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Posts tagged "Children"

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Montreal’s Popular Pedestrian Open Streets

No wonder they call it the Great White North.

Last month, I journeyed to Montréal, a city I have visited many times in the last three decades, to see how much progress it has made in reining in the car culture, creating more livable communities, encouraging cycling, making roadways safer and, most important, bringing back freedom to inhabitants long oppressed by car drivers.

The changes are amazing — and they are the subject of two new Streetfilms, my 1,000th and 1,001st of my career. The first one is about open streets. The other is about cycling. Both will make New Yorkers drool … or book tickets.

Of course, Montréal has fewer open streets than New York City does, but the open streets in the Paris of North America are much better. Montréal’s 13 open streets are much longer and operate almost entirely car-free — car-free, meaning no parking, either! — 24 hours a day, all summer long.

“It’s about making the city accessible for everyone,” Montréal’s mayor Valérie Plante told me. “There has to be more room for cyclists and pedestrians, and arts and parklets.”

On Montréal’s open streets, you don’t just see people walking or biking as you see in New York, but also art installations, benches, bioswales, swings (with cupholders!), play areas for kids and bollards to keep out the cars.

Bollards to keep out the cars.

“It just brings so much joy and fun and, of course, safe spaces for our kids,” Plante added.

And local business owners confirm that pedestrianized zones bring in more money for struggling merchants.

A 1.5-mile stretch of Mont Royal Avenue is fully pedestrianized, including some side streets. That’s about the same length as New York’s best open street — 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights — but in New York, the open street is still filled with parked cars and only open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., limiting what residents can do, how many can do it and how long they can do it for. There’s a movement to make the open street permanent and 24 hours — a position supported by incoming mayor Eric Adams — but opponents in the neighborhood want the open street reduced or even eliminated.

Montréal proves that the real solution should be to double-down on open streets. Barricades keep the cars out — and don’t require a massive volunteer effort. And instead of dismissing older adults’ worries about getting around, the city provides transportation (via pedicabs) for them.

One final note for all us nerds: Make sure you check out the appearance of former Streetsblog contributor Steven Miller in the Montreal open streets vid

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What do you like about 34th Ave open street?

It was once again time to ask people how much they enjoy the 34th Ave open street in Jackson Heights, so I went out for about an hour yesterday to ask folks to tell me. It wasn't hard to find people to talk since it is one of the most popular things ever in the neighborhood. I only asked that one simple question. Nothing more. But I couldn't believe how many times people used "community" in their answer, I think nearly everyone. (But I had to edit some out due to length constraints.) I think you'd likely find the same answers in just about every open street across NYC. Also: in unsurprising news, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the open streets legislation passed by the NYC Council keeping the open streets program running.

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100+ Bikes Upgraded with Care at Big Fix Day BK in East New York

New York City Bike Mayor Courtney Williams provided the nucleus for Brooklyn's Big Fix Day, an event that brings out bike mechanics to the neediest area of the city, in this case East New York and the surrounding communities, to sponsor free bicycle fixing.

Notably this year, East New York, Brownsville, Canarsie and surrounding communities were hardest hit in Brooklyn by the Coronvirus epidemic. There has been a large toll economically in conjunction with the greater challenges of getting around via transportation and maintaining social distancing.

That's why Big Fix Day BK was so vital to bring mechanics and bike shop stores to the community to fix over 100 bikes for free for residents where every penny counts.

 

StreetFilms
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Touring Delft with the Bruntlett Family: The City That Keeps Cyclists Moving

Streetfilms has known the Bruntlett's for quite some time. In fact, Chris & Melissa, co-authors of "Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality" once told me that the 2013 Streetfilm on Groningen, was the vital juice that motivated them to first visit the Dutch and that wonderful city we profiled.

