Just very calm… (deep breath)… and civilize!

An excellent 11 minutes video showing the recent changes in in some parts of New York City. The promotion of “complete street” concept, the local government is working with the public to bring people and life back into public street, by reclaiming some space from cars. At 7:45 the black lady Tammi Williams was asked about her impression after the changes. She said:” Just very calm.. and (deep breath).. very civilize!” She almost cried when she said that. I can sense the pain she has to face before. It must have been a hell trying to cycle or walk there. She obviously felt her life was threaten by the fast moving cars when she attempt to cross the streets. What makes the change of human behaviour? It is not possible to “educate” every driver driving into the new streets, obviously the physical changes has an impact on how people drive, and how others use the road. Some how the changes has make people become “more civilized”! I think there must be a thing or two we can learn from this experience.

Some highlights:
What are the quantifiable result in terms of safety and traffic speed after the changes?
8:25 The new-design has cut number of injuries of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists by 56%! In case of any accidental injuries you can also contact traffic accident lawyers as they can claim you compensation.
8:31 Car speed has dropped, when travel time has been kept nearly the same.

In land-scarce Singapore, how to find space for bike lanes, traffic islands, etc?
How does the new design impact the drivers?
1:50 “We just kept the same number of (car) lanes but made them narrower. This allows the space for a bike lane and traffic island… the side benefits of slowing down the traffic… which makes everyone safer
2:20 In the new road design, drivers “naturally slow down” to give way to pedestrians who are crossing the road.
6:12 Converting what used to be a “race track” into a safer street. It is safer for walking, bicycling and driving too.
10:12 No complaints from drivers about bike lanes or congestion.

How does the new design benefits the local business, people, visitors from young to old?
4:26 The meaning of “Complete street”. Lots of activities, safety for everyone, people walk, chat, cycle, play. There are also cars and buses.
4:50 How the bus lane makes a big difference for traveling by bus
5:05 One of the most dangerous intersections is now much safer
7:06 How a mother and 2 kids use the new bike lanes.
7:45 “Just very calm… and … very civilized” She almost cried when she said this, shown how uncivilized it must be before, when the road design only catered for cars.
7:50 “I don’t have to ride on the sidewalks, like I used to..” (In Singapore, you are not allowed to ride on the pavement, but many have to, due to safety concerns…)
7:56 “Other cyclists follow the rules and slow down” (when the infrastructure is designed correctly, it has the power to shape behaviour)

A bit more background about the video and the changes of New York transports:
“Over the last four years, New York City has seen a transportation renaissance on its streets, striking a better balance by providing more space for walking, biking, and transit.
As with any departure from the status quo, it can take a while for everyone to grow accustomed to the changes. So Streetfilms decided to look at three of NYC’s most recent re-designs — Columbus Avenue, First and Second Avenues, and Prospect Park West — and show how pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers benefit from safer, calmer streets. We talked to transportation engineers with decades of experience, elected leaders, community board members, people on the street, and business owners to get their take on the new configurations.
The truth is, no matter how hard some media outlets try to spin it otherwise, these new street safety projects have broad community support. And while the story of these changes often gets simplified in the press, the fact is that the benefits of the redesigns go far beyond cycling. A street with a protected bike lane also has less speeding, shorter pedestrian crossings, less lane-shifting and more predictable movements for drivers, and the opportunity to add more trees and plantings. Injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and car passengers drop wherever the new designs go in. And on the East Side, these improvements have been paired with dedicated bus-only lanes with camera enforcement, making service more convenient and attractive for thousands of bus riders.
At 11 minutes, this is one of our longest Streetfilms. We cover a lot of ground here, and we hope it’s illuminating no matter what side of the issue you fall on”

More about this project: http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/02/26/a-bold-and-transformative-new-vision-for-broadway/

Related articles:
Safe driving and walking behavior guided by good road design
Unsafe driving behaviour due to bad junction design
Reconfigure lane width to improve safety