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Exploring More of The Netherlands: Rotterdam, Nijmegen, Arnhem & more!

By now you may have seen a few of my newest Streetfilms debuting from my visit to The Netherlands for the Velo City 2017 conference. The above video is a great resource in case you've ever wanted an on-the-ground tour of cycling by Dutch engineers but haven't the opportunity to do so. It's difficult capturing events like this in real time while moving with a group, but there is certainly enough to soak up in this Streetfilm and learn a great deal about logical design for cyclists and intersections from the best, so check it out.

I saw much on this journey spending time in a few cities. My first stop - unexpectedly - was the city of Rotterdam. When a vocal group of Twitter followers from Rotterdam found I was spending an extra day in the Netherlands (to save big time on my roundtrip airfare) they cajoled me into an amazing tour. José Besselink, Urban Planner for the City of Rotterdam, and Monique Zwinkels, Inner City Manager, Municipality of Rotterdam organized a fabulous journey by bike to sample some of what the city has to offer, especially looking at its core urban livability concept City Lounge. We had a few fun moments I was able to pop up quickly while on the road. 

The above is kinda silly, but shows my great love for transit running over grass. It's something I have also experienced in Oslo and Cambridgeshire (buses); there's just something about it that brings out the kid in me. And it jives with my son, since he loves the video too.

This next video speaks to the testament about how much more dense cities all over the world are getting and how cars are becoming increasingly a bad technology to use in cities. The ANWB, which you can think of as the Dutch AAA car-federation for motorists, now has a fleet of cargo bikes they use to rescue or fix driver cars in the central city of Rotterdam. They had only been operating a few days when we ran into this gentleman. Oh, and also they will fix bikes, too.


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What Streetfilms May Emerge from VeloCity 2017!

Above: "Cycling Copenhagen, Thru North American Eyes", with nearly 350,000 plays, the 5th most watched Streetfilm of all-time was shot at Velo-City 2010.

VeloCity is just about a week away and after six years of missing it, I'll be attending what promises to be 2017's exciting chapter in Arnhem - Nijmegen, The Netherlands. As the event approaches I've been pondering what videos I might produce. Of course, I do like to stay in-the-moment and spontaneous when I go to transportation conferences of any kind. I try not to over pre-plan since there are always so many great people, rides and sessions going on that a film could materialize right in front of me. However, here are some good bets of documentation I'll attempt.

First off, this cool thing that happened: while booking my trip over the phone - which is something I never do - my ticket agent explained that if I extended my trip by one day on either end, my round trip flight would be over 50% less. So easy decision to land 28 hours earlier. A nice group of folks in Rottterdam got wind of my extra day and cajoled me stick around there for an entire day and have organized a comprehensive bike tour! That's so completely nice. I'm super excited as I have never been. It should make for a phenomenal Streetfilm.

Because the lodging prices were high and extremely limited availability in Nijmegen, I opted to stay in Arnhem for the event. The choice was made easy when you have trains every ten minutes between the two cities. But as I did research I was intrigued to discover that the two cities opened a bicycle superhighway between them last year. So I'll certainly try and bike it at least a few times and see how cool it is. Could this be a Streetfilm? Sure. I'm hoping to find a few folks from the conference or the cities to ride it with me one morning and talk about how it came about.

The conference also features nearly a full day in which attendees are encouraged to attend an excursion to Amsterdam, as there are no sessions scheduled during this time. Of course, I did make a few very popular Streetfilms a few years ago on my original sojourn there (see "Anecdotes from Amsterdam" above.)  So I'll be going again. Bringing my camera. Not sure what will happen, but I'll be grabbing video. listening to tour leaders and talking with my fellow conference friends about it.

Another very short film I'm certain to churn out is something on the annual Velo City Bike Parade! The mass bike parade takes place Thursday night thru the streets of Nijmegen. The 2010 version in Copenhagen was a real fun treat as you can see above.

Of course, in addition to all that, I'll be tweeting and Facebook-ing plenty throughout the conference itself and I'm sure they'll be plenty of opportunities to gather quick interviews with leaders in the bike world. It's gonna be a real wave of sensory overload and hard to keep up. But that's a fun challenge.

