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George Hahn: How to Ride Your Bike Like a Gentleman (or a Lady)

Actor. Writer. Minor social media legend. Gentleman cyclist.

This week, Streetfilms tagged along with actor George Hahn for a very special episode: “How to Ride Like a Gentleman.”

In this film, we explore the city with Hahn and learn these valuable tips:

“Don’t ride like a dick.” Don’t roll through crosswalks or frighten pedestrians. There’s no reason for that. “It’s just rude,” he says.
Don’t ride your bicycle on the sidewalk.
Don’t ride against traffic. “It’s dangerous…and rude to everyone,” Hahn says.
Don’t buy special clothes. (Hahn has ridden in a tuxedo, but you knew that.)

Of course, Hahn is courteous to make a point: there is a larger danger on our streets. Watching an SUV driver rudely inch into a crosswalk, Hahn observes the most important rule of the road: “Your destination is no more important than anyone else’s,” he says.

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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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Two Promos & a Streetfilm from GoHuman!

This year I had the opportunity to work on two promotional videos for the "Go Human" campaign from SCAG, the Southern California Association of Governors. The above is the version featuring footage/photos from nearly ten events we helped document.

The campaign encourages Southern Californians to use human-powered transportation and change how people see other modes of transportation. They operate in many cities and do many types of events including open-streets events, traffic calming demonstrations and using tactical urbanism to educate people.

One Streetfilm you may remember from earlier this year was a long excerpt I did while covering one of their events in Riverside, CA where the town was experimenting with new crossings including a pedestrian scramble. It was well received by residents and visitors who were exposed to the concept.

We also produced a wonderful instrumental version for SCAG to use. That one is below. Enjoy!

 

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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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How to Build a Thriving, Equitable Bike-Share System

Bike-share has the capability to expand access to jobs and transit for communities in need of better transportation options -- but only if the system is set up and operated in an equitable way. Our latest collaboration with the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) examines how to build a thriving, equitable bike-share system.

At the end of June, the Better Bike Share Conference brought together advocates, employers, and experts in the field to share ideas and strategies about how to improve access to bike-share. We interviewed a dozen leaders about what bike-share systems are doing to overcome barriers to use, and what more needs to be done.

NACTO has some great resources available for people who want to take a deeper look at issues of bike-share and equity, including papers on:

This Streetfilm features footage of nearly a dozen bike-share systems, but primarily Indego in Philadelphia, Citi Bike in New York, and Capital Bikeshare in DC. As part of the filming, I got to ride along with Black Girls Do Bike NYC for a Citi Bike tour from Bed-Stuy to Red Hook in Brooklyn -- you can see more scenes from that ride in this short.

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NACTO Previews the “Global Street Design Guide” at Designing Cities 2015

In October, NACTO held their 4th annual "Designing Cities" conference with a record 650+ attendees from all over the world. This year's event was in Austin, Texas which showcased many of the recent transportation improvements the city has done, including the new 3rd Street protected cycle track which you can see via this link.

As usual the event focussed on what people can learn from best practices in cities all over the United States & the world featuring plenary speakers such as Janette Sadik-Khan and Philadelphia Mayor Micheal Nutter as well as panels, city tours and the NACTO Camp which is an unconference which allows attendees to propose their own topics for discussion.

One big highlight of 2015 was the announcement of the impending release of the "Global Street Design Guide" which is the culmination of years of NACTO research in 46 diverse cities around the globe. Much like their "Urban Street Design Guide" in the U.S. which helped change the playing field for cities and states wanting to move away from highway design manuals for re-making streets, the new guide hopes to do the same for cities across the world.

As Janette Sadik-Khan explains, "It is a new operating code for cities across the world to use in redesigning their streets, rethinking their streets and implementing safe streets that work for everyone."

The Global Street Design Guide can be pre-ordered at the following link on the NACTO website.

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A Thousand New Yorkers Call for Action on Vision Zero

A crowd estimated at 1,000 people strong gathered in Union Square yesterday evening to remember victims of traffic violence and call for preventive action at the Vision Zero Vigil, organized by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets.

The message was simple: Traffic crashes and the suffering they cause are preventable. We can’t accept life-altering injuries and the deaths of loved ones as unavoidable “accidents.” Robin Urban Smith was there to capture it for Streetfilms.

New York’s streets are getting safer, but not fast enough. With 123 traffic deaths and more than 23,000 injuries so far in 2015, the city has to do better. There’s much more the de Blasio administration can do with street design and traffic enforcement to rapidly reduce the scale of traffic violence. Hopefully last night’s gathering left an impression on DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYPD Deputy Inspector Dennis Fulton, who were both in attendance.

