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Biking around Hell’s Kitchen’s New Spaces with Charlie Todd

Last year while filming my NYC Family Cargo Bike documentary, one of the featured people I interviewed by chance was Charlie Todd from the NYC-cool Improv Everywhere group (You can see that most excellent Streetfilm here: https://youtu.be/fBK4RSZN1Do).

Over the last year I've seen him more often as I never realized he was a big bike advocate in his community. So I recently met up with him to go for a ride and warned him I would have my camera with me just in case he wanted to talk about the newest bike and pedestrian facilities going in on Eighth and Ninth Avenues in Hell's Kitchen. Well we ended up talking quite a bit about how the lanes work and how they have supplanted older facilities which didn't work for either mode.

Charlie is also now a member of Manhattan's Community Board 4!

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See The Dramatic Street Changes Happening in Hoboken & Jersey City (See the Vision Zero Cities Bike Tour)

At Transportation Alternatives' Vision Zero Cites Conference in October, some session attendees opted to see some of the transformative progress going on just over the Hudson River in the cities of Hoboken & Jersey City. The bike tour drew am overflow crowd and what they got to see were ample treatments & policies in both cities - a few of which you will see here.

In Hoboken, now into its 5th year of no traffic deaths of any kind (pedestrian, bike or motorist), conference riders got to see the significantly safe streets - much of which is attributable to the process of daylighting, not allowing car parking at the intersections of streets to make people more visible.

New Jersey State Law prohibits parking in or on a crosswalk, between a safety zone for pedestrians and adjacent to the curb or within 20 feet of the safety zone’s end. 25 feet from an intersection.

In Jersey City (which Streetfilms has paid many visits to) they have continued to roll out protected bike lanes continued at a great pace since 2019 using various types of protection for riders. That not only includes armadillos and jersey barriers but in some instances concrete barrels. Both cities are also using a type of green paint product called endurablend which provides cyclists with more friction and lasts longer than traditional paint.

Please enjoy the filmed tour which comes with Streetfilms exclusive, dramatic BEFORE footage showing how much the streets have changed in spots.

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SEE the NYC Garbage Pilot (PSA)

Just a short one minute PSA showcasing how badly trash has taken over our sidewalks and one of the new solutions being pursued by NYC. Open Plans' Sara Lind met me in the Financial District to search for some huge garbage piles but since we both wanted to see the debut garbage bins in Union Square so we jumped on Citibikes to see it for ourselves. As you can see it removes lots of clutter from the sidewalk in a nice, handsome manner.

 

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NYC Needs a Central Harlem Bikeway on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd

On Saturday Transportation Alternatives held a bike rally asking for protected bike lanes for the residents of Harlem, the neighborhood with the least amount of protected bike lanes in all of Manhattan.

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Pittsburgh: The Steel Bicycling City

Recently, Streetfilms returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since 2014 just to see what is going on and any cool stuff that has happened since. Didn't really plan anything out, just met up with a few folks to ride and did a lot of rolling on POGOH e-bike share for majority of the days.

Saw a lot in the span of 60 hours (and also flipped over the handlebars on a bike thanks to a badly placed parking concrete curb, healing up) Here's a list of some of the cool things you'll see in this Streetfilm!

- Celebration of Bike PGH 20 Year Anniversary

- Pittsburgh's Bigelow Blvd Might Be the Most Complete Street in the USA

- POGOH Bike Share Relaunches with E-bikes, Stations do the recharging

- Montage: Riding Most of Pittsburgh Downtown Bridges

- Serpentine Drive....Now ONLY for Bikes & Peds!

- Pittsburgh's "Steps": 800 Public Staircases

- Won't You Be My Neighborway? (Cool Bicycle Routes Through Alleys & Low-Traffic Streets the Mister Rogers would love)

- Asphalt Mural in Friendship Calms Traffic at 5-Way Intersection

- Hazelwood Green: Planning Bike Infrastructure for the Future

 

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Paris vs NYC: What It’s Like to Bike

People have been visiting Paris for centuries for the food, the wine, the museums, the cheese and even the snails, but when New Yorkers head to the City of Light these days, all they see are the bike lanes.