Do you have ideas and thoughts about must see stuff at VeloCity or in The Netherlands? As you probably can imagine, I've gotten a few "Please cover this/me/come to our city too!" pitches via email and many asks on social media as to what my plans are. Please feel free to leave ideas in the comments field below or tweet them to @Streetfilms or @PurpleClarence. Just keep in mind I am only one person and I make all the videos at Streetfilms. I usually spend almost every moment of the day while daylight shooting films, so I can't do everything.

Finally, I'd like to thank the organizers of VeloCity 2017 for granting me a press pass so I may attend. Without that there is no way I could put enough funding to really make this happen. And if you want to see more about biking in The Netherlands, Streetfilms has a nice pod of work from over the years you can browse by clicking this link.

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Checking out Silver Line Demo in Boston and more!

For the second year in a row, Streetfilms is working closely with TransitCenter to produce a series of videos about how people are organizing, planning, and winning better transit in American cities.

As such, I was recently in Boston talking to the Livable Streets Alliance about what they and their many local partners are doing to help speed up bus service. I happened to be in town during the two-week Silver Line Demo, a trial period during which riders can board the bus at all three doors, not just at the front.

As you can see, it was a rather dramatic change:

When I travel, I usually notice a heck of a lot more than what I am on assignment to document. So I grab what I can. While waiting for a meeting on this trip, I found myself wandering around Boston's car-free Downtown Crossing during lunch hour. It's always been a comfortable public space, and it keeps getting better.

Here's a short montage of people out in the middle of the day:

While in Cambridge getting some footage of buses, I came across what I'm calling a "sidewalk-assist" Copenhagen left turn. It's not the first one I've seen by any stretch, but I had enough time to get good footage showing it in action. The intersection is very difficult for cyclists, and it's great to have this option if you feel you need it:

The entire intersection is complicated, with lots of people walking and biking to a major transit station nearby. There are L-O-N-G wait times for a green light, no matter how you're getting around. If I had transportation superpowers, I would make one of the connecting streets car-free to create a more regular intersection and get a new pedestrian plaza in the bargain.

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Editorial: The Mayor, NYPD (115th Precinct) & DOT Must Do More to Make Our Streets Safer

Yeah I'm livid.

Thursday night, for the third time in less than 6 months near my home, a pedestrian was killed by an irresponsible motorist. And to make it even more tragic: two of these victims were small children crushed while being pushed in strollers.  I'm the dad to a young son so it breaks my heart. We've had brushes with drivers nearly hitting us while crossing legally with the light. I can't imagine my life without my son, the families must be devastated.

All three happened about a mile from my home on 85th Street. All three happened in NYPD's 115th precinct.

What will it take?

We really need NYPD to do its job. I met a few officers from the 115th Precinct recently at a Jackson Heights meeting (where I live) following the death of Henry Boimel, killed by a turning Uber driver in January. Yes, the officers all seemed like nice folks. And, look, I'm sure sometimes their job is tough. But the department needs to start getting really serious about cracking down on traffic violence and intimidation by motorists. At that meeting many people complained about dangerous right turning vehicles on 37th Avenue. I walk it nearly every day. And still haven't seen any stepped up enforcement by the 115th since. I hope they have. I hope I'm wrong.


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Showcasing Great Policies to Help Minimize Car Ownership

At Streetfilms we've got 800+ videos now of all sorts. All available for you to show or screen for your community or elected leaders and to enlighten and change minds.

One thing we are always looking for is trying to explain or implement policies that help create a lower car ownership rates, that of course is the primary goal in cities as the fewer cars there are the more space for people and efficient forms of transportation.

So we're always jumping into the archives looking to clump together videos to help. Thus here are some good best practices from the vault!














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Great 2016 Streetfilm shorts you probably missed – Here in one post!

Every year, there are a few dozen excerpts, extended mixes and bonus shorts that we post on Vimeo but not here on Streetfilms. Why? Because we don't want to clutter the site because some of these videos we really don't expect too many plays whether due to quick turnaround, subject matter or redundancy. Thus, you could have watched every single video posted on Streetfilms and still missed a couple of gems or useful tools for your advocacy.

