Every since last year's announcement that the city of Oslo, Norway was attempting to make its city center car-free by 2019, I knew that it had to be a Streetfilms destination this year. It did not disappoint. As usual I got to interview a quality mix of residents from Oslo's new Mayor Marianne Borgen to owners of Oslo Velo's bike coffee shop to the night clerk at my hotel who was a big fan of the city's decision to go as car-free as possible.
I think you'll love what I got. You can expect a moderate-length Streetfilm from Oslo sometime near the end of September, but until then I have a few other extra bits to share, some tangentially related to the story. The above video is excerpted from my excellent interview with Frode Hvattum, the Head of Strategy for Ruter (Oslo's transit agency) and in the background of the interview I saw how quickly buses load/unloaded in the downtown. And since we have been partnering with TransitCenter on a number of Streetfilms, I just had to ask about it.
The above photo is me riding with Sverre Landmark, who works as Market Director at Aspelin Ramm, a large developer of responsible urban spaces and properties. People usually assume that I have lots of free time while traveling to do all sorts of sightseeing and take in plenty of culture. That's mostly not the case. But this time I did get one nice treat when Sverre took me on a bike ride from the city's reservoir system (only 8km from the city) down the Akersevla River, many refer to it as "Oslo's Central Park."
Likewise, I got to have a bit of fun while shooting video at the top of Oslo's Opera House which turns out to be one of the most magnificent public spaces I've ever been to. Here is a very short bit on my hike up, as you can see the view is lovely.
Oslo has a great new bike share system which translates to City Bike. It's their second such system and much like Washington, DC on their second try, they really got it right. It's a wonderful bike. Light, steady and an incredible density of docks and bikes in the downtown core. Everyone is biking about the city using them. The phone app for it is nothing short of incredible, while approaching the dock you can sign in and reserve a bike as you are walking up. Seriously, until I knew that's how it worked I thought people were going up and just stealing whichever one they wanted!
By the way, Oslo's City Bike was my 24th city bike share ridden in the world. Earlier in this trip I also got Malmo (22nd) and Copenhagen (23rd). I will hopefully be adding Vancouver (25) and Seattle (26) in September. Now I'm not sure if that makes me a world leader, but surely I must be a viable contender! I have two close friends (Aaron Naparstek and Ian Dutton) who have entered the low 20s as well.
Please check back often, so much more coming this Fall!
Although the main goal of this latest overseas trip was to visit Oslo, Norway to interview leaders about the city's plans to go car-free in the city center by 2019, I knew I'd have the opportunity to visit somewhere else (very quickly) to shoot a few Streetfilms. Nearby Denmark was the obvious choice where I only spent a little over two days and it yielded a crop of Streetfilms substance (along with a short side trip to Malmo to also see the bike world there.)
Two of the films are already published on the blog, but two others new to you aren't. The first was a short bit (above) where I got to talk to James Thoem, a Project Manager with Copenhagenize Design Company, about the key safety measures installed at what some claim to be the world busiest cycle intersection with over 42,000 users per day. The things he talks about would certainly nearly illuminate "right hook" crashes in the United States, but of course something tells me the incredible volume of cyclists also is a factor in driver's ability to sit patiently. I did a popular montage on that on my last trip here.
The fun montage above is just something I crammed together on my journey between Copenhagen to Oslo. I realized as I was out shooting footage that I was collecting an insane amount of children and dogs riding along in cargo bikes and such. It could be because I was missing my little boy (who recently took his first bike ride ever) and envied all the families. I surveyed fans on Twitter and asked if they would like to see such a montage. They enthusiastically said yes, so I obliged.
Here's just something I saw while out with James. A construction crew digging and transporting dirt. Everything proceeding with very little fanfare. It looked all very professional and yet kinda scary. I took one ride underneath, which although the crew used due care, also seemed very borderline dangerous. Yet, nice to see life and work proceed without alarm. What do you think?
There's me above checking out the newly opened "Kissing Bridge", which was delayed for many years. I'm not gonna say too much here about the final video since it has its own blog entry, but Marie Kastrup from the City of Copenhagen, showed me some wonderful hospitality gave me a whirlwind tour of the newest car-free bridges in Copenhagen. This is the result.
But the video itself should prove very valuable to cities across the globe as conversation starter. Here in NYC while we are debating whether or not we could possibly widen the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian and bike path say 3 to 5 years down the road (if at all), We need to look at what bridges could we build in NYC that would greatly enhance transportation for cyclists. The Move NY/Gridlock Sam plan does float the possibilities of some car-free crossings, but one has to wonder if it would be seriously ever studied. If we were in Copenhagen, there would likely already be plans for multiple bridges going in.
That's me above in a promo for bikeTV!
Many of you know that before I got heavily involved in what was to become Streetfilms, I produced a cable access show in New York City called bikeTV. We had a lot of fun and the main goal of the half hour weekly slot was to show New Yorkers how much fun it was to bike places in the city with friends, how much better biking could be and to cover the advocacy world (Transportation Alternatives, Time's Up, 5BBC, etc) and what they were promoting.
Recently, I took the time to finally upload some episodes from my work (and other contributors) to Vimeo and Youtube. It's quite amazing some of the work we did - usually trying to produce a new half hour show every month. I still have people come up to me and say they discovered biking through bikeTV!
I'm a very, very lucky person to be able to meet important people trying to change our cities and hang out with them even for a few minutes. Mayor Mike McGinn is an awesome guy and I actually got to hang out with him for a few hours. Back when he was running for Seattle mayor in 2009, his website featured a few of our Streetfilms including "The Removal of the Embarcadero Highway" from San Francisco.
These days he is the host of a new podcast "You, Me, Us, Now with Mike McGinn" and last week he interviewed me. You should take a listen, there are some very entertaining bits as we talk about my life journey and especially the time I came to Seattle to bike with him to City Hall for a Streetfilm (around the 14 minute mark). It was such an easy going interview back and forth, certainly one of my favorites doing "press" for Streetfilms (or me).
Just click here to listen to the podcast on the MyNorthwest site.
And in case you haven't seen it, here is the fun 2010 Streetfilm when he was mayor of us biking to Seattle's City Hall one foggy morning. Most of the film is totally impromptu. I literally had no idea when I showed up at his house at 6 am to meet his family how jovial a guy he would be, where we were going to go, what we would see, if it would start raining (a little), and what he would want to chat about. As usual, trusting the energy of the world produced a great little film.
If you're like us, you're probably sick of the standard mainstream news media treatment of safety measures for pedestrians, bicyclists and - yes - drivers. Most times the coverage is sensational, often featuring a small group of really loud voices or annoying protesters claiming street safety measures are unnecessary, because, well because.
One topic nationwide that always generates that usual friction is speed cameras. Often going by the same playbook wherever you live, you'll hear common refrains that the tickets are a "cash grab" to "hardworking taxpayers" that are "unfair speed traps" which "infringe on our personal liberties" and "don't save lives." Some of these groups are even referred to as heroes and even destroy (yes, destroy!) hardware meant to keep people safe. You'll rarely find any of these stories take time to interview pro-camera community leaders or talk with someone who lost a loved one to speeding.
So we thought it'd be good to draw up a comic that makes it takes on the myth perpetuated that the poor, poor driver is so unfairly treated. Though our story takes place in New York City, many cities nationwide have some or all of the same limitations placed on their use.
Thus presenting our second Streetfilms Comic (although Treehugger has taken to calling them Street Comics) on Speed Camera Myths. And don't miss our first here on the #sneckdown phenomenon. Click the image below to see it in all it's larger glory.