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Posts tagged "Bike Share"

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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.

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Oslo: The Journey to Car-Free

In 2015, the newly elected city government of Oslo, Norway, announced its intention to make the downtown car-free by 2019. I immediately put it on my list of places to check out for Streetfilms. Last fall I made the trip, not knowing exactly what I'd find.

There are a number of reasons Oslo is looking to shift away from driving and get cars out of downtown. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, and leaders see more efficient streets and transportation as essential to managing this growth. But the biggest factor is that air quality in Oslo and many places in Norway is deteriorating. In winter, especially, air pollution from diesel vehicles can reach dangerous levels and keep vulnerable children and seniors restricted indoors.

Oslo already has car-free blocks and car-light pedestrian zones that are full of people even late at night. And I knew it was a good sign when I stepped off the bus from the airport and immediately stumbled upon construction of a new rail line. But to make such a large area car-free entails going above and beyond a few projects here and there -- it takes a comprehensive strategy.

So Oslo is working toward its goal on many fronts. The city has been aggressively removing car parking, for instance, and by the end of 2017, expects to no longer have any on-street parking in the city core. Off-street parking is also being addressed -- all new developments are required to be car-free.

Ruter, the local transportation authority, plans to absorb all travel growth with buses, trains, and trams in addition to shifting some current car trips to transit. Car-share services are beginning to proliferate as more people go without a personal motor vehicle. Oh, and there's this nifty plan to help people pay for electric-assist cargo bikes!

Bike lanes are getting built or upgraded throughout the city. You won't find ample, Copenhagen-style protected bike lanes yet, but the on-going removal of car parking is clearing space for many wide, red curbside bike lanes. Despite the lack of true protection they feel safe, and unlike in the U.S., you will not find cars parking in them. Over four days, I probably could count the number of cars I saw blocking a bike lane on one hand.

The city's bike-share, Oslo Bysykkel, has recently been completely overhauled with more stations, better bicycles, and a more convenient user interface. You can unlock your bike by smart phone as you approach the station, just take it and go.

Will Oslo's city center go completely car-free by 2019? Momentum is certainly on the city's side. So sit back and take in these scenes of a city making ambitious changes to its streets, as well as interviews with public figures like Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen, who discusses why reducing the footprint of cars is so important to the future of her city. I hope you enjoy watching this Streetfilm -- I think it carries important implications for other cities around the world.

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Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story

One of the best transportation stories of 2016 comes from Vancouver, British Columbia, which achieved its goal of having transit, biking, and walking account for 50 percent of all trips a full four years ahead of schedule. Bicycling is a big part of that shift, and now one of every 10 work trips is by bike.

Vancouver is a city that prides itself on rejecting freeways in the 1960s and 70s. It is the only major city in North America without freeways in the core. Recently the city set out to build on the achievements of previous generations by increasing "sustainable modes" to account for two-thirds of all trips by 2040 (read up on the city's goals).

I was in Vancouver for the ProWalk ProBike ProPlace conference this summer and spoke to several people involved in the effort to make Vancouver a more multi-modal city, including former chief planner Brent Toderian, Manager of Transportation Planning Dale Bracewell, and Melissa and Chris Bruntlett, the activist couple behind Modacity.

I hope this Streetfilm provides a taste what it's like to have so many different options at your disposal -- bike, bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and more. And don't miss our short from earlier this year: Vancouver's Breathtaking Network of Protected Bike lanes.

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Observations from Oslo

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.

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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!

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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!

 

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How to Build a Thriving, Equitable Bike-Share System

Bike-share has the capability to expand access to jobs and transit for communities in need of better transportation options -- but only if the system is set up and operated in an equitable way. Our latest collaboration with the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) examines how to build a thriving, equitable bike-share system.

At the end of June, the Better Bike Share Conference brought together advocates, employers, and experts in the field to share ideas and strategies about how to improve access to bike-share. We interviewed a dozen leaders about what bike-share systems are doing to overcome barriers to use, and what more needs to be done.

NACTO has some great resources available for people who want to take a deeper look at issues of bike-share and equity, including papers on:

This Streetfilm features footage of nearly a dozen bike-share systems, but primarily Indego in Philadelphia, Citi Bike in New York, and Capital Bikeshare in DC. As part of the filming, I got to ride along with Black Girls Do Bike NYC for a Citi Bike tour from Bed-Stuy to Red Hook in Brooklyn -- you can see more scenes from that ride in this short.

