Everyone should go read Jan Gehl’s post on Streetsblog about good urban design, excerpted from his book Cities for People. I have nothing to add, except to underline one part that’s often underrated among urbanists: the role of parked cars as buffer between moving cars and pedestrians or cyclists. Compare this photo with this photo, and ask yourself where the cyclist is better protected.
I generally tend to be very supportive of Manhattan’s design. The streets may be wider than elsewhere, but that translated mostly to increased pedestrian space. Manhattan’s 18-meter side streets have 1-2 driving lanes and a parking lane on each side; so do the 12-meter side streets in Tel Aviv, the difference being that in Tel Aviv cars park with two wheels on the sidewalk. As long as there’s an adequate street wall and the buildings are not set back from the street, it isn’t a real problem. As Gehl notes, there are many ways to make cities livable short of the ideal of Venice, in which cars begin where the city ends.