Bringing It All Together: Scaling Buy-In for Urban Mobility

Recently, there has been significant focus on urban transportation issues ranging from pedestrian and cyclist safety to the way we allocate parking in cities. In NYC, initiatives like VisionZero hope to increase safety on the streets while the DOT’s off-hours delivery program aims to decrease freight congestion at peak times. On Thursday, Community Board 3 in Manhattan will consider ways to reduce long-distance bus traffic in Chinatown.

Coverage of Chinatown’s role as a hub for a quarter of the city’s long-distance bus routes calls the practice a nuisance and cites the health hazards of so much exhaust in a residential area. We’ve written before about aligning stakeholders for successful GAIN efforts and Chinatown’s mobility issues provide a great case study.

The stakeholders:

  • Service Providers – Any successful initiative will have to account for the service providers need to continue facilitating travel to and from the city. Highlighting the benefits of access and parking in less congested areas could be an effective narrative for buy-in from service providers to alter routes. The NYC DOT’s off-hours delivery program reports higher driver satisfaction, decreased fines and smoother processes as a result of off-peak deliveries.
  • Local businesses & residents – While these two groups would have seemingly differing priorities, both stand to benefit from the decreased trash and pressure on facilities that the bus lines present. Both groups have been vocally calling for solutions at local city council meetings and in the press.
  • Travellers – It’s important to avoid alienating the travellers who use the buses to come into city. As City Councilwoman points out, the travellers using the routes play an important role in the local economy and solutions will need to take their priorities into account.

An opportunity for collective impact
While the short-term goals of VisionZero, off-hour deliveries, and even Community Board 3’s upcoming decision may seem unrelated, they are all symptoms of our pressing need to rethink how we move through our cities every day. As stakeholders align on these smaller projects, they will also need to align to a core principle: that movement through cities should be safe, especially for the most sustainable types of travel like walking, cycling and running. If this is sucessful, then the efforts of each project will amplify the others – – resulting in true collective impact on urban mobility.

We’re looking forward to the results of Community Board 3’s meeting on Thursday and to continuing to explore ways to create scalable buy-in for the issues we all deal with everyday. As creatives and builders, we have the potential to play a valuable role in re-imagining the future of our cities and we hope you’ll join us.

Do you have ideas for redesigning the long-distance bus routes in Manhattan? Let us know on Twitter @bureaublank!

Bureau Blank is a multi-disciplinary design consultancy focused on GAIN: Government, Academia, Infrastructure and Non-profit. To see more of our work to support the builders, thinkers, investors and policymakers all working together to make our lives better, visit www.bureaublank.com.

Photo by Shawn Hoke.

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