Janette Sadik Khan has earned the reputation as an urban visionary. Every community has excuses for why changing the way they use their streets is impossible. She could see possibilities in plain sight that others could not. As the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007-2013, she led one of the most sweeping revitalizations of the city’s streets in a half century.
Khan helped transform NYC through historic changes that included: closing Broadway to cars in Times Square, building nearly 400 miles of bike lanes and creating more than 60 plazas citywide. Janette Sadik-Kahn explains in her book STREETFIGHT, A Handbook for an Urban Revolution, that as our cities grow, leaders and the people they serve can no longer accept dysfunctional streets; they must fight to change them. Based on real-world practice, not ivory- tower idealism, STREETFIGHT demonstrates with step by step visuals how to break a street into its component parts and rewrite the underlying code of a street. Her approach to revitalizing via deconstructing, reassembling and reinventing streets can be seen as a metaphor template to engage leaders in how to positively change other dysfunctional systems in our world today. This is my conversation with her.