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Posts tagged "Pedestrian Safety"

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#Sneckdowns Before and After: The Final Storm

After a decade of documenting nature's traffic calming, I decided to go out to the snowy streets of Jackson Heights for one final Streetfilm about the craze we helped start: sneckdowns! There's a new wrinkle in this installment -- before-and-after images to show how dramatically the snow changes the dynamic of the street.

If you're new to sneckdowns, it's a portmanteau of "snow" and "neckdown" (a technical term for a corner sidewalk expansion). A nice snowfall constrains the area where motorists take turns and provides clear visual evidence of where street space can be repurposed for walking instead of driving, creating much safer intersections in the process.

Sneckdown spotting is now a global phenomenon. To get a sense of how it all started, you may want to check out the first two Streetfilms in the series:

And the rest is history -- which I recapped in this post from 2014.

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The Pulaski Bridge Protected Bike Path Is (Finally) Open!

Today was a milestone for traveling between Brooklyn and Queens, as NYC DOT opened the Pulaski Bridge bike path to lots of cheers with a celebratory ride.

Before today, the Pulaski Bridge walking and biking path was dangerously congested, with more pedestrians and cyclists crammed on to its narrow right-of-way every year. The solution? Convert one lane of the roadway to a two-way bike lane, making the original path exclusively for walking. Read up on the project in Streetsblog's coverage of the grand opening.

If a lane of the Pulaski can be taken from cars and given to active transportation, the same can be done on other bridges. One place I'd love to see NYC DOT tackle next? The insanely crowded bike-pedestrian path on the Brooklyn Bridge is begging for a solution like this.

 

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Peatónito in NYC: Protecting Pedestrians in the Crosswalk

Peatónito ("little pedestrian") might be the most beloved figure in the world of street safety. How can you not love a superhero who protects pedestrians from cars?! Since donning the cape and luchador mask three years ago, he's become a media sensation in Mexico. This week he's in New York City for Transportation Alternatives' Vision Zero for Cities 2016 conference, and Streetfilms was lucky enough to squeeze in this exclusive whirlwind walking tour of Brooklyn and Queens streets showing him in action.

Jorge Canez, the man behind the mask, has been a pedestrian advocate in Mexico City for quite a while. He's been involved with many tactical urbanism-type of interventions, like painting crosswalks with his own spray can. As Peatónito, he's attained a new level of fame for gently scolding drivers, escorting pedestrians though dicey intersections, and pushing cars (or occasionally walking over the tops of cars) to make motorists more aware of their transgressions.

Come along for a fun short as Peatónito hits the intimidating streets near Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the constantly blocked bike lanes on Jay Street by MetroTech, and crosswalks in Jackson Heights, Queens, helping children walk to school.

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Watch what this group of frustrated Vision Zero activists did to get their Community Board’s attention!

For many years, residents of Manhattan's Community Board 7 have been frustrated by the lack of transportation initiative from the leaders of their board. So after many years of trying to work within the boundaries of the system they decided to stage a silent sign protest at February's board meeting.

Since Community Board members are rarely not re-appointed, their positions are essentially for life - meaning that newer and progressive ideas often aren't seriously considered. On the Upper West Side residents are sick and tired of the transportation arm of their board voting against sensible traffic calming and livable streets measures that save lives.

 

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Sometimes #Sneckdown Dreams Come True!

Ah yes, that's the now-famous "Snowy Neckdown Redux: Winter Traffic Calming" Streetfilm above. As you may recall, I shot the video in my Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights a few years ago to demonstrate how we could extend our curbs further into the streets to slow drivers and shorten pedestrian crossing distances. Then the idea completely blew up this winter with the #sneckdown hashtag causing a media sensation.

Now, as you can see in this series of photos, I can report some unexpected progress.

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In the last week, curb extensions have sprung up at many of the intersections I documented in the video (and photos). It looks like neckdowns will be installed at 81st, 82nd, 83rd, and 84th streets on 35th Avenue, a stretch that has seen its share of car violence, and maybe more are coming.

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Slowing traffic in this residential area is especially important. There are many schools nearby, and lots of senior citizens crossing 35th Avenue. And this type of traffic calming is perfectly aligned with the new 25 mph default speed limit set to take effect in NYC this fall.

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People in many other cities did their own photo documentation of sneckdowns this winter. It'll be interesting in the coming months and years to see if sneckdown mania helped lead other local DOTs to take action. Let me know via @Streetfilms on Twitter using the #sneckdown hashtag or tell us about it here in the comments.

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NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Makes Historic “Vision Zero” Announcement

In 2013, NYC recorded a record-low 333 homicides, yet at least 286 people lost their lives to traffic violence. In a press conference on January 15, Mayor Bill de Blasio said it's "shocking to see how much those two numbers correspond."

In announcing his first steps to implement Vision Zero, the goal of eliminating traffic deaths, he said, "The first obligation of government is to protect the health and safety of our people, and this is an area we simply have to do better. We think there is an epidemic here, there has been an epidemic of traffic fatalties and it can't go on. And the time to start change is now."

