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Posts tagged "Chicago"

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Exploring New York City with Transit Evangelist Jerome Alexander Horne

Talk to Jerome Horne for just a few minutes and you already know the man lives and breathes transit & transportation. I've wanted to do a profile on him for a while being a longtime follower of his on Twitter and Facebook and being entertained and informed by his postings.

Due to Covid my initial plans to hang out with him went out the window to come meet him in Indianapolis. But a few months ago Jerome was hired by TransitCenter in NYC, a non-profit group dedicated to improving transit in order to make cities more efficient and environmentally sustainable.

I got to join him for a few hours on two different days and I got a very exclusive look at his personal Transit Museum! Tune also to find out how he came to love transit, his goals in his new job and what city's transit he considers the best (besides NYC of course!)

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The New Bus Campaigners

Half of transit trips in America are made on buses.

But over the past several years, nearly every major US city has witnessed dramatic declines in bus ridership.

Some blame may go to low gas prices and new services like Uber. But transit advocates think bus service is declining because of longstanding policy neglect, and that something can and ought to be done about it. They’re pushing elected officials and transit agencies to apply changes like bus lanes, all-door boarding and traffic signal priority.

These kinds of policy changes require political attention and will, which will only be obtained through a groundswell of public support. To give voice to bus riders, a new generation of bus campaigners are now canvassing buses, bus stops, and transit hubs to hear from and organize riders. We were able to spend some time with organizations in New York City (Riders Alliance), Boston (LivableStreets) and Chicago (Active Transportation Alliance) to find out what is new there and how they are encouraging volunteers and city leaders to make improvements to their systems.

Buses are a relatively inexpensive and flexible form of transit that American cities could be making much better use of. Thanks to many new advocacy campaigns, we think we’ll see buses turning around.

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Chicago’s Dearborn & Randolph Protected Intersection

While in Chicago for another project, I stumbled upon my first ever U.S. protected intersection LIVE and in the concrete flesh! I knew I had to squeeze in a short documentation on it since other than the amazing animation by Nick Falbo (which really got demand going in the United States) there's really not a ton of watchable protected intersection videos here other than a few clips on Youtube & Vimeo and some bland press conferences.

And certainly this configuration in Chicago may be the most heavily used in the U.S. by not only bike riders but pedestrians as well. During the busiest times of rush hour and lunchtime, it sure gets a ton of use by plenty of people. I was lucky to grab Kyle Whitehead from the Active Transportation Alliance for 30 minutes to show me both of Chicago's protected intersections. The one in this Streetfilm is at the intersection of Dearborn & Randolph and was completed near the end of 2016.

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Gabe Klein Talks About Getting Sh*t Done in “Start-Up City”

Streets can be tough to change. Between institutional inertia, tight budgets, bureaucratic red tape, and the political risks of upsetting the status quo, even relatively simple improvements for walking, biking, or transit can take years to pull off -- if they ever get implemented at all.

But a new generation of transportation officials have shown that it doesn't have to be that way. Cities can actually "get shit done," as former DC and Chicago transportation commissioner Gabe Klein puts it in his new book from Island Press, Start-Up City.

Streetfilms and our producer, Mark Gorton, recently got to sit down (and walk around) with Gabe to talk about the ideas in the book, which ties together his career as a transportation commissioner and his experience in start-ups like Zipcar. Start-Up City is filled with advice about how to get projects done quickly while choosing the best option for the public (and, of course, having fun). You can get a flavor for the book in this extensive interview with Gabe.

Full disclosure: Gabe Klein sits on the board of OpenPlans, the non-profit that produces Streetfilms and Streetsblog. This video is made possible by the Knight Foundation.

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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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Amazing Art in the Public Realm (Chicago, Milwaukee, NYC)

Streetfilms Shortie - Fantastic Art in the Public Realm (Chicago, Milwaukee, NYC) from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Here's a quick Streetfilms shortie I just thew together that I shot with a point & shoot on vacation in Chicago and Milwaukee.  I hope you enjoy, with these shorts you never know whether a couple dozen people or thousands will watch.

First, in Chicago's Daley Plaza, I stumbled upon one of the coolest art installations I've ever seen in a public space: interactive, human-size letters that spelled out the name P-I-C-A-S-S-O (which were helping advertise the current exhibit at the nearby Art Institute Chicago.) The energy in the plaza was magic. People were having so much fun posing and climbing all over the letters. Later on a short trip to Milwaukee I stumbled upon these some great flip-books downtown bolted onto light posts  featuring residents of the city in amusing interactions. Very cool, would love to see those in many other cities.

When I got home I had to add in a few seconds of my current favorite NYC MTA art project - "Hive" which went live last year when the opening of a new entrance to the Broadway/Lafayette (Bleecker Station) that happened late last year.

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Streetfacts #1: Bike Lanes Aren’t Just for Big Cities

Welcome to the first of five shorts we're calling Streetfacts. With Streetfacts, we'll be highlighting developing trends affecting transportation and planning policy, as well as addressing the cost of "bad practices" that prevent us from shifting to a more balanced transportation network that supports more livable places.

As Streetfilms viewers know, many of the big cities in the U.S. are in the midst of expanding their bicycle networks by installing protected bike lanes. We've shown these projects in New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., but some of the newest cities installing them are smaller cities you might not be aware of. Places like Missoula, Flagstaff, Indianapolis, Austin, and Memphis have either installed protected lanes or are breaking ground shortly.

Over the next five weeks, we'll be publishing the rest of the Streetfacts series, which we hope will come in handy in your advocacy. And if they're a big hit, we'll take nominations for other topics and make another batch of Streetfacts later in the year.

