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NYC 25×25

There are over 8 million people living in New York City. And if you were to look at the modal split for these people — that is, how they get to work and how they get around — you’ll see that other than Staten Island, the majority of New York City does not rely on cars.

They walk, bike, take transit, and probably use other things like electric scooters. And in Manhattan, the number of people who drive is particularly low.

So if you were tasked with coming up with an equitable way to allocate street space, one logical way to do it would be to allocate based on usage. If 5% of people are driving and 95% of people are doing things that require walking, maybe these are the numbers to use.

The problem, of course, is that cars take up a lot more space than humans and so the math gets a little more nuanced than just a straight 5/95 split.

And if you look at how most cities have decided to allocate space, this problem is reflected. In the case of New York City, about 75% of its street space is used for cars and the balance is for people to walk around and do stuff (see below chart from The Guardian).

Because of this mismatch, New York has just launched a new proposal called NYC 25×25.

The proposal is pretty simple. It is to take 25% of the space that is currently allocated to cars and convert it into space for walking, plazas, green spaces, bus lanes, and dedicated cycle paths (see above chart once more). And the plan is to get it all done by 2025, which seems entirely doable.

It’s hard to think of a better North American candidate for a shift like this than New York City. It is a city that is already heavily reliant on transit and other forms of mobility. But of course, we shouldn’t stop here.

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