Beyond #Sneckdown: Five Other Street Conditions You Can Observe or Document
It's been quite a ride we've had the last six weeks on the sneckdown train. At least 40 publications & blog posts since January 2nd including the BBC, The Economist, and The Atlantic Cities. I even got on the local news here in NYC on WPIX. As of December 2013 our two Streetfilms had been watched about 9,000 times, but currently are up over 32,000 plays. The phenomenon grows every day.
The most exciting thing has been watching the contributions - the blog posts and thousands of photos tweeted. I've asked myself, "What's next to keep up the motivated masses wanting to change their streets?" Well since 2005, Streetfilms done a lot of educational films about transportation terms in order to energize the general public. I've picked five I think are similar to sneckdowns when it comes to potential for fans to document with photos or video.
1. Drivers Behaving Rudely - There are many types of dangerous infractions you can capture any time of the day in big cities. A few years ago, we chose to document drivers not yielding to pedestrians and sitting in crosswalks. But you can chose whatever is your particular anger: double-parking, distracted driving or speeding (see if your local advocacy group has a speed gun you can borrow.)
2. Chicanes - Firstly, if you don't know how a chicane works, watch this 20 second animation. Essentially, a chicane is another form traffic calming that is quite effective in slowing cars. I made this Streetfilm when I was told by a DOT person - long time ago - that chicanes were pretty much impossible to install in New York City. However, I knew they'd work. Why? I'd see them temporarily form every week during street cleaning hours in my neighborhood when people double parked. I'll bet this happens in plenty of cities.
3. Drivers Failing to Signal - Anecdotally, talking amongst friends I've found most believe about half of drivers in NYC never use their blinkers - which can be dangerous if you are riding a bike or walking. I finally got fed up and came up with this experiment: I recorded the first 100 drivers turning to get an accurate average. This is the kind of thing that can be done across the U.S. Here's a great video from Philadelphia showing drivers repeatedly running a stop sign near Rittenhouse Square.
4. Locating Spots for "Daylighting" - This is a close cousin to sneckdowns as we are talking about curb extensions once again. But here your primary documentation should be looking for good places on the street to increase visibility for people and drivers. Sure, this should be just common street policy on our street corners, but since it means losing a few parking spaces - that's likely to rankle communities. It's best to fight for situations for the most vulnerable: around schools, senior centers, or pedestrian-heavy shopping areas.
5. Leading Pedestrian Interval - Here's an effective way of giving pedestrians a head start on turning vehicles. Watch the video to see how this works, then go out and find intersections where cars commonly cut in front of people - when cars & peds get a simultaneous green. Chances are it's likely a good place to ask your DOT for an LPI.
Finally I'd like to end this by really encouraging people to tell stories of things they've documented (and how) in the comments field. I think since we have lots of hungry new amateur traffic engineers, we can teach each other much on ways to look for a more livable community.