Now earlier this year the former Vancouver residents have moved to The Netherlands with their children and they have chosen the "smaller" city of Delft (population: 100,000) to reside instead of some of the "bigger" names like Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Why? Well their reasons are myriad but as we biked around it became quite clear what most attracted them to Delft is that the city has really taken seriously the Dutch philosophy of giving bicyclists free movement with limited stoplights, roundabouts and maintaining through movement for people using human power to get around. In many places bikes have the default right of way, the opposite of many countries and cities where they would be required to press a beg button and wait their turn.

So I got to take a great fun tour with the family and all four of them, including daughter Coralie and son Étienne, offered ample reasons why Delft and The Netherlands are so great for their lives and getting around independently.

StreetFilms
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Go Fourth and Ride: Families Celebrate Brooklyn’s 4th Ave Protected Bike Lane

Another Streetfilms Exclusive!

The future is bright in Brooklyn. Children & families came out in a large bunch to ride the NYC DOT's first installed portion of the 4th Avenue Protected bike lane, a lane many community members have been asking nearly 10 years for!

It's hard not to get emotional seeing how if we build proper infrastructure and a bike network and people will come out. Brooklyn Spoke's Doug Gordon and friends organized a short ride to PS 118 and I was surprised to see so many happy faces!

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Life on a Dutch Woonerf (Living Street)

When I posted I was headed to The Netherlands once again to visit (and for my first time to Utrecht,) as usual I got a lot of recommendations on what to look at. One of the first people to contact me was Rebecca Albrecht, who moved there with her husband Paul from Boston about three years ago and couldn't be more delighted to live there.

She mentioned she lived on a Dutch play street (woonerf) and when I looked at the photos she had snapped from the window of her bed & breakfast, my first thought was: maybe this would be an opportunity to get a unique angle from residents since I had ridden on so many similar streets in Amsterdam and in Copenhagen but didn't want to be too nosy.

When I arrived the street was full of neighbors and children and they wanted to talk to me about their lovely street. But this is not something exceptional as over 2 million Dutch people live on play/living streets. So take a gander but be warned: you will want the same thing for your block.

StreetFilms
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Barcelona’s Superblocks: Change the Grid, Change Your Neighborhood

Two years ago, Barcelona announced it would transform chunks of its street grid to prioritize people over cars. The method: superblocks.

When American planners think of superblocks, they probably think of big parcels that disrupt the pedestrian network and discourage walking. Barcelona's superblocks are different. They only limit motor vehicle movement, which makes walking and biking easier and opens up streets for people to gather.

On Barcelona's superblocks, local access for motor vehicles is still permitted, but through traffic is not. The streets are designed to make drivers feel like they are visitors, with narrow rights-of-way for cars. Almost all car traffic is local residents or people with personal business on the block.

Without dangerous car traffic overrunning the streets, generating noise and pollution, superblocks are full of life. Children can play and explore. Seniors and people with limited mobility can relax and socialize. People -- including young kids -- can feel safe and confident riding bikes.

I visited Barcelona in June, when some of the initial, temporary superblock treatments were being made permanent in a nine-square-block section of the street grid with a lot of public housing in the Poblenou neighborhood. The drone of cars was gone, and you could hear sounds you normally can't in the center of a city. Street life ebbed and flowed through the course of the day and the week.

Barcelona has not installed many superblocks yet. In fact, until recently Poblenou was the only one. A second superblock officially opened in Sant Antoni just days before my arrival, a project tied to the redesign of a public market.

More superblocks are on the way, according to Barcelona officials, with roughly a dozen others in the pipeline. It will be exciting to see this experiment continue to transform Barcelona and show the rest of the world what cities can do when they tame car traffic and put people first.

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Hoboken: Where Safe Intersections Matter More Than a Few Parking Spots

Last week, I happened to be on the other side of the Hudson, cruising the New Jersey waterfront on a Citi Bike, going up from Jersey City to Hoboken and Weehawken, then back.

On the return leg of my trip, I just couldn't believe how comfortable the streets of Hoboken felt as I was biking and walking. One thing stuck out to me: Nearly every intersection has "daylighting," meaning the space approaching the crosswalks is kept clear of cars, so everyone at intersections is more visible to each other. At several intersections in Hoboken, every corner is daylit.

