New York City, known as one of the cultural epicenters of the world, modernizes with the times, but often at the cost of smaller, community-based initiatives. When enacted, these initiatives are replicated and ultimately impact the city dramatically. This strengthens the fabric of our urban life and corrects misguided planning mistakes of the past in the face of various environmental, social, technological, and behavioral challenges. While this progress improves the quality of life and equality for New York City residents, we—the designers of New York City based Primate Studios—believe it is more important than ever to continue exploring new ideas brought forth by the people of our community, for the people of our community.
We would like to take this opportunity to introduce our list of ten city-improving ideas, titled “#PSDearNYC.” From suggestions of complex, systematic changes utilizing futuristic technology to straight-forward, inexpensive ideas, we hope to continue this multi-generational, human struggle for a happier existence through a dialogue of ideas and exploration. Here is #PSDearNYC:
Idea 1: Urban running trails integrated into city sidewalks provide runners with cushioned lanes and right-of-way. Imagine a track-like surface along a popular running path like the West Side Greenway.
Idea 2: Subway directional arrows facilitate pedestrian traffic flow and wayfinding. Our subway system is complex. Imagine a floor-mounted directional system. It could help you find the uptown platform and organize pedestrian traffic flow on the staircase.
Idea 3: A vertical planter program provides building owners and residents with an easy way to add greenery to the city’s vertical surfaces, both beautifying neighborhoods and reducing pollution. This idea was influenced by Mexico City’s vertical-planting, pollution-reducing program.
Idea 4: Community sustainability boards visualize neighborhood’s air quality, water, and energy use, creating awareness, generating competition, and promoting healthier habits.
Idea 5: The zero waste bodega reduces waste by eliminating plastic packaging. Customers bring or buy their own reusable containers. Food waste is composted.
Idea 6: The subway amenity car increases accessibility by providing extra features like stroller and bike parking. This could be the first, middle or last car in each train.
Idea 7: Autonomous micro-bus lines are fixed-route, on-demand shuttles, providing a public transportation option between buses and cabs. This idea is inspired by the dollar vans in Flatbush, collectivos in Valparaiso, Chile, and ride-sharing apps.
Idea 8: Long-distance protected bike lanes are for cyclists commuting from the suburbs, providing a route separated from vehicular traffic. Commuters from outside the city deserve a strategic vision for a network of protected lanes connecting to the city’s growing bike lane network.
Idea 9: An affordable retail program creates launch pads for neighborhood businesses. The affordable retail program is a city-subsidized program assisting small, local businesses, built around our existing public housing blocks.
Idea 10: Green pedestrian streets bring the park closer by converting streets to plaza like blocks for city-goers to enjoy. This means more space for playgrounds, greenery, and less-pollution. You could imagine all of Broadway in Manhattan being converted to a Green Pedestrian Street.
Ultimately, we hope to inspire public discourse and voter participation in future elections. As citizens of our community, it is our responsibility to put forward these ideas and help implement them for a better New York, Submit your ideas on social media using #PSDearNYC or annually during Participatory Budgeting at http://ideas.pbnyc.org/.
Paul Benson, Anna Lu, Selwyn Rocha are designers at The Primate Studio.