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Posts from the Cars & Parking Category

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Jersey City’s Quick Build Bike Network

Last year in Jersey City, NJ we followed some of the meetings, rides, and community outreach around the development of their ambitious Bicycle Master Plan.

A few weeks ago we paid a visit to see how well implementation is going and despite the complications of Covid, the installation of parking protected as well as barrier protected lanes is developing at a rapid pace.

Already then have completed 10 miles of a scheduled 46 miles of protected bike lanes that will allow folks in Jersey City to get where they need to go safely.

This summer saw a 205% increase in bike counts along the Grand Street PBL/ road diet. Also installed are (likely) the first protected intersections in New Jersey.

Their bike lanes also feature stencils of riders with ponytails alternating with the standard "male" glyphs of riders.

One amazing thing to see (that we admit we wished we would have documented more of) is the incredible 5 block stretch along Grove Street, which runs in front of City Hall, which now features a two-way parking protected bike lane on one side and restaurant dining in the street on the other. The street resembles what you might see in some of the best cities in Europe for people. It is so quiet. Jersey City is doing big things!

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Coronavirus Has Changed Our Streets And We Need To Heed Those Lessons

I live in NYC's Jackson Heights, 11372. Which is currently among the hardest hit zip-codes in the USA for Coronavirus cases and fatalities.

It has been a tough month for many of our neighbors and friends. I get outside for a socially distanced hour every day so I can get footage to show how drastically our streetscape has been altered by the virus — and to make the case that once this is all over, we should never accept how we allocate public space in favor of car drivers rather than the majority of New Yorkers who get around on narrow sidewalks, unprotected bike routes or on buses that are constantly being delayed by people in their own private vehicles.

Under normal circumstances, the world is upside-down — as a result of a minority of NYC car owners, the rest of us are breathing toxic exhaust, getting stuck in their traffic, being killed by their reckless use of steel cages, being terrified just to cross a street, etc. So let's change that. When you see my before-and-after videos, you can see that no one will want to return to the pre-virus status quo. The first step will be to eliminate all unnecessary car trips. Then we can redesign our streets to prioritize long-suffering bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians, who are fighting over crumbs. So many U.S. cities are leading.

It's time for Mayor de Blasio to allow his best city planners take over from do-nothing bureaucrats and allowing the police (most of whom live in the suburbs) to dictate streets policy.

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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.

StreetFilms
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Touring Utrecht’s Disappearing Roadways with BicycleDutch

As you may know I have been editing a monster Streetfilm on Utrecht debuting soon. It will likely be at least ten minutes in length!

But I just hate when really, really good stuff gets left on the cutting room floor and I only get to see it. So a lot of times I release bonus videos or extended shorts of my journeys and I have done many from my Netherlands visit in June.

Usually the extras come after the debut of the initial anchor Streetfilm, but I wanted to get this wonderful personal tour from Mark Wagenbuur out as a sort of teaser. Better known to most as "BicycleDutch" on Youtube, Mark has been a prolific documenter of all things bike and The Netherlands for a very long time. If somehow by now you have never seen his work, you must head over to: bicycledutch.wordpress.com

Anyway, as I was getting to, Mark will probably only be featured for 60-90 seconds in the busy final film, but I wanted to show much of what he talked about road removal and the ideas around keeping drivers out of the city center. So enjoy this!

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TLC Gets Drivers on Bikes to Get a Different Perspective

In a first event of its kind, NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission organized a bike ride thru the streets of East Williamsburg for some of its for-hire drivers so they could see what it is like to be a bicyclist on the streets of New York City.

Even though the Citibikes-riding group selected a route with many protected bike lanes and striped lanes, the route was frequently blocked by trucks, cars and delivery vehicles. And during the more industrial parts of the ride cars went by fast. Both bike advocates and drivers had a friendly discussion during and after the ride.

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Amsterdam’s Removing 10K Parking Spaces: See what that can look like!

