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Posts tagged "Gil Peñalosa"

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Meet Some of the “100 Most Influential Urbanists” via Streetfilms!

Recently, Planetizen named their 100 Most Influential Urbanists of all-time, based on public voting off of a list of 200 nominees. Jane Jacobs won. As she should have.

Whether you believe the list is correct or has some people ranked too kindly or not at all, it has been circulating like mad on Facebook and other social media. Of course, when I took a look at the list, my first thought was how cool it was that Streetfilms had interviewed or featured dozens of them.  So if you want to learn or see many of these individuals in action, take a gander at the films below!

2. Jamie Lerner

The renowned urban planner became mayor of Curitiba and implemented their BRT system which we explore in this popular Streetfilm. But I selected the more intimate video we did on the story of Curitiba's first pedestrian street since it has lots of him.


4. Jan Gehl

In fact, there are many Streetfilms that have featured Gehl over the years. The film below is one of four I made - in five days - while in Copenhagen in 2010.  But our first with him was the most important: an influential video we cut of him  evaluating a horribly un-friendly-to-people Times Square in 2005 with Mark Gorton! In many ways it helped ignite the livable streets renaissance that NYC has been moving towards since.


10. Charles Mahron

About five years ago, Streetfilms first met Chuck, and we could tell he was an original thinker with ideas about our cities we needed to help spread. I thought he would make an interesting subject and followed him to a few cities.


12. William H. Whyte

Holly Whyte passed before I became deeply immersed making videos about urbanism and transportation. But since I always admired the simple language he used in his book "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces", I wanted to honor him with this montage of my favorite shots that matched the words in his book.


13. Donald Shoup

The undisputed expert of parking policy was part of our plan early on to highlight how ample free parking was a hurdle to having better cities. We interviewed him the first time he came to NYC and the 2nd time we did I decided it was time to take out some matchbox cars and show visually some of his concepts.


16. Janette Sadik-Khan

As NYC DOT Commissioner, we were perfectly positioned to watch the meteoric rise of Janette Sadik-Khan and how she introduced progressive public space initiatives and changed Times Square, Madison Square & brought us Summer Streets and more! She easily holds the record for appearing in more Streetfilms than any other person and  you might as well chalk all of this up to her,  Here we feature one of her first sit down interviews in 2008 with Mark Gorton about her work.


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The Results of our 1st Ever Viewer Survey

Thanks to all those who took the time to fill out our viewer survey we posted in early 2016. We figured it was about time to get to know you. How many videos do you watch per month? What are your favorite transportation topics? Who are your favorite livable streets superheroes?  (Full disclosure, mine is the indefatigable Gil Peñalosa!)

We'll put out much of the information over the next few weeks, but check this out, today we are releasing our very first infographic where we have published some of the key nuggets!!  You guys are really freaking interesting! This info is really valuable moving forward planning for the future. Please take a gander and pass along.



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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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Streetfilms University: The “Simple” Art of Editing (YOU can do it!)

The first thing I like to emphasize to folks when they come to see me at conferences to give my Streetfilms University presentation is that if you have a little bit of patience, really anyone can make and edit a decent short film. Even with little or no experience. Sure, perhaps not to a "Streetfilms standard" right off the bat, but believe me: if you put the time in, you can edit and make a successful and perfectly watchable advocacy tool.

One method I like to use is playing videos showing a progression of clips, each step showing the transformation of a talking head interview to its placement within a Streetfilm. First, I play the raw soundbite I was working with. Next, I edit down my taking head and remove extraneous information to make a sleeker, faster answer. Then, I show what it looks like with b-roll (footage), sound and/or graphics edited in to showcase the final Streetfilms product.

This above clip is of Professor Norman Garrick from the University of Connecticut. He's easily become one of my favorite people to interview and this featured edit progression is from my recent Streetfilm "Zurich: Where People are Welcome and Cars Are Not." You'll see how I took a one minute soundbite and edited it down to 27 seconds with five edits. Then what it looks like once music and footage of transit & city life is ladled in.

There are many ways and styles to edit a film. But as a beginner don't get bogged down much on what music you are gonna use or how you are gonna begin the video or fancy animated graphics or kinds of transitions/fonts/titles you want. Just concentrate on your interviews. Edit them down to tell the story you want to. All of the other elements will actually be easier to decide once you have soundbites lined up. Trust me. There's not much sense putting effort into editing a fancy 20 second opening montage to your video and then saying to yourself, "Okay, now what?"

Here's another edit progression I've included, this time featuring three of transportation greatest heroes from the Streetfilm "The Rise of Open Streets". watch how three perfectly wonderful sound bites at a length of 1:12 sound even better at 33 seconds, and then the momentum it picks up by adding the appropriate corresponding footage.

