In her six years as the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan has made a lot of changes.
Those changes are all aimed at her goal of making it easier and safer to get around in New York, and to make the city a better place for residents and businesses, she wrote in a 2011 essay for Slate.
Sadik-Khan manages a $2 billion annual budget and 4,700 employees. She is in charge of maintaining and improving 6,300 miles of road, nearly 800 bridges, 12,000 intersections with traffic signals, and the Staten Island Ferry.
(Governance of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs public transit in New York, falls outside her purview.)
In her tenure, Sadik-Khan has focused on reducing the number of cars on NYC streets. She has built hundreds of miles of bike lanes, introduced a new bike share program, created pedestrian plazas, transformed Times Square, and installed maps designed for those on foot — all while making New York a healthier, richer place.
On the eve of the opening of New York's bike share program, Sadik-Khan announced that its Street Safety Managers -- who first went to work on the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges in 2011 -- will be on duty in areas with heavy pedestrian, cyclist, and vehicular traffic.
Their job is to remind everyone to stay in their designated lanes. They will be on the streets during morning and afternoon rush hours between April and October.
In 2011, the NYC Department of Transportation began installing accessible pedestrian crosswalk signals at a faster rate. There are now nearly 50 around the city.
The new signals emit clicking sounds to let the visually impaired know when it is safe to cross. The buttons also vibrate, to aid those who are visually and hearing impaired.
Even this, however, made some New Yorkers angry. In January, Upper East Side residents complained that the signals are unnecessary, and add to an already high level of noise pollution, according to DNAinfo.
Within a day, 5,000 had paid $103 for annual memberships, according to Transportation Nation, revealing enthusiasm for a program that should open for business this month, more than a year behind schedule.
The program is entirely paid for by corporate sponsorship, and should bring more money to the City, in terms of health benefits and local business.
The bike share has been the subject of lots of criticism, but according to the New York Times, it has widespread public support in polling.
Perhaps the most visible DOT project executed under Sadik-Khan's leadership is the creation of pedestrian areas on Broadway from 42nd Street to 47th Street, which has transformed Times Square.
The changes actually improve traffic: The DOT says its data shows travel speeds through West Midtown Manhattan improved 17% from 2008 to 2009, compared to an 8% improvement in East Midtown.
Pictured: Times Square, before and after changes made to Broadway.
A bit farther north, at Columbus Circle, the same improvements have been made to Broadway.
The addition of a pedestrian area and a separated bike lane has led to a drop in pedestrian injuries on the major thoroughfare, between Times Square and Columbus Circle, by 35%.
Pictured: Columbus Cirlce, before and after changes made to Broadway.
Between 2006 and 2012, nine people were killed on a 10-block stretch of Delancey Street in Manhattan.
To make the area safer and more attractive, Sadik-Khan and the DOT added safety islands and pedestrian areas, re-timed street signals, and shortened crosswalks.
These before and after photos show the clear improvement.
In January 2013, Sadik-Khan unveiled new parking regulations signs for New York City yesterday, saying they were easier to read and simpler to understand.
The old signs were as tall as five feet, with confusing language and all capital letters than can be hard to read.
The new versions will measure four feet high, only use two colours, and, logically, will list which days parking is allowed before noting specific hours.
To make life better for pedestrians, the DOT decided to install 150 'wayfinding' signs around the city (including the one pictured, in Long Island City, Queens).
'We have a great system of signage for cars, but we don't have a good system of signage for people,' Sadik-Khan said.
The program will cost $6 million, most of it funded by the federal government, WNYC reported.
'Bird,' a sculpture by New York artist Will Ryman, is 12 feet tall, 12 feet wide, 14 feet long, and is made from 5,500 nails.
On display now at Flatiron Plaza in Manhattan, 'Bird' is presented with the Flatiron Partnership, and is part of the DOT's Urban Art Program.
To beautify NYC streets, the DOT commissions artists and designers to paint concrete barriers that separate bike lanes from vehicular traffic.
Artists are invited to apply each spring, and murals remain in place for nearly a year.
The pictured barrier is on Flushing Avenue, in Queens.
Through the DOT's Street Seat program, shops, restaurants, and cafes can convert parking spaces in front of their storefronts into extra, outdoor seating for the spring and summer.
Local, a coffee shop in SoHo, did it in 2012. Owner Liz Walker told TreeHugger the application process was a pain, and that the DOT did not help with the design, construction, or insurance costs.
But the outdoor space was a hit, she said, and it will be back in 2013.
In New York City, distracted pedestrians and drivers are a major hazard. With US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, Sadik-Khan launched the LOOK! safety campaign in September 2012.
It includes ads on buses that remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road, and alerts painted in crosswalks aimed at those on foot.
In 2013, the DOT will continue Summer Streets, an event that closes seven miles of New York streets on three consecutive Saturdays morning in August.
The 250,000 visitors to the miniature festival last summer could try out a zip line over Foley Square, a 25-foot rock climbing wall, and dance and yoga classes, all for free.
On Yelp, the event averaged a five star rating (out of five), based on 17 reviews, one of which noted, 'Nothing's more fun than walking through NYC on Park Avenue with zero cars to worry about!'
Janette Sadik-Khan took the #8 spot on our list of women who are changing the world. Now see who else made the list.
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