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Posts from the Public Space Category

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Biking around Hell’s Kitchen’s New Spaces with Charlie Todd

Last year while filming my NYC Family Cargo Bike documentary, one of the featured people I interviewed by chance was Charlie Todd from the NYC-cool Improv Everywhere group (You can see that most excellent Streetfilm here: https://youtu.be/fBK4RSZN1Do).

Over the last year I've seen him more often as I never realized he was a big bike advocate in his community. So I recently met up with him to go for a ride and warned him I would have my camera with me just in case he wanted to talk about the newest bike and pedestrian facilities going in on Eighth and Ninth Avenues in Hell's Kitchen. Well we ended up talking quite a bit about how the lanes work and how they have supplanted older facilities which didn't work for either mode.

Charlie is also now a member of Manhattan's Community Board 4!

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See The Dramatic Street Changes Happening in Hoboken & Jersey City (See the Vision Zero Cities Bike Tour)

At Transportation Alternatives' Vision Zero Cites Conference in October, some session attendees opted to see some of the transformative progress going on just over the Hudson River in the cities of Hoboken & Jersey City. The bike tour drew am overflow crowd and what they got to see were ample treatments & policies in both cities - a few of which you will see here.

In Hoboken, now into its 5th year of no traffic deaths of any kind (pedestrian, bike or motorist), conference riders got to see the significantly safe streets - much of which is attributable to the process of daylighting, not allowing car parking at the intersections of streets to make people more visible.

New Jersey State Law prohibits parking in or on a crosswalk, between a safety zone for pedestrians and adjacent to the curb or within 20 feet of the safety zone’s end. 25 feet from an intersection.

In Jersey City (which Streetfilms has paid many visits to) they have continued to roll out protected bike lanes continued at a great pace since 2019 using various types of protection for riders. That not only includes armadillos and jersey barriers but in some instances concrete barrels. Both cities are also using a type of green paint product called endurablend which provides cyclists with more friction and lasts longer than traditional paint.

Please enjoy the filmed tour which comes with Streetfilms exclusive, dramatic BEFORE footage showing how much the streets have changed in spots.

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SEE the NYC Garbage Pilot (PSA)

Just a short one minute PSA showcasing how badly trash has taken over our sidewalks and one of the new solutions being pursued by NYC. Open Plans' Sara Lind met me in the Financial District to search for some huge garbage piles but since we both wanted to see the debut garbage bins in Union Square so we jumped on Citibikes to see it for ourselves. As you can see it removes lots of clutter from the sidewalk in a nice, handsome manner.

 

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Pittsburgh: The Steel Bicycling City

Recently, Streetfilms returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since 2014 just to see what is going on and any cool stuff that has happened since. Didn't really plan anything out, just met up with a few folks to ride and did a lot of rolling on POGOH e-bike share for majority of the days.

Saw a lot in the span of 60 hours (and also flipped over the handlebars on a bike thanks to a badly placed parking concrete curb, healing up) Here's a list of some of the cool things you'll see in this Streetfilm!

- Celebration of Bike PGH 20 Year Anniversary

- Pittsburgh's Bigelow Blvd Might Be the Most Complete Street in the USA

- POGOH Bike Share Relaunches with E-bikes, Stations do the recharging

- Montage: Riding Most of Pittsburgh Downtown Bridges

- Serpentine Drive....Now ONLY for Bikes & Peds!

- Pittsburgh's "Steps": 800 Public Staircases

- Won't You Be My Neighborway? (Cool Bicycle Routes Through Alleys & Low-Traffic Streets the Mister Rogers would love)

- Asphalt Mural in Friendship Calms Traffic at 5-Way Intersection

- Hazelwood Green: Planning Bike Infrastructure for the Future

 

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Paris vs NYC: What It’s Like to Bike

People have been visiting Paris for centuries for the food, the wine, the museums, the cheese and even the snails, but when New Yorkers head to the City of Light these days, all they see are the bike lanes.

