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NYC’s Varick Street Gets a Granite Bike Path

As any bicyclist can tell you, a bumpy ride on cobblestones is no fun. In NYC, the DOT has implemented its first granite bikeway on one block of Varick Street to make it easier for cyclists and ...
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May Streetfilms Shorties You May Have Missed

Often we make short Streetfilms that do not officially get posted on the main site for one reason or another. They may just be quickly edited videos not destined to be up for the long haul or short clips for Streetsblog. Or ones we just don't expected to have too much interest nationwide.

Here's a pretty inspiring video we posted a few days of the NYC Progressive Bike Caucus on Bike to Work Day. In all nearly ten council members showed up, and at least half of those rode bikes in the ride. It's pretty amazing to see that many out there as just five or ten years ago it would have been rare to see a NYC council member out there. We have made a lot of progress thanks to groups like Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets and StreetsPAC.

Speaking of the rise of bicycling in New York City, here's just a quick montage of bike congestition along Kent Avenue on the Williamsburg waterfront two weeks ago. On an average day there are just an immense number of people biking. It points to safe bike infrastructure, if you build it, people will use it.

And finally, here is just a PSA I threw together out of my frustration over Earth Day and unlike a good deal of the stuff on Streetfilms, it is highly negative. I needed to vent my frustration over what is happening in the world. I think we are in serious trouble. And in our country there's no urgency or concrete action coming from our federal government.

CNU23: A Wrap Up of My Experience in Dallas & Ft. Worth

Had a great time at the Congress for New Urbanism Conference in Dallas. It's always great being around transportation & planning people for a few days. Dallas is a city with many challenges and hopefully many of the minds in attendance made an impact in helping the intrepid advocates there gain more momentum.

One of the first things I did (see above) was go out and ride the newly opened Dallas Streetcar from Union Station to Oak Cliff. For now it only has four open stations and 1.6 miles of track, but the cars are nice and the ride quick. I got to hear from Jason Roberts the funny story of how residents created a "fake agency" to get buzz started on resurrecting the streetcar. I suggest reading that linkage.

Another big name in Dallas is the indefatigable Patrick Kennedy who cajoled me into coming along and filming his "Freeways Without Futures", CNU23 edition. I was glad I did. Nothing is more dramatic then seeing the destructive power to a city neighborhood that the presence of a massive downtown highway from above, in this case the I-345. And now you can via the Streetfilm above.

The amount of parking in Dallas is freaking intimidating. And so are the expanses of concrete and basic lack of street-life after about 6:30 pm. Except for a few welcoming pockets here and there, like the wonderful Deep Ellum neighborhood and Klyde Warren Park (in the below short) there's not a whole lot of people energy in the core of the city. Cars and roads rule.

It's a shame. The walking environment is missing plenty of sidewalks in places. Curb cuts are haphazard,  making navigating around for the physically-challenged and older folks very troubling. I don't even recall a lot of painted crosswalks. It's basically a downtown for the car and the weekday commuter. I saw many tweets from fellow CNU attendees showing problems they encountered. This was typical:

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Host Your Own FREE Streetfilms Screening!

image3Earlier this week I was in Albany for a Streetfilms screening as a guest of the Albany Protected Bike Lanes Coalition, a group fighting for better bicycling in New York's capital. About 135 people attended and they did just about everything you can do right when it comes to holding a great rallying event for your community.

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Personal Note: I attended college at SUNY at Albany, and I loved seeing movies at The Madison. It's an honor they allowed us to screen Streetfilms!

Before I go any further let me say this: we've made it simple for anyone to host their own screening. Just go to our Streetfilms Vimeo account and use the download button to get a high quality copy of any Streetfilm. To advocacy groups and non-profits, it's FREE - you have our blessing to pick out a slate of nearly 700 shorts and tailor it towards what livable streets improvements your city needs. Better yet: include videos mixed in by local advocates in your playlist.

Back to Albany. Here's just some of what great they did that you should try to emulate. They were able to get a wonderful independent movie theater, The Madison, to host the event. They did a lot of PR, including many advance stories in newspapers and they papered the nabe with posters. They invited many local groups to table the event and there was great literature from the Green Lane Project. Many local elected officials were involved and Council Member Leah Golby went above & beyond.

But you don't need to have all the bells and whistles. Your group might be just as successful around a large screen television and a few dozen people in a big conference room. It's all about getting the dialogue started and having influential people educating the community. And most of all: creating momentum for change.

We do ask that you give Streetfilms a heads up and shout out. And even nicer to send or tweet us some photos of your event! More photos after the jump below...

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Me with Council Member Leah Golby (10th Ward ) & Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan who dropped by.

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Introducing “Streetfilms Snippets”, More Video Tools for You

Our digital entertainment is all about faster & quicker. The general public has an increasingly shorter attention span. I know I've watched since Youtube's debut in 2005 as the public's ability to watch an entire video - even a good, short one - has become challenged.

This is something I've been wrestling with as occassionally we have some Streetfilms that approach 10+ minutes in length that still perform very well, but are surely micro-segments or short lessons within them that might play better in the short-attention span world. So that's part of the rationale behind "Streetfilms Snippets" - a new Vimeo channel we've created where we've taken full length Streetfilms and tried to excerpt an idea within them that might prove useful to advocates if it was one minute or less.

And for the next few weeks, I'm taking requests! Yes, if there is a part of a particular Streetfilm you'd enjoy seeing boiled down or cut out as it's own useful snippet, let me know. This is your chance to bolster your personal powerpoint or presentation to an elected leader by making a concept bite size. See some examples below, or see them all here.

Some NEW Parking Streetfilms You May Have Missed

We've recently posted a few parking "best practices" direct to Vimeos for use by Streetsblog that you likely haven't seen if you don't check both sites frequently. (Which Streetfilms wholeheartedly endorses.)

First up: We're big fans of the work of Gabe Klein, the former DOT Commissioner for both District of Columbia & Chicago. While I was filming for a project looking at parking policy, we stopped briefly to chat about some of the innovations D.C. instituted while he was there which made paying for parking more efficient. Since the bulk of these comments were likely not to make it in to our final Streetfilm, we wanted to get it out there as a tool for use in those cities who need to reform their systems.

The second (above) is a short interview we conducted with City Councilwoman Margret Chin for a story by Stephen Miller that appeared on Streetsblog. It's a great story if you love happy endings when the topic is talking about the struggle to eliminate parking minimums in dense cities in the U.S.  Hopefully more developers will follow this logical lead.

And while we are at it, don't miss the above excerpt from our awesome Zurich Streetfilm. We did a number of shorter excerpts so that they are more easily used by advocates and community members. This segment talks about Zurich's "Historic Compromise" which essentially kept the number of parking spaces steady at 1996 levels. Yup, that's not a misprint. Watch how they did it!

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