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Posts tagged "Bicycling"

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Touring Delft with the Bruntlett Family: The City That Keeps Cyclists Moving

Streetfilms has known the Bruntlett's for quite some time. In fact, Chris & Melissa, co-authors of "Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality" once told me that the 2013 Streetfilm on Groningen, was the vital juice that motivated them to first visit the Dutch and that wonderful city we profiled.

Now earlier this year the former Vancouver residents have moved to The Netherlands with their children and they have chosen the "smaller" city of Delft (population: 100,000) to reside instead of some of the "bigger" names like Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Why? Well their reasons are myriad but as we biked around it became quite clear what most attracted them to Delft is that the city has really taken seriously the Dutch philosophy of giving bicyclists free movement with limited stoplights, roundabouts and maintaining through movement for people using human power to get around. In many places bikes have the default right of way, the opposite of many countries and cities where they would be required to press a beg button and wait their turn.

So I got to take a great fun tour with the family and all four of them, including daughter Coralie and son Étienne, offered ample reasons why Delft and The Netherlands are so great for their lives and getting around independently.

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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!

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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

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BIKELASH 2019: What’s the most ridiculous comment you’ve heard in opposition to a bike lane?

I was honored to attend the National Bike Summit 2019 in Washington, D.C. hosted by the League of American Bicyclists.

As usual with that large gaggle of bike riders all in one place it provides unique opportunities to ask pertinent questions about bicycling, and some can even be therapeutic and fun. Like in this case where we asked attendees what was the most ridiculous comment/reasson/lie you have ever heard in opposition to a protected bike lane in your community or state. Could be a citizen, elected official, advocate or community member (or even a member of the media!). The results are hysterical and run the gamut from ugly bollards to a bike path that can magically make birds go extinct!

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Protected Bike Lanes Make NYC Greener

In 2014 I made a short called "The Green Benefits of NYC Protected Bike Lanes" (vimeo.com/109772951) which was a minor hit. I recorded a narration talking about my experience watching how on streets that had curbside bike lanes with tree pit protection that trees were healthier, grew taller & further into the roadway and that the concrete waiting areas provided nice spots to put additional greenery & flowers.

I've seen no evidence to prove my theory wrong now four years later and after looking thru some of the footage I have shot the past two years realized I have built up quite an archive of beautiful shots showcasing that. Thus I present you this wonderful montage (and sparing you the dull voice over) of some of the eclectic stuff going on and around protected bike lanes/greenways that wouldn't be if not for the reallocation of street space to humans and bicycling. Enjoy!

Now certainly every block of every bike lane in NYC doesn't look like this, but it has been fun to watch them become lush whether it be a gardening group taking over keeping plantings, a private residence doing the greening or rogue individuals doing their own thing. Of course, NYC Parks has a hand in making improvements wherever a bike project puts up longer medians or barriers that become ripe spots for trees, which flourish.

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There are now 100 Streetfilms featuring Protected Bike Lanes for your advocacy!

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"Protected Bike Lane Bonanza" Screenshot from Vimeo (Click to go there!)

Well congratulations to us! We've now posted our 100th Streetfilm that features elements, designs or pilots of protected bicycle lanes all over the world. But really it is congratulations to you, too, since you just have that much more evidence to show your elected leaders and cities that this type of safe design works.

Just go to this link on Vimeo where our programmed channel is neatly organized all 100+ films for your perusal. Here: https://vimeo.com/channels/protectedbikelanes

To celebrate, I thought I'd point you towards some of my personal favs and those with useful content. It's extremely hard to choose, but here are my Top Five. Please don't be limited by these!

1. Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

I made this Streetfilm over 8 years ago and it still holds up smashingly well. I've lost count of the hundreds of messages I have gotten over the years (especially the first three years it was up) of advocates, politicians and neighborhood leaders who told me having this film to screen/share totally changed the game in their fight for better lanes for their city/town/state. And at nearly 350k plays (that I can count) it's the fifth most popular Streetfilm of all time.

Best story from this trip: Within minutes of arriving to my hotel I saw my first platoon of about 30 cyclists heading towards me. It's like I had seen a bike unicorn and I hurriedly raced to capture it on film, severely spraining my ankle in the process.  Of course the same scene of bikes continued over and over. All day. Dopey me. Thankfully, biking proved to be the easier method of getting around as I was walking was so badly I probably should have been on crutches the 5 days!

2. Cycling London’s Bicycle Super Highways

A few years ago London's first Bicycle Superhighway lanes opened to much fanfare and immediately were filled up during rush hours by thousands of commuters. In fact, the Central Business District now has almost equal numbers of bikes and cars entering daily. There were scores of photos and short clips of huge masses of cyclists dominating the Twitterverse but really almost no substantial video reports of the lanes. So I felt it was my duty to get there this past summer and talk to many London residents about them and see for myself these immensely wide, beautiful structures that admittedly can make you get jealous!

And a related Streetfilm that details how an advocacy group formed to organize business leaders to push for the lanes is also a great watch!

