Special: Flex Streets 5 Year Anniversary

A New Policy, for the People

On November 26th, 2031 New York City’s innovative FlexStreets program went live on a few “pilot streets,” such as Broadway and 5th Avenue. In the past few years, the program has expanded out to include every roadway in Manhattan. Based on a robust data set describing current and historic traffic patterns, current conditions, the status of all public transportation modes, and projected needs, FlexStreet’s algorithm optimizes movement on New York City’s roads for all stakeholders. This was a new paradigm in traffic management: rather than thinking of the streets as inflexible infrastructure elements with fixed rules - where the proportion of the roadway given to certain types of traffic is a constant - with the new system, traffic guidelines for a given roadway were made able to adapt and change over the course of a day, a month, even a year, based on actual realtime needs. 

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 For many years, traffic designers followed a “shared-use” model, which led to a situation in which they were trying to squeeze an ever growing number of vehicle types into the same space. The outdated infrastructure simply could not bear this weight, and a novel solution was proposed. In order to create the conditions necessary to develop and run such an initiative, the city created a new governing body out of a merger between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. This new Department of Movement’s mandate is to “support, faciliate, and oversee the transmission of people, goods, services, and information.”