That’s what a half-dozen envious Gothamites told Streetfilms upon their return from the French capital for his new movie, “Paris vs NYC: What It’s Like to Bike” Double-wide bike lanes! Contra-flow bike lanes! Bikes lanes on car-free streets! Bike lanes bike lanes bike lanes.

But when you see great bike lanes in Paris, you’re not just looking at good transport policy. You’re seeing the future. “They are building the city they want to see, not the city as it is now,” Kate Fillin-Yeh, a Harlem resident, told Clarence Eckerson in the viral video below. (Fillin-Yeh knows something about cities: She’s director of strategy at NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials.) But Fillin-Yeh is hardly alone in wishing New York would stop designing the city to accommodate existing road users — 75 percent of all space for car drivers, for example, rather than the majority of space for bus riders, pedestrians and cyclists — rather than the mode share the city claims it is trying to achieve for its non-car-using majority.

Also appearing in the film is like a Streetsblog Hall of Fame of talking heads: Mike Lydon of Street Plans, New Third Avenue advocate Paul Krikler, Queens bike advocate (and Queen of Twitter) CJ Wojtkowski, and, Streetsblog Editor Gersh Kuntzman. Check it out below, and share it with Mayor Adams. (This text reprinted from StreetsblogNYC)

 

 

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School Streets: Making our Streets Safer for Children

Just look around the world with the massive school streets movements in London, Paris and Barcelona, and it is easy to see that making the arrival environment outside safer for students to walk and bike is a popular idea.

Whether it is fully reconstructed streets with new curbs and sidewalks that physically prevent cars or open streets adjacent to the school or even just temporary closures for a few hours in am/pm during pick up and drop offs cities around the world are attempting strategies to calm traffic and create better uses for their streets then just throughways for cars. Even in NYC where the number of crashes and deaths near schools are much higher than other times when school is not in session, thanks to open streets we are seeing some promising projects near schools.

 

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SCHOOL STREETS: Safe Space for Kids to Thrive (Teaser, short version)

Just look around the world with the massive school streets movements in London, Paris and Barcelona, and it is easy to see that making the arrival environment outside safer for students to walk and bike is a popular idea.

Whether it is fully reconstructed streets with new curbs and sidewalks that physically prevent cars or open streets adjacent to the school or even just temporary closures for a few hours in am/pm during pick up and drop offs cities around the world are attempting strategies to calm traffic and create better uses for their streets then just throughways for cars.

Even in NYC where the number of crashes and deaths near schools are much higher than other times when school is not in session, thanks to open streets we are seeing some promising projects near schools. In this "School Streets" Streetfilm we take a look at a few of those and the push by neighborhoods to make this happen, including the many schools that run along the now legendary 34th Avenue open street in Queens.

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The Peaceful Pedestrian Plazas of Paris: Lessons for Your City

Continuing our Streetfilms series of looking at Paris, we already present our 3rd (of a half dozen expected) video short.

While in Paris, Streetfilms met up with Open Plans Founder, Mark Gorton, and recorded this impromptu look at the pedestrianized/low traffic streets of Paris after walking for nearly a half hour continuously and only seeing a handful of vehicles.

Mark gives us his evaluations and observations on how so much better the city has become by implementing policies that favor all forms of transportation and modality versus accommodating the car everywhere for every trip and allowing it to dominate the landscape.

And as a reminder: Paris plans to repurpose 50% of its current car parking bays by 2026 for alternate uses.

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Join Pari Roller as they Skate, Bike, Roll & Scoot the streets of Paris!

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London’s School Streets up close!

Sam Balto (or "Coach Balto" as he is known since he is a PE teacher in Portland, OR) is a very active member of the Twitterverse worldwide gaggle of advocates for safer & better streets.

He recently took a trip to London and shot quite a bit of photos & video clips of what their School Streets program feels like (an amazing 350 schools activated in just one year!) When he sent over a few clips I told him to send them all and record some dialogue of what he saw with his own eyes. His "special guest correspondent" label is something I hope to encourage others to do since travel is still not as easy in the age of Covid.