I'm not saying this approach is the best for everybody, but it 's simple and always works. And you can duplicate it. Just be aware that it may take listening to a soundbite dozens of times to find out what to remove. Or better yet: letting the video sit and sleeping on it and coming back with a fresh set of eyes and ears. Just like a college term paper!

This final "riding interview" sequence I am attaching not to recommend you try for yourself (after all I've been doing this for 15 years) but it does illustrate how you can make magic happen. This is a clip of fellow media maker Chris Bruntlett I shot while riding in Montreal's Tour de l'Île. I accidentally had a GoPro recording during our chat and later when I realized I had the two angles, I wanted show what I sometimes endure and navigate while in the midst of my job. Nevertheless, the final product shows how adding in the right video b-roll helps tell the tale. Enjoy!

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The Rise of Open Streets: 8 Years of Ciclovia Videos on Streetfilms

A few weeks ago we posted our newest video "The Rise of Open Streets,"  a joint production with The Street Plans Collaborative and the Alliance for Biking & Walking.  We're excited to announce that sometime in March there will be a collection of our open streets films available on DVD for communities to use in public showings and presentations. If you need to get your community psyched that should do it.  But if you can't wait, you can always download ANY of our films FREE now directly via Vimeo by using the download button on individual posts.

Streetfilms journey in to the world of ciclovias all began during the Summer of 2007, when Ethan Kent from the Project for Public Spaces wrote an article about his experience riding the ciclovia on a trip. That got me super curious. So a few months later Gil Penalosa, now the Executive Director of 8-80 Cities, gave us a mammoth tour of - well of everything - which led to a series of great Streetfilms from Bogota.  Until last month, Ciclovia was the most popular Streetfilm of all time!

But there have been many more since. Our greatest contributor/freelancer John Hamilton has done phenomenal coverage over the years.  He's done videos in San Jose, San Francisco, Berkeley, and this latest one (above) from Oakland. He shoots the majority of his footage while rollerblading.  Sometimes it gets me jealous how good it looks.

I've been very fortunate to travel the world and experience many in my work with Streetfilms. I think my favorite - and that is really like saying "What is your favorite pizza?", because there is SO much good pizza - was my 2011 trip to Guadalajara.  The energy on the streets was amazing, nearly undescribable.  And I got to see things I hadn't seen in many other open streets events. For example, kids getting free haircuts!

If you'd like to watch more, please do. Here's an easy link to bring them up. And good luck if you are trying to make an event happen in your city!

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The Rise of Open Streets

Streetfilms has been documenting the open streets movement for over seven years, beginning with our landmark film in 2007 on Bogota's Ciclovia, currently the most viewed Streetfilm of all time.

The next year, Mike Lydon of The Street Plans Collaborative decided to get an open streets event going in Miami, which led to his research for The Open Streets Project, a joint project with the Alliance for Biking & Walking.

Miami wasn't alone. In 2008, there were new open streets events in more than a dozen cities, including San Francisco, Portland and New York. All told, open streets events have increased tenfold since 2006.

"The Rise of Open Streets" examines the open streets movement from myriad perspectives -- how it began, how events are run, how they shape people's perceptions of their streets, and how creating car-free space, even temporarily, benefits people's lives. And it looks not only at big cities like Los Angeles, but smaller ones like Fargo, Berkeley, and Lexington.

We've interviewed some of the most important people in the movement, including former NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and former Chicago DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein, as well as former Bogota Parks Commissioner Gil Penalosa and Enrique Jacoby, from the Pan American Health Organization.

We were proud to partner with The Street Plans Collaborative and the Alliance for Biking & Walking to produce this film, which we hope will encourage even more open streets events throughout the world. Funding for "The Rise of Open Streets" was graciously provided by the Fund for the Environment & Urban Life.

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Vancouver’s Velo Vision: Safe Biking for All Ages

In June, the city of Vancouver hosted the Velo-City Global 2012 Conference, where international cycling planners, professionals and advocates convened.

Streetfilms partnered with the city to produce this video about Vancouver's investment in bicycling. Easy and convenient transportation is key to their status as one of the world's most livable and sustainable cities. In 2010 they introduced their downtown separated bike lanes. And since, cycling has become the fastest growing mode of transportation in Vancouver.

The city's investment in bike infrastructure is paying off and city leaders continue to set their goals high. The city's Cycling Vision includes developing new bicycle and greenway networks, building ample bicycle parking, making access to transit easier, prioritizing cycling education and promotion, and creating a friendlier pedestrian environment with more livable neighborhoods.

