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Posts from the Health & Safety Category

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Is Using a Bike for Transport the Best way to Avoid the Coronavirus?

Yesterday, Streetfilms went to the foot of the Queensborough Bridge to ask bicycling commuters if they are using their bikes more due to the novel Coronavirus or if they see the benefits in doing such on a daily basis.

They day prior both the Mayor and Governor issued updated guidelines for residents asking them to try to avoid crowded subway cars or work from home and to consider biking or walking to work. As you can see from the reactions, there were a lot of opinions in favor of using 2-wheels not only during the current crisis, but every day!

The eclectic reactions and advice were of, course, pure New York.

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The Streets Have Changed: A NYC Bicycle Journey During the Coronavirus

I hadn't been on my bicycle in over a week, choosing to walk and run for exercise during the Coronavirus (and observing recommended precautions) but I was curious what my normal commute looked like. So on Friday I chose to get my exercise by bicycling in to Manhattan and brought my camera along as I visited many spots I might typically do if scouting for great locales to film footage for a Streetfilm.

The amazing thing is I have so much archives of New York City that in many cases I had exact matching footage from the last few years of each location or spot, showing what it looks like typically (or in some cases showing what it looked like before the streets received an intervention from NYC DOT) and in some cases is pretty mind blowing.

I hope this Streetfilm (likely the final "new" one shot until the world heals) is entertaining, gives you hope and stretches your mind to what is still possible when we emerge from this pandemic.

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#AccessDenied: Christine

PSA #2 in a series of 4 produced with TransitCenter.

NYC has the least accessible subway in the country. Dustin wants you to know Governor Cuomo & the State Legislature can help parents and caregivers with children ride the subway by funding NYC Transit's Fast Forward plan for full accessibility.

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#AccessDenied: Dustin

PSA #1 in a series of 4 produced with TransitCenter.

NYC has the least accessible subway in the country. Dustin wants you to know Governor Cuomo & the State Legislature can help people with disabilities ride the subway by funding NYC Transit's Fast Forward plan for full accessibility.

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Hoboken: Where Safe Intersections Matter More Than a Few Parking Spots

Last week, I happened to be on the other side of the Hudson, cruising the New Jersey waterfront on a Citi Bike, going up from Jersey City to Hoboken and Weehawken, then back.

On the return leg of my trip, I just couldn't believe how comfortable the streets of Hoboken felt as I was biking and walking. One thing stuck out to me: Nearly every intersection has "daylighting," meaning the space approaching the crosswalks is kept clear of cars, so everyone at intersections is more visible to each other. At several intersections in Hoboken, every corner is daylit.

I didn't plan to make a video about daylighting in Hoboken or schedule interviews with city officials. But I had my camera, thinking I could get some nice NYC skyline shots (nope, overcast), and I'm glad I did. I started taping and put together these observations, which I think will be valuable in New York and elsewhere.

Daylighting is a strategy that advocates are well aware of, but city governments hesitate to do it if it means repurposing parking spaces. Even in New York, where most people don't own cars, at a typical intersection drivers are allowed to park right up to the crosswalk, limiting visibility to the detriment of public safety.

Hoboken is showing what a city can do when it prizes safety for everyone above free car storage for a few. It should be the default practice everywhere.

For bonus footage from Hoboken, check out the awesome Observer Highway protected bike lane -- one of the best green lanes I've seen in an American city!

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After Another Tragedy, Park Slope Residents Demand Safe Streets

Over 100 New Yorkers turned out this morning for an impromptu rally to demand that Mayor de Blasio take action to rein in reckless driving on Ninth Street in Park Slope, where yesterday a motorist ran a red light, killed two small children and injured their mothers.

Organized by Doug Gordon, a.k.a. Brooklyn Spoke, the crowd gathered outside the Park Slope YMCA, where de Blasio works out most mornings. As Doug says, these folks are tired of excuses from DOT, which allots two lanes for parked cars on Ninth Street but says there isn’t room to designate space for bike lanes.

As you’ll see in the video, the protest got the mayor’s attention. Whether he’ll live up to his Vision Zero rhetoric remains to be seen.

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The Northern Boulevard Protected Bike Lane Celebration Ride

Despite the chill, nearly 75 people turned out Sunday to celebrate the new protected bike lane on Northern Boulevard connecting to the popular path known as Joe Michaels Mile in Eastern Queens.

This NYC DOT project added a two-way, concrete-protected bikeway to a high-speed section of Northern Boulevard that's frequently used by parents, kids, and commuters. The ride followed an eight-mile loop of bike lanes, some of which are still in the process of being installed by DOT.

