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Posts tagged "Bicycling"

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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.

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2018 Bike-to-Work Ride With Brooklyn BP Eric Adams

On Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hosted his fourth annual Bike-to-Work Ride, taking off from Prospect Park and ending at Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. Besides having fun on a beautiful day, the goal was to show streets that need better infrastructure for biking and walking.

The first leg took on the speedway section of Flatbush Avenue next to Prospect Park, which is terrifying to bike on. NYC DOT is studying options to make the street safer, but it's clearly an ideal situation for a two-way protected bike lane, just like on the west side of the park.

Also on the itinerary: Ninth Street, which is in line for a redesign after a driver killed two young children last month, and a stop at Hamilton Avenue to meet with the young people in Red Hook campaigning for a safer crossing under the BQE.

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Case for Car-Free Central Park (2018 Re-edit)

Back in Summer 2004, I made a great film with Transportation Alternatives, one that kinda helped launch my career into Streetfilms. It was called "The Case for a Car-Free Central Park" and featured footage from dozens of leaders, advocates and park users calling for a Central Park. It was 20 minutes long. See it here in its entirety, it is certainly an important archive.

Since today is the historic announcement by Mayor Bill de Blasio of a - finally - fully car-free Central Park, I thought I'd go back to the film and do a 3 minute recut and let one man get a lot of credit who deserves it: Ken Coughlin the chair, energy and momentum of the Transportation Alternatives Car-Free Central Park movement for over a decade who gathered thousands of signatures and helped make this happen! And allow him, using his own words back then along with a few specially placed current day montages, to prove he was always right - that this would happen one day.

He said in our 2004 film that regarding a car-free park, "I still believe it is right around the corner, and I believe in the city and eventually city officials will do what's right."

14 years later Ken they have. Thank you very much.

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A Year From L Train Shutdown, TransAlt Begins Series of Bike Trains

It's now a little less than a year from the imminent 15-month closure of the L train which will impact at least a 1/4 million daily subway riders. So Transportation Alternatives kicked off their first of many "bike train" rides in order to educate, cajole and help residents feel safer in attempting cycling to work.

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My Favorite Five Streetfilms Featuring Transportation Alternatives

As you may have heard via Twitter, tomorrow (Thursday, April 12th) I will be covering my 100th event/presser/ride/advocacy push featuring Transportation Alternatives when I join the BikeTrain Kickoff Rally, which will show Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens bike commuters - or those curious - how to ride to work once the L-train shuts down. I have so many TransAlt Streetfilms, that I now even keep a separate channel on Vimeo where you can watch every one!

In honor of the 100th TransAlt video to come it made me decide to go a step further and I have picked my five favorites of them either in terms of quality, fun or effectiveness at informing the public of helping change policy. I love them all, tough to choose. In no particular order, here are those five.

300+ People Create Human Protected Bike Lane on 5th Avenue (October 2017)

Late last year, this short Streetfilm showcased what you can do with a fun idea, a huge gathering and a powerful message. 300+ people made human protected #bikenyc lanes down Fifth Avenue.

Fifth Avenue has no bike infrastructure above 26th Street, leaving a large void in the bicycle network where there’s huge travel demand. Protected bike lanes can’t come soon enough: Through the first eight months of this year drivers injured 15 people biking and 28 people walking on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, according to city data.

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (November 2015)

A very powerful gathering and march organized by Families for Safe Streets took over the streets of NYC from City Hall and marched to the United Nations. I tell people who are curious as to why I chose to do what I do that they should simply watch this film. The speakers in it say far more than I could in a few sentences.

PPW Family Bike Ride/We Ride the Lanes (April 2011)

The "We Ride the Lanes" event was the brainchild of Mitch Sonies, who rides the PPW bike lane with his six-year-old daughter and wanted to do something positive to highlight how much people appreciate having a much safer street in their neighborhood. "It was a real celebration of this great, safe bike path," said Mitch. Together with the organizing power of Transportation Alternatives this much-needed power boost to support the new green protected lanes by Janette Sadik-Khan was a slam dunk success in the media and the minds of Brooklyn and NYC bike riders.

Peatonito in NYC: Protected Pedestrians from Cars in the Crosswalk (March 2016)

Jorge Canez, the man behind the mask, has been a pedestrian advocate for quite a while and in Mexico City and he's been involved with many tactical urbanism types of interventions but it's as Peatónito fighting for a safer city that gets him the most notoriety: gently scolding drivers, escorting pedestrians though dicey intersections and pushing vehicles (or occasionally walking over the tops of cars) to get drivers attention to their bad behavior. Needing a great speaker and event to give the conference some zing, Transportation Alternatives brought him to NYC for the Vision Zero Cities 2016 Conference and a group of staff and volunteers got to see him in action at some dicey spots throughout the city.