That’s what a half-dozen envious Gothamites told Streetfilms upon their return from the French capital for his new movie, “Paris vs NYC: What It’s Like to Bike” Double-wide bike lanes! Contra-flow bike lanes! Bikes lanes on car-free streets! Bike lanes bike lanes bike lanes.

But when you see great bike lanes in Paris, you’re not just looking at good transport policy. You’re seeing the future. “They are building the city they want to see, not the city as it is now,” Kate Fillin-Yeh, a Harlem resident, told Clarence Eckerson in the viral video below. (Fillin-Yeh knows something about cities: She’s director of strategy at NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials.) But Fillin-Yeh is hardly alone in wishing New York would stop designing the city to accommodate existing road users — 75 percent of all space for car drivers, for example, rather than the majority of space for bus riders, pedestrians and cyclists — rather than the mode share the city claims it is trying to achieve for its non-car-using majority.

Also appearing in the film is like a Streetsblog Hall of Fame of talking heads: Mike Lydon of Street Plans, New Third Avenue advocate Paul Krikler, Queens bike advocate (and Queen of Twitter) CJ Wojtkowski, and, Streetsblog Editor Gersh Kuntzman. Check it out below, and share it with Mayor Adams. (This text reprinted from StreetsblogNYC)

 

 

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School Streets: Making our Streets Safer for Children

Just look around the world with the massive school streets movements in London, Paris and Barcelona, and it is easy to see that making the arrival environment outside safer for students to walk and bike is a popular idea.

Whether it is fully reconstructed streets with new curbs and sidewalks that physically prevent cars or open streets adjacent to the school or even just temporary closures for a few hours in am/pm during pick up and drop offs cities around the world are attempting strategies to calm traffic and create better uses for their streets then just throughways for cars. Even in NYC where the number of crashes and deaths near schools are much higher than other times when school is not in session, thanks to open streets we are seeing some promising projects near schools.

 

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SCHOOL STREETS: Safe Space for Kids to Thrive (Teaser, short version)

Just look around the world with the massive school streets movements in London, Paris and Barcelona, and it is easy to see that making the arrival environment outside safer for students to walk and bike is a popular idea.

Whether it is fully reconstructed streets with new curbs and sidewalks that physically prevent cars or open streets adjacent to the school or even just temporary closures for a few hours in am/pm during pick up and drop offs cities around the world are attempting strategies to calm traffic and create better uses for their streets then just throughways for cars.

Even in NYC where the number of crashes and deaths near schools are much higher than other times when school is not in session, thanks to open streets we are seeing some promising projects near schools. In this "School Streets" Streetfilm we take a look at a few of those and the push by neighborhoods to make this happen, including the many schools that run along the now legendary 34th Avenue open street in Queens.

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Paris Bike Ride with Stein van Oosteren

In my fifth Streetfilm from my Paris trip, I was honored to bike ride around with author and Uber-advocate Stein Van Oosteren to see some of Paris’ best bike lanes and hear some of the background on each.

It was quite an epic journey of three hours, finishing just before the temps crested 90 degrees. Please check it out and be in awe of their wide wide bike infrastructure, you will be glad you did. Keep in mind, this was during the height of the summer and a holiday week and many people informed me that the cycling numbers were likely 25% lower than typical since many Parisians had left town.

As for Stein, feel free to check out his book (currently only in French) “Porquoi Pas le Velo?” (Why not the Bicycle?). And here are two more links to find out more about him!

TED TALK:
https://www.ted.com/talks/stein_van_oosteren_replacer_les_velos_dans_la_ville
HIS BOOK:
https://dutchcycling.nl/knowledge/blogs-by-experts/a-book-to-persuade-why-not-the-bicycle/

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The Peaceful Pedestrian Plazas of Paris: Lessons for Your City

Continuing our Streetfilms series of looking at Paris, we already present our 3rd (of a half dozen expected) video short.

While in Paris, Streetfilms met up with Open Plans Founder, Mark Gorton, and recorded this impromptu look at the pedestrianized/low traffic streets of Paris after walking for nearly a half hour continuously and only seeing a handful of vehicles.

Mark gives us his evaluations and observations on how so much better the city has become by implementing policies that favor all forms of transportation and modality versus accommodating the car everywhere for every trip and allowing it to dominate the landscape.

