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Nijmegen: The City That Tamed Cars So People Can Walk and Bike Where They Please

This Streetfilm was a pure joy to make, and it really snuck up on me. Nijmegen, a small Dutch city, was never on my radar. But I found myself in town last month for the Velo-City ...
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Exploring More of The Netherlands: Rotterdam, Nijmegen, Arnhem & more!

By now you may have seen a few of my newest Streetfilms debuting from my visit to The Netherlands for the Velo City 2017 conference. The above video is a great resource in case you've ever wanted an on-the-ground tour of cycling by Dutch engineers but haven't the opportunity to do so. It's difficult capturing events like this in real time while moving with a group, but there is certainly enough to soak up in this Streetfilm and learn a great deal about logical design for cyclists and intersections from the best, so check it out.

I saw much on this journey spending time in a few cities. My first stop - unexpectedly - was the city of Rotterdam. When a vocal group of Twitter followers from Rotterdam found I was spending an extra day in the Netherlands (to save big time on my roundtrip airfare) they cajoled me into an amazing tour. José Besselink, Urban Planner for the City of Rotterdam, and Monique Zwinkels, Inner City Manager, Municipality of Rotterdam organized a fabulous journey by bike to sample some of what the city has to offer, especially looking at its core urban livability concept City Lounge. We had a few fun moments I was able to pop up quickly while on the road. 

The above is kinda silly, but shows my great love for transit running over grass. It's something I have also experienced in Oslo and Cambridgeshire (buses); there's just something about it that brings out the kid in me. And it jives with my son, since he loves the video too.

This next video speaks to the testament about how much more dense cities all over the world are getting and how cars are becoming increasingly a bad technology to use in cities. The ANWB, which you can think of as the Dutch AAA car-federation for motorists, now has a fleet of cargo bikes they use to rescue or fix driver cars in the central city of Rotterdam. They had only been operating a few days when we ran into this gentleman. Oh, and also they will fix bikes, too.

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What Streetfilms May Emerge from VeloCity 2017!

Above: "Cycling Copenhagen, Thru North American Eyes", with nearly 350,000 plays, the 5th most watched Streetfilm of all-time was shot at Velo-City 2010.

VeloCity is just about a week away and after six years of missing it, I'll be attending what promises to be 2017's exciting chapter in Arnhem - Nijmegen, The Netherlands. As the event approaches I've been pondering what videos I might produce. Of course, I do like to stay in-the-moment and spontaneous when I go to transportation conferences of any kind. I try not to over pre-plan since there are always so many great people, rides and sessions going on that a film could materialize right in front of me. However, here are some good bets of documentation I'll attempt.

First off, this cool thing that happened: while booking my trip over the phone - which is something I never do - my ticket agent explained that if I extended my trip by one day on either end, my round trip flight would be over 50% less. So easy decision to land 28 hours earlier. A nice group of folks in Rottterdam got wind of my extra day and cajoled me stick around there for an entire day and have organized a comprehensive bike tour! That's so completely nice. I'm super excited as I have never been. It should make for a phenomenal Streetfilm.

Because the lodging prices were high and extremely limited availability in Nijmegen, I opted to stay in Arnhem for the event. The choice was made easy when you have trains every ten minutes between the two cities. But as I did research I was intrigued to discover that the two cities opened a bicycle superhighway between them last year. So I'll certainly try and bike it at least a few times and see how cool it is. Could this be a Streetfilm? Sure. I'm hoping to find a few folks from the conference or the cities to ride it with me one morning and talk about how it came about.

The conference also features nearly a full day in which attendees are encouraged to attend an excursion to Amsterdam, as there are no sessions scheduled during this time. Of course, I did make a few very popular Streetfilms a few years ago on my original sojourn there (see "Anecdotes from Amsterdam" above.)  So I'll be going again. Bringing my camera. Not sure what will happen, but I'll be grabbing video. listening to tour leaders and talking with my fellow conference friends about it.

Another very short film I'm certain to churn out is something on the annual Velo City Bike Parade! The mass bike parade takes place Thursday night thru the streets of Nijmegen. The 2010 version in Copenhagen was a real fun treat as you can see above.

Of course, in addition to all that, I'll be tweeting and Facebook-ing plenty throughout the conference itself and I'm sure they'll be plenty of opportunities to gather quick interviews with leaders in the bike world. It's gonna be a real wave of sensory overload and hard to keep up. But that's a fun challenge.