Check it out!

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Washington, DC: A Biking Streetfilms Adventure!

At the end of March, The League of American Bicyclists tried out a hybrid style Bike Summit 2022 due to the pandemic's still uncertain effect on daily life. I liked that some of it was on-line and a good deal of it I could do outdoors. So I sojourned to Washington, D.C. to attend and also see what has happened with infrastructure one of the better biking cities in the nation during Covid.

Truth is D.C. is doing a lot! I enjoyed quite a few solid, protected lanes that are new in the past two years and a bridge (Frederick Douglass) that while still not fully finished is already opened to the public for those on foot, bike and scooters with a 20-foot wide path (and on the other side another path will open later this year.) I believe that it could be a record for a multi-use path in terms of width since the two sides will equal 40-feet combined!!

D.C. has a lot of cool stuff going on. One thing I really like is that when they decide to build protected bike lanes they utilize many barriers and strategies and they work extremely well. You will see many styles sprinkled in amongst the footage as we got to talk to Citifi's Gabe Klein (who is a previous head of DC DOT), DC Cycling Concierge's Jeff Miller and Fionnuala Quinn the Director of the wonderful Discover Traffic Gardens who guide us on our fun journey to see a lot in just 48 hours.

One drawback was the weather. I had planned an even far more extensive film but with brutally cold temperatures (there was a windchill of low 20s for our Cherry Blossom ride on Monday morning) some precipitation and frequent 30+ mph wind gusts it made filming a real chore the entire a trip with frozen fingers. So a small apology for being able to hear the wind quite a bit at times. The usual temps in DC are 60 degrees at this time.

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A.U.T.O. Lobbyist Veronica Moss Visits Times Square (2022 Re-Mix)

After this winter FINALLY unearthing this raw footage I have been searching everywhere for the better part of ten years, I've finally been able to see all of the hilarious stuff left on the cutting room when Kate McKinnon played the fictional A.U.T.O. lobbyist Veronica Moss being overwhelmed visiting Times Square's new pedestrian plazas in this fun parody. It was so much fun filming it.

This certainly doesn't vary in tone and form compared to the original, but the bulk of the content in this new re-edit is an alternate take or brand new footage - mostly all improved by the great Kate McKinnon who has been the funniest performer on the SNL cast from the past ten years!

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Rotterdam Central: A Peaceful Transportation Hive of Human Activity

Last week on the same day I found myself visiting both Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station with my son due to a fun multi-train/subway/bus sojourn all over the city. And while I am appreciating some of the measures the city/state/MTA are taking to making it nicer around our most important hubs, it still compares to every single Dutch train station.

It made me recall my Rotterdam experience a few years ago. I thought having a hotel room overlooking Rotterdam Central made me extra appreciate the lack of cars and the safety for people on all other modes. I also recently picked out my favorite dozen things in all Dutch cities for a short video which Rotterdam Central also made. So I figured why not revisit my footage to give some proper montage love to my favorite.

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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Visits 34th Avenue Open Street

Huge news! Both NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYC DOT Commissioner visited the NYC Open Street on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens as guests of newly-elected councilman Shekar Krishnan (25th District) to tour just how much the street is appreciated by the local community and neighbors.

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Talking Public Spaces with Mark Gorton: Episode One with Meatpacking BID Jeffrey LeFrancois

Here's an absolutely great interview between Open Plans' Mark Gorton and NYC's Meatpacking BID Director Jeffrey LeFrancois. Intended to be the first of an on-going series with Mark Gorton where he interviews neighborhood leaders, BID directors and elected officials about how to manage open streets & open spaces and how much effort needs to be going on behind the scenes to pull it off successfully, he and Jeffrey chat about how this grid of streets in NYC has become more friendly to people.

This is a wonderful, enlightening interview that is filled with so much incredible footage of great events & everyday footage in NYC's Meatpacking District. For anyone who wants to make their city, neighborhood or BID more friendly to people this video is a MUST! Enjoy!