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High Frequency: Why Houston Is Back on the Bus

Every so often, every city should do a "system reimagining" of its bus network like Houston METRO did. Back in 2012, Houston's bus network was in trouble. Ridership was down, and weekend ridership was especially weak. ...
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Highlights from NOLA: Riding Blue Bikes, Fixing Transit & The “Neutral Ground”

As I usually try to do, here's a quick wrap-up of highlights from my adventures in New Orleans from mid-December to work with TransitCenter and Ride New Orleans. The above Streetfilm was quickly pieced together as I wasn't there to focus on bicycling. But thanks to using New Orleans' Blue Bikes bike share to get around to many shoots (its debut week!) and being around the Bike Easy staff (who shares an office with Ride) I was able to gather a few interviews and footage. Let me stress this one fact: New Orleans has a lot of cyclists. An incredible diversity in age, race, sex and type of bike ridden. I don't think my footage here does it any justice. Cyclists are a constant presence on the streets, but unlike many big cities, you won't see commuting peletons or large groupings waiting for lights. They are just there. Every intersection you'll see them.

But as I said the mission was to showcase the hard work of Ride New Orleans who is scoring victories for its riding public and providing momentum in a city that desperately needs even the bare essentials for its bus riding public. Simple things many might take for granted like signage, route schedules, benches and shelters. The above excerpt with Matthew Henrickson, the Policy Director for Ride, wasn't planned. We were waiting to interview another subject and he sarcastically pointed out we were standing under a bus stop. Knowing there are uncountable similar conditions throughout the city, I just told him to start talking. We got one fast take in right before our interviewee showed up. But this shows the hard choices facing their incoming mayor, which was buoyed by this late December news where the RTA approved a long-range, comprehensive plan to improve NOLA transit.

And speaking of interviews, one of the lovely people you will meet is Ms. Sonja (below with me, and by the way that's HER bike bag) who is on the Transit Riders’ Advisory Committee that meets first Saturday of the month. They're a wonderful, smart group of people who know they pushing the conversation to drastically change their city. Ms. Sonja gathered 600 signatures to get a bench and bus shelter installed at her senior living home, which she is very proud of. And now she is helping other volunteers and motivating people do the same.

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I really get to meet so many nice people in my travels. She's certainly one of them.  You'll get to meet her and up to a dozen others (hopefully) by the end of the month or early February.

And finally, if you watched the Streetfilm at the top of the page, you'll see I became a bit obsessed bike riding in the "neutral ground", which is the term for medians (grassy, concrete, whatever) in NOLA. I did some research on it and the history of the evolution of the term is quite cool. Click to read here. Then watch my extended outtake riding on the neutral ground and many of the other people riding bikes enjoy there.

Two Promos & a Streetfilm from GoHuman!

This year I had the opportunity to work on two promotional videos for the "Go Human" campaign from SCAG, the Southern California Association of Governors. The above is the version featuring footage/photos from nearly ten events we helped document.

The campaign encourages Southern Californians to use human-powered transportation and change how people see other modes of transportation. They operate in many cities and do many types of events including open-streets events, traffic calming demonstrations and using tactical urbanism to educate people.

One Streetfilm you may remember from earlier this year was a long excerpt I did while covering one of their events in Riverside, CA where the town was experimenting with new crossings including a pedestrian scramble. It was well received by residents and visitors who were exposed to the concept.

We also produced a wonderful instrumental version for SCAG to use. That one is below. Enjoy!

 

Meet Some of the “100 Most Influential Urbanists” via Streetfilms!

Recently, Planetizen named their 100 Most Influential Urbanists of all-time, based on public voting off of a list of 200 nominees. Jane Jacobs won. As she should have.

Whether you believe the list is correct or has some people ranked too kindly or not at all, it has been circulating like mad on Facebook and other social media. Of course, when I took a look at the list, my first thought was how cool it was that Streetfilms had interviewed or featured dozens of them.  So if you want to learn or see many of these individuals in action, take a gander at the films below!

2. Jamie Lerner

The renowned urban planner became mayor of Curitiba and implemented their BRT system which we explore in this popular Streetfilm. But I selected the more intimate video we did on the story of Curitiba's first pedestrian street since it has lots of him.

 

4. Jan Gehl

In fact, there are many Streetfilms that have featured Gehl over the years. The film below is one of four I made - in five days - while in Copenhagen in 2010.  But our first with him was the most important: an influential video we cut of him  evaluating a horribly un-friendly-to-people Times Square in 2005 with Mark Gorton! In many ways it helped ignite the livable streets renaissance that NYC has been moving towards since.

 

10. Charles Mahron

About five years ago, Streetfilms first met Chuck, and we could tell he was an original thinker with ideas about our cities we needed to help spread. I thought he would make an interesting subject and followed him to a few cities.

 

12. William H. Whyte

Holly Whyte passed before I became deeply immersed making videos about urbanism and transportation. But since I always admired the simple language he used in his book "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces", I wanted to honor him with this montage of my favorite shots that matched the words in his book.

 

13. Donald Shoup

The undisputed expert of parking policy was part of our plan early on to highlight how ample free parking was a hurdle to having better cities. We interviewed him the first time he came to NYC and the 2nd time we did I decided it was time to take out some matchbox cars and show visually some of his concepts.

