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A Thousand New Yorkers Call for Action on Vision Zero

A crowd estimated at 1,000 people strong gathered in Union Square yesterday evening to remember victims of traffic violence and call for preventive action at the Vision Zero Vigil, organized by Transportation Alternatives and Families ...
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Ten Years of Streetfilms Greatest Interviews!

Very shortly we will be posting a new, exciting, exclusive interview on Streetfilms! But until then, we thought it would be great to compile some of our most important and informative interviews from over the years.

Most of the interviews you've see on Streetfilms were conducted by Mark Gorton our largest supporter and one of NYC's biggest transportation advocates. He's voracious reader of policy which is why almost all our interviews have been with writers and transportation experts. For example see above, Mark's walk & talk with "Happy City" author Charles Montgomery.  And below he chats with Tom Vanderbilt about his tome "Traffic".

From the start, one of the tactics Streetfilms used often in advocating for better streets in New York City was to chat with world leaders to see the possibilities elsewhere. It led to a very special chat with former Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa, which ultimately led to Streetfilms going to visit there in late 2007 to publish its trio of groundbreaking films on ciclovia, bus rapid transit and the transformation of its streets.

We also used the interviews to enlighten the public to hard to grasp concepts and policies. When Transportation Alternatives brought parking guru Donald Shoup to NYC to explain how pricing parking helps make a city more efficient, we knew we had to find a way to demonstrate "The High Cost of Free Parking" to the masses. So we brought out the toy cars!

And of course we got one of the most in-depth interviews with new NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan when she came into her post and had just started doing some of the magical street transformations she would become known for.

We also got to talk with many notable livable streets and cycling supporters in the NYC-area. Our interview with New York Times columnist Randy "The Ethicist" Cohen was one that stood out.

There are plenty more interviews by Mark on Streetfilms. Go find them!

Gotta love the #freshkermit hashtag! (for Green Bike Lanes)

You know, quite a while back I used the hashtag #freshkermit in a tweeted snapshot on some newly painted green bike lanes in NYC. To me it wasn't meant as much, after all I'd been referring to these as "fresh kermit" lanes for years amongst friends.

Little did I know a small group of twitter followers thought it was clever, and now we are getting dozens of tweets per year using #freshkermit to show off new green lanes all over the globe! I inserted a few of my favs below, but you can find many more on Twitter. Please take a gander and post some of your own!


Defending NYC’s Wonderful Pedestrian Plazas

For a few weeks now I've wanted to write about this New York City anti-plaza sensationalism since the desnudas showed up in Times Square . Thankfully many articulate others were busy crafting their own smart opinions like this and this shortly afterwards and laid the truth at Mayor de Blasio's feet.

By complete happenstance, I found myself grabbing a quick lunch on Saturday in one of NYC's newest plazas at 33rd Street in the shadow of Madison Square Garden. The temporary plaza, maintained by Vornado Royalty Trust, will be removed October 11th, then evaluated. I happened to have my gear from a cancelled shoot and though only there about 20 minutes, grabbed the fun montage above to demonstrate just how thriving the human element becomes and how much we need more space in a often loud, cramped city of 8.5 million people.

Of course the Steve Cuozzo's of the world never see it that way. He's one the loudest barkers in the anti-livable streets movement - a man who'd probably be happy to see 12 lanes of cars down every NYC Avenue. He's all about bluster and never making the world a better place for people. I like to balance the absurdity of words from people like him.

I've documented quite a few plazas in NYC, probably more than anyone else in the city. And physically I have visited just about every one. From Sunnyside's Bliss Plaza under the 7 train to Brooklyn's DUMBO Plaza, one of the very first waaay back in 2007. And, frankly, I'm pretty insulted by all this negative coverage and the lack of intelligence by a few powerful men.

Just take a look at the video above from Corona Plaza. It's a wonderful people space. And so popular it is scheduled for a $3 million dollar upgrade.

Look at what they did in Jackson Heights, turning 78th Street into a paradise. I am now proud to call it my home all these years later.

The transformation Janette Sadik-Khan and her team at NYC DOT did to Madison Square is nothing short of remarkable. In some ways, I think it is a bigger success than Times Square.

And speaking of Times Square, here's what we can never return to. Our interview between Mark Gorton and Jan Gehl in the Times Square of 2005 shows how horrible conditions were. Just watch. There's no better way to end a blog rant when you have irrefutable visual proof.

Why did so many people think Hamburg was declaring a car-free City Center?

This one continues to be a head-scratcher!

Last year, many in the transportation world thought Hamburg, Germany was making plans to declare a car-free city center. I, too, had read many articles such as this and this that reported of it.

Even Copenhagenize which lists Hamburg as its #19th Most Bike-Friendly City on their biennial index was hoodwinked (make sure you read their addendum.)

When guest Streetfilms journalist Joe Baur was headed to Hamburg a few months ago he asked if I'd be interested in a story on the city's plans to become car-free. But when he dug deeper residents told him it just wasn't true! (See the above excerpt on what some of told him.)

As Joe wrote, "Basically nobody had any idea what I was talking about. One of my initial contacts said that the story was started by a British journalist who obviously got the story wrong and then every other outlet from there just picked up the story without fact-checking. The only thing anyone agreed on is that they wish it was a true story." We invite any readers who know more or have any instinct as to what happened to please leave information in the comments.

Regardless, Joe was still able to put together a nice piece for Streetfilms about Hamburg which you can watch here.

By the way, let me just include a few words about Mr. Baur who is a travel writer and filmmaker by trade. He's been car-free for the last four years and lives with his wife in Cleveland who gets that constant "How do you live without a car?" query from suburban family and friends.

He recently spent a year in Central America and promises to be uploading travel videos to his site and putting together a podcast focused on a mixture of travel, urbanism as it relates to travel, and simply talking to interesting people. So if you are "interesting", drop him a line!


Looking back at our “Streetfacts” Series!

A few years back we decided to make a short series of four Streetfilms we christened "Streetfacts" trying to once again to give some great tools to our loyal followers, while attempting to showcase a different style of animation, charts, photos, video and written narration to tell our stories.

They did moderately well, but not as highly successful as we hoped. Thus in this blog post we present them all one page to see if they'll possibly catch fire. There are lots of great facts and topics, we highly encourage you to sample the first two and keep going if you like what you hear.

The "Streetfacts" hit upon some eclectic items we thought were good to highlight. 1) That protected bike lanes are now being installed in smaller cities and towns. 2) That Americans are driving less, a fact that seems to be taking hold in advocates heads the past few years.  3) That building roads is a money losing proposition.  4) That children have lost the freedom to roam - which was surprisingly the bit hit of the series!!

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