This is my capsule summary of an insightful news analysis, by landscape designer Kristin Faurest of Artemisia Design, of what Budapest can learn from New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's stunning coup in turning Times Square into a pedestrian mall. Download the full text of the original English-language article here.
Appropriately enough, the article takes a laser-beam focus on Bloomberg's sales job, an aspect conspicuously missing from Budapest City Hall's recent attempt to green the capital's thoroughfares. Here, the plan was packaged in a slapdash manner after word about the idea was leaked to the press. Proponents pitched it as an experiment with "artificial traffic jams," and the public greeted it with predictable scorn.
By contrast, the project in Times Square was preceded by months of meticulous planning and lobbying. When the plan went public, a coordinated sales effort focused on winning over key stakeholders, including retailers and motorists. Significantly, the PR campaign was given the upbeat name of "Green Light." As Faurest writes:
Green Light’s information campaign was characterized by transparency, openness, well-supported arguments, realistic timelines and detailed practical information for taxis, delivery trucks, and theatergoers. It was heavily planned, controlled and targeted. Central to the information campaign was a list of benefits the changes would provide:Although Budapest City Hall's most recent attempt at greening the city's main arteries went down in a monsoon of rotten fruit, the idea of a quieter, safer more humane transport system still beckons. Those of us who want to bring it to fruition can learn valuable lessons from the miracle at Times Square.
- Traffic lights with up to 66% more green time
- Significant travel time improvements on Sixth and Seventh Avenues
- Safer and simpler crossings for pedestrians
- Faster bus speeds for 70,000 daily riders
The article appears in Hungarian in two online publications, the architecture and new-urbanist blog epiteszforum.hu and the general daily news site index.hu.