On my swing to The Netherlands to visit Utrecht, I planned on just trying to gather up enough footage and talk to a few people in Amsterdam regarding the transportation headlines they made a few months ago when they announced they would be removing from 10,000 to 11,000 parking spaces from the city's core.

I really only planned on perhaps a very short 90 second vid showing a few shots of parked cars and soundbites from a few notable folks in Amsterdam. What I got was so much more. As you will see I got to talk to some amazing folks including Zeeger Ernsting, a City Councilperson for GroenLinks (Green Party) who gave me the story how the initiative came about and told me I needed to visit the Frans Halsbuurt neighborhood where an entire grid of streets now virtually has no parking except for loading spaces (an extremely good idea!) and a few spaces for handicapped access.

The neighborhood has been undergoing a transformation for many years and there are a myriad of reasons why the spot was chosen (in fact I am planning on going back in July to fully document it even more in-depth.) But if you go to Google and check out the street views from 2012 thru this year, you will see car parking evaporate in the final panels. As dramatic and lovely as this film makes it seem I must advise you: it is even more lovely, lush and livable. If you have a chance, go there. See it for yourself.

We need to be thinking about this in every major city. A commitment to start shrinking the number of places we allow parking.

Paging Dr. Don Shoup!

StreetFilms
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Inside the Situation Room: The Making of the War on Cars

When my trio of friends Aaron Naparstek, Sarah Goodyear and Doug Gordon announced they were going to take on car culture in a podcast titled the "War on Cars" of course I was very intrigued. And after the first batch of episodes you know they had struck a nerve and it would be a success.

But as I talked to other people who were listeners, I was surprised that quite a few didn't even know much about the trio's pedigree in the transportation world. Many had never seen them in a photo or in person. So I decided we needed to remedy this situation. So Streetfilms put out the call.

Last week, I was invited to tape episode 17: Infiltrating the Auto Show and very briefly attend their pre-show meet up. As a person in media, it was not only great to get this first exclusive, but also being there to witness what makes a great podcast work, and how much time you need to put into it. I was actually surprised how it all works and how hard it is to balance being entertaining, funny and deadly serious.

So enjoy this very tiny look behind-the-scenes. As a personal note, this is my first time editing using Premiere Pro (after nearly 20 years on Final Cut Pro). So I am bound to look back on this with a more critical eye years from now. But I think everyone will love what they see!

You can sponsor the show on Patreon via www.thewaroncars.org

StreetFilms
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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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Central London’s New Aldgate Square Opens

On assignment in London to cover bicycle superhighways, I once again had the pleasure of a tour with the charming and insightful Iain Simmons, assistant director of city transportation for the City of London. He took me around to several recent projects, including the brand new public space at Aldgate Square, which opened the day before.

London has embarked on an ongoing quest to remake its busiest districts with high-quality public space, taking real estate that used to belong to cars and designing areas where people come first and drivers behave accordingly. The Aldgate project is the latest example, repurposing several lanes of car traffic so people can enjoy themselves outside. What used to be a stressful traffic circle is now a place where people can congregate in central London.

Several areas in New York City are teeming with pedestrians and could use similar treatment -- think of Midtown and Lower Manhattan. The more room we devote to car-free public space, the less people will drive, which is better for everyone.

StreetFilms
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Stop the Child Murder: Kids Lead the March for Safe Streets

Last night hundreds of New Yorkers marched in Brooklyn for safer streets. In the lead were kids, mourning the loss of other kids — 13-year-old Kevin Flores, 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein, and 20-month old Joshua Lew were killed by motorists in the first three months of 2018.

In this Streetfilm by Clarence Eckerson Jr., Families for Safe Streets member Amy Cohen — who lost her son Sammy when a driver struck him in 2013 — likens yesterday’s march to the Dutch movement to stop the killing of children with automobiles the 1970s, which led to dramatic and sustained decreases in traffic deaths.

We can reshape our streets and our laws to protect children’s lives too. As you can see in the video, New Yorkers are ready for bold action to prioritize people over cars.

