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A Street is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Boston’s Newest Bus Lane

Each weekday, half a dozen bus routes carrying 19,000 riders travel the 1.2-mile stretch of Washington Street to the Forest Hill Orange Line Station. Most people on the street at rush hour are riding in ...
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My Favorite Five Streetfilms Featuring Transportation Alternatives

As you may have heard via Twitter, tomorrow (Thursday, April 12th) I will be covering my 100th event/presser/ride/advocacy push featuring Transportation Alternatives when I join the BikeTrain Kickoff Rally, which will show Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens bike commuters - or those curious - how to ride to work once the L-train shuts down. I have so many TransAlt Streetfilms, that I now even keep a separate channel on Vimeo where you can watch every one!

In honor of the 100th TransAlt video to come it made me decide to go a step further and I have picked my five favorites of them either in terms of quality, fun or effectiveness at informing the public of helping change policy. I love them all, tough to choose. In no particular order, here are those five.

300+ People Create Human Protected Bike Lane on 5th Avenue (October 2017)

Late last year, this short Streetfilm showcased what you can do with a fun idea, a huge gathering and a powerful message. 300+ people made human protected #bikenyc lanes down Fifth Avenue.

Fifth Avenue has no bike infrastructure above 26th Street, leaving a large void in the bicycle network where there’s huge travel demand. Protected bike lanes can’t come soon enough: Through the first eight months of this year drivers injured 15 people biking and 28 people walking on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, according to city data.

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (November 2015)

A very powerful gathering and march organized by Families for Safe Streets took over the streets of NYC from City Hall and marched to the United Nations. I tell people who are curious as to why I chose to do what I do that they should simply watch this film. The speakers in it say far more than I could in a few sentences.

PPW Family Bike Ride/We Ride the Lanes (April 2011)

The "We Ride the Lanes" event was the brainchild of Mitch Sonies, who rides the PPW bike lane with his six-year-old daughter and wanted to do something positive to highlight how much people appreciate having a much safer street in their neighborhood. "It was a real celebration of this great, safe bike path," said Mitch. Together with the organizing power of Transportation Alternatives this much-needed power boost to support the new green protected lanes by Janette Sadik-Khan was a slam dunk success in the media and the minds of Brooklyn and NYC bike riders.

Peatonito in NYC: Protected Pedestrians from Cars in the Crosswalk (March 2016)

Jorge Canez, the man behind the mask, has been a pedestrian advocate for quite a while and in Mexico City and he's been involved with many tactical urbanism types of interventions but it's as Peatónito fighting for a safer city that gets him the most notoriety: gently scolding drivers, escorting pedestrians though dicey intersections and pushing vehicles (or occasionally walking over the tops of cars) to get drivers attention to their bad behavior. Needing a great speaker and event to give the conference some zing, Transportation Alternatives brought him to NYC for the Vision Zero Cities 2016 Conference and a group of staff and volunteers got to see him in action at some dicey spots throughout the city.

The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes (February 2007)

From 11 years ago! Before we had the Bloomberg Administration getting more serious about bicycling and transportation, Streetfilms decided to get serious with this huge expose (150,000+ plays and counting!) that NYC needed to get serious and look at the problems on our streets and the solutions in other places. Remember this was many months even before the wonderful Janette Sadik-Khan was installed as NYC DOT Transportation Commissioner.

This film was produced with a lot of advocacy featuring Transportation Alternatives, Project for Public Spaces, NYC Streets Renaissance and many others. It was a pivotal moment and tool in the fight for safer streets in NYC. It features Paul Steely White, Caroline Samponaro, Mark Gorton, Andy Wiley-Schwartz and - even me!

Listen to these New Yorkers ideas of what we should do next for safe streets!

As many of you know, here in New York City there was an overwhelming reaction to the horrible tragedy in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where two young children were killed by a red-light running driver. Numerous events held, including a large NYC March for Safe Streets, put together by Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets and many other community partners. Hundreds of people joined in an incredible show of emotion and anger, and there were many suggestions on what we need to do next as a city and state.

The clips here show five short revealing conversations I had with pairs of people and their ideas about what needs to come next. All of their relfections were smart, sobering and perfectly appropriate.

If you are Mayor de Blaiso, Governor Cuomo, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, a council member on the city council or one of the thousands of community leaders out there, you should take a quick listen. I'd say implement all of what these people have to say.

In order to save our children and save all of us, it is a good start point.

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Great Strategies to Get Protected Bike Lanes in Your City!

Last week I was invited to speak to a group of bike/safe streets advocates in Montclair, NJ about what are some good strategies to get better people who bike and walk in their town. I gave a good accounting of ideas I thought were important but realize there are a lot of Streetfilms resources for anyone who wants to get better bike lanes in their city that I could pen. So here's some advice!

  • START WITH A CORE OF DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS/COMMUNITY MEMBERS:  You simply can't do it without some very motivated people in your city wanting to help manage and motivate your neighbors (and eventually push back against the sure to come NIMBY naysayers) The video below shows how it is done. Visuals. Energy. Sign up sheets. Facts & info about what you want to do. Engaging, happy people. Now this NYC Transportation Alternatives event for the PeopleWay had dozens of volunteers stopping by to help all day. But NYC is big. Your smaller city or town might only need 10. Or maybe 3 to 5 highly energized people.

  • DREAM BIG, BUT WITH AN EYE ON WHAT YOU CAN WIN IN INCREMENTS:  A lot of people like to get jealous of progress made in cities like Portland, Oregon and (of late) here in New York City, but the truth is you can't win everything all at once. If you're in a big city your goals may be different than a smaller town which might have limited funding and/or public support. For example, instead of your dream master plan try proposing extending trails or greenways outward to adjacent roads. Or by asking for more safety near schools or universities and protecting a few popular bike routes where they become the most hairy for biking.

