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Posts tagged "Bronx"

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NYC 4-Boro Protected Bike Lane Ride

I've been riding a bike in NYC for more than 25 years. When I started, there wasn't much in the way of good bike infrastructure, but in that time I've watched the bike network expand and slowly get safer.

With recent bike lane additions and enhancements on Jay Street, Chrystie Street, and First Avenue, NYC DOT has pointed out that you can now ride on protected bike lanes almost continuously from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Connecting to other segments of protected bike lanes, with just a few blocks exposed to traffic, you can do enjoyable, low-stress rides of 10, 20, 25 miles on city streets.

So I pitched the good folks at Transportation Alternatives about doing a small group ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan to the Bronx to Randall's Island to Queens and back to Brooklyn -- about 25 miles. After sketching it out, we estimated that 97 percent of the ride could be done on protected lanes, car-free bridge paths, and greenways.

Of course, New York still has a long way to go to make cycling safe for all ages and abilities throughout the city. But we are on our way. As recently as 10 years ago, I can remember the huge advocacy effort that went into gaining two meager strips of white paint for bike lanes here or there. Now we are building up to a useable network.

So come along for the ride, get a good look at the protected bikeways and bridge paths along our route, and meet some of the volunteers who've been working hard to make biking better in New York City. As the soundtrack (which the great Eric Bazilian and Mats Wester generously gave permission to use) goes, "That's a good thing!"

Also, if you want to see the details of all the turns in this journey, I compiled this map.

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Hey #bikenyc: Where Would You Put New York’s Next Protected Bike Lanes?

At the September press conference where Bicycling Magazine named New York City the best American city for biking, NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg committed to adding five miles of protected bike lanes per year "all over the city, not just in the core of Manhattan.”

Since then, anytime I've been at bike events or out on the streets shooting video, I've been interviewing riders about where they would like to see new protected bike lanes. As with most things bike, when you talk to the people riding the streets every day you get incredibly smart recommendations.

So I present this montage of New Yorkers who bike, sounding off on where they want the city to install protected bike lanes. I think they all made great suggestions.

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A #bikeNYC Weekend Wrap-up!

#bikeNYC is always alive during October. It's a beautiful time to be out riding. It seems of late I've gone on a Streetfilms Shorties tear, which are essentially videos that only take a few hours of shooting & editing for me to publish. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about them and don't anticipate many thousands of plays, but smaller groups of watchers (especially in NYC) will appreciate.

First off, on Saturday got to go on a fun Queens "Zombie Ride" ride with Kidical Mass NYC! About 30 people turned out for their second official ride and they hope to continue the expanding with more rides. Check it out.

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“Wolfen” (1981): A Cool Look Back at NYC Transportation Infrastructure

The above apocalyptic-looking still is one of many shots of the South Bronx (circa 1980) from the opening montage to my favorite, New York City-set movie "Wolfen", an often forgotten film (even among horror buffs) about shape-shifters defending their land from greedy fat-cat developers. Though not a 5 star movie, it's a very solid tale with some incredible alfresco scenes providing a reference of just how much NYC has changed in the past 30 years.

Sure there's "The French Connection", "Manhattan", and "The Warriors", but if you love transportation, I'm promising you there's more NYC livable streets nostalgia in this film then any I've seen. Let me take you thru just a few of my favorite scenes.

Very early on a very rich couple are murdered in Battery Park. It's there we meet our protagonist Dewey (right, Albert Finney) a retired detective who is assigned the case. As the police do their work in Battery Park just soak up the scenery of lower Manhattan with the WTC towers and Hudson River making numerous appearances (and yes, that's Gregory Hines, left.)

A few scenes later Finney meets his new partner along the Hudson River for hot dogs and conversation. What makes this scene so incredible? See that elevated highway in the background? That's the former West Side Elevated Highway which partially collapsed in 1973.  It's amazing how little footage of it exists anywhere; it's the only movie I know in which it appears. (Note: "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz speaks much about it in this Streetfilm.)

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The View from atop the High Bridge

Back in October as part of the Walk21 conference, I was very lucky to be able to accompany a small group of international pedestrian experts on an exclusive walking tour of the High Bridge, which has been closed to the public for nearly 40 years. Since Streetfilms is all about sharing, we interviewed a few folks-in-the-know and have posted the breathtaking experience of what it was like being up there.

Not soon after starting as a volunteer for Transportation Alternatives back in the 1990s I can recall reading of a push to open the High Bridge during a postcard campaign directed at then Parks Commissioner Henry Stern in 1998. In the years since, there have been many community groups, non-profits, and public agencies which have gotten involved in raising public awareness and advocating for its re-opening. City Parks Foundation, The High Bridge Coalition, and C.L.I.M.B. just to name a few.

Although over the years there have been many announced target opening dates and talk of getting the capital funds needed, of recent there is much momentum. Very early in 2010, community input and design will finally begin. Then we can hope it will not be long until we can all walk and bike across this magnificent structure.

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Building Greenways and Community in the Bronx

The Bronx River Greenway and South Bronx Greenway plans apply community-driven design strategies to help undo years of top down, auto-centric planning and development in the Bronx. The greenways, when completed, will create a network of safe bicycle and pedestrian paths and routes, parks, and waterfront access points throughout the borough. See the Bronx River Alliance's 2009 calendar for a list of events and activities planned on or around the Bronx River. Also be sure to check out Sustainable South Bronx and The Point Community Development Corporation for more information about the projects and for ways to get involved.