I didn't plan to make a video about daylighting in Hoboken or schedule interviews with city officials. But I had my camera, thinking I could get some nice NYC skyline shots (nope, overcast), and I'm glad I did. I started taping and put together these observations, which I think will be valuable in New York and elsewhere.

Daylighting is a strategy that advocates are well aware of, but city governments hesitate to do it if it means repurposing parking spaces. Even in New York, where most people don't own cars, at a typical intersection drivers are allowed to park right up to the crosswalk, limiting visibility to the detriment of public safety.

Hoboken is showing what a city can do when it prizes safety for everyone above free car storage for a few. It should be the default practice everywhere.

For bonus footage from Hoboken, check out the awesome Observer Highway protected bike lane -- one of the best green lanes I've seen in an American city!

StreetFilms
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The Women’s Ride on Queens Boulevard Takes Aim at NYC’s Cycling Gender Gap

Braving the brisk cold of a March morning, hundreds of people turned out Sunday for the Women's Ride on Queens Boulevard.

The event was both a celebration of women's role in bike advocacy and a call to action. About a quarter to a third of cyclists on NYC streets are women, according to NYC DOT, and this ride sent a strong message that the city can do better.

Watch these highlights from the ride and hear from participants about why cycling matters to them, and how changing infrastructure and culture can make cycling in New York more welcoming for women.

The ride started along the new Queensbridge Park Greenway, traveling through Sunnyside to Queens Boulevard and its new protected bike lanes, before wrapping up at Queens Borough Hall. The route was chosen intentionally: Two significant segments -- in Sunnyside and on Queens Boulevard approaching Borough Hall -- are slated for safer bike infrastructure this year, but local politicians have been waffling on those projects. Participants want to make sure these important bike connections get built this year.

Thanks to all these organizations for putting on a wonderful event:

Transportation Alternatives Queens Volunteer Committee
Ciclistas Latinoamericanos de New York
Make Queens Safer
Bike New York
Queens Bike
Jackson Heights Beautification Group
New York Cycling Club
NYSBRA Juniors
Women's Adventure Cycling Club
Trips for Kids
NYC Youth Cycling
Eastern Queens Greenway
Families for Safe Streets
WE Bike NYC
Mujeres en Movimiento

StreetFilms
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Listen to these New Yorkers ideas of what we should do next for safe streets!

As many of you know, here in New York City there was an overwhelming reaction to the horrible tragedy in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where two young children were killed by a red-light running driver. Numerous events held, including a large NYC March for Safe Streets, put together by Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets and many other community partners. Hundreds of people joined in an incredible show of emotion and anger, and there were many suggestions on what we need to do next as a city and state.

The clips here show five short revealing conversations I had with pairs of people and their ideas about what needs to come next. All of their relfections were smart, sobering and perfectly appropriate.

If you are Mayor de Blaiso, Governor Cuomo, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, a council member on the city council or one of the thousands of community leaders out there, you should take a quick listen. I'd say implement all of what these people have to say.

In order to save our children and save all of us, it is a good start point.

Read more...

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Stop the Child Murder: Kids Lead the March for Safe Streets

Last night hundreds of New Yorkers marched in Brooklyn for safer streets. In the lead were kids, mourning the loss of other kids — 13-year-old Kevin Flores, 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein, and 20-month old Joshua Lew were killed by motorists in the first three months of 2018.

In this Streetfilm by Clarence Eckerson Jr., Families for Safe Streets member Amy Cohen — who lost her son Sammy when a driver struck him in 2013 — likens yesterday’s march to the Dutch movement to stop the killing of children with automobiles the 1970s, which led to dramatic and sustained decreases in traffic deaths.

We can reshape our streets and our laws to protect children’s lives too. As you can see in the video, New Yorkers are ready for bold action to prioritize people over cars.

At Monday’s event, city leaders including Council Speaker Corey Johnson pledged to do what it takes to prevent further loss of life on NYC streets. To make good on that commitment, they’ll have to reform a system where even the most basic safety improvements are subject to the whims of people whose top priority is preserving curbside parking.