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The Philadelphia Bike Story

Of U.S. cities with more than a million residents, the one where people bike the most is Philadelphia. In 2012, the U.S. Census estimated Philadelphia’s bicycle commute rate at 2.3 percent [PDF], higher than Chicago (1.6 percent) and New York (1.0 percent).

It's just about always been that way. That comes as a surprise to many people, since Philadelphia doesn't have a lot of bike infrastructure. But there are other street design and urban design factors at work, many due to the fact that Philadelphia is an old city.

For one, the city has a lot of narrow streets. That makes it tougher to add bike lanes, but it also means motorists tend to travel at speeds that don't intimidate people on bikes. On average, people also live closer to their jobs than in most other places, making bike commuting a better option. Stop signs are more prevalent than signals, and where there are traffic lights, the sequencing is short, so people on bikes don't have to wait long at intersections. In the end, most people bike because it is the fastest, most convenient option.

Thanks to Alex Doty, executive director of the Bike Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and all the other bicyclists I got to speak with. They'll tell you plenty more reasons why biking is good there, and how it could be better.

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Bike-Share Comes to Philly With the Launch of Indego

On Thursday, Philadelphia's long wait for a bike-share system came to an end with the launch of the 60-station, 600-bike Indego system, which is set to expand in the near future. At the kickoff, volunteers and officials -- including Mayor Michael Nutter -- rode about half of those bikes to their docking stations.

I got to talk to most of the movers and shakers who helped come to fruition. Even more fun, I got to ride with Mayor Nutter's platoon of Indego-ers to a station near City Hall.

The pricing system of Indego is what sets it apart. Instead of a yearly fee with trips capped at 30 or 45 minutes before extra fees kick in, which is the most popular subscription option offered by most other systems, Indego is going with a fee of $15 per month for unlimited one-hour per trips. This allows people to avoid the larger upfront cost of an annual fee, and subscribers who, say, only want to ride during warmer weather can also save some money. Another option is IndegoFlex, which provides a year of access to the system for a base fee of $10, with a per-trip fee of $4 for rides up to one hour long.

Indego is the largest bike-share system in the country that uses BCycle bikes and stations. It's going to be a great addition to Philly, which has the largest bike commute mode share of any American city with more than 1 million people.

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America’s Love Affair With Great City Streets

People crave interaction with other people. Given the choice, we'll gravitate to places where we can socialize or just be in the presence of our fellow humans.

It's not in our nature to spend hours each day isolated inside a car, but for much of the 20th century we shaped our streets and cities to make driving inescapable. In a few short decades we all but designed walking out of our lives. The good news is that by now, many cities have recognized that mistake and are working to fix it. We're falling in love with our streets again.

In this Streetfilm, four American mayors talk about why they're working to make their cities more walkable, bikeable, and sociable, and you'll hear from advocates and experts who are leading the movement to reclaim streets for people.

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Buenos Aires: Building a People-Friendly City

Buenos Aires is fast becoming one of the most admired cities in the world when it comes to reinventing streets and transportation.

Just over a year ago, the city launched MetroBus BRT (constructed in less than seven months) on 9 de Julio Avenue, which may be the world's widest street. The transformation of four general traffic lanes to exclusive bus lanes has yielded huge dividends for the city and is a bold statement from Mayor Mauricio Macri about how Buenos Aires thinks about its streets. More than 650,000 people now ride MetroBus every day, and it has cut commutes in the city center from 50-55 minutes to an incredible 18 minutes.

That's not the only benefit of this ambitious project. The creation of MetroBus freed up miles of narrow streets that used to be crammed with buses. Previously, Buenos Aires had some pedestrian streets, but moving the buses to the BRT corridor allowed the administration to create a large network of shared streets in downtown where pedestrians rule. On the shared streets, drivers aren't permitted to park and the speed limit is an astonishingly low 10 km/h. Yes, that is not a misprint -- you're not allowed to drive faster than 6 mph!

Bicycling has also increased rapidly in the past four years -- up from 0.5 percent mode share to 3 percent mode share and climbing. Ecobici is the city's bike-share system which is expanding to 200 stations in early 2015. Oh, and add this amazing fact: Ecobici is free for all users for the first hour.

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Transportation Videos & Photos from Montevideo & Buenos Aires!

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. Read more...

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How a Massive Bike Tour Inspired Montreal to Become a Bike-Friendly City

Especially in the warmer months, Montreal is simply alive with street life and, of course, lots of bicycling. Its car-free spaces are inviting to everyone, and there's so much art and interactive installations in public space.

In 2001 and again in 2003, I got to ride the Tour de l'Île in Montreal while on group trips with NYC's Five Borough Bike Club. Both times were incredibly exciting, not only because of the rides, but because I could see and use wonderful, safe bike infrastructure. It helped me realize what could be possible in NYC one day.

