Big Apple is Big Winner for Its Transit Improvements

nyc bicyclists in street photo

Bicyclists in New York City. Photo: Walter Hook, ITDP

New York City's sustainability efforts under its comprehensive PlaNYC 2030 boosted it above Beijing, which scrambled to clean up its air before hosting the Olympics, and three other international nominees for the Sustainable Transport Award.
The first U.S. city to win this annual award, New York took the honors yesterday in a Washington, D.C. ceremony hosted by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and the Environmental Defense Fund. Previous recipients noted for improving their public transportation system, becoming more bike- and pedestrian-friendly, reducing their residents' use of private cars, and/or mitigating the impacts of sprawl or air pollution include Paris, London, Guayaquil (in Ecuador), Seoul, and Bogotà.

"As Congress crafts its stimulus bill, these cities serve as great models for how we can strengthen the environment, improve energy efficiency, and prepare our infrastructure for the 21st century," said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The accomplishments of this year's nominees include:

New York City

  • Converting 49 acres of road space, traffic lanes, and parking spots to use as bike lanes, pedestrian areas, and public plazas
  • Creating 140 miles of on-street bike lanes
  • Increasing bike ridership by 35 percent in 2008
  • Planting more than 98,000 trees
  • Introducing car-free Sundays
  • Recycling 40 percent of the Department of Transport's asphalt


beijing bikes and buses photo

Bikes and buses in Beijing. Photo: ITDP
  • Getting 800,000 vehicles off the streets by requiring car owners to leave their automobiles at home one day a week
  • Implementing government-mandated Euro IV fuel standards
  • Adding a new metro line and two new bus rapid transit (BRT) lines, both with extended hours
  • Increasing the city bus fleet while decreasing the number of government vehicles by 30 percent
  • Putting one-third of its police patrols on bikes and electric bikes


istanbul bus rapid transit lines beat car congestion photo

Istanbul's BRT system. Photo: Dario Hidalgo, Embarq, via ITDP

Mexico City

mexico city cyclists on car-free street photo

Bicyclists in Mexico City. Photo: Shreya Gadepalli, ITDP
  • Expanding its Metrobus BRT system to carry 320,000 passengers a day and began consruction of three more BRT lines
  • Starting the construction of some bike lanes
  • Revitalizing almost 1,000 public spaces


milan ecopass zone sign and bus photo

Downtown Milan. Photo: Damien Meyer
  • Introducing the "Ecopass" system, which charges the most heavily polluting vehicles to enter the central part of the city
  • Increasing public transport speed by 11.3 percent and passenger ridership by 9.7 percent
  • Decreasing emissions of carbon dioxide and particulate matter

Via: "2009 Sustainable Transport Award Ceremony: NYC, Beijing, Istanbul, Mexico City & Milan," Streetsblog

More about public transportation:
Project Transit: Restoring the Romance of Public Transportation
Promoting Train Travel In Japan
Public Transit: Buenos Aires Could Welcome Metrobus System next May
Public Transportation Day in Israel: Stuck in Traffic
Orlando, Florida Makes a Good Thing (Public Transportation) Even Better
China's Gas Hike Pushes Drivers to Public Transit
Mexican Cities Need More Sustainable Transport Options
U.S. Policy Plays Favorites With Public Transportation
How Public Transportation Might Just Save Your Life
Facing Smog and Sluggish Traffic, Beijing Upgrades Its Public Bus System
How To Green Your Public Transportation

Related Content on