A few weeks ago, I published two eye-opening videos I shot on a pair of Manhattan's Avenues with protected bike lanes (one at the 1st Ave & Queensboro Bridge entrance, the other used multiple intersections on 2nd Ave). The purpose was to show how much of a bike boom the city is already experiencing and I counted the number of cars vs bikes. Many people have tweeted, emailed and asked, "How can I do that too?" not only here in New York City but also all over the country.
I thought the exchange below was funny.
Luckily it's really pretty simple if you have something to record with, a tripod and a few hours of time. The first thing you'll want to do is identify a place thick with bike use and pick a good time to tape. It's not shocking to predict rush hour weekdays are good. It is important to pick a spot where you can capture all you want (if you want cars, buses, pedestrians too, etc. you need to get as much of roadway as you can). Also: if comfort is important to you, think about that. I sat on sidewalks and still recuperating from a torn meniscus and that wasn't exactly delightful.
The best case scenario is to tape your intersection from a few floors up - like from a parking garage, a roof or a public place. But that requires some advance planning and luck. It also would help far more when tallying your end totals.
I chose to record standard speed rather than tape in a time-lapse mode or using an interval, Why? I wanted to have the full video in case I wanted to use segments in other future Streetfilms and in case anti-bike nimrods accused me of manipulating the numbers. Plus, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any cars or riders. And since you'll be counting later, it's easier to scrub thru your footage if you want to fast forward thru breaks with nothing much to count. Plan on doing a few 15 minute counts. At least do 15-20 minutes once for an accurate read.
Once I finished my counting of each mode (I counted at least twice thru for each segment and had to do each in separate passes) then I started editing by speeding up most of the footage. After all, no one wants to watch a 30 minute video. So I sped up some chunks by as much as 10x or more for the final cut. In the 1st Avenue video I also threw in a few facts to keep watchers a little more engaged.
The result? The videos really jumpstarted a debate of how crowded our NYC bike lanes are getting. On 1st Avenue the ratio of cars to bicycles was nearly 1:1 which even shocked me! Check out this StreetsblogNYC article where a half dozen elected officials have endorsed widening them! You can do the same in your city or neighborhood.
There are numerous other examples I have kept in mind from over the years. This above from Copenhagen looking down from a rooftop on one of the busiest bike routes in the city is very cool.
And when Luke Ohlson (then working for Transportation Alternatives) did this time lapse four years ago showing how much use a Citibike dock gets on Broadway, right away it is apparent that spatially bike share serves far more people than a few parking spaces for cars ever would.
In the last two weeks I have gotten nearly a dozen requests from people to tape bikes vs cars (or just bikes) in places all over New York. But I just don't have the time so I really hope to see plenty of others going forth and giving it a shot. Make sure to tag me on Twitter with your videos and I will certainly help promote them with a retweet!
As we worked towards our final edit for the anchor Ghent Streetfilm on the installation of their Circulation Plan, there were many smaller items we knew wouldn't make the final cut or were better off as quick items posted as shorts.
Above, of course, is the main feature. But below you will find some supplemental gems and fun.
This one below dives deeper in to the politics and the media negativism as the Circulation Plan for the city was getting ready to be installed.
In Ghent there is a very unique bridge that raises and lowers for boats WHILE cyclists ride over it, no need for pausing.
While we were on a bike tour of the city Vice Mayor Filip Watteeau showed us a program where neighbors can request and design their streets. Here is a clip.
And finally, there are quite a number of tram tracks, everywhere. And it is amazing and graceful to see the city's residents navigate them successfully, and most of them aren't wearing helmets either.
Very exciting to see that Streetfilms has visited a record number (half!) of the the cities in this year's version of the Copenhagenize Top 20 Bicycle Cities!
You can take a gander at the complete list here on their website, but here is a sample of the cities on our website you can check out and their corresponding films!
#1 Copenhagen is number one once again. We have over a half dozen videos we've done from Copenhagen but below is the most recent (along with our film from 2010 which is still a Top Five film on Streetfilm of all time).
