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Posts tagged "2017"

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Rotterdam: A Post-War Central City Moves Beyond the Automobile

On a trip to the Netherlands this summer for the VeloCity conference in Nijmegen-Arnhem, I had one extra day on my itinerary. So I asked the Streetfilms Twitterverse what I should do with my 24 hours, and I heard loud and clear from people in Rotterdam that I should come see their wonderful city. I'm glad I did.

Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands. Because so much of the city was razed during a World War II carpet bombing, Rotterdam lacks a historic central district. Its newness makes it an interesting comparison to American cities. Even though much of central Rotterdam was built during the era of mass motoring, the city is still taking major steps to shift away from cars and toward transit, biking, and walking.

Traffic and parking are on the wane in Rotterdam as the city actively encourages more efficient modes of travel, with an extensive tram system and improving bike network (bicycling mode share currently stands at 20 percent and it's rising quickly). The city even has rain and heat sensors at traffic lights that give cyclists more green time during tough weather.

My guide to the city was José Besselink, a planner and one of the leaders of Rotterdam's "City Lounge" initiative, which makes public spaces in the central city more active and inviting for people. The program has been transforming parking lots and other underused spaces since 2008, and the results are impressive.

Perhaps the most stunning change is around the majestic Rotterdam Centraal Station. A 2014 overhaul reallocated huge amounts of space around the station, limiting car access while opening up more room for pedestrians and cyclists and laying down a "green carpet" for trams.

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Parking Day Meets PeopleWay! (2017)

With the 15-month shutdown of L-train service west of Bedford Avenue coming up in 2019, NYC DOT and the MTA need to figure out new ways to move hundreds of thousands of people each day.

In Manhattan, a big piece of the puzzle is rethinking 14th Street. To keep people moving, Transportation Alternatives has proposed a car-free PeopleWay, maximizing the efficiency of the street by dedicating space exclusively to buses, biking, and walking.

On Parking Day -- an international day of action to repurpose street space for people, not cars (see previous Streetfilms herehere, and here) -- a few dozen TransAlt volunteers were out collecting signatures and educating people about why 14th Street needs the PeopleWay. Streetfilms was there to document the occasion.

Take a look. As one concerned citizen told us, "The clock is ticking New York!"

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NYC Bike to Work Day 2017

Another great ride with the NYC Progressive Council which always turns out bigly for all of these rides dating back to 2014, which thanks to StreetsPAC is when these rides began.
This year saw three separate rides converge at City Hall. We decided to start pretty early on the Upper East Side with Council Member Ben Kallos who has been helping to lead the call for better biking for his constituents and those who ride thru his district.
We met up with several dozen others at Union Square (and lots of other cyclists who decided to join up on the ride on their daily commute) enjoying a mostly stress free jaunt to City Hall. Upon arrival there we met the Brooklyn delegations and at one point eight City Council members and NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg were outside addressing the very large group.
Another fun day of bike riding. Thanks to all.

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NYC Earth Day 2017: A Car-Free Broadway

This year for NYC's 2nd Car-Free NYC Earth Day, things picked up considerably from last year's inaugural event. The big spectacle was that you could walk or bike up Broadway from Union Square all the way to Times Square on car-free streets. But in a way since the Science March was already coming down Broadway to 47th street from the north, many people were able to traverse it all the way to Columbus Circle.
NYC Council Member (and Transportation Chair) Ydanis Rodriguez has been a real star in the move to get the city to think big things and also a great ally in the Vision Zero quest for safe streets. In this short, we got to walk with him for a few blocks and also talk to many New Yorkers about the state of the streets. Many dream big, wanting to see a car-free Broadway in the future, a proposal Mr. Rodriguez also would love to see.
As usual at these events there was plenty of programming. Running clubs. City agencies. Aerobics classes. Free Citibike rentals. In many ways it felt similar to one of the Summer Streets Saturdays in August, except this time it was on Broadway in the heart of the city. A statement to our city that it can be done. All we need is the will. After all 55% of NYC households don't own a car; and 77% of those in Manhattan.