This post is by Bruce McVean, Integrated Design Manager at Beyond Green
This morning NLA hosted an interesting talk by Dan Doctoroff, CEO and President of Bloomburg and former deputy Mayor of New York. While working for Mayor Bloomburg’s administration Doctoroff oversaw the development and implementation of PlaNYC, which provides an ambitious and comprehensive framework for developing a sustainable (in every sense) future for New York.
His main theme was that friendly competition between London and New York drives innovation in both cities and ought to allow them to maintain their position as great world cities long into the future. Both cities are very similar in terms of size, diversity of their populations and forecasts for economic and population growth. By a long way they lead the world as centres for financial industries, with Doctoroff claiming New York has a slight edge over London (using the number of Bloomburg subscribers as the measure).
Doctoroff sees quality of life as essential to ensuring London and New York’s long term success. It is at the heart of his ‘virtuous cycle for a successful city’ – quality of life attracts people (residents and visitors), which drives the economy, which provides the money to invest in projects to improve quality of life. Those projects must be part of comprehensive strategy for urban transformation. The High Line for example has not only created a fantastic new public space in the centre of the city, but was also the catalyst for wider change in over 40 neighbouring blocks.
Creating a great city for walking is central to the PlaNYC transport strategy and has driven much of the rapid transformation of New York’s public realm over recent years. Improvements that are also helping to create a cycle network that in terms of its eventual coverage and quality of provision is miles ahead of London’s Cycle Super Highways.
The first London Plan, drawn up under Ken Livingstone, was the template for PlanNYC, but New York’s plan is much more ambitious. Doctoroff politely suggested that New York was still learning from London, using the example of the cycle hire scheme (which London can hardly claim to have pioneered), but it is London that must now learn from New York.