Our newest video showing new-fangled bike stuff from Copenhagen was such an immediate hit (30K plays in 3 days!) I decided not to wait to post a "bonus" video showing the respectful cooperation between turning drivers & cyclists. Why? Well we all know the dreaded right hook collisions that happen often in the U.S. and other places. In Copenhagen they're almost unheard of which is thanks to the education drivers must go thru and the traffic safety all residents get taught while in grade school. Plus: with a bike mode share of 42% that means that most drivers are likely cyclists sometime during the week.
The primary goal of this Streetfilms swing was to visit Stockholm, Sweden and talk to residents & experts about walking, biking, transportation and livability. Also: Vision Zero, a term which has been embraced NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio as a program to cut the number of traffic deaths on the streets of New York. I was very lucky to have Mary Beth Kelly from Families for Safe Streets accompanying me and we met with Claes Tingvall, the Director of Traffic Safety at the Swedish Transport Administration. Above is that full interview, but you'll also be seeing him in at least one other Streetfilm in the near future.
The above photo is from Stockholm and is what I envision as the future of NYC protected bike lanes. Recently, they've began a trial study in Södermalm on Götgatan Street, by upgrading an older, narrow bike lane (see it to left in photo) by removing a travel lane for cars and moving parking out, freeing up a wide space for bikes, which gets crowded at rush hour.
It looks a lot like the typical NYC style Avenue except that every few feet there are small concrete barriers, something that is cheap, easily deployable and would be a nice deterrent we could use in NYC lanes.
The same street also offers something I found, well, bike-adorable (see above). Most bike travelers are familiar with the "Copenhagen left" style turns, which is rolling up to the light and waiting across the street for another green to make a left. This is typical in Stockholm. And on the same street Götgatan, they have recently installed turning wait areas on all four corners via a nicely crafted nook in the sidewalk!
Finally, I had intended to get to Malmö, Sweden for a full day since I have always heard so much great stuff, but thanks to a bad back, jet lag and a long train delay, I only got to stroll around for a few hours. But I still wanted to show what a peaceful place it is and put together this short montage of footage of my experience. I will have to go back.
Recently I had a quick exchange with a visiting cyclist who was pleasantly amazed at the "extra" space afforded bikes in most NYC protected bike lanes. He was referring to the painted zone between parked cars and the actual "green" bike lane - amazingly it's not the first conversation I've had like that. And you know if that's true among riders, you can image the consternation of the motorist crowd when it comes to examining why that "extra" space exists.
That's one reason I put together the above Streetfilm with Gary Toth many years ago. To explain why it's there and how both drivers & riders benefit from the placement. It's a great resource if you are working in a city or country with a government that doesn't get it. So use it.
And to show just how much it gets used, Friday I took the following series of photos during a ten block stretch riding a Citibike. Within less than 3 minutes you'll see exiting drivers, a mom with stroller and taxi drivers just chatting outside their car in the zones, all very typical in NYC.
I was very fortunate to be able to take a long vacation to South America and was in the cities of Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Asuncion. Of course with me a vacation can never be truly 100% relaxing when there is transportation observations to be made and I was able to squeeze in some Streetfilms work here and there. Here are some short videos and photos with commentary.
The first video above (apologies for some sound, it was a very impromptu shoot without using all my gear) is from Montevideo, Uruguay. I was very surprised to see so much bicycling and very new bike infrastructure. And also: bike share! My wife and I had a few hours to rent bikes and were able to meet up with Matias Kalwill, creator of the app Bikestorming which aims to increase urban bicycling, who took us for a very quick city loop. I thought viewers would be happy to experience biking in another country, even if not given the usual Streetfilms treatment.
Public Space Takeover! While in Buenos Aires (an official Streetfilm on their MetroBus and other transportation accomplishments coming soon) we were fortunate to capture residents flooding the Avenida 9 de Julio (widest Avenue in the world) to celebrate Argentina advancing to the World Cup final. How exciting it was to be in the middle of it as it all occurred. Instant public space by the people!
Speaking of Avenida 9 de Julio (which is where Buenos Aires' MetroBus BRT runs) coincidentally we happened to be there on July 9th which is a national holiday. They had many car-free celebrations and festivals. They had some vintage buses to check out. I grabbed the above footage for all you bus nerds out there. (more…)
This week while in Asunción, the largest city in Paraguay, I was surprised to learn the country introduced the first railway service on the content - sometime in the 1830s. But sadly, there are no longer any kinds of rail or passenger service here.
That's such a shame. Paraguay is a very poor country. For the most part its roads are choked with traffic and the vehicles on the road spew emissions that you can taste. The pedestrian environment is as bad as I've seen anywhere with horrible sidewalks and drivers who yield your right of way, um...never! For a place that frequently scores as one of the happiest places on the planet, it's very hard to get around without a car. If you don't have one, you'll be cram on the packed buses that really need to be modernized.
While staying with new relatives outside the downtown, my wife and I went for a long walk in the median of Ave Boggani, a very rare pedestrian and bike path sandwiched by fast-moving, noisy cars. Although the greenway was pretty beat up in parts, it was one of the few places to take a safe stroll and recreate.
It was along here that I found evidence that many years ago (it was said maybe forty or fifty?) that the street had a rail line down part of it. I snapped some photos when we came upon a few segments of the leftover rail tracks. And then a little further up we saw what was likely the remnants of a boarding platform, which I believed was the final stop on the Avenue. (more…)
Last year, we debuted a crisply-edited Streetfilm "Children Have Lost the Freedom to Roam" as a chapter in our STREETFACTS series. We were surprised the 4-part educational series didn't do better. However, the last week saw renewed interest as people started forwarding it around Facebook, nearly 100 shares! Perhaps the general public is beginning to crave change?
Things sure have changed in most parts of the country since I was a kid. I'm now 47. I walked over 2 miles each way to school - in rain and snow (and I was also a morning paperboy for the Times-Hearld Record in Goshen, NY!) In many parts of our country, the built-environment has made it nearly impossible for kids to walk and bike. And as we all know in some places it is illegal or forbidden by the school district.
That's really depressing, sure. But at Streetfilms we've been lucky to be around cities trying to do it right here in America. Our recent hit from Lakewood, Ohio a Cleveland school district that has never provided buses for its students, just soared to nearly 60,000 plays! In Lakewood you can sense the atmosphere is much different than a typical school morning. The kids and parents seem happy, The energy level is infectious.
Last year we got to visit Portland, Oregon where thanks to much traffic calming and slow streets of the Neighborhood Greenways, children are walking and biking in growing numbers. It's encouraging. It's a very fun film. Especially the Bike Trains!
There are many videos to get inspired by via Streetfilms. In Brooklyn, PS 67 students painted the pavement to make streets near their school safer. In Davis, California the bike mode share is high, and most of the school districts there don't have buses either.
But in the U.S. we have so much further to go. See above, for this short video from the Dutch city of Utrecht, where children learn about transportation at an early age. And if you watch our 2010 Streetfilm from Copenhagen, you'll see plenty of young children riding bikes, and hear about how the learn how at a very early age to navigate the streets.
Then there is this clip last year from an Amsterdam trip that shows what we are looking to attain is humanly possible. Yes this kid is four years old! I couldn't ride that well as a teenager!
But don't get depressed too much by this stellar work beyond done overseas. There are many communities and advocacy groups out there pushing to make our streets better. Use these videos as your inspiration and don't wait any longer. And also, our Zozo series can help spread the word!