By Annie Weinstock

Photo by Joseph Tedeschi, @jtedeschi1968

Canal Street in Manhattan shares the incompatible functions of being the main commercial street through Chinatown and the most direct link for cars and trucks traveling from Brooklyn to New Jersey. Not only does its through nature cause Canal Street to be incredibly unpleasant for those attempting to walk, shop, or eat there, it also creates a highly unsafe environment.

Per a January 2020 Streetsblog article: “there have been 2,567 reported crashes on just the stretch of Canal Street between the Manhattan Bridge and Hudson Street since 2016 — close to two crashes per day. …

NIMBY opponents are throwing everything they can at the plan. But they aren’t looking at the real benefits.

by Annie Weinstock

The Gowanus Canal: not exactly a garden spot of America. Photo: Annie Weinstock

This article originally appeared on Streetsblog NYC and is republished here.

Just before the pandemic, I moved to the part of Brooklyn where Carroll Gardens meets Gowanus. Although Smith Street closer to Atlantic Avenue is a restaurant haven, near where I live the street is dead, housing big empty lots. Past those lies the Gowanus Canal. Unlike the canals of Venice or Amsterdam, the Gowanus is mostly a hostile environment, with little building frontage, several bridges that bikers and pedestrians must share with large trucks, walled-off lots with heavy machinery, and a big Whole Foods parking lot.

By Walter Hook and Annie Weinstock

Bi-articulated bus in downtown Bogotá. Photo (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Galo Naranjo

Until March 2020, Bogotá’s TransMilenio, perhaps the most well-known BRT in the world, was regularly carrying 2.4 million daily passengers, more than most European subways. It had been so popular that its main problem for years was persistent overcrowding on several corridors.

The system opened in 2000 and was very much associated with Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who brought the system from concept to operations during his first three-year term. Peñalosa is also known for having built the first network of segregated bikeways in Bogotá. …

By Walter Hook and Annie Weinstock

Passengers move through a bright and comfortable Rea Vaya BRT station. Photo credit: Annie Weinstock

Public transport in South Africa is at a crossroads. Life is slowly returning to normal, with daily COVID-19 cases under 1,300. Ridership has returned to about 70% of its pre-COVID levels at least in some areas. National public transport policy, however, is in turmoil.

For a decade and a half, the National Department of Transport, and major cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, embraced bus rapid transit (BRT) as a means of providing a high-quality rapid transit system quickly at a relatively low cost, while simultaneously transforming the minibus taxi industry into modern bus…

By Annie Weinstock

Several streets in Downtown Birmingham, UK are 24/7 pedestrian zones. Photo credit: Annie Weinstock

The Flushing Main Street Busway in Queens, that opened this January, operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 24/7 operations for any changes to streets which deprioritize cars, is surprisingly rare in the US. By contrast, the Jay Street Busway in Brooklyn operates from 7am to 7pm M-F and the 14th Street Busway in Manhattan operates from 6am to 10pm every day.

Painted curbside bus lanes generally suffer from the same phenomenon: in New York City, curbside bus lanes on 1st and 2nd Avenues operate from 7am-10am and 2pm-7pm on weekdays only while bus lanes…

By Annie Weinstock and Walter Hook

On the same day in 2003 that London kicked off its congestion charge, Transport for London (TfL) put 300 new buses on its streets, began running several new bus routes into the congestion zone, and upped the frequency on some existing routes. Within the first year, they were seeing 29,000 new bus passengers entering the congestion zone during each morning rush. London understood that if they were going to charge people to drive, they would have to give something meaningful in return.

London increased its bus service into the congestion zone as part of its congestion charging package. Photo by mariordo59/Flickr

Congestion pricing in New York City finally appears to be moving. But…

By Walter Hook, Annie Weinstock, and Larson Holt

Source: Tdorante10 — CC BY-SA 4.0

In 2016, following a global trend, MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) embarked on a borough-by-borough Bus Network Redesign. Rapid progress was made under Andy Byford’s leadership. Excellent reports detailing existing conditions were completed for the Bronx , Queens, and Brooklyn. A redesign plan was finalized for the Bronx, a draft plan was released for Queens, and a Brooklyn plan was on he way. Advocacy groups put a lot of time and energy behind the effort.

But the redesigns were put on hold due to COVID-19. …

By Annie Weinstock

Lately, the internet is abuzz about the 2nd Avenue bike lane. Clarence Eckerson took some peak-hour counts of bicycles and vehicles and found that the volumes aren’t vastly different from each other, despite the vastly disproportionate amount of space allotted to mixed traffic.

Eckerson’s question regarding whether we need a wider protected bike lane was picked up by city council members and mayoral hopefuls and now calls to do it are growing.

With increasing bike volumes, wider bike lanes seem like a no-brainer. As Chris Bruntlett, of the organization Dutch Cycling Embassy told me:

Additional width…

By Walter Hook

In 2000, Bogotá opened TransMilenio, the first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to reach the speeds and capacities of heavy rail. Soon after, consensus began to grow — among philanthropy, the development banks, the technical community, the advocacy community, and governments — that a rapid global roll-out of BRT could accelerate the growth of rapid transit across the globe, resulting in significant CO2 reductions and poverty alleviation benefits.

For the same budget, governments could build much more BRT than rail-based rapid transit, they could do it in less time, and still offer a similar — and in some…

By Annie Weinstock

Throughout my career as a bus advocate, I have been skeptical of curbside bus lanes. They are exceedingly easy to block. In fact, most curbside bus lanes come with a list of both illegal and legal encroachments.

  • Illegal: driving in the bus lane, parking/stopping for extended periods of time in the bus lane, deliveries during certain hours, police stopping for a pizza.
  • Legal: right turns, quick drop-offs, parallel parking if the lane is adjacent to a parking lane (“offset”), even deliveries during certain hours.

Illegal blockages are really hard to control

Curbside bus lanes get blocked illegally…


Reorientations is a blog by the staff of People-Oriented Cities. Each post provides a novel idea for “reorienting” cities away from cars and towards people.

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