Exit Interview: Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan

Friday, December 27, 2013 - 03:52 PM

NYC Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson (left) and NYC Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan hold an oversized replica of a bike share key-card. NYC Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson (left) and NYC Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan hold an oversized replica of a bike share key-card. ((photo by Jim O'Grady))

New York City's streets and transportation hubs have changed dramatically in the past 12 years. 

And one of the main architects of those changes is Janette Sadik-Khan, who has served as Commissioner of the City's Department of Transportation since 2007. From the pedestrian plazas in Herald Square and Times Square, to the city's Select Bus Service, the expansion of bike lanes, and the rollout of thousands of new Citi Bikes, Sadik-Khan's initiatives have been both excoriated and praised.

Sadik-Khan said when she started in 2007, she and her staff had to figure out how to meet the challenges of the city’s streets: “Traffic, congestion, dangerous streets, pollution, you name it. Our streets simply weren’t organized to meet the demands we had on them today.”

Sadik-Khan’s solutions to these problems were sometimes greeted with intense opposition and her department was criticized for not being adequately forthcoming with data.

“One of the lessons learned … is there’s never enough input. There’s never enough outreach. Whether it’s bus lanes, whether it’s plazas, whether it’s Citi Bike. I mean the streets are really theirs,” Sadik-Khan said. 

Sadik-Khan will join outgoing City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden and other Bloomberg officials at Bloomberg Associates. 


Janette Sadik-Khan

Hosted by:

Amy Eddings

Produced by:

Annmarie Fertoli


Kate Hinds and Richard Yeh


Comments [6]

Martha from Queens

@Barbara from Manhattan
You are in no position to say who is a success or not. Until you hold such a position, step back and ask yourself, "What can you do differently to benefit the city of NY?" Instead of criticizing those who step up to the challenges, why don't you offer sound and strategic solutions. Its easy to sign on your lazy chair and type a few common words, but to do the actual work, I'm sure you could never walk a mile in her shoes or anyone else for that matter.

Mar. 03 2014 10:25 PM
John Smith from NYC


If you fail to realize the accomplishments of the DOT in the past administration; I question your logic and rationalism.

If you don't want to get hit by a bicycle along the street, it's typically as simple as acting predictably or waiting on the sidewalk. Why do you focus on bicycling, as a public health hazard while automobiles routinely take love and or seriously injure?

NYC is very bicycle friendly due to it's urbanity and this mode of transportation should continue to be encouraged.

Also, pedestrain plazas have proven extremely beneficial in the locations established and are indicative of a world class city.

Pedestrians > Mass Transit > Bicycles > Automobiles is a sustainable model for NYC. One that JSK pursued aggressively.

Jan. 01 2014 11:30 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

Cyclists do not have to be licensed in Copenhagen and few people wear helmets or wear reflective clothing. In fact, many people wear black, just like fashionable New Yorkers!

One rarely hears of bike/pedestrian accidents in NYC because they rarely happen. The last pedestrian killed by a cyclist was in 2009, even though cycling rates have grown exponentially since that year. Meanwhile, hundreds of pedestrians are killed each year by drivers. Indeed, at least three people were killed in the span of two days this past weekend.

And if you haven't noticed, drivers often block crosswalks, making people walk around them. Let's focus on the things that are killing people, not the things that are mostly annoying.

Dec. 30 2013 03:05 PM
Neal Thomas Iskenderian from UPper West Side

These bullshit canned responses and stupid quotes you spit are are not based in reality. Have you spent time in Denmark? I spent some time in Hilerod, a suburb of Copenhagen, and while I used a bike I only saw it as a part of the transportation puzzle. A tool. And no, I never wore a helmet... And it was never enforced. Also I do not recall any bike licensing scheme, but like most European countries you are supposed to carry ID around at all times. Don't confuse the two. When laws make it a burden to bike, studies show bike usage plummets, and the roads are more dangerous for everyone. You commuter shoe wearing office workers yapping on your cell phone and stepping into the street without looking are the real problem. The fact remains that automobiles as a whole are not efficient and not appropriate for an urban design like NYC. Why don't you go move to the route 17 fifty mile long strip mall in Jersey, it seems more to your liking.

And no, I did not ever feel safer biking in Europe. I think Paris in fact was in particular a by awful place to bike. The wide streets of NY are better suited to be for ALL street users, it is about time auto users took only their fair amount.

Dec. 29 2013 01:40 PM
Barbara from Manhattan

I don't consider Janette Sadik-Khan's time in office a success. Bicycles have changed the lives of those of us living and working in midtown Manhattan where walking and crossing the street have become dangerous undertakings. Most cyclists see no reason to observe laws, speeding against traffic and going through lights. The rare cyclist who stops for lights often waits in the crosswalk rather than behind it, forcing pedestrians to walk around them into the path of traffic. Cycling works in cities like Copenhagen because there, bikes and cyclists are licensed and laws are enforced. People are required to wear helmets and light reflecting clothing,; they stay in lanes and go with the traffic flow. One rarely hears of car bike/pedestrian or bike/vehicle accidents In NY, bicycling is a blood sport, often in the literal sense.

Dec. 28 2013 10:33 AM
Steve from Brooklyn

I will miss Sadik-Khan. The streets are safer and more humane as a result of her work. Here's hoping Mayor de Blasio gets it and continues her work.

Dec. 27 2013 06:30 PM

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