Project opponents upset about the conversion of a car lane to make room for the bikeway have enlisted State Senator Tony Avella to help gin up negative press about it, claiming that the street is now more dangerous.

But people were getting maimed and killed in traffic before this bike lane was added. The impetus for the project was the 2016 death of Michael Schenkman, 78, who was riding on Northern Boulevard to get to Joe Michaels Mile for his daily exercise when a driver struck and killed him. Neighborhood residents and businesses are grateful DOT followed through and made this key connection on Northern Boulevard safer for biking and walking.

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Peatónito in NYC: Protecting Pedestrians in the Crosswalk

Peatónito ("little pedestrian") might be the most beloved figure in the world of street safety. How can you not love a superhero who protects pedestrians from cars?! Since donning the cape and luchador mask three years ago, he's become a media sensation in Mexico. This week he's in New York City for Transportation Alternatives' Vision Zero for Cities 2016 conference, and Streetfilms was lucky enough to squeeze in this exclusive whirlwind walking tour of Brooklyn and Queens streets showing him in action.

Jorge Canez, the man behind the mask, has been a pedestrian advocate in Mexico City for quite a while. He's been involved with many tactical urbanism-type of interventions, like painting crosswalks with his own spray can. As Peatónito, he's attained a new level of fame for gently scolding drivers, escorting pedestrians though dicey intersections, and pushing cars (or occasionally walking over the tops of cars) to make motorists more aware of their transgressions.

Come along for a fun short as Peatónito hits the intimidating streets near Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the constantly blocked bike lanes on Jay Street by MetroTech, and crosswalks in Jackson Heights, Queens, helping children walk to school.

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For the COP21 Paris Agreement to Work, Countries Must Watch these Streetfilms

We now have a "historic climate accord" from Paris via the COP21 summit with 195 countries on board. There are many noble goals including stopping climate change warming at no more than 2 degrees Celsius (that's 3.6 F) at which point most scientists have agreed is the point at which the planet will become drastically, catastrophically altered. It's a great achievement after many long decades of trying to get something very concrete in writing.

But there's nothing in the COP21 agreement that penalizes nations for not meeting goals. And that's troubling to many critics. Sure, there's talk about reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, transitioning to more efficient technologies and cutting back on pollution. But government leaderships change often. Global economic catastrophes can leave countries crying poverty. In short, we can have hope, but five or ten years from now will this pact remain solid?

For the world to thrive and rely less on energy, we'll need to make our dense cities function better on our streets. (And most of our suburbs too!) Residents of the United States and other countries will need to alter how they get around, using less of the private car. With that, I say, watch this batch of Streetfilms to learn what's working in cities and what is currently an abomination.

The Streetfilm at the top is from Groningen in The Netherlands, where the city has achieved a spectacular 50% bike mode share! Although we know it's asking too much for U.S. cities to easily and quickly that, we need to re-think the way our roads work and how our cities are structured. We can do much better: cities with 5% to 15% for biking trips is certainly not out of the question with the right infrastructure. Thanks to many decisions since the 1970's, Groningen has done far more than that, much like other great world cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

But it goes beyond bikes & walking. It means a solid commitment to transit and using the most efficient ways to get people around on our streets. You can see how Zurich does that with a clean, efficient, and often-running tram system that even people that are rich choose to use over the private car.

We also need to continue to make cities more attractive for people to live. See here what New York City has done over the last five to ten years with some of its public spaces with this incredible before and after montage!

Read more...

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World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2015 (NYC)

Sunday, November 15th was World Day of Remembrance and Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives hosted a march from NYC's City Hall to the United Nations to honor those we have lost to traffic violence and enlighten New Yorkers to use the term "crash" instead of "accidents" when describing such events on our streets.

About 500 people turned out for the powerful event which included speeches by many elected officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio who promised he has only begun to change NYC's street when he first announced "Vision Zero" would be one of his priorities early in his administration. Marchers wore yellow, carried flowers, and held photos of loved ones that are no longer with us. It was one of dozens events held thru-ought the world on World Day of Remembrance.

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20’s Plenty: The Movement for Safer Speeds in the UK

Five years ago, Streetfilms was in the UK town of Warrington to talk with the great folks behind 20's Plenty For Us, a largely volunteer group trying to get speed limits reduced to 20 mph. The first film drew broad interest in the 20's Plenty movement, and on a recent trip I caught up with them again.