 

16. Janette Sadik-Khan

As NYC DOT Commissioner, we were perfectly positioned to watch the meteoric rise of Janette Sadik-Khan and how she introduced progressive public space initiatives and changed Times Square, Madison Square & brought us Summer Streets and more! She easily holds the record for appearing in more Streetfilms than any other person and  you might as well chalk all of this up to her,  Here we feature one of her first sit down interviews in 2008 with Mark Gorton about her work.

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A Groovy Array of Bicycling Streetfilms From The Netherlands

With so many of my friends posting Facebook photos and Tweeting short video snippets of what they are seeing while in Amsterdam at the PPS Placemaking Summit, I thought this would be an excellent time to compile in one place most of my Streetfilms I've shot there since my first visit in 2013, great films to watch right now whether you are there with them or not.

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"Bicycle Anecdotes from Amsterdam" at nearly 370,000 plays was a fun one to make and very quickly edited together with little effort. So much so that I thought it would be entertaining but by no means did I expect it to become our 4th most popular film of all-time (out of over 800!) But it has a lot of nice moments in it. (Side note: partly due to it, I ended up buying a Fre8 WorkCycle thanks to seeing them being made in the shop while being able to chat with Henry Culter. See above photo!)

Of course, our universally loved Streetfilm on Gronigen proved to be groundbreaking and now is heading towards a half million Streetfilm plays across all media we can track. We had read stories (50% bike mode share!) and seen a few short snippets of the great downtown of Groningen on Youtube before deciding to work in a visit. We were glad we did. Even four years later, if you type in "Groningen" and "bicycling" into search engines, our film is the first to pop up. And in the aftermath of my visit there were dozens of stories on Groningen, many citing or even embedding our Streetfilm in their coverage. (BTW, a reminder: anyone can embed our linked videos in their reports or websites.)

In 2017 I was able to return to The Netherlands while attending the VeloCity 2017 conference and I fell in love with the city of Nijmegen. I had been planning to just shoot a few shorts while there on all sorts of tours and interviews with people. But while roaming around on foot downtown, I couldn't believe how car-free the city was and how there were a series of steel bollards that kept cars out most of the time. Simply amazing. So I rushed to grab enough interviews towards the end of the conference to produce the result above!

Additionally, the Arnhem-Nijmegen region boasts the quickest, safest continuous bikeway I have ever ridden. You are gonna want to watch that too!

Jumping back to Amsterdam, I actually assembled this fun montage in a few hours one night after my first full day of shooting to get people psyched for my videos to come. It too was a very modest hit!

At this point, I'll leave you with the linkage below to even more Streetfilms. Please enjoy them!  And go to the Netherlands if you want to see great bicycling infrastructure!  And for those still waiting for more? I do have a long gestating film from  Rotterdam I hope to have ready, eventually.

"Danish Infrastructure Tour of Bicycle Streets & Intersections" 

"Journey from Assen to Groningen with David Hembrow":

"From Netherlands to America: Translating the World's Best Bikeway Designs"

"Groningen's Green Phase For Cyclists"

"Rotterdam: Trams on Grass"

"Amsterdam Draws Bike Boxes to Better Organize Bike Parking"

Just a Great Big Pile of August Kudos for NYC DOT

NYC DOT is on a very productive roll recently with many innovative projects going on in New York City. I guess this is my way of saying thanks.

I was away when NYC DOT officially debuted the new shared space (5 mph) street on Broadway near Madison Square Park. So I decided to get a quick look on Friday and, well, it works extremely well for NYC's big foray in to a new kind of street design! It'll be interesting to see where they might try this in the next few years. (And of a quick reference, check out this nearly ancient Streetfilm from when Madison Square Plaza was first created back in 2010!)

Another debut I missed due to travel was the fantastic two blocks on Broadway that have been transformed into car-free urban oases. It's called the Garment District Urban Garden and has been in the ground for nearly two months. I don't know why it took me so long to get over there (maybe because Broadway's eventual foregone destiny is to be car-free?) but the installation ends on September 1st. So get your posterior over there to see it. Lunchtime is fantastic!

To many, this green-paint-delineated, Queens Boulevard bridge path over the Sunnyside rail yards might night seem like a really big deal, but for those of us who ride it we've been made very, very happy. It's been many years coming and now that it is properly marked with #freshkermit, pedestrians are sticking to their posted side making the riding experience much less frustrating and smooth. For reference: if you are not familiar - this section is a direct link to the Queensboro (NOT Ed Koch!) Bridge ped-bike path. See some history on that here via this short Streetfilm!

And finally NYC DOT's amazing Summer Streets continues! An event I have never missed getting out to and enjoying since 2008! (Even being in tremendous pain for 2011 and 2012 following a hip injury due to a car crash and resulting surgery, blood clot and compartment syndrome!) We've even brought my son each year since he was born.

The above compliation is really just the result of cruising down on my way to another shoot. I picked up about 20 shots and threw together this montage for future b-roll use, so figured why not share! The only suggestion I have is one I have every year: there needs to be more events and the course needs to be significantly lengthened. It's popular! It's getting ridiculously crowded at some bottlenecks. I hope Commissioner Trottenberg can give us something even more great in 2018!

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