By Kumar Manish, ITDP India
Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), and Amanda Burden, Chair of the New York City Planning Commission and Director of the New York City Department of City Planning, recently concluded a five-day visit to India at the invitation of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). During their visit to India, Ms. Sadik-Khan and Ms. Burden travelled to Chennai to share New York City’s experience revitalizing its public spaces and expanding the transit network of the city.
“In the last five years, New York City has transformed as we focused on improving mobility, introducing new select bus services, and treating streets as valuable public spaces,” said Ms. Sadik-Khan. “Cities like Chennai can learn from our experiences and start working towards a better future.”
Over the past three years, New York introduced Select Bus Service, a priority bus service, implemented 260 miles of new bicycle lanes, and created new public spaces in key city locations, including Madison Square, the DUMBO Manhattan Bridge arch, the Bronx Hub, and Gansevoort Street.
While in Chennai, Ms. Sadik-Khan spoke about how NYC was able to use their existing road network to encourage more sustainable modes of transportation and reduce congestion. “Building more concrete, asphalt, and steel is not going to reduce congestion and make people’s daily commutes easier. Cities in India have to find better ways—more sustainable ways—for people to get around.”
In addition to the quality and diversity of the transportation network, the city’s built form plays an important role in making sustainable transport viable.
Amanda Burden, Chair of the New York City Planning Commission and Director of the Department of City Planning, stressed the importance of integrated planning. “Transportation planning and city planning go hand in hand. The city should give priority to connectivity among public transport systems and within the street grid. This way, we channel new development and investment to transit-rich areas and encourage transit-oriented development. New York City’s goal is that by 2030, 95 per cent of all new development will be located within a 10-minute walk of a subway stop. Today, we are already at 87 per cent.”
“Chennai should focus on good public transport connectivity, compact dense development around the transit corridors, and also beautifully tree lined pedestrian pathways. There is so much vitality and vibrancy on the streets already and these changes would further enhance but it seriously requires a safe and comfortable pedestrian environment,” she added.
The commissioners met with senior officials of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, the Mayor and Commissioner of Chennai, board members of the Chennai chapter of Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), and noted business leaders who comprise the board of Chennai City Connect.
Ms. Sadik-Khan and Ms. Burden’s visit to Chennai was also supported by Chennai City Connect, a non-profit organization.