Next Tuesday (10/23) I will head to New York City to attend the NACTO Designing Cities conference.
NACTO is the National Association for City Transportation Officials, a group that was formed as a counterbalance to AASHTO, the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials. In a nutshell, the folks behind NACTO (whose founders include several key PBOT engineers and other local experts) were sick and tired of being constrained by outdated guidebooks and AASHTO’s old-school (auto-centric) standards for transportation planning. They wanted a group that understand their urban issues and that could provide cities with the planning and engineering tools to design streets for the future — not have them shackled to priorities of the past.
When NACTO formed back in 2009, I said the group would have a huge impact on bikeway innovation. From their Urban Bikeway Design Guide to their Cycling for Cities initiative, they’re well on their way.
The president of NACTO is New York City’s Transportation Commissioner — and the only transpo wonk I know to have ever graced the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine — Jeanette Sadik-Khan.
I decided to attend this conference because it looks to be far from a typical bike summit/conference. Here’s what organizers have to say about it:
Streets and sidewalks comprise close to 80 percent of a city’s public space. These streets not only represent essential corridors of commerce and industry, they serve as front yards, playgrounds, and theaters which showcase the expressions of urban life. It lies in the hands of the public to define how they use this wealth of space, but it is the responsibility of city leaders in transportation to stir their minds to imagine all the possibilities.
In addition to keynotes by the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, Sadik-Khan, and others, the conference also has an impressive list of workshops and panels. There’s also a bunch of “WalkShop” tours where experts will share info on New York City’s infrastructure projects that have been making headlines for the past several years.
Check out the conference video for a bit more about it:
Beyond the conference, I will stay several extra days to explore New York City. I plan to observe their bikeways, interview activists and policymakers, and soak up the urban bicycle culture (stay tuned for a Manhattan edition of People on Bikes!).
This trip will not be cheap. Thankfully, Planet Bike has already stepped up as a partial sponsor. However, my accountant (hi Juli!) would sleep much better at night if I could find one or two more folks willing to help support this trip. Sponsors will get lots of shout-outs via Twitter and within all the coverage, as well as some banner space. If your company is interested, please drop me a line.
If you value this type of coverage, you can also help make this trip a success by visiting our Support page and making a contribution.
Feel free to share your feedback and tips about what I should cover in NYC and stay tuned for all the coverage!