Concepts to Redesign the New York City Street

Justin Davidson, writing for Curbed:

Our efforts yielded two big lessons. The first is that every improvement is a trade-off. Protecting bus lanes with concrete barriers, for example, would keep cars out, but it would also keep limited-stop buses from passing local ones. Our street incorporates a possible set of compromises. The second is that even simple tweaks imply a far-reaching organizational overhaul. Enclosed trash bins would push the Department of Sanitation to update some of its trucks and pickup procedures.

There are a lot of good ideas here. Drastically reducing curbside parking and using that space to widen sidewalks and increase outdoor eating areas is something that’s happened in a lot of cities during this pandemic. It’s been a huge win here in Philly.

But to nitpick one of the ideas: enclosed trash bins are terrible. Philly replaced its old-fashioned open-top trash bins with enclosed ones several years ago, and they’re just awful. They sound like a fine idea, but in practice they’re disgusting. You have to touch them to put anything in them, and, well, they’re covered with garbage. They’re really hard to use one-handed, like when you’re carrying, say, a grocery bag with your other hand. They tend to break, too. It’s been a huge step backwards here.

Friday, 12 November 2021