The end result is a city where cycling is safe, convenient, comfortable, and fun for people of all ages and abilities.
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Streetfilms Q&A: Gil Peñalosa, Executive Director 8-80 Cities

Gil Peñalosa is the Executive Director of 8-80 Cities. He's appeared in a dozen Streetfilms and was highly instrumental in assisting production of our trilogy of Bogotá films in late 2007/early 2008.  His indefatigable dedication on our five day trip really helped put Streetfilms on the map.  He currently serves on our Streetfilms advisory board.

Tell us a little about 8-80 Cities?
GP: 8-80 Cities is a Canadian based non-profit organization with an international outlook. Our goal is to contribute to the creation of vibrant cities and healthy communities, where residents live happier and enjoy great public places.  We promote walking and bicycling as activities and urban parks, streets and other public spaces as great places for all. We are proud to have many Streetfilms on our website - as an example, this month we included Melbourne: A Pedestrian Paradise.

You give presentations in dozens of cities per year and feature Streetfilms.  Why?
GP: People say an image is worth a thousand words; well, a Streetfilm is worth a million! The magic of Streetfilms is the ability to explain complex topics in a simple way, which seems equally interesting to PhDs, politicians, activists, media, and citizens in general. Quite often it’s hard for people to imagine situations without seeing them, and video is the next best thing to being there.

 So why do you think they work effectively?
GP: Because people can see examples, pause, repeat, and in a short meeting see many world examples. Last week, I was in Johannesburg and one day we did a workshop on Open Streets/Ciclovia. In a few hours we saw Streetfilms on the programs of Bogota, Guadalajara, Portland, and New York City. The participants understood what I was talking about and the follow up discussion was much more valuable.

Any memorable stories or comments?
GP: I have shown Streetfilms on all continents, including audiences of elected officials and decision makers, community activists, media, staff from multiple departments such as public health, planning, transportation, education, finance, and I always get positive feedback. In fact, afterwards people are eager to get to Streetfilm's website to continue studying best practices from around the world.

This Streetfilm above Copenhagen's Car-Free Streets & Slow Speed Zones really features Gil at his best, exploring the city and talking about what makes a street and place wonderful.
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Via RecreActiva: A Transformative Ciclovia for Guadalajara

In Spanish/en Español: click here.

Watch this film in Spanish Guadalajara, Mexico is showing how amazingly transformative a ciclovia-style road closure can be for its citizens. In 7 years, their inaugural Sunday event Via RecreActiva has grown from just 7 miles with 35,000 participants to 41 miles with 400,000 users every Sunday. It goes from 8 am to 2 pm. It covers 6 municipalities. The diversity of activities features traditional ciclovia staples like aerobic classes and music, but also some new wrinkles including free haircuts for children and a city that clearly knows how to hula hoop!

Another unique aspect of this story is that one of the forces behind the success of the Via RecreActiva is a civil association called Guadalajara 2020, a group of primarily made of  business owners, real estate people and entrepreneurs who envision Guadalajara to be a healthier, greener and more humane city.

That mission includes bringing better transit to the city, making it safer to walk & bike and create equality and empowerment among its people. Perhaps it is best put by Guadalajara 2020's President, José Palacios Jiménez, who told us:

"...we would like to be able to remove the cars from the entire city. Because with all the information we manage to get, we are able to understand that the biggest problem of humanity are the cars."

Guadalajara does feature  public spaces on par with the greatest in the world, but also faces many extraordinary challenges with horrible traffic and unsafe pedestrian environments on nearly every street.  It's refreshing to see business folks not only speaking out and understanding the real solutions, but investing their funds to create an organization like Guadalajara 2020.

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Copenhagen’s Car-Free Streets & Slow-Speed Zones

In Copenhagen, you never have to travel very far to see a beautiful public space or car-free street packed with people soaking up the day.  In fact, since the early 1960s, 18 parking lots in the downtown area have been converted into public spaces for playing, meeting, and generally just doing things that human beings enjoy doing. If you're hungry, there are over 7,500 cafe seats in the city.

But as you walk and bike the city, you also quickly become aware of something else: Most Copenhagen's city streets have a speed limit of 30 to 40 km/h (19 to 25 mph).  Even more impressive, there are blocks in some neighborhoods with limits as low as 15 km/h (9 mph) where cars must yield to residents.  Still other areas are "shared spaces" where cars, bikes and pedestrians mix freely with no stress, usually thanks to traffic calming measures (speed bumps are popular), textured road surfaces and common sense.