Founder Rod King MBE reports some amazing statistics: More than 14 million residents of the UK now live on streets with speed limits of 20 mph or less, including 3 million in London. Despite being a very small organization, 20's Plenty has empowered 263 local campaigns across the UK asking for 20 mph streets. The film captures some of the impact of 20's Plenty in Central London, Liverpool, and Cambridge. It's amazing to see energized volunteers deploying all sorts of creativity to get the message out: stickers, banners, yarn-bombing, children's art, t-shirts. The success has been remarkable.

20's Plenty is now campaigning for "Total 20 By 2020" -- the goal of making most of the streets in the entire country 20 mph. For viewers in the United States, this film is like a road map for building public support and getting your community energized around lower speed limits.

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Central Park is now “Car-free Forever” North of 72nd Street!

Last week, people walking and biking on the Central Park loop had to worry about taxi drivers and car commuters motoring through the park as a rush hour shortcut. This morning was different: Above 72nd Street, you could ride your bike, walk your dog, or go for a run on a safer, quieter path with a lot more elbow room.

Officials and advocates celebrated the permanent expansion of the park’s car-free zone under sunny skies this morning. While traffic is still allowed in the heavily-used southern section of Central Park, today’s ceremony marks a big step on the path to completely car-free parks.

Effective today, the Central Park loop north of 72nd Street is permanently car-free, except for emergency and service vehicles [PDF]. In Prospect Park, the West Drive will go car-free next Monday, July 6 [PDF]. Traffic will continue to be allowed at various hours on the Central Park loop south of 72nd Street, and during morning rush hour on the East Drive in Prospect Park.

The park is most crowded south of 72nd Street. That area, where the loop widens from one car lane to two, also has the highest levels of motor vehicle traffic, said Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. She hopes the new car-free zones will further reduce traffic and tee up a completely car-free park.

“What we’ve found over time as we’ve closed more and more entrances in the park, the traffic volumes have gone down,” she said this morning near 92nd Street. “We all hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will have a press conference 20 blocks south of here.”

Supporters of car-free parks are going to keep the pressure on. “Allowing cars in the park is actually increasing congestion in the city,” said Manhattan Community Board 7 member and longtime car-free park advocate Ken Coughlin. “It’s drawing cars to Midtown like a magnet, and encouraging driving, which is the last thing we need to do. So we need to continue the fight to eliminate cars on the south loop.”

With cars out of big chunks of Central Park and Prospect Parks, the city’s traffic lights make less sense. Other interventions stand a better chance of reducing conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists, but don’t count on the city changing the current set-up.

Meanwhile, the car-free parks plan includes a significant transit improvement. To keep any spillover traffic from slowing down southbound buses, DOT is extending the Fifth Avenue bus lane, which carries 74,000 riders each day, north from 86th Street to 110th Street. Trottenberg said the bus lane will be installed “by the end of the summer.”

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Watch what this group of frustrated Vision Zero activists did to get their Community Board’s attention!

For many years, residents of Manhattan's Community Board 7 have been frustrated by the lack of transportation initiative from the leaders of their board. So after many years of trying to work within the boundaries of the system they decided to stage a silent sign protest at February's board meeting.

Since Community Board members are rarely not re-appointed, their positions are essentially for life - meaning that newer and progressive ideas often aren't seriously considered. On the Upper West Side residents are sick and tired of the transportation arm of their board voting against sensible traffic calming and livable streets measures that save lives.

 

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Lakewood, Ohio: The Suburb Where Everyone Can Walk to School

The inner Cleveland suburb of Lakewood (population 51,000) calls itself a "walking school district." Lakewood has never had school buses in its history, and kids grow up walking and biking to school.

Mornings and afternoons are a beehive of activity on streets near schools, as kids and parents walk to and from classrooms. You can feel the energy. The freedom of being able to walk and socialize with friends is incalculable.

According to city planner Bryce Sylvester, Lakewood strives to design neighborhoods so that all children are within walking distance of their school. These decisions have paid off financially, saving the city about a million dollars annually, according to Lakewood City School District spokesperson Christine Gordillo.

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Families for Safe Streets: Let’s End Traffic Violence

This one-day mini film takes a look at NYC's newly formed transportation advocacy group, Families for Safe Streets, and the press conference they held for their first public gathering on the steps of NYC's City Hall steps.

There was plenty of emotional testimony given by the families of loved ones who have perished due to traffic violence on the streets of New York City. In fact, many of the people are likely familiar to Streetfilms viewers since they've been in past videos reaching back seven or eight years.  Thus, we dug in to the archives to emphasize just how long some of these families have been asking for safer streets.

As you may be aware, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced the beginning steps for his ambitious Vision Zero Plan.  While most of the members of Families for Safe Streets support the mayor, they would like to see many of his initiatives instituted immediately with timetables set for certain goals.