Sam (Gridlock Sam) Schwartz was NYC’s longtime traffic commissioner and now runs an eponymous consulting firm with offices around the country. So he’s got the purview and experience to tell us how car came to dominate our American lives and – more importantly – how and why this will be less true in the coming years. Thank ride- and car- sharing startups like VIA and Zipcars, urban planners in cities like Vancouver and Charleston, and fans of active transport, like Millennials.
What makes Street Smart an enjoyable read is Schwartz’s anecdotes about NYC’s hydra-headed public transit system, which managed to survive both Robert Moses and Hurricane Sandy, as well as stories about consulting on projects from India to N. Korea. William (Bill) Rosen, his co-author (and erstwhile publishing executive) has done a great job of bringing even the driest stats to life.
Beginning in the early 1970s, Schwartz takes his readers through his own life and how it intertwines with the fall and rise of New York, keeping us entertained by the politics, technology and changes in attitudes towards transportation over the ensuing forty years.