I got a copy of Janette Sadik-Khan's "Streetfight: A Handbook for and Urban Revolution" and it's a great read. I'm not sure it's a handbook per se, because a lot of the lessons are probably only applicable for New York City, but it's a fun little history and for the subjects I remember reading and writing about, like the bike lane wars and the Citibike roll-out, it's a walk down memory lane. Begrimed indeed.
There's a whole chapter on bike lanes and the many controversies they resulted in. There's even a shout-out to a certain Washington Post writer who noted how low the fine is for hitting a cyclist with your car. There's the Prospect Park West craziness, the Grand Street discontentment and the "Hasids vs. Hotties" Williamsburg brouhaha.
There's another chapter on Citibike that oddly doesn't mention Smartbike or CaBi but does capture all the issues with roll-out (Superstorm Sandy, software issues and supplier bankruptcy) and the backlash to that, including the 5 minute interview with Dorothy Rabinowitz. Sadik-Khan credits that interview with ending the whole debate, because she came off as so out-of-touch and so ridiculous (the "All-Powerful Bike Lobby") that she tarnished the whole opposition.
Both of these chapters have one thing in common, the controversy died down a few months later and everyone kind of realized that this was something they could live with and that, maybe, it even made the city better. Which has been the story here in DC as well. There's also some inside baseball, but nothing too revelatory.
The book also features several beautiful and envy-inspiring photos and the unfortunate line "the successful installation of the first bike lane led to a series of rapid-fire projects.." and then she lists nearly a dozen projects that were carried out over 2 years. Yes, that's what happened here too..or at least still might. Then there are more chapters about things other than bikes, like buses and pedestrians that are news to me, and those are interesting as well.
[It is an odd title though, coming out only 3 years after a similar book about San Francisco with an almost identical Title "Street Fight: The Struggle Over Urban Mobility in San Francisco." Get both of those and Gabe Klein's "Start-up City" and you've got the whole trilogy. Then cap it all of by watching the Cory Booker documentary "Street Fight" and see the 2024 Democratic Presidential nominee up close.]
Update: She'll being reading an excerpt of the book at Politics and Prose tonight at 7pm. 5015 Connecticut Ave NW.