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Posts tagged "Manhattan"

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George Hahn: How to Ride Your Bike Like a Gentleman (or a Lady)

Actor. Writer. Minor social media legend. Gentleman cyclist.

This week, Streetfilms tagged along with actor George Hahn for a very special episode: “How to Ride Like a Gentleman.”

In this film, we explore the city with Hahn and learn these valuable tips:

“Don’t ride like a dick.” Don’t roll through crosswalks or frighten pedestrians. There’s no reason for that. “It’s just rude,” he says.
Don’t ride your bicycle on the sidewalk.
Don’t ride against traffic. “It’s dangerous…and rude to everyone,” Hahn says.
Don’t buy special clothes. (Hahn has ridden in a tuxedo, but you knew that.)

Of course, Hahn is courteous to make a point: there is a larger danger on our streets. Watching an SUV driver rudely inch into a crosswalk, Hahn observes the most important rule of the road: “Your destination is no more important than anyone else’s,” he says.

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More NYC Teens are Biking to School

Biking is cheap. Biking is fast. Biking promotes independence and exploration. Biking is great exercise. And, biking sure is FUN! What better way for New York City's teens to navigate the city and get themselves to school?

This generation is politically active and solutions-oriented. The last few weeks, we've been interviewing students - some in Queens, some in Manhattan on the Hudson River Greenway, some biking across Central Park. All of them joyful and appreciative of the time away from screens, feeling the wind in their hair and connecting with nature and those around them.

One notable incentive for these students? Schools that provide indoor, secure bike parking (here's looking at you school administrators!). Our goal is for each and every teen to have the option to safely bike, walk, scoot to school. That means we need a connected, protected, low-stress bike lane network in each and every neighborhood in this city. The city's future depends on it - quite literally.

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Manhattan’s 1st Ave Bike Counts Show Bikes Need More Space

A new vehicle count on First Avenue showed that cars and trucks barely outnumbered bikes, despite drivers getting almost 12 times as much space on the uptown roadway — the second East Side roadway whose mode split reveals the need for wider bike lanes and less room for cars.

In the latest count — which follows a similar eye-opener from Second Avenue last week — a crew from Streetfilms set up at the intersection of First Avenue and 60th Street for a total of 42 minutes. The results? There were 698 cars, trucks, vans and such, and 561 bikes and scooters.

That’s basically 1.2 vehicles for every bike or scooter — even though the bike lane is roughly 1/12 the width of the entire roadway. (And the flow of two-wheelers will only grow as the weather gets warmer and as more people head back to offices for work.)

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How to Ride Your Bike Like a Gentleman (or a Lady)

This is a fun video. Some etiquette. Some style. Some advocacy. But all fun!

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Future Streets: Little West 12th Street in NYC’s Meatpacking District

Little West 12th Street in the Meatpacking District has been transformed from an underused open street into a bustling, lively hangout thanks to 5,000 square feet of donated sod — Exhibit A in the open-and-shut case for more car-free streets in pedestrian-majority neighborhoods.

It’s a pleasant place to sit or stroll — and it’s good for business. “There’s an organic visual appeal — you see a street like this and you want to walk down it,” said Jeffrey LeFrancois, the executive director of the Meatpacking Business Improvement District, which created the one-block vision of utopia as part of the “Future Streets” collaboration of the American Institute of Architecture, the American Society of Landscape Architecture and the American Planning Association.

The block-long stretch between Washington and Greenwich streets has been largely transformed — first by the elimination of car storage (which still typically mars the de Blasio administration’s “open streets” program), then with the installation of tables and a large, grass-covered seating area on the western end of the block. That’s created foot traffic, which creates more business. “We’ve had twice the normal number of customers,” said Courtney McKamey, the manager of the Little West Wine and Spirits on the block, who provided a reminder that businesses that rely on walk-in customers have no need for streets filled with parked cars.

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The Streets Have Changed: A NYC Bicycle Journey During the Coronavirus

I hadn't been on my bicycle in over a week, choosing to walk and run for exercise during the Coronavirus (and observing recommended precautions) but I was curious what my normal commute looked like. So on Friday I chose to get my exercise by bicycling in to Manhattan and brought my camera along as I visited many spots I might typically do if scouting for great locales to film footage for a Streetfilm.