We charmed you last month with our look at bicycling in Copenhagen, now sit back and watch livable streets experts Jan Gehl and Gil Penalosa share their observations about pedestrian life. You'll also hear Ida Auken, a member of Denmark's Parliament, and Niels Tørsløv, traffic director for the City of Copenhagen, talk about their enthusiasm for street reclamation and its effect on their city.

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Walk To School Day NYC with Rahzel

In New York City, about 80 percent of kids walk to school. This is amazingly high compared to the national average of about 13 percent.

On October 7, over 40 countries celebrated International Walk to School Day. In New York City, Livable Streets Education and the National Center for Safe Routes to School hosted a walk to school celebration in Washington Square Park in conjunction with the Walk 21 Conference.

After students participated in activities promoting better urban mobility, Gil Penalosa spoke to the students and beatbox master Rahzel performed.

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Walk21 NYC: World Pedestrian Leaders Take Manhattan

With all the recent, remarkable livable streets improvements to the streets of New York City, it's no surprise the 10th annual, Walk21 Conference chose us for its host digs. Visitors and attendees were treated to a cornucopia of pedestrian street infrastructure to salivate over and debate; including tours of the recently opened High Line to a special visit to the soon-to-be-restored High Bridge. Featuring a plethora of speakers, design charrettes and walking workshops, the three-day event drew experts from the UK, Austria, Japan, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Italy, and Australia, just to name a few.

We were able to speak with the organizers and as well as conference registrants, and also got to a chance to chat with some of those on the marquee such as Jan Gehl (Gehl Architects, Copenhagen), Janette Sadik-Khan (Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation), Kristina Alvendal (Vice Mayor of Stockholm) and Gil Peñalosa (Walk and Bike for Life, Ontario), about the future of walking and the vital importance of this conference in inspiring world leaders.

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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!

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Ciclovía (en español)

Recientemente tuve la oportunidad de visitar a Bogotá, Colombia para documentar los cambios que se han realizado en la última década. Bogotá se ha transformado en una ciudad más habitable, un lugar en el mundo conocido por sus espacios públicos, su sistema de transporte progresivo y lo que esto le ofrece a sus residentes. Esta transformación fue lograda en parte por un evento que se llama la Ciclovía. Cada domingo para la Ciclovía, Bogotá cierra 70 millas de sus calles al tráfico automovilístico y se las abre a gente para que puedan conocer y disfrutar de Bogotá mientras caminan, montan en bicicleta, corren, patinan y se reúnen con amigos y familia sin tener que preocuparse del tráfico.

Para mí, ser parte de la Ciclovía realmente fue una experiencia inolvidable. Disfruté mucho de mi compañia ese día – que incluyó el infatigable Gil Peñalosa (¡Sí, el hermano del ex-alcalde de Bogotá!). Gil y su equipo nos prepararon un programa bien complete y nos proveyeron acceso sin comparación a gente y lugares que ayudó a que esta película pequeña fuera más de lo que me imaginé.

Cuando reflejo en este viaje me recuerdo de la felicidad de la gente. Cada corredor de la Ciclovía estuvo lleno de personas sonrientes . 1.8 millones de Colombianos participan cada domingo en la Ciclovía para liberarse del estrés, para mantenerse en buena salud y para conectarse con otros ciudadanos. Los Bogotanos se entusiasman mucho por la Ciclivía y hasta tienen el dicho “no tenemos playa pero tenemos Ciclovía”.

Estando aquí de nuevo en Nueva York, sigo soñando en un Nueva York donde los residents, jovenes y mayores, ricos y pobres, peatones y ciclistas, tendrían la oportunidad cada domingo de compartir y disfrutar de sus calles en la misma manera.

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Summer Streets 2008 (NYC)

Feeling remarkably similar to Bogota's Ciclovia, the New York City Department of Transportation held its first Summer Streets event on Saturday by opening 7 miles of city streets to pedestrians and bike traffic only. From 7 AM to 1 PM, roads were car-free from 72nd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge with Park Avenue serving as the backbone of the route. Our Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is the real deal - she spent the entire day riding a bike around the course (and even said some nice things about me to my mom.)

We'll spare you the 200 adjectives we could list about how transformational it was, for it was beyond anything on the printed page. The general consensus was that the event succeeded beyond even the most hoped for expectations and would pass even the most pessimistic of measuring sticks. A page has been turned, clearly there is no doubt: the future will hold many more large scale street openings for pedestrians, cyclists, runners, children, dog walkers, dancers, and any other reasonable livable space use.

The swarms of people and happy faces made for much positive energy. Around noon, some blocks were getting very crowded, but there was a general courtesy that existed between pedestrians and cyclists. The city built it - and the people came. And they smiled a lot.