

[music]
Gil Penalosa: [0:25] I really like that this conference is just focusing on walking. Walk 21.
Ellen Vanderslice: [0:30] I think that in the United States, we have much to learn from international best practices when it comes to designing livable cities.
Eric Anderson: [0:37] For myself and my colleagues from the West Coast, from California, we're just really excited about the amazing laboratory that's going on here on the streets of New York.
Louise Duggan: [0:45] New York is a special place and I think this is a special time for New York right now. There's such a commitment to public space and rethinking of all the different things that are going on.
Speaker: [0:54] I'm delighted to be able to be here in the City of Cities.
Rodney Tolley: [0:59] This is our 10th event so it's a wonderful city to come to and we're thrilled, absolutely delighted to be here in New York.
Jon Orcutt: [1:06] We're having major addresses by some of the leaders in the field, experts on the economics of mobility and location and walking. Then there are dozens of workshop of really breaking down into discussions and even some design turrets. And then there's a huge series of walking tours and mobile workshops looking at some of the recent work that we've done here in the City. Looking at things still to come like the reopening of the High Bridge across the Harlem River.
Jim Walker: [1:29] I really wanted to see this high line and people were talking about this old freeway, I think, that's being made into a park. That just sounds fantastic to me. And to do something so positive like that, it just seems like a real opportunity that other people can be learning.
Janette Sadik-Khan: [1:42] I think there's an increased recognition of the importance of creating people-oriented cities and sustainable societies and we've done a lot in that regard here in New York City. So, it's a perfect time to bring people all around the world together to share ideas about what works, what doesn't work and encourage people to get around a little differently outside of a car.
Sarah Graventa: [2:01] Well, as Frankie would say, if you make it here, you can make it anywhere. So, if you can make great public spaces in the middle of Broadway, then anything is possible anywhere. I mean, this is a fantastic model for experimentation and for leading the way.
Kristina Alvendal: [2:15] It's really inspiring and it's also interesting to see that the trend is all over the world now, showing that we need to build the cities in a different way than we have done so far.
Speaker: [2:26] There's absolutely no substitute for being infused and excited and inspired by coming to a place like this and thinking, "Wow, I'm not alone. Other people are facing exactly the same problems as me and I want to go and talk to them."
Gil Penalosa: [2:39] I think the biggest challenge is to realize that walkability is an issue. That one of the things that make us happiest and have the most important quality of life is the walkability.
Jan Gehl: [2:50] In Copenhagen, now has made a citywide walking policy that by 2015, everybody should be walking 20 percent more than they do today and inviting people to use their own energy and their own muscles to get around.
Speaker: [3:06] People my age are looking for different things. We're not looking to go out to the suburbs. We're looking to be here where things are happening with our friends. I want my children to experience what kind of type fuzzy, interesting, kind of diverse life can be. I think that's the best ways to offer it.
Alison Bochsler: [3:21] Everything is happening right now, the health, the environment, the economy. Everything is sort of coming together, which is kind of an exciting time for us to try to move this agenda forward and make more walkable communities and so we're starting to see some of those pieces come together. [applause] [music]

[3:37]



Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

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  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/Jessica Jessica

    Was such an amazing conference in an amazing city - didn't want it to end!

  • http://bikemiamiblog.wordpress.com Kathryn Moore

    An epic walkshop/bikeride/conference/party. It was great to meet so many of the LivableStreets people- thanks for the video. (posted!)

  • http://c-d-g.org Matty Lang

    Did I see a crane shot in there? Nice work Clarence.

  • http://www.nyu.edu Jacqueline Haeflinger

    As one of the NYU Planners it was very exciting to be part of this conference event. I was enlighted by the committment of individuals from cities accross the world that have researched, created and continue to show passion towards Walking and giving the streets back to pedestrians. I now see how wonderful and exciting being part of urban planning is. Kudos to all of you!!

  • http://dhaka-rickshaw.blogspot.com/ syed saiful alam

    Green activists protest at move to build market in playground

    Green activists along with cultural and sports personalities formed a human chain on Saturday, protesting at the move to construct a market on a playground at Mirpur of the Dhaka city.

    Save the Environment Movement and Barnak Samaj Kalyan Krira O Sangskritik Angan jointly organised the human chain programme on the playground, Laal Maath. Noted folk singer Kuddus Bayati rendered a good many songs highlighting the importance of sound environment

    Local people including students of different school and colleges joined hands with the green activists and vowed to save the playground from the land grabbers. Lawmaker Elias Uddin Molla, SEM chairman Abu Naser Khan, Barnak Samaj Kalyan president Mahmud Hasan Khan, general secretary Jafrul Hassan, footballer Imtiaz Sultan Jony and actor Manzur Hossain attended the programme.

    They called on the authorities concerned to take immediate measures for stopping the work of constructing a vegetables market on the playground. The Barnak Samaj Kalyan president and general secretary threatened to launch tougher movement if the work is not stopped immediately.

    Extending his support to the demand, Elias Molla said, ‘We will resist the move to construct the market on Laal Maath. ’ He also assured that all necessary steps would be taken to remove all the structures erected on the playground by next month.

    Abu Naser Khan said a vested quarter earlier had tried to occupy the playground. But the local people with the help of green activities foiled the move.

    Syed Saiful Alam

    Member of Central committee
    Save the Environment Movement
    Dhaka, Bangladesh

    http://dhaka-environment.blogspot.com/2009/11/green-activists-protest-at-move-to.html

  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/shovan1209 Syed Saiful Alam

    With a few simple steps, we could make Dhaka more livable. The first step is to change our priorities, by emphasizing access, not mobility, short rather than long distance travel, children, not cars, and livable environments, not just transport. “We need a model in which happiness, rather than consumption levels, is the measure of success.”

    syed saiful alam
    shovan1209@yahoo.com