Janette Sadik-Khan: «Urban innovation takes just some imagination and political courage»

By  | 2021

«I want our streets to be safe, accessible, sustainable and lively places for people», Janette Sadik-Khan bluntly states at the beginning of our interview. Indeed, that is what she has been aiming for for several years in the course of her professional career.

During her tenure as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation (2007-2013), Janette Sadik-Khan led an urban revolution. In six years, the Big Apple added nearly 650 kilometers of bike lanes. At the same time, the department she headed launched more than 60 plazas across the most densely populated urban area in the United States, including the historic spaces that close Broadway through Times Square.

One question becomes therefore uppermost: what is the secret behind the rapid urban transformation of such a megalopolis? To Janette Sadik-Khan, «it doesn’t have to take a lot of time and it doesn’t have to take a lot of money: it really takes just some imagination and some political courage to try it».

Political will is also something that is needed to turn the challenge of urban mobility into a vector of quality of life for people. In this regard, Janette Sadik-Khan regrets that the undergoing global conversation about the role of technology in urban mobility is misguided. «When you are talking about an autonomous car, an electric car, an Uber car, a shared mobility car… A car is a car is a car: it takes up the same amount of space on the street», she points out. «And what we are trying to get done is declaring a kind of ‘transportation independence’ for our streets that gives people choices for how they can get around healthily, safely, accessibly, inexpensively», Sadik-Khan continues. And that is for her «the secret sauce for cities of the future



Interview, text and edition by Sergio García i Rodríguez,
Communications Manager at Anteverti & CitiesToBe Executive Editor

Video by Eloy Calvo


To @JSadikKhan, when it comes to #UrbanTransformation «it doesn’t have to take a lot of time and money – it really takes just some imagination and some political courage.» | #CitiesToBe Clic para tuitear



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About the authors

Former New York City Transportation Commissioner and Principal at Bloomberg Associates | + posts

Janette Sadik-Khan was Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007–2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, leading one of the most sweeping revitalizations of the city’s streets in a half-century.

During her tenure, New York City added nearly 400 miles of bike lanes and the first parking-protected bike paths in North America. The department she led set in motion more than 60 plazas across the city, including the historic plazas that shut Broadway through Times Square, sparking economic recovery throughout the area. ​She currently advises mayors of cities around the world as a principal at Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consultancy established by Michael Bloomberg to help cities around the world improve the quality of life of their citizens.

Sadik-Khan holds a B.A. in Political Science from Occidental College, and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

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