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After Another Tragedy, Park Slope Residents Demand Safe Streets

Over 100 New Yorkers turned out this morning for an impromptu rally to demand that Mayor de Blasio take action to rein in reckless driving on Ninth Street in Park Slope, where yesterday a motorist ran a red light, killed two small children and injured their mothers.

Organized by Doug Gordon, a.k.a. Brooklyn Spoke, the crowd gathered outside the Park Slope YMCA, where de Blasio works out most mornings. As Doug says, these folks are tired of excuses from DOT, which allots two lanes for parked cars on Ninth Street but says there isn’t room to designate space for bike lanes.

As you’ll see in the video, the protest got the mayor’s attention. Whether he’ll live up to his Vision Zero rhetoric remains to be seen.

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The Netherlands Megamix Bike Montage

Over the past five years, I've visited several great cities for cycling in the Netherlands. One thing you'll notice if you go to places like Amsterdam, Groningen, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Nijmegen is that there are a lot of kids biking.

Contrary to what advice columnist and bike lane opponent Amy Alkon has been spouting on Twitter, there's no evidence that biking with kids in the U.S. is more of a hazard than driving with kids. And if you're really concerned about children's safety, you shouldn't be trying to put a stop to bike infrastructure in your neighborhood.

I hope this short "Netherlands Megamix" montage, culled from some of my favorite shots and including some never-before-seen footage, helps bring home the idea that in countries with sane transportation policies, the goal is to make cities safe for people of all ages to bike, not to banish parents from cycling with their kids.

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Nijmegen: The City That Tamed Cars So People Can Walk and Bike Where They Please

This Streetfilm was a pure joy to make, and it really snuck up on me. Nijmegen, a small Dutch city, was never on my radar. But I found myself in town last month for the Velo-City 2017 conference, and it was a marvel.

The car-free center of Nijmegen is full of street life. Kids play and ride bikes without giving it a second thought. People just don't have to worry about cars. Nijmegen has accomplished this by devising a system where essential motor traffic, like buses and deliveries, has access to central city streets, but other vehicles do not.

In the city center, bicycling accounts for nearly 60 percent of trips, according to Sjors Van Duren, program director of Velo-City. The stories of these smaller Dutch cities "are not often told," he said, but they should be. The extent to which Nijmegen has prioritized walking, biking, and transit -- and kept car traffic at bay -- is something every city should strive for.

So I started interviewing as many people as I could -- residents and visitors -- about their experience in Nijmegen, to show what it's like to live in a city where cars have been tamed and people can walk and bike where they please.

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Streetopia: Reclaim Your Streets! (Streetopia Kickoff Promo)

Welcome to Streetopia the new push to drastically reimagine our city streets as places for people, with more efficient transport and safety for children & seniors to recreate and live. This is the "kickoff" promo, one of five we produced for the event.

The below paragraphs were so excellently written by Streetsblog's David Meyer in the article "Envisioning NYC Next Streets Revolution" that I'll now just lift those paragraphs below to describe some of why Streetopia is upon us.

About 12 years ago, a coalition of advocates under the banner of the New York City Streets Renaissance set out to transform city transportation policy away from the car-oriented status quo and toward people-first streets. Streetsblog and Streetfilms have their origins in that campaign, propelling a growing public awareness that NYC doesn’t need to settle for dangerous, traffic-choked streets.

While small interventions like signal changes, pedestrian islands, and safer markings have touched many neighborhoods, only a sliver of a fraction of city street space has been reallocated from cars to other modes. You’re less likely to lose your life in traffic now than 12 years ago, but New York still doesn’t have streets where, say, parents feel comfortable letting a child in elementary school walk a few blocks on their own to a friend’s house.

New York can be a city where everyone from young kids to elderly seniors can get around without fear, where neighborhood streets can be places of congregation and activity instead of motorways. To become that city, we’ll have to shift a lot more street space from cars to transit, biking, and walking.