Do you have ideas and thoughts about must see stuff at VeloCity or in The Netherlands? As you probably can imagine, I've gotten a few "Please cover this/me/come to our city too!" pitches via email and many asks on social media as to what my plans are. Please feel free to leave ideas in the comments field below or tweet them to @Streetfilms or @PurpleClarence. Just keep in mind I am only one person and I make all the videos at Streetfilms. I usually spend almost every moment of the day while daylight shooting films, so I can't do everything.

Finally, I'd like to thank the organizers of VeloCity 2017 for granting me a press pass so I may attend. Without that there is no way I could put enough funding to really make this happen. And if you want to see more about biking in The Netherlands, Streetfilms has a nice pod of work from over the years you can browse by clicking this link.

Checking out Silver Line Demo in Boston and more!

For the second year in a row, Streetfilms is working closely with TransitCenter to produce a series of videos about how people are organizing, planning, and winning better transit in American cities.

As such, I was recently in Boston talking to the Livable Streets Alliance about what they and their many local partners are doing to help speed up bus service. I happened to be in town during the two-week Silver Line Demo, a trial period during which riders can board the bus at all three doors, not just at the front.

As you can see, it was a rather dramatic change:

When I travel, I usually notice a heck of a lot more than what I am on assignment to document. So I grab what I can. While waiting for a meeting on this trip, I found myself wandering around Boston's car-free Downtown Crossing during lunch hour. It's always been a comfortable public space, and it keeps getting better.

Here's a short montage of people out in the middle of the day:

While in Cambridge getting some footage of buses, I came across what I'm calling a "sidewalk-assist" Copenhagen left turn. It's not the first one I've seen by any stretch, but I had enough time to get good footage showing it in action. The intersection is very difficult for cyclists, and it's great to have this option if you feel you need it:

The entire intersection is complicated, with lots of people walking and biking to a major transit station nearby. There are L-O-N-G wait times for a green light, no matter how you're getting around. If I had transportation superpowers, I would make one of the connecting streets car-free to create a more regular intersection and get a new pedestrian plaza in the bargain.

Editorial: The Mayor, NYPD (115th Precinct) & DOT Must Do More to Make Our Streets Safer

Yeah I'm livid.

Thursday night, for the third time in less than 6 months near my home, a pedestrian was killed by an irresponsible motorist. And to make it even more tragic: two of these victims were small children crushed while being pushed in strollers.  I'm the dad to a young son so it breaks my heart. We've had brushes with drivers nearly hitting us while crossing legally with the light. I can't imagine my life without my son, the families must be devastated.

All three happened about a mile from my home on 85th Street. All three happened in NYPD's 115th precinct.

What will it take?

We really need NYPD to do its job. I met a few officers from the 115th Precinct recently at a Jackson Heights meeting (where I live) following the death of Henry Boimel, killed by a turning Uber driver in January. Yes, the officers all seemed like nice folks. And, look, I'm sure sometimes their job is tough. But the department needs to start getting really serious about cracking down on traffic violence and intimidation by motorists. At that meeting many people complained about dangerous right turning vehicles on 37th Avenue. I walk it nearly every day. And still haven't seen any stepped up enforcement by the 115th since. I hope they have. I hope I'm wrong.

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Showcasing Great Policies to Help Minimize Car Ownership

At Streetfilms we've got 800+ videos now of all sorts. All available for you to show or screen for your community or elected leaders and to enlighten and change minds.

One thing we are always looking for is trying to explain or implement policies that help create a lower car ownership rates, that of course is the primary goal in cities as the fewer cars there are the more space for people and efficient forms of transportation.

So we're always jumping into the archives looking to clump together videos to help. Thus here are some good best practices from the vault!

MAKE IT HARD TO OWN A CAR. 

 

MAKE IT EXPENSIVE AND DIFFICULT TO GET A LICENSE. ALSO: IMPLEMENT CONGESTION PRICING.

 

CAP THE NUMBER OF PARKING SPACES IN YOUR CITY AND NEVER ALLOW ANY MORE! EVER! NEVER! LIKE FOR OVER 20 YEARS!

 

MAKE IT FASTER & SAFER TO GO BY BIKE, AND SLOWER & MORE ANNOYING IN A CAR.

 

MAKE A HUGE NETWORK OF SHARED STREETS VERY, VERY SLOW AND ONLY FOR LOCAL RESIDENTS & BUSINESSES WITH PERMITS!

 

START BUILDING BRIDGES ONLY FOR BIKES. PEDESTRIANS & TRANSIT!

 

MAKE YOUR CITY A ROBUST MULTI-MODAL CITY FOR ALL AGES!

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