At Monday’s event, city leaders including Council Speaker Corey Johnson pledged to do what it takes to prevent further loss of life on NYC streets. To make good on that commitment, they’ll have to reform a system where even the most basic safety improvements are subject to the whims of people whose top priority is preserving curbside parking.

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After Another Tragedy, Park Slope Residents Demand Safe Streets

Over 100 New Yorkers turned out this morning for an impromptu rally to demand that Mayor de Blasio take action to rein in reckless driving on Ninth Street in Park Slope, where yesterday a motorist ran a red light, killed two small children and injured their mothers.

Organized by Doug Gordon, a.k.a. Brooklyn Spoke, the crowd gathered outside the Park Slope YMCA, where de Blasio works out most mornings. As Doug says, these folks are tired of excuses from DOT, which allots two lanes for parked cars on Ninth Street but says there isn’t room to designate space for bike lanes.

As you’ll see in the video, the protest got the mayor’s attention. Whether he’ll live up to his Vision Zero rhetoric remains to be seen.

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Unsustainable: Traffic 2018

New York is facing its most serious transportation challenge in decades.

Subway reliability is way down, and the bus system is shedding riders at an alarming rate. And because transit is so unreliable, today New York is accommodating growth in cars, in the form of the tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft vehicles we now find on our streets each day.

It's difficult to even list all the reasons why shifting transportation growth into cars in New York City is a bad thing. Choking the economy with congestion, safety concerns, making slow bus service even worse, poorer air quality - you name it.

For our latest Streetfilm, we spoke with leaders in New York's transportation, labor and business communities to get their take on this alarming trend - a problem "screaming for a solution."

StreetFilms
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Congestion Pricing Was Unpopular in Stockholm — Until People Saw It in Action

It’s natural for politicians to feel squeamish about enacting a big policy change like congestion pricing. People who’ve grown used to free driving privileges defend them loudly, while the potential benefits feel diffuse and uncertain. That may explain why Mayor de Blasio hasn’t warmed to congestion pricing despite its promise to deliver a fairer, safer, greener, and more efficient transportation system.

Stockholm transportation director Jonas Eliasson has some advice for New York officials worried about diving in: Just do it.

Eliasson steered the implementation of congestion pricing in Stockholm in 2006. From that vantage point, he watched a skeptical public quickly embrace the policy as soon as they saw it in action. Eliasson shared lessons from the city’s experience in a talk at TransitCenter last night.

When Stockholm began charging drivers to access the city center, car trips across the cordon dropped 20 percent. Travel times improved immediately, and emissions fell. Contrary to doomsday predictions from Stockholm media and political opponents of congestion pricing, the policy was an overnight success.

Before implementation, public support for congestion pricing had fallen below 40 percent. After a six-month trial period in 2006, more than 52 percent of Stockholm residents voted to make it permanent. By 2011, public support for road pricing stood at nearly 70 percent, and above 50 percent even among people who pay the fees most often.

“The closer you get to implementation, the more the drawbacks stand out,” Eliasson said. “If you survive this valley of political death, and people actually see the benefits, and also realize that, in addition to the benefits, it’s actually not as bad as you thought — it’s not so hard adapting to this — then support starts going up again.”

Pricing worked because the transportation planners who put it together prioritized systemic improvements for traffic and transit over the whims of elected officials and political parties. Getting the details of the pricing system right was too important to leave in the hands of politicians.

“Designing an efficient and effective congestion pricing scheme that actually delivers benefits is not easy,” Eliasson said. Deciding the specifics of where tolls should be placed, the price at which they should be set, and when they should be in effect is “really the job for experts.”

In Sweden, the effectiveness of road pricing helped raise public awareness of the drawbacks of other car subsidies. “It did something to the rationality of transport policy debate,” Eliasson said. “We don’t have debates anymore [about] ‘parking pricing is just philosophically wrong’ — no one says that anymore.”

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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!