  • ORGANIZE NOT ONLY RIDERS, BUT POLITICIANS & BUSINESSES:  The Streetfilm above shows how just four Londoners formed CyclingWorks, where they pursued business support for the Cycling Superhighways proposed there. Over 180 business CEOs signed on with smart campaigning (just watch the short video). It has been duplicated in other places since and many other cities are plotting to do the same. Another great tactic is to get your elected leaders involved, out on the streets with you. NYC's TransAlt loves to cajole city council members into ride alongs. See the very successful one below with Ben Kallos and many others during Bike Week 2017. It's fun, momentum, investment and exercise!

  • DOCUMENT DANGEROUS AREAS, OR BIKE LANES THAT AREN'T WORKING:  This is key. You'll need the evidence. And unless you have an often-riding bike mayor or elected town officials, it's likely they don't know conditions that suck or are frightening.  Here's just one example: one simple shot of a painted bike lane on Lafayette Street in NYC that obviously isn't providing any protection or help to cyclists. You must do this as much as you can.

  • TRY TO GET CREATIVE IN SHOWING WHAT COULD BE OR SHOW UNIQUE BENEFITS THAT MIGHT WIN OVER OTHERS WHO DON'T BICYCLE:  If you want more or better bike lanes, you may have to emphasize the overall package that they can bring. Slower, calmer streets. Shorter, safer crossing distances for pedestrians.  A nicer business environment. And as below shows, even greener, more attractive streets to live on.

  • AND USE STREETFILMS AS A RESOURCE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!

And finally, as we know visuals are the best. They put people more at ease as to what to expect and is achievable. Many times you can watch the enlightenment unfold on folks faces when watching a video about a hard to grasp transportation concept. So whether you use our Streetfilms, others on the internet or ones you make yourself, spread them around. And note: you are certainly free to hold screenings using our films provided you just give us the heads up and don't re-edit them. Another good suggestion is to intersperse local films amongst ours in a screening or to insert even just small bits or photos of your own city pointing out problem areas.

The amazing thing is, if you're looking for videos about protected bike lanes, well we got 'em. Heck, we got more from more places than anybody! How many? OVER 80!! You can scroll thru them all on Vimeo at this link and simply hit the download button to get a digital copy if you want to show it at a screening or just sit down with your local leaders and pop it into a laptop!

Highlights from NOLA: Riding Blue Bikes, Fixing Transit & The “Neutral Ground”

As I usually try to do, here's a quick wrap-up of highlights from my adventures in New Orleans from mid-December to work with TransitCenter and Ride New Orleans. The above Streetfilm was quickly pieced together as I wasn't there to focus on bicycling. But thanks to using New Orleans' Blue Bikes bike share to get around to many shoots (its debut week!) and being around the Bike Easy staff (who shares an office with Ride) I was able to gather a few interviews and footage. Let me stress this one fact: New Orleans has a lot of cyclists. An incredible diversity in age, race, sex and type of bike ridden. I don't think my footage here does it any justice. Cyclists are a constant presence on the streets, but unlike many big cities, you won't see commuting peletons or large groupings waiting for lights. They are just there. Every intersection you'll see them.

But as I said the mission was to showcase the hard work of Ride New Orleans who is scoring victories for its riding public and providing momentum in a city that desperately needs even the bare essentials for its bus riding public. Simple things many might take for granted like signage, route schedules, benches and shelters. The above excerpt with Matthew Henrickson, the Policy Director for Ride, wasn't planned. We were waiting to interview another subject and he sarcastically pointed out we were standing under a bus stop. Knowing there are uncountable similar conditions throughout the city, I just told him to start talking. We got one fast take in right before our interviewee showed up. But this shows the hard choices facing their incoming mayor, which was buoyed by this late December news where the RTA approved a long-range, comprehensive plan to improve NOLA transit.

And speaking of interviews, one of the lovely people you will meet is Ms. Sonja (below with me, and by the way that's HER bike bag) who is on the Transit Riders’ Advisory Committee that meets first Saturday of the month. They're a wonderful, smart group of people who know they pushing the conversation to drastically change their city. Ms. Sonja gathered 600 signatures to get a bench and bus shelter installed at her senior living home, which she is very proud of. And now she is helping other volunteers and motivating people do the same.

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I really get to meet so many nice people in my travels. She's certainly one of them.  You'll get to meet her and up to a dozen others (hopefully) by the end of the month or early February.

And finally, if you watched the Streetfilm at the top of the page, you'll see I became a bit obsessed bike riding in the "neutral ground", which is the term for medians (grassy, concrete, whatever) in NOLA. I did some research on it and the history of the evolution of the term is quite cool. Click to read here. Then watch my extended outtake riding on the neutral ground and many of the other people riding bikes enjoy there.

Two Promos & a Streetfilm from GoHuman!

This year I had the opportunity to work on two promotional videos for the "Go Human" campaign from SCAG, the Southern California Association of Governors. The above is the version featuring footage/photos from nearly ten events we helped document.

The campaign encourages Southern Californians to use human-powered transportation and change how people see other modes of transportation. They operate in many cities and do many types of events including open-streets events, traffic calming demonstrations and using tactical urbanism to educate people.

One Streetfilm you may remember from earlier this year was a long excerpt I did while covering one of their events in Riverside, CA where the town was experimenting with new crossings including a pedestrian scramble. It was well received by residents and visitors who were exposed to the concept.

We also produced a wonderful instrumental version for SCAG to use. That one is below. Enjoy!

 

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