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Posts tagged "Streetfacts"

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Looking back at our “Streetfacts” Series!

A few years back we decided to make a short series of four Streetfilms we christened "Streetfacts" trying to once again to give some great tools to our loyal followers, while attempting to showcase a different style of animation, charts, photos, video and written narration to tell our stories.

They did moderately well, but not as highly successful as we hoped. Thus in this blog post we present them all one page to see if they'll possibly catch fire. There are lots of great facts and topics, we highly encourage you to sample the first two and keep going if you like what you hear.

The "Streetfacts" hit upon some eclectic items we thought were good to highlight. 1) That protected bike lanes are now being installed in smaller cities and towns. 2) That Americans are driving less, a fact that seems to be taking hold in advocates heads the past few years.  3) That building roads is a money losing proposition.  4) That children have lost the freedom to roam - which was surprisingly the bit hit of the series!!

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Streetfacts #4: Children Have Lost the Freedom to Roam

Think of this Streetfacts chapter as a PSA about how, in just a few generations, we have tightly restricted American kids' freedom to roam, play, and become self-sufficient.

The percentage of children walking and bicycling to school has plummeted from almost 50 percent in 1969 to about 13 percent today. Although distance from school is often cited as the main barrier to walking and bicycling, many families still drive when schools are close to home. According to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, driving accounts for about half of school trips between 1/4- and 1/2-mile long — which in most cases shouldn't take kids much more than 10 minutes to walk.

There are plenty of factors at work here: Lack of sidewalks and safe walking and biking routes. The fallacy of "stranger danger." School districts banning walking and biking outright. But all of these problems lead back to the original and biggest blunder: We continue to design our cities and towns for cars instead of for children, families, and human beings.

Look for more Streetfilms on this issue in the next year.

StreetFilms
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Streetfacts #3: Roads Are a Money Losing Proposition

The majority of the roads and highways built in America are simply bad investments. Continuing this pattern will only ensure that wasteful projects consume larger chunks of our federal, state, and local budgets, without addressing the real need for transportation options.

This Streetfacts chapter has a bit more math than usual, but we think we've made an entertaining and accessible profile of how government agencies routinely justify unnecessary road projects. The example we've chosen to illustrate the problem is a federally-funded "diamond-diverter" interchange in Colorado. The project as proposed may look like a pretty good deal for taxpayers at first, but after crunching the numbers, you'll see that's not the case at all.

Much of the inspiration for this piece comes from the outstanding work of Strong Towns, an organization that emphasizes obtaining a higher return on infrastructure investments. Strong Towns Executive Director Charles Marohn, Jr. has been getting his message out through what he calls curbside chats, and we'll soon be debuting a Streetfilm that features his work.

StreetFilms
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Streetfacts #2: Americans Are Driving Less

We continue our Streetfacts series by looking at the data on driving in the U.S. Beginning in 2005, per-capita driving has declined every year. That's not a blip, it's now an 8-year trend.

The reason? Neither the state of the economy nor changes in gas prices offer a satisfactory explanation. Social preferences and demographic shifts seem to be playing a role. Young people today are less likely to own a car or have a driver's license than young people several years ago. At the same time, America's growing population of seniors are no longer in their peak driving years.

Whatever the combination of factors, people are riding transit, walking, and bicycling more. Even magazines like Motor Trend are examining the shift away from cars.

The upshot is that we need to start making smart transportation investments that align with the new reality: Americans are driving less.

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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.