I was invited by Vélo Québec to participate in this year's Tour de l'Île (as well as the Tour la Nuit), and I still think it's the best group ride in the world.

Riding this year, I was accompanied by many advocates and journalists from other cities. I learned how the ride's formation in 1985 helped inspire much of the city's bike infrastructure, and how it has kept pressure on the government to continue building more.  There are cyclists everywhere in Montreal: One report puts the bike-to-work mode share in the Le Plateau – Mont Royal neighborhood at about 18 percent.

So just go to Montreal. And go often. Don't bring a bike -- they have Bixi. That's all you'll need. If this video isn't enough of an endorsement, how about this: In all my riding over five visits, I've only ever seen one car parked in a bike lane.

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Riding the Bike Share Boom

Without a doubt, 2013 has been a banner year for bike-share in the United States. Major systems were implemented in New York City and Chicago, and many others debuted or expanded in other cities. In fact, Citi Bike users have biked over 10 million miles and the system is closing in on 100,000 annual members!

The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) has been studying 25 bike-share systems throughout the world, analyzing which ones perform the best and why. That informed ITDP's Bike Share Planning Guide, which has copious data and fascinating charts to pore over, helping cities create bike-share systems that will thrive.

We were very happy to team up with ITDP to make this Streetfilm. It features a dozen bike-share systems and captures footage from an unprecedented number of bike-share cities in any one film. Enjoy and download the report!

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Many more Bike Share Systems to Watch on Streetfilms

With the publication of our new Streetfilm on the recent success of bike share in North America in 2013 (in partnership with ITDP), we wanted to remind you we have done more bike share videos than anybody, anywhere else in the world.

We started out with Elizabeth Press' great film back in 2008 on Paris' Velib which helped introduce U.S. audiences to the concept of bike share.

We also covered the first iterations on bike share in Washington, DC and then followed up with the hugely successful and popular video on Capital Bikeshare years later. Check out how different the two systems were below.

In between we have looked at Minneapolis' Nice Ride…

Read more...

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Montreal’s Car-free Rue St. Catherine and Bustling Bike Rush Hour

While spending a week in Montreal, my wife and I stayed right along the Rue Sainte Catherine, which we discovered is closed to motor vehicles from May 15 through September 6 in two main sections. The first, a mile-long stretch that's been car-free in the summer since 2008, has a lot of restaurants and is filled with pedestrians all night long. The second, a more recent addition, is a smaller section to the west which features plenty of programming and music near the Place des Arts.

I put together a montage that will give you a small taste of the experience. It's hard to convey the peace and quiet you feel, but I tried.

I last visited Montreal in 2001 to ride the annual Tour de L'ile, and the bicycling is as good as I remember it. We got Bixi bikes one day and documented a little of the biking life. The p.m. rush hour in Montreal is pretty thick with cyclists in the protected bike lanes. And, as in world's other great bike cities, you'll see many children and seniors riding. Good indicator species.

Mikael Colville Andersen at Copenhagenize seems to think Montreal doesn't get its bicycle props. I'd have to agree, at least during the beautiful summer months.

I'll end with the below photo. My wife used a restroom and was telling me all about this great advert on the back of the door featuring women and transit. I wanted to see it badly, so I made her go back in and take a photo. Translated as "Beautiful Girls Aren't Just in Limousines," it sends a great message to young women: "Save time, save money, chance encounters, autonomy, speed, etc. Public transportation is more than just a way of getting around."

I'd love to see similar campaigns here for American teens. After all, a big part of gaining independence is having the ability to travel.

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Salt Lake City: A Red State Capital Builds Ambitious Transit

According to Congress for New Urbanism President John Norquist, the Salt Lake City area has the fastest growing rail system in America. And as Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt pointed out last month, "It's the only city in the country building light rail, bus rapid transit, streetcars and commuter rail at the same time."

Since the late 1990s, SLC certainly has embarked on a very ambitious program of transit construction. In 2006, residents voted to invest more and expedite the implementation of the system. This May the city opened its newest light rail line, to the airport, and in December the Sugar House streetcar is scheduled to open.

SLC does have a lot of catching up to do. The region as a whole is still built around the car. In this brief clip, Norquist talks about the lack of transit-oriented development at stops outside the downtown. I also don't love the gigantic widths of neighborhood streets, which I mentioned in my write up of exploring the city while trying out bike-share. But as Norquist points out, these are all opportunities to transform things for the better.