This one continues to be a head-scratcher!
When guest Streetfilms journalist Joe Baur was headed to Hamburg a few months ago he asked if I'd be interested in a story on the city's plans to become car-free. But when he dug deeper residents told him it just wasn't true! (See the above excerpt on what some of told him.)
As Joe wrote, "Basically nobody had any idea what I was talking about. One of my initial contacts said that the story was started by a British journalist who obviously got the story wrong and then every other outlet from there just picked up the story without fact-checking. The only thing anyone agreed on is that they wish it was a true story." We invite any readers who know more or have any instinct as to what happened to please leave information in the comments.
Regardless, Joe was still able to put together a nice piece for Streetfilms about Hamburg which you can watch here.
By the way, let me just include a few words about Mr. Baur who is a travel writer and filmmaker by trade. He's been car-free for the last four years and lives with his wife in Cleveland who gets that constant "How do you live without a car?" query from suburban family and friends.
He recently spent a year in Central America and promises to be uploading travel videos to his site and putting together a podcast focused on a mixture of travel, urbanism as it relates to travel, and simply talking to interesting people. So if you are "interesting", drop him a line!
A few years back we decided to make a short series of four Streetfilms we christened "Streetfacts" trying to once again to give some great tools to our loyal followers, while attempting to showcase a different style of animation, charts, photos, video and written narration to tell our stories.
They did moderately well, but not as highly successful as we hoped. Thus in this blog post we present them all one page to see if they'll possibly catch fire. There are lots of great facts and topics, we highly encourage you to sample the first two and keep going if you like what you hear.
The "Streetfacts" hit upon some eclectic items we thought were good to highlight. 1) That protected bike lanes are now being installed in smaller cities and towns. 2) That Americans are driving less, a fact that seems to be taking hold in advocates heads the past few years. 3) That building roads is a money losing proposition. 4) That children have lost the freedom to roam - which was surprisingly the bit hit of the series!!
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!