The Case for Physically Separated Bike Lanes (February 2007)

From 11 years ago! Before we had the Bloomberg Administration getting more serious about bicycling and transportation, Streetfilms decided to get serious with this huge expose (150,000+ plays and counting!) that NYC needed to get serious and look at the problems on our streets and the solutions in other places. Remember this was many months even before the wonderful Janette Sadik-Khan was installed as NYC DOT Transportation Commissioner.

This film was produced with a lot of advocacy featuring Transportation Alternatives, Project for Public Spaces, NYC Streets Renaissance and many others. It was a pivotal moment and tool in the fight for safer streets in NYC. It features Paul Steely White, Caroline Samponaro, Mark Gorton, Andy Wiley-Schwartz and - even me!

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At some Red Lights in NYC, Cyclists Now Get Head Start

Earlier this week, NYC DOT announced a pilot program to let cyclists use the same head start as pedestrians at 50 intersections with “leading pedestrian intervals” or LPIs, which give people a few seconds to establish themselves in the crosswalk before drivers get a green.

Since then, a number of people asked for a visual showing it works. So on the way home yesterday, I got a few quick shots and produced this short video explanation.

NYC DOT has been implementing hundreds of LPIs each year as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative. The agency will study the results of letting cyclists use LPIs (first proposed by Council Member Carlos Menchaca), before deciding whether to make it permanent policy and expand the rule to other intersections.

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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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Marching With a Message: Fix the Missing Link in the Most Important Bike Route in Queens

The St. Pats for All Parade is a wonderful, upbeat celebration of inclusion on Skillman Avenue in Woodside, Queens. The Queens Committee of Transportation Alternatives has participated since the parade's inception, and this year, they marched to renew their call for protected bike lanes on Skillman and 43rd Avenue.

The two streets are an important bicycle link to the Queensboro Bridge, but they're not safe. Last year, a driver struck and killed Gelacio Reyes as he biked home on 43rd Avenue from his delivery job in Manhattan. There's a DOT plan on the table to upgrade Skillman and 43rd with protected bike lanes, but momentum has stalled since it was first presented last fall.

With these protected bike lanes in the place, there would be a safe bicycle route connecting many neighborhoods along Queens Boulevard to the bridge. Queens residents are calling on Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer to advance the project.

The contingent of nearly 50 people marching for a safer Skillman and 43rd Avenue was one of the biggest of the 90 groups in the parade, getting lots of cheers and good vibes from the crowd.

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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!

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A Groovy Array of Bicycling Streetfilms From The Netherlands

With so many of my friends posting Facebook photos and Tweeting short video snippets of what they are seeing while in Amsterdam at the PPS Placemaking Summit, I thought this would be an excellent time to compile in one place most of my Streetfilms I've shot there since my first visit in 2013, great films to watch right now whether you are there with them or not.

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"Bicycle Anecdotes from Amsterdam" at nearly 370,000 plays was a fun one to make and very quickly edited together with little effort. So much so that I thought it would be entertaining but by no means did I expect it to become our 4th most popular film of all-time (out of over 800!) But it has a lot of nice moments in it. (Side note: partly due to it, I ended up buying a Fre8 WorkCycle thanks to seeing them being made in the shop while being able to chat with Henry Culter. See above photo!)

Of course, our universally loved Streetfilm on Gronigen proved to be groundbreaking and now is heading towards a half million Streetfilm plays across all media we can track. We had read stories (50% bike mode share!) and seen a few short snippets of the great downtown of Groningen on Youtube before deciding to work in a visit. We were glad we did. Even four years later, if you type in "Groningen" and "bicycling" into search engines, our film is the first to pop up. And in the aftermath of my visit there were dozens of stories on Groningen, many citing or even embedding our Streetfilm in their coverage. (BTW, a reminder: anyone can embed our linked videos in their reports or websites.)

In 2017 I was able to return to The Netherlands while attending the VeloCity 2017 conference and I fell in love with the city of Nijmegen. I had been planning to just shoot a few shorts while there on all sorts of tours and interviews with people. But while roaming around on foot downtown, I couldn't believe how car-free the city was and how there were a series of steel bollards that kept cars out most of the time. Simply amazing. So I rushed to grab enough interviews towards the end of the conference to produce the result above!

Additionally, the Arnhem-Nijmegen region boasts the quickest, safest continuous bikeway I have ever ridden. You are gonna want to watch that too!

Jumping back to Amsterdam, I actually assembled this fun montage in a few hours one night after my first full day of shooting to get people psyched for my videos to come. It too was a very modest hit!

At this point, I'll leave you with the linkage below to even more Streetfilms. Please enjoy them!  And go to the Netherlands if you want to see great bicycling infrastructure!  And for those still waiting for more? I do have a long gestating film from  Rotterdam I hope to have ready, eventually.

"Danish Infrastructure Tour of Bicycle Streets & Intersections" 

"Journey from Assen to Groningen with David Hembrow":

"From Netherlands to America: Translating the World's Best Bikeway Designs"

"Groningen's Green Phase For Cyclists"

"Rotterdam: Trams on Grass"

"Amsterdam Draws Bike Boxes to Better Organize Bike Parking"