So here's a wrap of the best!

The video at the top is from Janis Scott, Houston's Bus Lady! We did this film with TransitCenter on Houston's amazing bus re-organization. But I enjoyed my time and meeting with Janis so much, I spun her off in her own narrative that has been given a lot of love.

I was in Copenhagen shooting a whole slate of videos over 72 hours but came upon the above scene. Just a construction crew carefully doing their job while people biked by and under. Not a lot of elaborate signage or re-routing and stopping of cyclists. Just everyday life.

Again, sometimes you have a video with ample content that can't fit into your original plans, so you spin it off. In Joe Baur's great Streetfilm from Tokyo we talked about how complicated it can get to own a car in Japan, but had to trim this section down to 30 seconds. So much great info here though to lift it as its own segment.

Here's one not many have seen at all. I just got a quick break during lunch while shooting a Streetfilm in Philadelphia and was lounging on their great public space The Porch. I grabbed some footage cause you never know when you can use wonderful people space stuff!

Again, this one probably fell off most people's radar as I posted and Tweeted this a few times of a Families for Safe Streets press conference. Jimmy Van Bramer told a great story at the dais about a constituent who wanted help getting his son out of a speeding ticket. It's the way our elected officials need to talk in the age of Vision Zero. So here he repeated it again for me.

And once again, big wager most Streetfilms fans didn't see this. In our great Streetfilm about Bike Share Equity with our partners NACTO, I was invited to come along to gather some footage for the piece on a really fun bike ride with Black Girls Do Bike. As my thank you for letting me come, I put this quick montage together for the group to use in any way they wished in the future.

The greatest joy in my life has been my son Clarence, 3rd! We took him to his second Summer Streets in 2016 and I was really lucky to decide to turn the camera on him during our stop to do some dancing at one of the programming areas. Is there any doubt children know we need to have more public places to have fun in?

I did a series of really hastily thrown together vids during the Summer to showcase footage I wasn't using in anything else. One day I had so much fun riding around NYC with commuting pelotons, I wanted to share.

Finally, if you watch this video above, you'll see the beginning of a movement. The 14th Street People Way is gonna happen. It has to. And it is gonna lead to a series of crosstown People Ways across NYC in the not too distant future. Imagine 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 59th and more. And you know, what? Quoting Chuck Heston, they'll be made of people!! People!!!!

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This Samsung Galaxy S7 commercial gives me hope for the future!

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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?

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Photos From The Streetfilms Archives: Celebrating Ten Years of Activism (Part 1: 2005-2010)

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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. Read more...

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The Best Halloween “Transportation Costumes” of 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!


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Use Streetfilms to tell your community you want better bike lanes!

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.


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Observations from Oslo

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!


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48 Hours in Copenhagen Yields Four Streetfilms!

Although the main goal of this latest overseas trip was to visit Oslo, Norway to interview leaders about the city's plans to go car-free in the city center by 2019, I knew I'd have the opportunity to visit somewhere else (very quickly) to shoot a few Streetfilms. Nearby Denmark was the obvious choice where I only spent a little over two days and it yielded a crop of Streetfilms substance (along with a short side trip to Malmo to also see the bike world there.)

Two of the films are already published on the blog, but two others new to you aren't.  The first was a short bit (above) where I got to talk to James Thoem, a Project Manager with Copenhagenize Design Company, about the key safety measures installed at what some claim to be the world busiest cycle intersection with over 42,000 users per day. The things he talks about would certainly nearly illuminate "right hook" crashes in the United States, but of course something tells me the incredible volume of cyclists also is a factor in driver's ability to sit patiently. I did a popular montage on that on my last trip here.

The fun montage above is just something I crammed together on my journey between Copenhagen to Oslo. I realized as I was out shooting footage that I was collecting an insane amount of children and dogs riding along in cargo bikes and such. It could be because I was missing my little boy (who recently took his first bike ride ever) and envied all the families. I surveyed fans on Twitter and asked if they would like to see such a montage. They enthusiastically said yes, so I obliged.