#2 Amsterdam has moved back to number 2 from 3. We also have featured Amsterdam very prominently over the years. Their most recent announcement to remove 10,000 parking spaces from the city center made us return last month for this special film. Also included is our 2013 epic that is nearing a half million plays!
#3 Utrecht is a dream. And today we released a Streetfilm updating the world as to what measures they are taking to improve bicycling in their city and eradicate the car from the city center. You must visit.
#7 Oslo moving up several notches. Why? As we showed a few years ago during our visit to see how much progress the city was making on its bold announcement to turn its downtown car-free and more people-friendly for the health of its citizens. It was the first film made on Oslo on the topic.
#12 Our trio of films on Bogota in 2007 was what essentially put Streetfilms on the map. We have been back, but we're kind of indebted to that series and have to post the awesome video on Ciclovia that helped bring that message to now hundreds of cities in the USA hosting car-free streets events.
#13 Streetfilms went to Barcelona to document the awesome Superblocks program. But I did get a few hours to rent a bike on my second day to roll thru the city and I found it wonderful. A great walking city. Here are those two videos.
#16 Tokyo is a bustling city and packs in over 9 million people. But even though they don't have tons of traditional protected-style bike lanes, bike riding is really popular!
#18 (tie) Montreal is a favorite of Streetfilms, which has been visiting every few years since the mid-1990s (well that would be its founder, Clarence Eckerson Jr.) I made this film when I rode the mega fun Tour de L'ile and looked at why the ride was an inspiration for it's bike infrastructure.
#18 (tie) I guess it would have to be that both Canadian cities on the list would tie for #18! So no bragging rights for the northern cousins. Vancouver is a newcomer to the list and from the momentum the city has, it would not be a surprise to see it bolt up the charts next time around. Check out this pair of Streetfilms that will convince you if you have never visited.
#20 Hamburg announced many years ago that it wanted to reach 7% bike mode share by 2020. So we took a look at what residents thought about the announcement.
Congestion Pricing looks to be coming to NYC in some form or other in the budget for NYS in 2020. Streetfilms has done so many videos with that as the topic and in so many ways, I decided it was time for a look back. And, oh boy, there is even more than I remembered (and some I flat out forgot!)
Let's just take the chronologically..here are the highlights
April 2007: We Talked to Bob Kiley about London's Pricing Success
June 2007: Campaign for New York's Future
November 2007: Bay Ridge Bus Riders talk about Congestion Pricing
November 2007: First few minutes of our interview with Randy Cohen we touched on Congestion Pricing
December 2007: StreetsblogNYC founder Aaron Naparstek talked to drivers about traffic jams and Congestion Pricing
March 2011: Moving Beyond the Automobile: Congestion Pricing with "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz
March 2015: Exploring the Streets of Stockholm
November 2017: Talking Stockholm's Congestion Pricing with Jonas Eliasson
December 2017: Unsustainable Traffic 2018
March 2018: Advocates Rally Outside Gov. Cuomo's Office to Pass Congestion Pricing
July 2018: Clusterf**k on Varick Street: The Case for Congestion Pricing
February 2019: Congestion Pricing will eventually save Riders over 100 Hours Per Year (featuring me and my son!)
February 2019: Fixing the Subway is about Racial & Economic Justice
March 2019: Congestion Pricing will save Lives in NYC!
Well congratulations to us! We've now posted our 100th Streetfilm that features elements, designs or pilots of protected bicycle lanes all over the world. But really it is congratulations to you, too, since you just have that much more evidence to show your elected leaders and cities that this type of safe design works.
Just go to this link on Vimeo where our programmed channel is neatly organized all 100+ films for your perusal. Here: https://vimeo.com/channels/protectedbikelanes
To celebrate, I thought I'd point you towards some of my personal favs and those with useful content. It's extremely hard to choose, but here are my Top Five. Please don't be limited by these!