3. The Transformation of Queens Boulevard, Block By Block

This is a straight forward, nuts and bolts documentation of some of the work NYC DOT pulled off in what once seemed like an impossible task: to create a safe and working protected bike lane on Queens Blvd, once named "The Boulevard of Death".  This was following Mayor de Blasio's allocation of millions of dollars to reformat the roadway in the wake of his passionate support of Vision Zero. Then at NYC DOT (now the head of Oakland, CA's DOT) Ryan Russo detailed the how every-block-is-different design came about.

I really wanted to make this as a historical document and thought it would be a little dry, especially a 10 minute film with only one speaker.  But this ended up a pretty popular Streetfilm with scores of curious folks around the country watching and other city transportation departments and students studying it.

4. Groningen: The World’s Cycling City

Made in 2013, it is the third most popular Streetfilm of all-time! At this point in my life I had been to Copenhagen and Amsterdam, two cities that do bicycling right. But I absolutely fell in love with the silence and breathtaking beauty of Groningen in the north Netherlands. For one, I laughed while walking the mile from the train to check into my hotel. Why? I didn't see one car! People seemed so happy. It was like Disneyland for bikes.

Besides the excellently designed bike infra, there is also a traffic circulation plan built in to the city that forces cars to detour to longer routes making almost every trip you can do either faster by bike or competitive to the point that you might as well not own a car.

5. Prospect Park West Family Bike Ride/

Sunnyside Family Fun Bike Ride

Okay, the fifth one is actually a tie (yeah, I 'm cheating a bit). But both of these Streetfilms have been very important in the struggle for holding on to very important bike lanes implemented by NYC DOT that were under assault from local communities vehmently opposed to losing parking and road space. In both cases, families and groups in favor of the lanes wanted to provide a powerful visual of the lanes in use, so they both planned celebratory rides that put children out front.

The top is the Prospect Park West Family Bike Ride, which in April 2011 was under attack by a Brooklyn group called "Neighbors For Better Bike Lanes", who - shockingly - really weren't for better bike lanes at all!  They were suing the city for their removal (eventually they lost over and over) and had uncomfortable ties to former NYC DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall. That's the skinny, but you can read all about it here in the Streetsblog archives.

The bottom is almost the nearly the same video but seven years later in the Sunnyside community of Queens where the struggle to initiate an integral pair of protected bike lanes on Skillman & 43rd Avenues went bonkers. It featured tons of Community Board drama - which still continues today - and a similarly themed "group" called "Queens Streets for All" which is really just about fighting for free car parking on the two streets.

Watch both videos and you'll see why if you have a bike lane in your neighborhood you should bring out families!

So those are my picks. Enjoy the list which gets automatically updated with each new protected bike lane Streetfilm we produce. As always these films are free to share or embed anywhere, used in their entirety in journalistic endevaours or even screen in your community (however, we do require permission if you choose to re-edit parts of video in other productions.)

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Street Transformations – Sunnyside Lanes (Skillman & 43rd Avenues)

For the latest in our Street Transformations series (for others see here: Street Transformations) we check out the dramatic before and afters of the Sunnyside protected bike lanes installed by NYC DOT at the end of Summer 2018.

The links complete a missing section that will enable cyclists to go from the center of Queens all the way to Brooklyn Heights without ever really leaving the safety of a protected bike lane!

The NYC DOT really thought innovatively to get the lanes installed, particularly the final blocks of Skillman Avenue to reach the overpass of the Sunnyside rail yards cycle track. Angled parking was moved further away from the sidewalk and concrete parking blocks were installed to keep drivers from going too forward to interfere with the path of bikes.

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Sunnyside Family Fun Bike Ride

Following the installation of protected bike lanes in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Queens, neighbors decided to hold a family bike ride to celebrate. Over 60 folks and many children came out to ride a three mile circuit on a very cold, blustery November Sunday.

As you can see from the footage it was a huge success and brought out many riders who hadn't ridden a bike before!

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Jersey City Experiments with its first Protected Bike Lane

The Bergen Avenue protected bikeway is a temporary facility, implemented with removable materials to demonstrate to Jersey City residents and businesses how protected bike lanes could be implemented in Jersey City. The protected lane is Jersey City's first and is 75% wider than other lanes in Jersey City so that people cycling can travel side-by-side. The lane also welcomes people using scooters, skateboards, and rollerblades.

The 6-block, .4-mile project links Journal Square and McGinley Square and was built to last over the duration of JCAST 2018, the city's three-day, citywide arts festival. Not an isolated project, the demonstration project is part of the engagement process for the Let's Ride JC Bicycle Master Plan, an effort being lead by Street Plans with support from Arterial, Equitable Cities, Streetfilms, and many community groups and city departments who desire safer streets.

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Cycling London’s Bicycle Superhighways

After years of incremental but frustratingly slow progress, London is making huge strides on creating a safe, all-ages bike network. The big breakthrough was the city's launch of physically protected "bicycle superhighways" that separate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic over long, continuous routes. Two years after the first of these bicycle superhighways debuted, they are clearly making an enormous difference.