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

The Netherlands is widely recognized for having the highest cycling rates in the world. What's not so well known is that the Dutch don't bike so much because cycling is in their DNA. They do it because after the country started down the path toward car dependence, they made a conscious decision to change course. After many decades of deliberate policy to invest in cycling as a mode of transportation, the Netherlands has the most advanced bike infrastructure you'll ever see.

Recenty Streetfilms joined a group of city leaders from Chicago, Washington, DC and Miami on a study tour of the Netherlands, through the Bikes Belong Foundation's Bicycling Design Best Practices Program. The program shows American transportation professionals and policy makers real life examples of what it looks like to invest in cost-effective bicycle facilities. This video takes you on a tour of the incredibly well thought out street designs in the Netherlands. You'll see the infrastructure, hear from the experts on the ground, and watch the tour participants react and imagine how they might implement similar designs in American cities
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The “Cities for Cycling” Roadshow Rocks Chicago

"Cities for Cycling" is a project of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) to document, promote and implement the world’s best bicycle transportation practices in American cities. As part of the Cities for Cycling program, bikeway design experts take their show on the road, using the streets of different U.S. cities as their classroom and the new NACTO design book as their guide.

"The NACTO Guide is a really important step for cities to say it is okay to be different then a rural area. We are not better…we are just different and we would like to apply these different principles," says Chicago Commissioner of Transportation Gabe Klein.

Streetfilms brings you these highlights of the Chicago stop on the tour, where representatives from the transportation departments of NYC, Portland and San Francisco shared lessons from developing bike infrastructure in their hometowns.

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Kinzie Street: The First of Many Protected Bike Lanes for Chicago

In his campaign for mayor, Rahm Emanuel pledged to make Chicago a more bike-friendly city. And in office, he set his sights high, aiming to construct 100 miles of protected bike lanes in his first term.

His team wasted no time. Chicago DOT installed the city's first protected bike lane on Kinzie Street before Emanuel's first 30 days in office were over. Leading Emanuel's DOT is former Washington, DC DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein, who clearly understands the connection between safe streets and the health of a city.

Last month Streetfilms traveled to Chicago to speak with the commissioner, ride on Kinzie Street, and bask in the city's cycling excitement.

And one piece of local trivia. The Blommer Chocolate Store is right on the Kinzie Street protected bike lane and boy does it smell good. It figured prominently in my all-time favorite response to an interview question about biking.

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MBA: Traffic Calming

What’s the most effective way to make city streets safer? As Chicago Alderman Mary Ann Smith told Streetfilms, “Signs don’t do the job, even having police officers on the corner does not do the job.” To prevent traffic injuries and deaths, you need to change how the street functions and make it feel slower for drivers. You need traffic calming.

Traffic calming takes many forms and can describe any measure taken to reduce traffic speeds, improve safety, and make using the street a better overall experience. The most effective traffic calming measures are those that influence drivers to “behave in a civilized manner,” as Smith put it.

Changes like curb extensions, neck-downs, and bike lanes are all traffic calmers that save lives by sending the signal for drivers to slow down. In this Streetfilm we highlight some exemplary traffic calming projects from cities across the country.

Streetfilms would like to thank The Fund for the Environment & Urban Life for making this series possible.

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Winter Biking Primer

Brrrr! Don't let the weather knock you out of your bike commuting routine. On a recent trip to Chicago, Streetfilms had the opportunity to go on a ride and get several helpful tips for making winter biking not only do-able, but enjoyable. So today, as temperatures sit in the single digits in New York City, we thought we would provide you with a little winter riding inspiration from our friends in the mid-west.

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Chicago’s Bus Tracker: Taking the Guesswork Out of Waiting for the Bus

One of the encouraging trends for American transit riders, in an otherwise bleak landscape of service cuts and fare hikes, is the growing number of agencies experimenting with ways to bring better information to their customers. Last summer Streetfilms explored how open transit data is helping to make riding the bus or the train more convenient in several cities.

Today's follow-up looks at how better transit data is benefiting riders in Chicago. The Chicago Transit Authority's "Bus Tracker" system is taking the mystery out of waiting for the bus, providing close-to-real-time information about when the next bus is coming. Riders can access this information online, on their mobile devices, and, in the Wicker Park-Bucktown district, in several cafes and shops.

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Bike Parking Respect in Chicago: McDonald’s Cycle Center

Chicago's Millennium Park hosts of one of the most incredible amenities for cyclists in the United States: McDonald's Cycle Center. So sit back and take a most excellent tour with Bike And Roll's Josh Squire, who manages the facility through an agreement with the city.

It's enough to make bike commuters in many cities drool. The center boasts state-of-the-art showering facilities, secure bicycle parking for 300, a repair station, towel service, is temperature-controlled, and features the constant presence of the Chicago Lakefront Police bike patrol, which shares the facility and maintains its bikes on site. The station is extremely popular, with 500 members at a time and a waiting list of eager riders ready to join. But even if you aren't a member you can still take advantage of the free bike parking, and mechanics are on duty to repair anyone's bikes seven days a week.

If you'd like to read more, the wikipedia entry on it is very in-depth.

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Sunday Parkways Chicago

Streetfilms contributor Nicholas Whitaker went to Chicago to see how thousands of Chicago residents learned what happens when streets turn into parks for Sunday Parkways on Oct 5th and 26th.

By closing down over three miles of parkways to cars for four hours, the event allowed people of all ages and walks of life to step into the streets and experience the richness of these neighborhoods in a more livable way.

Spanning from Garfield Park, through North Lawndale and Little Village, participants danced, rode bikes, played games, exercised, walked, talked and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  After years of hard work, the organizers of this even were able to bring together community groups and citizens to put on this beautiful experiment in livable streets. Here is to an even longer and more frequent Sunday Parkways Chicago next year!