Here's just something I saw while out with James. A construction crew digging and transporting dirt.  Everything proceeding with very little fanfare. It looked all very professional and yet kinda scary. I took one ride underneath, which although the crew used due care, also seemed very borderline dangerous. Yet, nice to see life and work proceed without alarm. What do you think?


There's me above checking out the newly opened "Kissing Bridge", which was delayed for many years. I'm not gonna say too much here about the final video since it has its own blog entry, but Marie Kastrup from the City of Copenhagen, showed me some wonderful hospitality gave me a whirlwind tour of the newest car-free bridges in Copenhagen. This is the result.

But the video itself should prove very valuable to cities across the globe as conversation starter. Here in NYC while we are debating whether or not we could possibly widen the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian and bike path say 3 to 5 years down the road (if at all), We need to look at what bridges could we build in NYC that would greatly enhance transportation for cyclists. The Move NY/Gridlock Sam plan does float the possibilities of some car-free crossings, but one has to wonder if it would be seriously ever studied. If we were in Copenhagen, there would likely already be plans for multiple bridges going in.

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Biking NYC Pre-2005: Shorts from the bikeTV era of 2001-2005!

That's me above in a promo for bikeTV!

Many of you know that before I got heavily involved in what was to become Streetfilms, I produced a cable access show in New York City called bikeTV. We had a lot of fun and the main goal of the half hour weekly slot was to show New Yorkers how much fun it was to bike places in the city with friends, how much better biking could be and to cover the advocacy world (Transportation Alternatives, Time's Up, 5BBC, etc) and what they were promoting.

Recently, I took the time to finally upload some episodes from my work (and other contributors) to Vimeo and Youtube. It's quite amazing some of the work we did - usually trying to produce a new half hour show every month. I still have people come up to me and say they discovered biking through bikeTV!


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Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn interviewed me for his podcast “You, Me, Us, Now”

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I'm a very, very lucky person to be able to meet important people trying to change our cities and hang out with them even for a few minutes. Mayor Mike McGinn is an awesome guy and I actually got to hang out with him for a few hours. Back when he was running for Seattle mayor in 2009, his website featured a few of our Streetfilms including "The Removal of the Embarcadero Highway" from San Francisco.

These days he is the host of a new podcast "You, Me, Us, Now with Mike McGinn" and last week he interviewed me. You should take a listen, there are some very entertaining bits as we talk about my life journey and especially the time I came to Seattle to bike with him to City Hall for a Streetfilm (around the 14 minute mark). It was such an easy going interview back and forth, certainly one of my favorites doing "press" for Streetfilms (or me).

Just click here to listen to the podcast on the MyNorthwest site.

And in case you haven't seen it, here is the fun 2010 Streetfilm when he was mayor of us biking to Seattle's City Hall one foggy morning. Most of the film is totally impromptu. I literally had no idea when I showed up at his house at 6 am to meet his family how jovial a guy he would be, where we were going to go, what we would see, if it would start raining (a little), and what he would want to chat about. As usual, trusting the energy of the world produced a great little film.

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Speed Camera Myths: The Streetfilms Comic Strip!

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If you're like us, you're probably sick of the standard mainstream news media treatment of safety measures for pedestrians, bicyclists and - yes - drivers. Most times the coverage is sensational, often featuring a small group of really loud voices or annoying protesters claiming street safety measures are unnecessary, because, well because.

One topic nationwide that always generates that usual friction is speed cameras. Often going by the same playbook wherever you live, you'll hear common refrains that the tickets are a "cash grab" to "hardworking taxpayers" that are "unfair speed traps" which "infringe on our personal liberties" and "don't save lives." Some of these groups are even referred to as heroes and even destroy (yes, destroy!) hardware meant to keep people safe. You'll rarely find any of these stories take time to interview pro-camera community leaders or talk with someone who lost a loved one to speeding.

So we thought it'd be good to draw up a comic that makes it takes on the myth perpetuated that the poor, poor driver is so unfairly treated. Though our story takes place in New York City, many cities nationwide have some or all of the same limitations placed on their use.

Thus presenting our second Streetfilms Comic (although Treehugger has taken to calling them Street Comics) on Speed Camera Myths. And don't miss our first here on the #sneckdown phenomenon. Click the image below to see it in all it's larger glory.