The mayor made the announcement near the site where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed by an unlicensed truck driver in a crosswalk last month while walking to school. The site is not far from where three other Queens youth have tragically had their lives taken from them. The mayor met with the families of many people who've lost loved ones to traffic violence.

Here we've assembled some highlights of the event, which also included NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and incoming NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

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The Metamorphosis of NYC Streets

There's nothing more dramatic than looking back five or ten years at Streetfilms footage to see how much the streets of New York City have changed. In this wonderful montage, check out the incredible changes at Times Square, Herald Square, the Brooklyn waterfront, and many other places that outgoing NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and her staff have intrepidly transformed.

We have similarly high hopes for Mayor Bill de Blasio as he takes office, and look forward to what he and new NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg accomplish. Even though so much has changed, the vast majority of our streets still need to be rethought and redesigned. We need more space for efficient modes, slower speed limits, and traffic calming for our most vulnerable citizens. I hope this short gets them excited to top the transportation record of the Bloomberg administration.

Please note: This is but a short sample of the before-and-after footage at our disposal. Seriously, we could have put together a one hour version!

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Shifting into High Gear at Pro Walk Pro Bike 2012

Nearly 1,000 transportation professionals, advocates and placemakers gathered in beautiful Long Beach, CA for the Pro Walk Pro Bike conference last week.  Streetfilms caught up with attendees to find out what some of the hot topics were at the conference in in their communities.  Of course, we couldn't talk to everyone, so let us know what we missed in the comments section.

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Self-Reliance Grows in the Utrecht Traffic Garden

In the Dutch city of Utrecht, kids start learning about traffic safety long before they prepare for a driver's license. And not just "look both ways before you cross the street."

The school curriculum includes regular field trips to the local "traffic garden." The City of Utrecht has used this facility, a streetscape in miniature, to teach kids the rules of the road since the 1950s. Students take turns as cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers, learning how to take other types of street users into consideration. The hands-on experience navigating the traffic garden gives kids the skills and confidence to get around the city under their own power as soon as their early teens.

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6th Annual Memorial Ride and Walk

On Sunday, the NYC Street Memorial Project held the 6th Annual Memorial Ride and Walk. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, 151 pedestrians and 18 bicyclists were killed on the streets of New York City in 2010. Participants called for stronger measures to reduce traffic fatalities. The ride culminated by installing a "Ghost Bike" in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall for the unnamed pedestrians and cyclists killed in 2010.

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“Floating Parking” & Bike-Buffer Zones in Separated Cycletracks

While we were out videotaping for another Streetfilm, Gary Toth the Director of Transportation Initiatives with Project for Public Spaces (his resume includes 34 years of management experience at NJDOT) took a moment to give a short explanation on what "floating parking" is, why using it is a very smart budgetary decision by the NYC DOT, and why a buffer-zone exists between exiting drivers and cyclists.

We hope this Streetfilm is a great resource that will help ally many fears this new concept (in the U.S. anyway) is experiencing in some cities.  It shows after a very brief adjustment period that drivers do grasp it.  Along the way you'll see ample, helpful footage of some of the many configurations of the NYC's new complete streets in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

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Zozo wants you to Walk to School!

For those of you who do not yet know him - meet Zozo!  He's Livable Streets' big purple friend who loves anything that gets people out of cars and moving about the streets.  You might find him riding his ZoGo along the new PPW bike lane, sitting out in the pedestrian plaza in Union Square or catching the 4 train to amble about the city.  Or right here on Streetfilms in the next few months as he talks about the best "Way to Go!"

So, what better way to mark this year’s International Walk to School Day on October 6th, than to get the info directly from Zozo. According to our friends at the National Center for Safe Routes to School, this idea began in 1997 when the Partnership for a Walkable America sponsored the first Walk Our Children to School Day in Chicago.  Since 2002, it has become a worldwide event, with schools here in America in all 50 states leading the way for healthier children.  Make sure you get out for Walk to School and walk or ride your bike that day!

For more info, or to register your event that day go to www.walktoschool.org.  In 2009, there were great events in New York City & San Francisco that Streetfilms captured.

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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?

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San Francisco Walks to School

A generation ago, nearly half of all U.S. kids walked or bicycled to school. Today, less than fifteen percent do, with the majority arriving at school in private automobiles. It’s no coincidence, then, that studies show more than a quarter of San Francisco’s children are overweight. But a new program hopes to change that trend, while reducing greenhouse gas pollution and increasing fun.

With the help of a $500,000 grant from the federal government, San Francisco has launched its own “Safe Routes to Schools” program, aimed at encouraging students and parents to walk or bike to school.

At Longfellow Elementary last Wednesday, October 7th, students joined parents on a “walking school bus.” Although the date was part of International Walk to School Day, organizers plan group walks to school every Wednesday—with the ultimate goal of walking to school every day.

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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.