Watching the fuel-injected, car commercial leaden NFL on a Sunday afternoon usually doesn't yield too many spots that gets a livable city advocate/filmmaker excited, but the last two weeks there's been an extended ad running in heavy rotation for the Samsung Gallery S7 that makes me swoon.
See it below, the spot "A Perfect Day" features teens rolling around Brooklyn neighborhoods (and a bit of Queens!) on their bikes integrating copious technology into their day. The montage has been garnering some attention because it contains a nice cover of The Pixies "Where is My Mind" by Nada Surf, but I love it because of how it showcases New York City as an increasingly better place for people to bike and have impromptu interactions on our diverse neighborhood streets.
These young folks are happy. They have transportation freedom. They're part of their neighborhood, their city. They have adventure. And...there's no helicopter parenting going on here. I love this ad. It's the city I want to live in, and thanks to much of what has gone on in the past decade in NYC, this ad shows we are headed there.
Yeah. I'll admit, this is a commercial shot on closed streets. Biking around New York City isn't quite nirvana yet, but evidence is out there as you see more kids on bikes all the time. But imagine this spot even being conceived in 2005? Yeah, I don't think so. The ad director would have been laughed at.
If this is the future, please dial me in.
Not to be too depressing, but let's end with a quick contrast. What was the very next spot? A Black Friday spot for Dodge. Two families dangerously race their SUV's down a commercial strip. It's titled, of course, "Duel Race".
Any safety critic can hit the same notes here. The spot might be good for a cheap laugh, but gunning your SUV between two lights? Condoning racing for your scowling kids? Yeah, considering just how many people we've lost on our roads due to reckless driving Dodge should be ashamed. I guess they figure since they're only gunning it between red lights this qualifies as legal driving, but we all know it's not.
Just compare the two spots, which place do you want to live?
With our big 10th anniversary StreetsBall coming up Monday, November 14th, I thought it would be good to dip into my personal photo vault and look thru 1000s of snapshots over the years and bring you some rare behind-the-scenes highlights. Some of these photos haven't been seen in 5 or 10 years - and very few published.
Transportation Alternatives Bike Rides: Back in the early part of our work, in an effort to get more people on bikes, we often covered many of T.A.'s rides. Here is me with Paul Steely White, Executive Director in 2005 the day before the Tour de Brooklyn rallying volunteers. The next day, I documented the ride wearing quite a exotic costume and even posed with Marty Markowitz (note: this is well before he and others went apeshit on the Prospect Park West protected bike lane.)
Park(ing) Day: In 2006, I was in San Francisco to document REBAR's awesome yearly event which reimagined parking spaces as public spaces to rest, relax, play music, or whatever. This idea inspired cities across the United States and the world to not only take back their streets for a day, but to find places where they could be made permanent and the then a process to make parklets was wildly successful.
Pedestrian & Bike Advocacy: Transportation Alternatives started holding many rallies and actions, specifically at City Hall to attempt to get the city's leaders to pay attention. They started becoming masters of the visual, like this one from March 2007.
Intersection Repair: In the Summer of 2007, I got to travel to Portland, Oregon, a place I had been frequenting much due to their bike infrastructure which was easily the best in the United States at that time. I was there for a weekend of the Village Building Convergence where neighborhoods took back their streets by painting intersections with beautiful street murals meant to help slow traffic but also to create natural gathering places among communities to hold parties, weddings and special events!
Bogotá's Ciclovia: In the Fall of 2007, I ventured with Streetsblog Editor-in-Chief Aaron Naparstek, T.A's Karla Quintero and Project for Public Space's Ethan Kent to witness this supreme open streets event which closed off the city to cars every Sunday morning. The films gathered from this trip (also including Bus Rapid Transit) essentially were the big ones that eventually made Streetfilms a world name. We got to meet former Mayor Enrique Peñalosa on the trip and were led around by his indefatigable brother Gil Peñalosa, both famous for their many appearances on Streetfilms over the years.
Janette Sadik-Khan: At this point NYC Dept. of Transportation had a new Commissioner, the now legendary Janette Sadik-Khan! And as we all know, she was ready to bring it to New York City's streets! Here she is early in her campaign at T.A.'s Tour de Bronx with Jon Orcutt who as her Policy Director would become instrumental in helping implement many of the eclectic revolutionary ideas we all had been seeing emerge from around the world! Below is a shot of me on that same ride grabbing a solitary moment to ride on the closed down Sheridan Expressway. (more…)
— Streetfilms (@Streetfilms) October 31, 2016
*-that I could find on Twitter
It seems every year I see more and more bicycle infrastructure and transportation themes being made into inventive Halloween costumes! So much so this year I decided it was time to cull the best I saw on Twitter over the three days of Halloween celebration.
