Harlem Word: Julia De Martini Day tells us about the importance of reclaiming the streets for pedestrians in NYC

Julia De Martini Day, BA, is a planner and advocate for Transportation Alternatives.  Transportation Alternatives is working to reclaim New York City streets for pedestrians and bicyclists and promote walking, biking and public transportation as the best transportation options in NYC.  Julia De Martini Day is helping New Yorkers re-envision their streets as public spaces.

Q: What is Transportation Alternatives (TA)?

A: Transportation Alternatives was founded in 1973 with a mission to reclaim New York City streets from the private automobile and promote biking, walking, and public transit as the best transportation options in the city.  TA works with NYC communities, including Harlem, to make more street space available for walking, biking and local public transit, since less than 50% of New Yorkers own cars.  TA wants to make streets easier for people to get to work, school or other daily activities and is working with many different programs and initiatives to promote greener, pedestrian-friendly streets in New York.   

Q: How did you become interested in TA and improving NYC streets?

A: Growing up in New York, I loved being in an urban environment and having the freedom and independence to move around the city by walking, biking or using public transit.  On the street and in public spaces you see so many different people interacting and socializing with New Yorkers they wouldn't normally connect with.  When I went to college in St. Louis, Missouri, I saw a different type of urban environment.  The streets were much wider and everyone used cars to get around.  The streets acted as a way to separate people.  While working for a group called the "League of Young Voters" that encouraged young people to vote in the 2004 election, I noticed how divided St. Louis was and how a lack of space to walk or bike or the lack of public transportation made it difficult for residents of the same city to connect.  Living in this mid-western city helped me realize that public space and safe streets can help people connect and feel engaged in their communities.

If you are interested in becoming involved with TA you can contact Julia De Martini Day at [email protected] or sign-up to become an "E-activist" where you can be notified about transportation events happening in your neighborhood.


This is really great stuff that they're doing.. I really hate how it's always a battle with cars when you're trying to walk or bike places in the city. It would be nice to put the emphasis on pedestrians again!
The small island of Manhattan is an ideal setting for a walking/biking culture. The progress made on the West and East river paths is wonderful. Now to be able to safely navigate the streets would be stellar! Thanks to people like Julia who care about this issue.

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