Skip to content

Posts tagged "cars"

StreetFilms
View Comments

Freeways Without Futures: I-345 in Dallas

In this Streetfilm, Patrick Kennedy, founder of A New Dallas, talks about the movement to replace Interstate 345 in downtown Dallas with connected streets and walkable development. Shot at the "Freeways Without Futures" session at the Congress for New Urbanism's recent conference in Dallas, the piece provides views of I-345 from heights most people never get to see.

Kennedy was joined by Peter Park, who was instrumental in the removal of the Park East freeway in Milwaukee, and Ian Lockwood of the Toole Design Group. Their take on urban highways like I-345 was too powerful and logical to not share with the rest of the universe.

StreetFilms
View Comments

Why do we need a buffer in Protected Bike Lanes? Well, here’s why….

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.

IMG_6159IMG_6167IMG_6169IMG_6163IMG_6160

StreetFilms
View Comments

Streetfacts #3: Roads Are a Money Losing Proposition

The majority of the roads and highways built in America are simply bad investments. Continuing this pattern will only ensure that wasteful projects consume larger chunks of our federal, state, and local budgets, without addressing the real need for transportation options.

This Streetfacts chapter has a bit more math than usual, but we think we've made an entertaining and accessible profile of how government agencies routinely justify unnecessary road projects. The example we've chosen to illustrate the problem is a federally-funded "diamond-diverter" interchange in Colorado. The project as proposed may look like a pretty good deal for taxpayers at first, but after crunching the numbers, you'll see that's not the case at all.

Much of the inspiration for this piece comes from the outstanding work of Strong Towns, an organization that emphasizes obtaining a higher return on infrastructure investments. Strong Towns Executive Director Charles Marohn, Jr. has been getting his message out through what he calls curbside chats, and we'll soon be debuting a Streetfilm that features his work.

StreetFilms
View Comments

How Many NYC Drivers Fail to Signal?

If you walk on New York City streets (or frankly anywhere in the U.S.), you're well aware of how much unlawful and dangerous driving happens on nearly every block: red light running, speeding, double-parking, you name it.

I first moved to NYC in 1991, and one thing that seems to have gotten much worse since then is the percentage of drivers who fail to signal their turns. I've lost count of the times I've been walking or bicycling and nearly been hit by drivers who didn't use their directionals. Anecdotally, I would estimate that about 25 or 30 percent of drivers don't signal.

So I set out to put my theory to the test where I live in Jackson Heights, Queens, taping the first 100 turning drivers I saw. I won't spoil the final count, but this video is more evidence of the poor quality of driving across the city. Failing to use blinkers makes it hard for walkers, bikers, and other motorists to anticipate a driver's behavior -- this is basic Driver's Ed, people -- but so many people just don't do it.

Every week we read horrible stories of drivers crashing into pedestrians or mounting sidewalks -- and yet hardly anyone is ever charged or even issued a ticket. NYPD could be issuing plenty of tickets for drivers failing to signal turns on just about any block at anytime. They could start a crackdown tomorrow, it doesn't require more legislation. It doesn't require an officer to be stationed in a car with a radar gun. Just stand on the corner and pull people over. Simple.

NYPD credits cracking down on small crimes with helping to dramatically lower the city's overall crime rate. If we started to show less tolerance for "smaller" infractions, might drivers in NYC eventually change their overall driving habits?

StreetFilms
View Comments

Streetfacts #2: Americans Are Driving Less

We continue our Streetfacts series by looking at the data on driving in the U.S. Beginning in 2005, per-capita driving has declined every year. That's not a blip, it's now an 8-year trend.

The reason? Neither the state of the economy nor changes in gas prices offer a satisfactory explanation. Social preferences and demographic shifts seem to be playing a role. Young people today are less likely to own a car or have a driver's license than young people several years ago. At the same time, America's growing population of seniors are no longer in their peak driving years.

Whatever the combination of factors, people are riding transit, walking, and bicycling more. Even magazines like Motor Trend are examining the shift away from cars.

The upshot is that we need to start making smart transportation investments that align with the new reality: Americans are driving less.

StreetFilms
View Comments

WTF?! “The Lorax” Gives Mazda “The only Certified Truffula Tree Seal of Approval”

Can you believe this?  Does this get you riled up? You need to take a gander at this new commercial for Mazda's CX-5, an advertising partner for Universal Pictures Dr. Suess' "The Lorax". It's the latest, most outrageous act of Hollywood greed.

"Certified Truffula Tree Friendly"?! I can't tell you how sick that "endorsement" makes me.

Back when I was 5 years old, "The Lorax" tv special first aired in 1972.  It was a powerful environmental message that I believe helped shape who I've become today.  Yes, sure I'd rather have more cars be as environmentally friendly as possible, but that is not the point here and to allow Mazda to sponsor THIS film is just plain blasphemy.

Universal Pictures and the films producers have completely made a mockery of Dr. Seuss' work.  Seriously.

What do you think?

StreetFilms
View Comments

It’s a “Gridlock Alert” Day! Don’t Drive!

With apologizes to "Star Trek" we offer up this 30 second PSA for the holiday season Streetfilms-style.

For years we've been pretty annoyed at the standard portable billboards and flashing signs distributed on streets to warn "(insert day) is a Gridlock Alert day, please use mass transit",  Well, we thought we'd spend 10 minutes editing this and maybe capture people's attention and change their habits.  Maybe.