People are voting with their pedals. The number of bicyclists entering central London is now approaching the number of cars. At rush hour, people on bikes account for 70 percent of all trips over Blackfriars Bridge.

Under Mayor Sadiq Khan, London has budgeted £169 million per year to build out the bicycle superhighways and other elements of the bike network, according to the mayor's walking and cycling commissioner, Will Norman.

The bicycle superhighways are not perfect. The bike lanes, although impressively wide, already can't contain the numbers of cyclists at rush hour. The speed of bike traffic can be so brisk that it intimidates pedestrians and discourages some people from getting into the habit of cycling. And advocates say the city needs to pick up the pace of implementing the bike network so "the brave" aren't the only ones out there.

But there is no denying that the bicycle superhighways are succeeding. Video footage of cyclists streaming over the routes is breathtaking. I visited London in 2015 and at the time I thought the city had a healthy level of cycling, but the bike network was only getting started. Returning to London this June, the changes were truly impressive. Enjoy this Streetfilm and hear from local riders, researchers, advocates, and public officials about London's push to become a great city for cycling.

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How Seville Got Its Bicycle Network

As recently as 2006, almost no one in Seville got around by bicycle. The city's bike network was nearly non-existent. When the leaders of this city of 700,000 in Andalusia decided to make bicycling a viable transportation option, they didn't mess around -- they built an 80-kilometer bike network in just 18 months -- and that was just the beginning.

Not long after the initial bike network was set in motion, a poll revealed that 80 percent of city residents approved of bike lanes. Most of the new bike lanes are bi-directional and placed at sidewalk grade to keep drivers out. Today, Seville has an expansive bike network and is approaching 10 percent bicycle mode share.

As you can see in this Streetfilm, few people wear helmets, and lots of older residents are out biking. The temperature approach 100 degrees while I was there, and it didn't discourage people from biking, even men in suits. The relatively large share of women who bike -- 35 percent of all bike trips -- is another testament to the success of the bike network.

Seville's bike infrastructure isn't perfect. Some of the new bike lanes are too narrow for the number people riding on them. There's a movement afoot to widen these sections and expand the bike network to more neighborhoods, as Seville aims to double the rate of cycling by 2022.

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9th Annual Bike JC Ward Tour Draws Nearly 3,000 Riders!

Well over 2,000 people came out on World Bike Day for Jersey City's ninth annual Ward Tour, a 16-mile ride that visits all six wards in the city, according to ride organizer Bike JC.

Big things are afoot in Jersey City. As Mayor Steven Fulop (who rode the whole way) told the crowd, work is now underway on a bike master plan, known as Let's Ride JC, that aims to extend a network of safe, comfortable bikeways throughout the city.

At the finish line, riders got to see a pop-up protected bike lane made out of paint and a few small plants. It's the type of demo project that the Street Plans Collaborative, which is leading development of the bike plans, aims to show a lot more people in the months ahead.

All in all, everyone had a great time riding on the streets of Jersey City and imagining a city that's better for bicycling.

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Ride the new Connect Historic Boston bike trail

Protected bike lanes are becoming less rare in many U.S. cities and I got to ride a fine new one in the City of Boston. Called the Connect Historic Boston Bike Trail, it is the beginning segment - about two miles so far - of a longer loop that plans to circle the downtown area.

The idea was to connect historic Boston places via a safe bike route that not only commuters could use to get about, but also visitors or residents wanting to further explore the city.

The segment features a lot of good design practices. Where it intersects with driveways or parking lots the drivers are slowed by having to meet the bike lane which has been raised to the level of the sidewalk. It also features ample #freshkermit (that's green paint) in areas to highlight possible conflict areas between motorists and cyclists. Additionally, some intersections have been built with some protection.  And some environmentally friendly bits as well: permeable pavement and a bioswale.

There's one section here tha'ts center running - which, yes, always has its critics - but in this case it makes much more sense to put riders away from crowded sidewalks at North Station/TD Garden. I'd much rather ride in the freedom of the center versus contending with pedestrians and cars. Just imagine this scenario averted.

Big thanks to the good transportation folks from the City of Boston who came out to meet me after work with little notice to take a one hour excursion with Streetfilms!

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The Car-Free Central Park Victory Lap

For about eight more weeks, drivers can still use parts of the Central Park loop as a traffic shortcut. Then, on June 27, that’s it, the exhaust spewers need to clear out.

Would it be nice to enjoy a car-free park a little sooner, during these mild spring days full of flowering trees? Sure. But this interim period at least gives us some time to let the enormity of the 50-year campaign to get cars out of Central Park sink in — and to boo lustily at the people who are still driving on the park loop, knowing their days are numbered.

This morning, car-free park advocates went out with Council Member Helen Rosenthal for a victory lap. Or, as indefatigable advocate Ken Coughlin called it, the last protest ride for a car-free Central Park.