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Posts tagged "Cambridge"

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Checking out Silver Line Demo in Boston and more!

For the second year in a row, Streetfilms is working closely with TransitCenter to produce a series of videos about how people are organizing, planning, and winning better transit in American cities.

As such, I was recently in Boston talking to the Livable Streets Alliance about what they and their many local partners are doing to help speed up bus service. I happened to be in town during the two-week Silver Line Demo, a trial period during which riders can board the bus at all three doors, not just at the front.

As you can see, it was a rather dramatic change:

When I travel, I usually notice a heck of a lot more than what I am on assignment to document. So I grab what I can. While waiting for a meeting on this trip, I found myself wandering around Boston's car-free Downtown Crossing during lunch hour. It's always been a comfortable public space, and it keeps getting better.

Here's a short montage of people out in the middle of the day:

While in Cambridge getting some footage of buses, I came across what I'm calling a "sidewalk-assist" Copenhagen left turn. It's not the first one I've seen by any stretch, but I had enough time to get good footage showing it in action. The intersection is very difficult for cyclists, and it's great to have this option if you feel you need it:

The entire intersection is complicated, with lots of people walking and biking to a major transit station nearby. There are L-O-N-G wait times for a green light, no matter how you're getting around. If I had transportation superpowers, I would make one of the connecting streets car-free to create a more regular intersection and get a new pedestrian plaza in the bargain.

StreetFilms
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20’s Plenty: The Movement for Safer Speeds in the UK

Five years ago, Streetfilms was in the UK town of Warrington to talk with the great folks behind 20's Plenty For Us, a largely volunteer group trying to get speed limits reduced to 20 mph. The first film drew broad interest in the 20's Plenty movement, and on a recent trip I caught up with them again.

Founder Rod King MBE reports some amazing statistics: More than 14 million residents of the UK now live on streets with speed limits of 20 mph or less, including 3 million in London. Despite being a very small organization, 20's Plenty has empowered 263 local campaigns across the UK asking for 20 mph streets. The film captures some of the impact of 20's Plenty in Central London, Liverpool, and Cambridge. It's amazing to see energized volunteers deploying all sorts of creativity to get the message out: stickers, banners, yarn-bombing, children's art, t-shirts. The success has been remarkable.

20's Plenty is now campaigning for "Total 20 By 2020" -- the goal of making most of the streets in the entire country 20 mph. For viewers in the United States, this film is like a road map for building public support and getting your community energized around lower speed limits.

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Cambridge: Britain’s Cycling Capital

In the city of Cambridge, just about an hour's train ride north of London, you'll find lots of people bicycling. In fact, the official bike mode share is 22 percent, but advocates believe it's even higher and could comprise up to 50 percent of all trips in the city center.

More than protected bike lanes, the key to Cambridge's success has been the management of motor vehicle traffic. For one, the city center is now ringed by a cordon of moveable bollards that only recede for buses, taxis, and some service vehicles. Private cars are not allowed downtown but people on bikes are free to enter at any time -- which makes the bicycle the most convenient mode of transportation.

In residential neighborhoods, Cambridge has also tamed cars using a strategy called "filtered permeability" -- placing physical barriers at some intersection that divert motorized traffic while allowing other modes to filter through. This prevents motorists from using residential areas as short cuts and encourages cycling. Similar techniques are employed in famous cycling cities like Groningen, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam, and even here in the U.S. in places like Portland and Berkeley.

Cambridge is a growing city, and if new residents choose to drive cars, its streets could become overwhelmed by traffic. So the effort to create better streets for biking and walking continues. Recently, the city has adopted a 20 mph speed limit for most of its roadways, and a new push is on to install much more robust protected bike lanes in targeted areas where cycling feels less safe.

For bonus footage of Cambridge streets, check my post from earlier this week.

StreetFilms
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Teasers & Bonus Videos from our upcoming Cambridge, UK Streetfilm!

In early August we'll be debuting an exciting new ten minute Streetfilm from Cambridge, UK. The city lies about an hour train ride north of London and is easily the highest mode share for bicycling in Britain: 22% of residents ride (though some say it's even higher than that.)  But the most fascinating thing is how the city has accomplished that without building a huge amount of protected bike facilities.

Instead they have achieved at least the atmosphere of safety by using many traffic management techniques - including a series of rising bollards that prohibits drivers without transponders (which are mostly on buses & cabs) from entering the city center - making it a better place to walk, shop, eat and bike. They have also done much work over the past decades around the idea of "filtered permeability", a process by which neighborhoods have had key intersections re-designed so that only people walking and biking can use them but vehicles need to go navigate around.

They've also recently begun converting most of their roads to 20 mph thanks to adopting the campaign by the organization "20 is Plenty for Us".  (On a side note we will have an updated Streetfilm on that organization up by end of summer!)  So enjoy these few bits we've posted here of various clips and extended bits that just didn't make it into the final film. Consider them just a small teaser of what you will be seeing in August!

Read more...

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The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway

Just when you think you've seen everything in the transportation world, you encounter something different. That happened to me on an infrastructure tour in Cambridge, England, when my guides showed be this guided busway.

The video only shows a short segment of The Busway, but it's fascinating. The wheels of the bus run between grooved concrete slabs along an old rail line. The system also handles drainage without burdening the sewers: Stormwater is absorbed by the ground.

At 16 miles, the Cambridge guided busway is the longest one in the world. Bus speeds can reach up to 55 mph.

A busy biking and walking path runs right next to the route. You won't find railings separating the busway from the trail. There's no honking or flashing lights like you would find in the USA -- just common sense.

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Alewife Station’s Bike Cage: Cambridge, Mass.

In the greater Boston area, a secure bike parking facility for bikes has been erected at the end of the T's Red Line in Cambridge. It boasts one incredible amenity: it's completely free!

Alewife station is perfectly situated at the edge of the burbs and perpendicular to The Minuteman Bikeway, one of the most popular rail trails in the U.S. Wanting to encourage even more customers to launch an intermodal bike commute, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) fast tracked two unmanned bike cages that can hold hundreds of bicycles in a secure, covered cage, protected by high-tech surveillance. From the crowded weekday parking action we saw - with hundreds of bikes parked outside the cage to supplemental racks - it looks like a hit.

Also see lots of our other bike parking goodies from Berkeley's Bikestation, BikeLink in the Bay Area, and Portland's on-street bike parking choices.