The amazing thing is I have so much archives of New York City that in many cases I had exact matching footage from the last few years of each location or spot, showing what it looks like typically (or in some cases showing what it looked like before the streets received an intervention from NYC DOT) and in some cases is pretty mind blowing.

I hope this Streetfilm (likely the final "new" one shot until the world heals) is entertaining, gives you hope and stretches your mind to what is still possible when we emerge from this pandemic.

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Madison Square Before & After Pedestrian Plazas (and more!)

Check out this video montage showing how horrible and inhumane Madison Square/Flatiron Building area was for pedestrians & cyclists in 2007 compared to now!

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The Smashing Success of NYC’s 14th Street Busway (featuring Zardoz)

Since just about everyone around the world has been asking where is Streetfilms' coverage of the 14th Street Busway, the true answer has basically been: just about everyone else did such a pretty good job documenting (and mostly loving) it, that I really felt this one didn't need my input or care. The world really is changing. And social media - particularly Twitter - really branded it a great change for the city on Day One: for transit users, pedestrians and bicyclists using the corridor.

But then my kid found and starting playing with this sock puppet from over 10 years ago. And, well, Zardoz, our fun and enthusiastic sock puppet correspondent was born.

From 6am thru 10pm only buses, trucks, delivery vehicles and EMS/FDNY are able to use it as a thru route. All others must turn off after only traveling one block. This still allows for drivers and car services to access the entire street, but they need to exit which has led to a vast improvement of bus speeds. But not only that but a more human environment. It can be very quiet at times. You can hear birds sing, people talk to each other. With due care you can easily cross the street almost anywhere on the corridor without fear of being killed.

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The Case for Dedicating the Queensboro Bridge’s South Outer Roadway To Pedestrians: Now!

In the 1990s, cyclists fought hard to finally gain access to the Queensboro Bridge when the city dedicated one of its 10 lanes to shared bike & pedestrian use.

That was acceptable back when few commuters used those modes on the bridge. Now?

More than 5,400 cyclists crossed the Queensboro Bridge daily in 2017, a 35% jump from five years earlier. And easily another thousand or so run or walk.

Advocates want the NYC DOT to convert another lane from car use and make separate biking and walking paths on both sides of the bridge. The DOT is said to be open to the idea, however it would take up to two years to implement. That is too long to wait.

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The Climate March: A Streets Perspective (2019)

Where can you find the ONLY coverage of NYC's Climate Strike including a Manhattan march, a group bike ride and PARKing Day 2019 all wrapped in one tidy package?

(And also shot only by human power over 5 hours at dozens of locations?)

Well right here on Streetfilms my friends. Enjoy!

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Street Transformations – Union Square (NYC)

Going thru the archives found some really great "vintage" footage to put together yet another episode in the Street Transformations series, this one looking at the positive transformation of the roads that encircle Union Square.

Rewind to 2005 when I was really starting to dive in to the work that would become Streetfilms. I decided to tape a big Community Board meeting to announce the results of a year long traffic study to see the feasibility of extending Manhattan's Union Square north, specifically making two-way 17th Street, one lane, one-way west and adding ample footage for a sidewalk, an extension of Union Square or both.

The "livable streets crowd" really thought this would be a big win but alas - NYC DOT reported other than installing a barnes dance crossing and some small signal timing changes, that 17th street, 19th street and other nearby streets would suffer unacceptable "levels of service" according to the federal guidelines in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) handbook. In another word "gridlock"!

Of course back then the MUTCD factored very little for pedestrians & bicyclists and discounted livability in favor of moving traffic along at any cost, a huge complaint of sensible transportation advocates.

But as we all know since then, New York City has had a decent renaissance on its streets. Both NYC DOT Commissioners Janette Sadik-Khan and Polly Trottenberg have progressively chipped away at road space for vehicles and added two-way protected bike lanes on two sides, pedestrian plazas, a unique ped/bike one block only section on Union Square West and, yes, extended the park north as was once hoped for all those years ago.

This look back reveals the danger of relying solely on the MUTCD when evaluating cities and their neighborhood streets. NACTO under Sadik-Khan's leadership started a process to broaden the accepted techniques other cities have employed thinking creatively with pilot including paint, bollards, boulders and protected bike lanes.

