Contact Aaron Naparstek
When Aaron Naparstek launched Streetsblog.org in the Spring of 2006, New York City transportation policy was stalled in gridlock. While cities like London, Paris, Portland and Chicago were rolling out transportation policy reforms and long-term sustainability plans, New York’s streets were still mostly ruled by a 1950’s traffic-engineering mindset aimed at maximizing the city’s capacity to accommodate motor vehicles. While other world cities were reclaiming their streets with new bike infrastructure, pedestrian plazas, bus rapid transit and congestion pricing, New York City still seemed to view traffic as something akin to the weather—a force beyond the control of mere mortals.
Streetsblog helped to change that. It did this by establishing a new journalistic beat covering a range of stories from the intense neighborhood-level battles over bike lanes and parking spots to the macro-level questions around how cities are addressing the challenge of long-term sustainability; by educating policy makers on urban planning and transportation best practices; by creating a vibrant online community; and by serving as a city government watchdog. Published by the non-profit technology organization OpenPlans, Streetsblog quickly emerged as a daily must-read among advocates, the press, policy wonks and City Hall insiders. Today, under the leadership of Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City’s Department of Transportation is pursuing a bold new program to create “sustainable streets.” The agency is transformed, and widely considered a leading example for transportation agencies in other U.S. cities. Streetsblog helped to make that so. Prior to founding Streetsblog, Naparstek worked as a journalist, interactive media producer and community organizer. He is author of Honku: The Zen Antidote for Road Rage, a book of humorous haiku poetry inspired by the unique brand of motorist sociopathy observed from his apartment window in Brooklyn. As a community organizer, Naparstek’s work has contributed to growing New York City's bike network, eliminating motor vehicle traffic from city parks, and the installation of public plazas, car-free streets and traffic-calming projects.
During his Fellowship, Naparstek hopes to build relationships with people who are working on the cutting edge of progressive urban planning, policy and technology.