There's an alternate version available that is a little more harsh on drivers.  CLICK HERE TO WATCH

StreetFilms
View Comments

Tom Vanderbilt Talks “Traffic”

Whether you're a transportation geek or just curious about why people do the things they do behind the wheel, Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic is one of the most fascinating books you can open up.

Tom, who also writes the excellent blog How We Drive, was kind enough to drop by the Streetfilms office for a conversation about his vast research into the world of car and driver. Here's our ten-minute highlight reel of his talk with OpenPlans founder and Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton. The interview covers subjects from the Invisible Gorilla to intense DriveCam footage of automobile crashes to the dangers of noise-canceling technology touted by car manufacturers. Whether you drive every day or not at all, you'll be enlightened about what happens inside people's heads once they're inside an automobile.

StreetFilms
View Comments

Fixing the Great Mistake: Autocentric Development

"Fixing the Great Mistake" is a new Streetfilms series that examines what went wrong in the early part of the 20th Century, when our cities began catering to the automobile, and how those decisions continue to affect our lives today.

FTGMlogo4webIn this episode, Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White shows how planning for cars drastically altered Park Avenue. Watch and see what Park Avenue used to look like, how we ceded it to the automobile, and what we need to do to reclaim the street as a space where people take precedence over traffic.

StreetFilms
View Comments

Veronica Moss “Crashes” the Streetfilms Spectacular

Thanks to the 100+ folks who showed up at our "Streetfilms Spectacular 2010", a fundraising party we plan to schedule each year.  We've already had a number of people step up to want to sponsor some Streetfilms which bodes well for future productions we want to get to.

As you may have heard by now, we were graced by the presence of Veronica Moss, who barged in to interrupt our sales pitch to the attendees and express her own views about traffic and transportation.  Thankfully, Ben Fried and Sarah Goodyear of Streetsblog were there to ask her a few pointed questions, even though it probably didn't do much good.  So for those that couldn't make it, enjoy the always enteraining Veronica as she spouts her fountain of misinformation.

StreetFilms
View Comments

10 Things to Be Thankful for on Gridlock Alert Days

Each year, New York City DOT and the MTA create a Holiday Traffic Mitigation Plan to ensure that traffic flows as smoothly as possible throughout the busy holiday season. You can do your part by taking mass transit whenever possible, especially on gridlock alert days (when traffic is expected to he heavy enough to warrant announcements encouraging people not to drive). So far, there have been six such alerts this month.

On one of them, Streetfilms and Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton went for a whirl around lower Manhattan to see how the alert kept traffic flowing. In this light-hearted video, he shares his top ten things to be thankful for on gridlock alert days.

Beware: The next gridlock alert is Wednesday, December 23.

StreetFilms
View Comments

Drivers Behaving Rudely

Just because there's a livable streets revolution underway in NYC doesn't mean that drivers have gotten the message. Cars blocking crosswalks, drivers failing to yield to pedestrians, unnecessary honking and a slew of other quality-of-walking violations are still a routine occurrence to contend with on nearly every corner of New York City.

Mark Gorton, publisher of Streetsblog, wants to put drivers on notice of their rudeness. While he acknowledges the majority of drivers are not bad or mean people, their actions speak otherwise and they may not even realize it. After all, one rude driver sitting in a crosswalk can inconvenience or endanger dozens of pedestrians in one light cycle. Yet would that same person take a shopping cart in a supermarket and purposely block an aisle and make people navigate around him or her? The betting line says likely not.

So what is it about driving a car that allows people to get a societal pass on their rudeness?

StreetFilms
View Comments

Meet Veronica Moss, A.U.T.O. Lobbyist

Ever wonder what folks working for sustainable transportation at the federal level are up against on K Street? For this Streetfilms exclusive event, we were granted unfettered access to Veronica Moss, lobbyist for Automobile Users Trade Organization (AUTO). Veronica gave us a few precious moments inside her SUV to talk about roads, traffic, cyclists, and big cities. After instructing us on proper honking techniques for "old people" and children, she also offered up some choice bons mots. Here's a sample:

"People need to be able to drive their cars - that's an American right!"

"Bikers are a pimple on the butt of any city."

If you love Veronica, make sure to check out our mockumentary on The Search for the Zozo, where she also makes an appearance.

UPDATE:  3/29/2012  And congratulations to Kate McKinnon for being added to the cast of SNL!  She was so good as Veronica Moss.  SNL could not have picked a funnier gal!

StreetFilms
View Comments

Chicanes In My Neighborhood

With sincerest apologies to Fred Rogers, let's go for a walk in Clarence Eckerson's Neighborhood - where you will see a livable streets phenomenon created by (gulp!) double-parked cars.

On alternate side of the street parking days, many communities in Brooklyn have worked out a deal so car owners are allowed to double park with impunity so the streets can get their weekly brushing. (Okay, let's not touch that argument today.) During the interim switchover when drivers are relocating their cars - usually lasting about 15 to 20 minutes - chicanes are temporarily created, which delightfully slow car speeds to more human levels.

We're always trying to enlighten the public here at Streetfilms, by getting inventive using already existing street reality to placate opponents of traffic calming. (Remember our snowy neckdowns?) To add, yes, I have seen vans and small trucks successfully navigate narrow blocks like these. Also please note: in my travels, typical neckdown installations are usually much less drastic then the conditions created here.