In the end, what the real failure of the 2005 decision by NYC DOT is the fact that they projected traffic to grow over the ensuing ten years. No one questioned that. But in fact later as NYC slowly deemphasized Broadway as a through route of travel and removed some parking, it actually became easier to see that predictions of traffic Armageddon were not true. And besides: even if traffic on some streets did go up a bit, wouldn't it be worth it to the tens of thousands of pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users to have a much more peaceful journey?

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Clusterf*ck on Varick Street: The Case for Congestion Pricing

“If you’re looking for the place that shows the failure of New York City to have any sort of traffic management policy, this is the spot.”

That’s Doug Gordon, a.k.a. Brooklyn Spoke, who recently joined Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson Jr. in Lower Manhattan to document the lunacy at the intersection of Varick, Carmine, and Clarkson streets, where drivers converge to inch and honk their way toward the Holland Tunnel.

There’s a toll on the inbound Holland Tunnel, but driving outbound is free. The main distortion stems from the free rides across all the East River bridges, along the length of Manhattan, and the east-bound Verrazano Bridge.

Put it all together, and New York’s network of free roads and one-way tolls turns this neighborhood into a perpetual funnel for drivers who pay nothing to travel through the congested heart of the region. There are neighborhoods like it everywhere streets feed into free crossings into or out of the Manhattan core.

Says Doug: “This is what happens when you don’t charge people anything to drive through Manhattan.”

By putting a price on driving in the most crowded parts of the region, congestion pricing would thin out these car trips and divert a lot of this traffic to highways, where it belongs.

But after establishing his own panel to come up with a congestion pricing plan, Governor Cuomo chose not to put any muscle behind its recommendations this year. Assembly members like Lower Manhattan’s Deborah Glick, who represents this area, continued to sit on the fence as their constituents suffer from crushing gridlock.

Thanks to do-nothing state electeds, New Yorkers who drive and the car-free majority both continue to be subjected to chaotic, dangerous, stressful conditions like the clusterfuck on Varick Street.

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The Car-Free Central Park Victory Lap

For about eight more weeks, drivers can still use parts of the Central Park loop as a traffic shortcut. Then, on June 27, that’s it, the exhaust spewers need to clear out.

Would it be nice to enjoy a car-free park a little sooner, during these mild spring days full of flowering trees? Sure. But this interim period at least gives us some time to let the enormity of the 50-year campaign to get cars out of Central Park sink in — and to boo lustily at the people who are still driving on the park loop, knowing their days are numbered.

This morning, car-free park advocates went out with Council Member Helen Rosenthal for a victory lap. Or, as indefatigable advocate Ken Coughlin called it, the last protest ride for a car-free Central Park.

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No room for peds on NYC’s 8th Ave so they walk in Protected Bike Lane

Can you really blame pedestrians on 8th Avenue?

For a few hours at rush hour in the am/pm the protected bike lane is filled with walkers since they are forced off the dense sidewalks due to the astronomical number of commuters and residents on them.

This of course turns the protected bike lane installed a few years ago into a virtual nightmare of dodging people. But look carefully, in the 30 minutes we were there pedestrians try to be as accommodating as possible walking in the null zone between bikes and parked cars. Cyclists, too, try to make their way slowly (most of them).

It has to be frustrating for all of them. But the true enemy is, as Mark Gorton points out in the video, we have given far too much of the street to vehicles and drivers. Both pedestrians and cyclists should be angry with NYC's administration for allowing this to happen.

At least one more driving lane (and maybe two!) should be given to widen the sidewalks.

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2004: bikeTV Examines the dangerous Manhattan Bridge bike entrances

Here's one from the archives from my bikeTV days (2001-2006) when we had a group of advocates strongly advocating for better safety measures for the access points to the new Manhattan Bridge shared bike-ped path on the south side.

I did an entire episode on entrance/exits to all five East River bridges in 2004.  Here you can see particularly dangerous conditions on Brooklyn side competing with 18-wheelers and fast cars coming off the ramp.  Some of the footage is scary as vehicles hit the curb.  On the Manhattan side it would be a little bit safer if NYPD vehicles weren't parked everywhere possible on the sidewalks surrounding the bridge access points. But a simple stop sign you will see does nothing to slow cars.

Of course these days for bicyclists the path is now on the north side and is pretty much wonderful after years and years of continued improvements. You can see many of those in this "4 Boro Protected Bike Ride" at the 2 minute mark of this awesome 25-mile tour!