I made this Streetfilm over 8 years ago and it still holds up smashingly well. I've lost count of the hundreds of messages I have gotten over the years (especially the first three years it was up) of advocates, politicians and neighborhood leaders who told me having this film to screen/share totally changed the game in their fight for better lanes for their city/town/state. And at nearly 350k plays (that I can count) it's the fifth most popular Streetfilm of all time.
Best story from this trip: Within minutes of arriving to my hotel I saw my first platoon of about 30 cyclists heading towards me. It's like I had seen a bike unicorn and I hurriedly raced to capture it on film, severely spraining my ankle in the process. Of course the same scene of bikes continued over and over. All day. Dopey me. Thankfully, biking proved to be the easier method of getting around as I was walking was so badly I probably should have been on crutches the 5 days!
A few years ago London's first Bicycle Superhighway lanes opened to much fanfare and immediately were filled up during rush hours by thousands of commuters. In fact, the Central Business District now has almost equal numbers of bikes and cars entering daily. There were scores of photos and short clips of huge masses of cyclists dominating the Twitterverse but really almost no substantial video reports of the lanes. So I felt it was my duty to get there this past summer and talk to many London residents about them and see for myself these immensely wide, beautiful structures that admittedly can make you get jealous!
And a related Streetfilm that details how an advocacy group formed to organize business leaders to push for the lanes is also a great watch!
This is a straight forward, nuts and bolts documentation of some of the work NYC DOT pulled off in what once seemed like an impossible task: to create a safe and working protected bike lane on Queens Blvd, once named "The Boulevard of Death". This was following Mayor de Blasio's allocation of millions of dollars to reformat the roadway in the wake of his passionate support of Vision Zero. Then at NYC DOT (now the head of Oakland, CA's DOT) Ryan Russo detailed the how every-block-is-different design came about.
I really wanted to make this as a historical document and thought it would be a little dry, especially a 10 minute film with only one speaker. But this ended up a pretty popular Streetfilm with scores of curious folks around the country watching and other city transportation departments and students studying it.
Made in 2013, it is the third most popular Streetfilm of all-time! At this point in my life I had been to Copenhagen and Amsterdam, two cities that do bicycling right. But I absolutely fell in love with the silence and breathtaking beauty of Groningen in the north Netherlands. For one, I laughed while walking the mile from the train to check into my hotel. Why? I didn't see one car! People seemed so happy. It was like Disneyland for bikes.
Besides the excellently designed bike infra, there is also a traffic circulation plan built in to the city that forces cars to detour to longer routes making almost every trip you can do either faster by bike or competitive to the point that you might as well not own a car.
Okay, the fifth one is actually a tie (yeah, I 'm cheating a bit). But both of these Streetfilms have been very important in the struggle for holding on to very important bike lanes implemented by NYC DOT that were under assault from local communities vehmently opposed to losing parking and road space. In both cases, families and groups in favor of the lanes wanted to provide a powerful visual of the lanes in use, so they both planned celebratory rides that put children out front.
The top is the Prospect Park West Family Bike Ride, which in April 2011 was under attack by a Brooklyn group called "Neighbors For Better Bike Lanes", who - shockingly - really weren't for better bike lanes at all! They were suing the city for their removal (eventually they lost over and over) and had uncomfortable ties to former NYC DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall. That's the skinny, but you can read all about it here in the Streetsblog archives.
The bottom is almost the nearly the same video but seven years later in the Sunnyside community of Queens where the struggle to initiate an integral pair of protected bike lanes on Skillman & 43rd Avenues went bonkers. It featured tons of Community Board drama - which still continues today - and a similarly themed "group" called "Queens Streets for All" which is really just about fighting for free car parking on the two streets.
Watch both videos and you'll see why if you have a bike lane in your neighborhood you should bring out families!
So those are my picks. Enjoy the list which gets automatically updated with each new protected bike lane Streetfilm we produce. As always these films are free to share or embed anywhere, used in their entirety in journalistic endevaours or even screen in your community (however, we do require permission if you choose to re-edit parts of video in other productions.)