The London Assembly is asking for Boris to take roadspace away from cars. New York is already doing it. All cities should do it.

British cities, learn from NYC: tame the car

While Amsterdam and Copenhagen are held up as the exemplars of cities which design for bicycles, New York City is aiming to catch up. If New York City has put its ear to the ground and heard not the rumbling of more and more cars but the silence made possible by designing city streets for cyclists and pedestrians, then London can’t claim it wasn’t aware of how to make a more liveable city.

Today’s Gearing Up report from the London Assembly is the latest in a series of wake-up calls for London, and where London leads other UK cities would hopefully follow.

London sees itself as a global city, but then so does New York. And New York is getting rid of cars further and faster than London. Boris, take note, your counterpart in NYC has said: “The streets were there to transport people. They are not for cars…Cyclists and pedestrians and bus riders are as important, if not, I would argue more important, than automobile riders.”

Earlier New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg stressed: “Our roads are not here for automobiles. Our roads are here for people to get around.”

NYC’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is famously pro-bicycle. She rides a bike and knows what a difference proper protection for cycling can bring. Critically, NYC’s DoT also knows that designing for transport modes other than the car brings huge financial rewards.

After the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Avenue, shops saw a 49 percent increase in sales. In the rest of Manhattan, shops saw only a 3 percent increase in retail sales. When the city converted an underused parking area in Brooklyn into a pedestrian plaza, retail sales increased by 172 percent.

And a US study has shown that people getting about a city on bicycles spend more in cafes and shops, over any month, than motorists. People who drive to these establishments spend more per visit; but those on bikes visit more often and therefore spend more overall.

Congressman Joseph Crowley told Reclaim magazine: “Livable streets is not just a fad, it’s an investment in public health, the environment, building stronger communities and creating a sustainable economy.”

The Congressman, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, added: “The fact is, more and more New Yorkers are living where they work and working where they live. We need to make smart investments now that improves the quality of life for residents, all while boosting civic engagement, encouraging growth and moving people from point A to point B. These investments are about creating the New York City of the future – a city that works for us all.”

Boris, are you listening? Officials in other cities, are you listening? Stats not your thing? Watch this instead:

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