In early August we'll be debuting an exciting new ten minute Streetfilm from Cambridge, UK. The city lies about an hour train ride north of London and is easily the highest mode share for bicycling in Britain: 22% of residents ride (though some say it's even higher than that.) But the most fascinating thing is how the city has accomplished that without building a huge amount of protected bike facilities.
Instead they have achieved at least the atmosphere of safety by using many traffic management techniques - including a series of rising bollards that prohibits drivers without transponders (which are mostly on buses & cabs) from entering the city center - making it a better place to walk, shop, eat and bike. They have also done much work over the past decades around the idea of "filtered permeability", a process by which neighborhoods have had key intersections re-designed so that only people walking and biking can use them but vehicles need to go navigate around.
They've also recently begun converting most of their roads to 20 mph thanks to adopting the campaign by the organization "20 is Plenty for Us". (On a side note we will have an updated Streetfilm on that organization up by end of summer!) So enjoy these few bits we've posted here of various clips and extended bits that just didn't make it into the final film. Consider them just a small teaser of what you will be seeing in August!
I've been fortunate enough to be able to visit many great bicycle cities around the globe. Sometimes it's worth to get people psyched by compiling in one post some of the great footage of cycling rush hour around the world. Here are just a few of Streetfilms' greatest shorts, but make sure you look thru the site as there are over 700 films to choose from!!
As you know, in this space I am always trying to find ways to inspire and change our streets for the better, which means giving you tools or film ideas to use in your community. Of late I've been doing some documentation using my GoPro and have been pleasantly surprised at how incredibly educational the footage can be.
Here in NYC, there has been an intrepid battle fought by many groups and Queens leaders to improve 111th Street, a dangerous speedway to cross for pedestrians and cyclists. In April, NYC DOT, working from results of a Vision Zero workshop spearheaded by Make the Road and Transportation Alternatives, presented to Queens Community Board 4 a smart proposal to put 111th Street on a road diet, add a two-way bike lane, and make the pedestrian crossings safer for the copious numbers of families, children and seniors going to Flushing-Corona Park & The Hall of Science.
But some members of CB4 are pushing back, including NYS Assembly Member Francisco Moya, who “has expressed that he will do everything to block this project,” according to Julissa Ferreras, the council member who endorses the NYC DOT plan and has allocated $2.7 million in capital funding to make it happen. (The above graphic is the proposed new road alignment from NYC DOT.)
So last weekend I decided to go out, strap a GoPro to my head and provide some running commentary in an attempt to show people just how dangerous it is to cross 111th! I'm in that area frequently, and as an adult it is very scary. And now while sitting back and editing the footage I can't believe how much I was jerking my head around to constantly monitor the traffic. In fact, I've ridden with the GoPro on my head while bicycling all over the city and I have never seen footage quite like that (which admittedly might make some a little queasy.)
I'm hoping as the community gears up to further debate this plan, this footage will come in handy. The most amazing thing is that I only recorded about 15 minutes before my battery died, now I've been thinking about what the footage would be like on a more busy, perilous day. Based upon how the next CB4 meeting goes. I'm pondering making a full film on the dangers of 111th Street if the plan continues to be blocked. CB4 Residents deserve better.
Wherever you are, documentation is the irrefutable key to getting real change on your streets. Go out and make it happen!
The exciting news about the big expansion of car-free zones in Central Park and Prospect Park is a milestone in a very long campaign. The movement for car-free parks goes back nearly 50 years -- much farther than the videos I've posted here. But it wasn't that long ago that car-free hours in these parks were the exception, rather than the rule. These clips capture the spirit of the last 18 years of activism, which has yielded tremendous progress.
The above video is a small segment I taped of one of the first "traffic calming rides" that Transportation Alternatives used to do in Central Park back in 1997!
There was a lot of action going on in Prospect Park as well. I was the chair of the Brooklyn Transportation Alternatives committee for two years and my immediate successor was Streetsblog founding editor Aaron Naparstek, who brought new energy and came up with the brilliant idea to do some car-free theater. Transportation Alternatives' director Paul Steely White (who then worked for ITDP) can be seen among the advocates -- and if you keep watching you'll see a rookie City Council member named Bill de Blasio endorse a car-free park trial.
I get weekly asks to "please come visit my town/city/country" to make a Streetfilm on a new best practice or a struggle on an issue a group is having. If I had a staff of anyone other than myself, I knew I'd be able to keep them quite busy. Sadly, I do not.
This is why I am always encouraging people to make their own advocacy films. When I explain to them how much cheaper it will be, how they will not have to educate an outside production company to get up to speed, and how it is really not that hard to make something very watchable (here are plenty of great tips to get started) and sometimes they do!
Every so often I compile some of the things I have been watching. Here are some from the past month. The above is from Nick Kocharhook whom I met while in London at their first Open Streets event. We chatted over email about finding someone to make a film about the concerns over London's new plan for cycle routes called Quietways, but in the end I had success in having him give it a shot, and it came out quite good!
The next film is actually from students from the University of Connecticut. I was an invited guest speaker & feedback specialist to Norman Garrick and Carol Atkinson-Palombro in a class they were teaching on Transportation Sustainability. One of the biggest parts of the student's grade was to make a film on a transportation topic. I really loved their films, particularly the one above on the new BRT called CTfastrack because they did a really good job and embraced the concept of Streetfilms. There were a half dozen total, including this one too.