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Posts tagged "Bikes"

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Go Fourth and Ride: Families Celebrate Brooklyn’s 4th Ave Protected Bike Lane

Another Streetfilms Exclusive!

The future is bright in Brooklyn. Children & families came out in a large bunch to ride the NYC DOT's first installed portion of the 4th Avenue Protected bike lane, a lane many community members have been asking nearly 10 years for!

It's hard not to get emotional seeing how if we build proper infrastructure and a bike network and people will come out. Brooklyn Spoke's Doug Gordon and friends organized a short ride to PS 118 and I was surprised to see so many happy faces!

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Utrecht’s Vredenburg is the busiest cycle path in all of The Netherlands!

In Utrecht you'll see the most mesmerizing site: Vredenburg carries 33,000 cyclists on an average day! 60% of trips into the city are by bike.  Private cars are banned from the road, all you will see is mega helpings of people on bikes, plus pedestrians, many bus lines and the very occasional taxi (taxis aren't very popular in Utrecht.)

On the plane ride home while going thru nearly 2,000 shots I took in Amsterdam and Utrecht, I realized so much of this good footage will not figure in the final product of my mega doc from Utrecht. So I thought best to put up a fun montage using some of the best shots. After all, I tweeted just one 30 second shot of footage overhead and that was watched nearly 400K times. So I figure there are probably many thousands that would love to just sit back and watch the bicycles flow by, sometimes their operators seemingly floating in air. If you go I warn you: one night I just sat for a half an hour sans camera taking it all in.

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Life on a Dutch Woonerf (Living Street)

When I posted I was headed to The Netherlands once again to visit (and for my first time to Utrecht,) as usual I got a lot of recommendations on what to look at. One of the first people to contact me was Rebecca Albrecht, who moved there with her husband Paul from Boston about three years ago and couldn't be more delighted to live there.

She mentioned she lived on a Dutch play street (woonerf) and when I looked at the photos she had snapped from the window of her bed & breakfast, my first thought was: maybe this would be an opportunity to get a unique angle from residents since I had ridden on so many similar streets in Amsterdam and in Copenhagen but didn't want to be too nosy.

When I arrived the street was full of neighbors and children and they wanted to talk to me about their lovely street. But this is not something exceptional as over 2 million Dutch people live on play/living streets. So take a gander but be warned: you will want the same thing for your block.

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Portland’s Tilikum Crossing: A Bridge for People, Not For Cars

In 2015, Portland, Oregon opened North Americas's longest car-free bridge The Tilikum Crossing, a bridge that allows travel for pedestrians, bikes and scooters as well as light rail, streetcars and buses!

It's a superb transportation marvel, not only elegant but it's surrounded by one of the most multi-modal places in the United States connecting logical routes not only right now but providing for the future as Portland's Southwest waterfront continues to go thru its ambitious development. It also connects to the equally exquisite aerial tram to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) which at its base boasts the largest bicycle valet service in North America!

Being around the area on a few summer days it's easy to see all this beauty and planned car-free options in action.

Here's Streetfilms' love letter to the Tilkum which easily makes the case for other cities considering transportation options near bodies of water. There are many great reasons to do it the same way. The bridge is nearly silent except for the periodic serenade of public transit. The footprint of the bridge is small since interconnecting off-ramps and large roads taking up valuable real estate is not needed, which in turn makes it much cheaper than a bridge with cars. The comfort for those using active transit (bikes and walking) was carefully considered with bike lanes on both sides, and wide pedestrian/running areas in either direction. Also, the fact that it can accommodate three different modes of transit: streetcars, light rail and three bus routes should be a huge selling point.

And the final wonderful feature: the LED lights on the span change colors based upon the temperature and water level of the Willamette River! Believe me on a beautiful summer night you want to stay on it forever.

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Yes, there are plenty of cars in Copenhagen!

Today I got pissed and fired out a montage I never even considered doing prior..

Got into one of those Twitter arguments about building safe protected #bikenyc lanes. The person replied, "YOU just want to take away our cars & driving. Like they've done in Copenhagen!"

Oh yeah? There's still PLENTY of driving there. And all is ok. LOOK!