I'll point out a few things that are the most frequent "dress ups" in our transportation world in 2106: 1) little kids dressing as trains, 2) people dressing as some sort of bike lane (or sharrow) and 3) this year especially saw lots of people dressed as New Jersey's "Bridgegate" either as Chris Christie with the bridge itself in one form!
My personal winner is #FreshKermit (see above) from my friend Jessame Hannus. A term Streetfilms coined! But what follows are some that really standout out of 100s I saw. But I'm sure they'll be plenty of folks posting other links and photos. And please do!
— Sarah Aida Gonzalez (@GonzalezSarahA) October 31, 2016
— David Killmon (@kohidave) October 31, 2016
— Climb Credit (@ClimbCredit) October 31, 2016
— rare haunted map (@drooliet) October 30, 2016
— PDX Transportation (@PBOTinfo) October 31, 2016
— Olivia Perez (@imoliviaperez) October 31, 2016
It's kinda crazy, but if you had told me ten years ago that I would have nearly 70 Streetfilms made that feature Protected Cycle Tracks, I'd likely say 1) how could I ever accumulate that amount of output and 2) why would you need that many? And yet, here we are, and we do!
Not only is there a large cache just waiting for you, but the quantity and style of the lanes are quite diverse. So I invite you to use this link as a great resource. You can embed, download and screen Streetfilms wherever you like for free (we just ask that you do not re-edit them in any form without permission.) We have a lot of folks across the country and world using them, yet I'm still stunned more advocates aren't taking advantage. Please do so and even drop us a line telling us how and where you are using!
Would it help if I provided a curated list? Below I have embedded just a small sampling from some interesting options I've seen over the last few years, but this is just the tip of the bike lane. So make sure you go full list if this isn't enough to provide you with the information you need.
Every since last year's announcement that the city of Oslo, Norway was attempting to make its city center car-free by 2019, I knew that it had to be a Streetfilms destination this year. It did not disappoint. As usual I got to interview a quality mix of residents from Oslo's new Mayor Marianne Borgen to owners of Oslo Velo's bike coffee shop to the night clerk at my hotel who was a big fan of the city's decision to go as car-free as possible.
I think you'll love what I got. You can expect a moderate-length Streetfilm from Oslo sometime near the end of September, but until then I have a few other extra bits to share, some tangentially related to the story. The above video is excerpted from my excellent interview with Frode Hvattum, the Head of Strategy for Ruter (Oslo's transit agency) and in the background of the interview I saw how quickly buses load/unloaded in the downtown. And since we have been partnering with TransitCenter on a number of Streetfilms, I just had to ask about it.
The above photo is me riding with Sverre Landmark, who works as Market Director at Aspelin Ramm, a large developer of responsible urban spaces and properties. People usually assume that I have lots of free time while traveling to do all sorts of sightseeing and take in plenty of culture. That's mostly not the case. But this time I did get one nice treat when Sverre took me on a bike ride from the city's reservoir system (only 8km from the city) down the Akersevla River, many refer to it as "Oslo's Central Park."
Likewise, I got to have a bit of fun while shooting video at the top of Oslo's Opera House which turns out to be one of the most magnificent public spaces I've ever been to. Here is a very short bit on my hike up, as you can see the view is lovely.
Oslo has a great new bike share system which translates to City Bike. It's their second such system and much like Washington, DC on their second try, they really got it right. It's a wonderful bike. Light, steady and an incredible density of docks and bikes in the downtown core. Everyone is biking about the city using them. The phone app for it is nothing short of incredible, while approaching the dock you can sign in and reserve a bike as you are walking up. Seriously, until I knew that's how it worked I thought people were going up and just stealing whichever one they wanted!
By the way, Oslo's City Bike was my 24th city bike share ridden in the world. Earlier in this trip I also got Malmo (22nd) and Copenhagen (23rd). I will hopefully be adding Vancouver (25) and Seattle (26) in September. Now I'm not sure if that makes me a world leader, but surely I must be a viable contender! I have two close friends (Aaron Naparstek and Ian Dutton) who have entered the low 20s as well.
Please check back often, so much more coming this Fall!