And as a reminder: Paris plans to repurpose 50% of its current car parking bays by 2026 for alternate uses.

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NYC’s Bike Lanes are too narrow, see how Paris widened the Rue de Rivoli

I just got back from Paris to bike around (many Streetfilms coming) and it is so much fun to ride on some of their newest super-wide bike lanes. The comfort level is amazing - none so much as the Rue de Rivoli which is now 2/3rds dedicated to the movement of all sorts of wheeled-devices including bicycles of course.

In NYC we have some bike lanes that are overcrowded (to be kind) and outright getting dangerous & scary to ride on (during rush hours). In the last year I conducted three bike counts over a 30 minute period which shows the number of bikes & other users to be nearly on par with the number of cars who have the majority of the roadway. See this article among many: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2021/03/31/cyclists-agonistes-new-video-shows-that-first-avenue-also-needs-wider-bike-lanes/

So this is my pitch to NYC's elected leaders and the administration, let's take a lesson from Paris where they have been doing much more to make bike riders more comfortable - which of course leads to more people riding, fewer crashes and a reduction in pollution (and ultimately less car ownership).

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Join Pari Roller as they Skate, Bike, Roll & Scoot the streets of Paris!

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Revisiting Bicycling in Minneapolis: One of USA’s Top Bicycling Cities

Minneapolis has not had one cyclist death in over 2 years!

It is certainly one of NYC's best cities to bike in and getting even better with commitment to on-street protected or sidewalk-level paths. It has also instituted a 20mph speed limit on all local roads, except where signed or controlled at the state level.

I got to take a wonderful 3-day trip (although one day it hit 100 degrees) and there were still so many people out. Of course this film does not look at what it is like to ride during the Winter (many of the people in this film said they do) but if you want to gauge that there are many other videos to choose from.

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Scott Ambinder Has Docked At All 1,674 Citi Bike Stations

Scott Ambinder's dedication to Citi Bike is impressive. For one, he has docked at least once at all 1,674 locations throughout NYC (and New Jersey's Hoboken & Jersey City!) He's a fountain of knowledge when it comes to where stations are and what the neighborhoods look like around them. And certainly an expert on how to use the app, score membership extensions and where to look to see when a new station activates in the network.

He was always an avid Citi Bike fanatic but in the Summer of 2020 - and already a top 1% user and with Covid raging throughout NYC - he looked at the new City Explorer Map launched by Citi Bike and started pondering whether he could eventually return his bike at each docking station. Soon after he began strategizing how to attack specific neighborhood grids to maximize the number of stations on daily jaunts. But he added another impressive wrinkle to his accomplishment: he never used mass transit to start or finish his journeys (except to cross the river to NJ to get across the Hudson.)

Scott is only one of three Citi Bike members to crest the 1,600+ mark.

Streetfilms followed him around for a few hours on two days to talk about his unique feat and enthusiasm for City Bike. (Editors Note: as you will discover in the film we met one weekend after Scott offered an incredibly kind gesture of help!)

Towards the end of the film, Scott answered Streetfilms fans questions submitted for him to answer.

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This Might Be NYC’s First Pool Noodle Bike Ride! (It is!)

Wowsers! Been living in NYC for 30 years and this is the first time I have ever heard/been to an organized "Pool Noodle Ride"!

The exciting thing is it is happening in a place you don't normally see advocacy rides: Ridgewood, Queens! Deep on the border between Queens & Brooklyn where there is a huge lack of protected bike lanes - or frankly much of anything that is safe for bike riders. Take a look.

Mollie who bikes nearly every day in Ridgewood just meant for this to be a "practice ride" with a few others. But word got out on Twitter fast and 15 others showed up to attach a noodle and try it out.

My own experience: I rode 7 miles home after covering this and definitely felt like some drivers were extra cautious : many going by more carefully than I am used to and actually creeping over the double-yellow line to proceed. Of course, not a real fix and the NYC DOT should be immediately putting in some safe bike lanes throughout the district! Molly is already planning another ride to combine noodles with another awesome trend in cities across the globe: "Pool Noodle-Protected Family Bike Bus"!