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Riding the Bx12 Select Bus Service

Veronica Vanterpool of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign recently took Streetfilms for a journey on the Bx12 Select Bus Service (SBS) instituted last year on Fordham Road in the Bronx. Travel time on the route has been cut by 20 percent thanks to the improvements, and commuters we spoke with certainly sang its praises. A recent report showed the SBS is carrying 30 percent more riders than the line it replaced, and a NYC Transit rider report card found 98 percent of users rated it satisfactory or very satisfactory.

It uses some of the elements of Bus Rapid Transit - pre-boarding so buses load faster, it has limited stops, features buses that look different then standard MTA buses, and it has a painted terra cotta lane which cars are supposed to avoid. However, since the lane is not physically separated from traffic, there are periodic problems with illegally parked vehicles. Still, based upon its success (come on 98% approval is pretty incredible!) NYC is looking at other areas to expand to with similar treatments.

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NYS DOT Commissioner, Astrid Glynn

Today I had the opportunity to sit down with New York State DOT Commissioner, Astrid Glynn. We set out discussing the greenway projects in the Bronx and the future of the Sheridan Expressway. (Note: Streetfilms will be bringing you a comprehensive video on these topics in the upcoming weeks.) Here you will find excerpts from our discussion on a host of other issues including, smart growth, the budget, testifying on the stimulus package, State DOT project timelines, and the SafeSeniors program on Long Island.

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P.S. 76’s Bike Rodeo

Students at P.S. 76, the Bennington School, in the Bronx, celebrated the completion of a month long physical education unit on bike safety and riding by holding a schoolyard bike "rodeo" on Wednesday.  The school and community experienced a tragic loss last June when fifth grader, Michael Needham Jr., was killed after being hit by a speeding car while riding his bicycle in front of the Allerton Library.  Since then, P.S. 76 has taken action to equip all students with effective bike safety awareness and skills.

The school's administration and staff formed a Bike Safety Committee, bought bicycle helmets for every student, and partnered with Bike New York to get students pedaling safely.  Bike New York provided its Bike Driver's Ed curriculum, its Bike Fleet, a Learn to Ride event for students and their parents, and a brand new bicycle which was raffled off to one lucky student.  Did I mention that Bike New York did all of this for free?

Look out Dodgeball, there's a new sport in class.  Check out Bike New York's website for information on how your school can get in on the action.

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Park(ing) Day NYC 2008

Transportation Alternatives reports during this year's foray into PARKing Day there were over 50 parking spaces temporarily reclaimed throughout the city, nearly doubling last year's total. I'll say this: that's a lot of freaking sod!!

As usual for these things, the fare ran from the wildly creative to the calm & soothing. There was a meditation garden in Williamsburg, origami being folded at The Open Planning Project's spot, and a bevy of spots with an advocacy theme. But the strangest time-continuum alternative-universe event occurred at Peter Frishauf's spot on the Upper West Side where I filmed him following the live blogging on Streetsblog about PARKing Day! And finally, although my work comrades had an amazingly elaborate spot, if I had to vote this year's winner it would be the Lower East Side Girl's Club. Again. You guys rock.

This year my travels took me to four of the five boros: biked 43 miles, filmed 22 spots, spent 11 hours outdoors and had one bike crash - while I was walking my bike through Times Square. Go figure!

Related Linkage: ReBar, PARK(ing) Day NYC site, PARK(ing) Day NYC 2007 video, Park(ing) Day SF 2006 video. And a big hug to Ditto Ditto who let us use their bouncy-fun tune for this piece.

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Photos of the Tour de Bronx 2007

Sometimes videoshooters need a day to enjoy. I did yesterday so I left the bulky equipment at home and opted to take over 200 photos at the Tour de Bronx 2007. If they say a picture is worth a thousand words, then here I present about 50,000 of them.

It might have been the nicest day of the year with the Tour being kicked off by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión and - with perhaps the biggest ovation I have ever heard for a public official - NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the ride was huge, the smiles overflowing, camaraderie splendid, and the riding wonderful.

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Nicole’s Journey

Bronx resident Nicole Duncan exposes the dangerous pedestrian conditions while traveling though her neighborhood. Motorists ignore stop signs, run red lights and create an unsafe environment for nine-year-old Justyn and eleven-year-old Jamel while they are walking to school.

Nicole shot all of the video with a camera NYCSR loaned her for the day. Her footage and accompanying testimony is extremely moving.

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Car-free Sunday on the Grand Concourse

In the early 1990s, three and a half miles of The Grand Concourse, a major arterial roadway in the Bronx, was closed to cars every Sunday from July thru November. The closures provided residents with much-needed open space to safely bike, walk, play and develop a sense of community with neighbors. Despite its popularity, New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani, ended the program in 1996.

grand-concourse_poster.jpg

Currently, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, and a number of community groups have joined Transportation Alternatives to revive the program on a trial basis. In this short piece, the happiness of the residents is visible, and it is clear that open space enlivens communities.