Aaron Charlop-Powers, whose mother was killed by a bus driver while she was biking in the Bronx five years ago, closed out the vigil with a call to carry the momentum forward. “We aren’t asking for your condolences,” he said. “We are asking for your action.”

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It’s Smart to Be Dense

As the world’s population continues to urbanize, our cities have two options for growth: densify or sprawl. To accommodate a more populous and more prosperous world, the spread-out, car-dependent model of the 20th century must change. In this video, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and Streetfilms team up to bring you the most important reasons for building dense.

If you like this one, don't miss our other productions with ITDP:

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Right of Way Installs 2014 Memorial Wall to 264 Victims of NYC Traffic Violence

On Saturday, Right of Way posted silhouettes along a Kent Avenue construction fence representing all 264 people known to have lost their lives to traffic violence in NYC in 2014. Each image was identical, save for victims’ names and crash dates. Smaller silhouettes were posted to represent children killed by drivers.

It was a very emotional scene as members of Families For Safe Streets came by to assist and passersby took in the power of the visual.

At one point during the installation, a truck driver hit the mural wall, and after about 15 minutes trying to make a turn, proceeded to drive up the Kent Avenue protected bike lane, one of the busiest bike routes in the city.

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Mary Beth Kelly on NYC’s 25 mph Speed Limit (Families for Safe Streets)

In this 90 second PSA, Mary Beth Kelly, one of the founding members of Families for Safe Streets, shares her opinions on how she would like to see driving practices change when NYC institutes its historic, citywide 25 mph speed limit on Friday, November 7th.

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Parking: Searching for the Good Life in the City

Streetfilms is proud to partner with ITDP to bring you this fun animation that's sort of a cross between those catchy Schoolhouse Rock shorts and the credit sequence for a 1960s-style Saul Bass film.

For too long cities tried to make parking a core feature of the urban fabric, only to discover that yielding to parking demand tears that fabric apart. Parking requirements for new buildings have quietly been changing the landscape, making walking and transit less viable while inducing more traffic. Chipping away at walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods has been a slow process that, over the years, turned the heart of American cities into parking craters and even mired some European cities in parking swamps.

Many cities around the world are now changing course by eliminating parking requirements while investing in walking, biking, and transit. Soon cities in the developing world will follow, providing many new lessons of their own.

Parking isn't the easiest topic to wrap your head around, but it is right at the core of the transportation problems facing most cities. We hope this film helps illuminate how to fix them.

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Hal Grades Your Bike Locking 2014

It's hard to believe, but it's been nearly five years since we last went traipsing around SoHo grading people's bike locking with Hal Ruzal from Bicycle Habitat. So it was time for the next chapter with the mechanic who wears pink-purple socks, admonishing you about how to lock your wheels, frame, and seat correctly.

The process is simple: Hal and I spend about an hour walking around, and whatever happens, I try to capture it on the fly. (Which is harder than it sounds.)  This time it led to quite a few surprises and -- as usual -- many hilarious moments.  Among other things, we learned that Hal has become an international celebrity. And wait until you see the scenes at a Citi Bike station. Let's just say Hal was impressed.

The previous three Streetfilms in the "Hal Grades Your Bike Locking" series have received at least 300,000 plays.  Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

2003: Hal Grades Your Bike Locking (originally from bikeTV)
2008: Hal & Kerri Grade Your Bike Locking
2009: Hal Grades Your Bike Locking 3: The Final Warning

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Lakewood, Ohio: The Suburb Where Everyone Can Walk to School

The inner Cleveland suburb of Lakewood (population 51,000) calls itself a "walking school district." Lakewood has never had school buses in its history, and kids grow up walking and biking to school.

Mornings and afternoons are a beehive of activity on streets near schools, as kids and parents walk to and from classrooms. You can feel the energy. The freedom of being able to walk and socialize with friends is incalculable.

According to city planner Bryce Sylvester, Lakewood strives to design neighborhoods so that all children are within walking distance of their school. These decisions have paid off financially, saving the city about a million dollars annually, according to Lakewood City School District spokesperson Christine Gordillo.

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Charles Montgomery Talks “Happy City” With Mark Gorton

In this Streetfilm, Mark Gorton interviews award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery about his fantastic new book, "Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design," which delves into the hard-to-measure question of how the built environment affects our mental wellbeing.

Mark and Charles discuss how research from the fields of neuroscience, behavioral economics, and psychology is helping us to understand the relationship between happiness and our surroundings. The film also ends up touching on quite a few New York City places like Times Square, the Lower East Side, and Jackson Heights, Queens.

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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.