Temporary chairs on Broadway post-closure. Flickr: John_Niedermeyer. Add to browser: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nedward/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Tonight, I’ll be renting a Zipcar (if they let me, see below) to attend a talk by the visionary who stewarded the transformation of Broadway, by Times Square and Herald Square, into pedestrian zones at Occidental College.

Janette Sadik-Khan at a press conference with Zozo the Monster. Source: Nickdigital - Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nickdigital/3792294368/sizes/m/

Her name is Janette Sadik-Khan. She’s New York’s Commissioner of Transportation and she is widely respected for her work in transforming some of New York City’s most pedestrian-heavy areas into complete streets and pedestrian plazas.

If you want to carpool with me, send me an e-mail at stritipeskul at ts.ucla.edu. I’ll be live-tweeting from @uclacommute and you’ll see a write-up tomorrow morning here at Be A Green Commuter.

Check out this website for more information. Janette’s talk is the kickoff for the 2010 Los Angeles Street Summit, which is taking place on Saturday at LA Trade Tech. Mike King and I will also be there, so we would love to see you there.

In an interview for Fast Company, she said that it was essential to reclaim streets for people, as public space:

“Half a million people go through Times Square each day. It’s 90% pedestrians and 10% vehicles, yet 90% of the space has been allocated to vehicles. In an urban environment as complex as New York’s, with more than 6,000 miles of streets, in-demand public space, and another million people expected to come here in the next 20 years, we can’t accommodate everyone by just triple-decking our roads. We’re changing our streetscape’s DNA with more trees, benches, and good design, and with bus and bike lanes and pedestrian areas, so that it’s about more than just moving cars from point A to point B.

These changes improve the flow of the city, better people’s health, and it’s also great for the environment. We’re not going to be able to maintain the quality of life and the economic attractiveness of world-class cities by continuing to jam more and more traffic and congestion through them.”