I love TEDtalks and TEDx – an amazing space for professionals, dreamers, entrepreneurs and creatives to share ideas.
Originally posted on TED Blog:
Anyone in the room here today, at the glossy Times Center in Times Square, has been affected by the imagination and tenacity of Janette Sadik-Khan. It was her vision that created the much-loved pedestrian zones on Broadway and the cool new CitiBikes. In 2008, when Sadik-Khan took the job as New York’s traffic commissioner, she saw how hard it was for a pedestrian to cross many lanes of vehicle traffic to move through Times Square — and yet hundreds of thousands of people were trying to each day. Her idea: Let’s block off a pedestrian zone and … see what happens. What surprised her? “How quickly people flocked to the space. We put up orange barrels and people just immediately materialized. I don’t know where they came from. It was like a Star Trek episode.” The orange barrels soon became permanent concrete barriers and planters. Now, a pedestrian zone extends from 42nd to 47th Streets, creating 2.5 acres of new pedestrian space. And what else happened? pedestrian injuries in Times Square went down 35 percent; and paradoxically, overall travel time through the space went down by 17 percent. As she says, “It doesn’t need to be a zero-sum game between traffic and public space.” Want to reimagine the streets in your city? Take her advice: Act quickly, and start cheap.
Over 20 years, Chris Downey built a great career as an architect in the San Francisco Bay Area. But in 2008, after surgery for a brain tumor, his sight began to fail. In three days, it was gone. Yet through the loss of his sight, he says, he gained an appreciation for the city that transcends the senses. “My city experience was so much richer than my sighted experience was,” he says. As you learn to negotiate without sight, he says, you’re learning to rely on your nonvisual sense. “I was struck by the symphony of subtle sounds, and the sense of smell. Some districts have their own smell, and if you’re lucky you can follow your nose to that new bakery … or to home.” Why is the city so good for the blind? He says: “I want to propose that the blind be taken as the prototypical city dwellers in the design of cities. If you design a city with the blind in mind, you’ll have a rich walkable network, with a dense array of options and choices all available at street level. The sidewalks will be generously wide. You’ll have an accessible mass-transit system that connects all parts of the city, so blind people get to work. We want to work.”