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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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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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Los Angeles: The Great American Transit Experiment

Los Angeles is in the midst of building an unprecedented number of rail transit projects. Some are slated for potentially high ridership parts of LA’s urban core. Others are more dubious.

Today, transit use is down. Bus ridership is falling sharply. Rail use is flat despite strong ridership on the Expo Line, the city’s newest rail transit. L.A. is taking steps to reorganize its bus routes, but needs a variety of major street and service policy changes to make buses more attractive.

Also missing in L.A. are efforts make the city more walkable and more dense that correspond in scale to the massive rail building program. The city and region also still heavily cater to cars when decisions about transportation priorities need to be made.

“What we as a region have not yet done is have the sort of political fights that really make a transit system effective. Which are not fights over money but fights over space,” says UCLA professor Mike Manville.

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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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Binge on Streetfilms shorts/excerpts from Barcelona, Seville & London!

When I take a trip (especially to Europe) I usually plan for a specific Streetfilm to make in each city. For example, here were my identified goals for my recent 8-day loop thru Barcelona (Super Blocks), Seville (History of Bike Lanes) and London (their Bike Superhighways and more).

But as is almost always the case, when in Europe I see lots of cool transportation thingys or nifty practices I can't resist even in the midst of documenting my main goals. So it happens, I grab a few shots and turn them into shorties or just a bit of a montage that I hope people might find useful or enlightening.

Let's start in Barcelona where I fell in love with trams on grass. Why? Because I just do that (see here). Anyway, while organizing my video to edit the Super Blocks film, I realized I also had grabbed more bicycling video in my two hour bike rental than I thought. So I knitted together this montage that went quite viral on Facebook. (Hmmm....maybe should have spent another day to ride with some bike advocates?)

Now let's jump to Seville which has an incredible bicycling story of going from nearly zero riders to closing in on 10% after installing a full network. This link is the main Streetfilm I posted which is nearing about 75,000 plays combined on Vimeo, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

But I got lots more story than that, especially some useful clips that were cut from the body of my Streetfilm for time that I repurposed as cutting room floor teasers! Above this paragraph is a short on how residents navigate the tram tracks to reposition themselves on the other side of the cycle track by following medallions/markers inserted on the pavers in the historic downtown.

Also above is a direct trim from the feature attraction featuring Manuel Calvo Salazar that I felt might be useful to planners or advocates showing how Seville positioned its bike lanes behind the many bus stops on its major roads. So that proved popular. And then below I had a few cute shots of kids on rollerblades going out on the protected bike lanes, showing how safe residents feel they are despite the narrowness in many areas.

And finally, I am also editing down my London footage as well to prepare a nice film looking at the popularity of the Bicycle Superhighway system. But wouldn't you know it, I also just happened to be in town the day a brand new public space years in the making debuted. So it was off with Iain Simmons the Assistant Director of City Transportation for the City Of London to check it out. I mean, how could I refuse even with an absolutely insanely booked schedule?

Look for my final films from Barcelona and London coming in the next few weeks!  Until then, I hope you enjoy some of this output already.  And here below is the Seville feature film if you haven't checked it out as of yet.

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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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How Seville Handles Where Bus Stops and Protected Bike Lanes Meet

If you're jonesing for more Seville on top of the full-length Streetfilm about the city's rapidly growing protected bike lane network, here's a segment for you.

For cities considering protected bike lanes on streets that also have bus routes, this short video shows how Seville thought through the problem of making bus riders and cyclists visible to each other at bus stops.

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Central London’s New Aldgate Square Opens

On assignment in London to cover bicycle superhighways, I once again had the pleasure of a tour with the charming and insightful Iain Simmons, assistant director of city transportation for the City of London. He took me around to several recent projects, including the brand new public space at Aldgate Square, which opened the day before.

London has embarked on an ongoing quest to remake its busiest districts with high-quality public space, taking real estate that used to belong to cars and designing areas where people come first and drivers behave accordingly. The Aldgate project is the latest example, repurposing several lanes of car traffic so people can enjoy themselves outside. What used to be a stressful traffic circle is now a place where people can congregate in central London.

Several areas in New York City are teeming with pedestrians and could use similar treatment -- think of Midtown and Lower Manhattan. The more room we devote to car-free public space, the less people will drive, which is better for everyone.

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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.