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Posts tagged "Car-free streets"

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Transforming NYC Streets: A Conversation with Janette Sadik-Khan

Since taking over as New York City's Commissioner of the Department of Transportation in mid-2007, Janette Sadik-Khan has taken on the challenge of making NYC streets more bike & pedestrian friendly while emphasizing livable streets and re-orienting them to accommodate all modes. She and her staff have done it quickly with innovative concepts, thinking outside the box and drawing on successful street designs from around the world to come up with a NYC model that is already changing the way our city feels.

In our exclusive Streetfilms interview, she talks with The Open Planning Project's Executive Director, Mark Gorton, about some of the highlights her department has achieved in a very short period of time including a physically-separated bike lane on Ninth Avenue, multiple pedestrian plazas (including Madison Square and Broadway Boulevard), new efforts to boost efficiency and speeds on some bus routes, and the city's phenomenally successful, Ciclovia-style closure "Summer Streets".

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Ciclovía (en español)

Recientemente tuve la oportunidad de visitar a Bogotá, Colombia para documentar los cambios que se han realizado en la última década. Bogotá se ha transformado en una ciudad más habitable, un lugar en el mundo conocido por sus espacios públicos, su sistema de transporte progresivo y lo que esto le ofrece a sus residentes. Esta transformación fue lograda en parte por un evento que se llama la Ciclovía. Cada domingo para la Ciclovía, Bogotá cierra 70 millas de sus calles al tráfico automovilístico y se las abre a gente para que puedan conocer y disfrutar de Bogotá mientras caminan, montan en bicicleta, corren, patinan y se reúnen con amigos y familia sin tener que preocuparse del tráfico.

Para mí, ser parte de la Ciclovía realmente fue una experiencia inolvidable. Disfruté mucho de mi compañia ese día – que incluyó el infatigable Gil Peñalosa (¡Sí, el hermano del ex-alcalde de Bogotá!). Gil y su equipo nos prepararon un programa bien complete y nos proveyeron acceso sin comparación a gente y lugares que ayudó a que esta película pequeña fuera más de lo que me imaginé.

Cuando reflejo en este viaje me recuerdo de la felicidad de la gente. Cada corredor de la Ciclovía estuvo lleno de personas sonrientes . 1.8 millones de Colombianos participan cada domingo en la Ciclovía para liberarse del estrés, para mantenerse en buena salud y para conectarse con otros ciudadanos. Los Bogotanos se entusiasman mucho por la Ciclivía y hasta tienen el dicho “no tenemos playa pero tenemos Ciclovía”.

Estando aquí de nuevo en Nueva York, sigo soñando en un Nueva York donde los residents, jovenes y mayores, ricos y pobres, peatones y ciclistas, tendrían la oportunidad cada domingo de compartir y disfrutar de sus calles en la misma manera.

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San Francisco Does Sunday Streets

For two glorious Sundays, San Francisco closed streets along a stretch of its waterfront to cars – and opened them to humanity. A second "Sunday Streets San Francisco" event on September 14th reprised an August 31st street party, both of which saw thousands of people come out to run, skate, cycle, dance, or stroll their way through a cityscape transformed. Organizers styled the event of Bogota's
Ciclovia,
as San Francisco became the latest U.S. city to participate in a growing movement to liberate urban space from automobiles.

Check out Streetswiki for more.

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Summer Streets 2008 (NYC)

Feeling remarkably similar to Bogota's Ciclovia, the New York City Department of Transportation held its first Summer Streets event on Saturday by opening 7 miles of city streets to pedestrians and bike traffic only. From 7 AM to 1 PM, roads were car-free from 72nd Street to the Brooklyn Bridge with Park Avenue serving as the backbone of the route. Our Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is the real deal - she spent the entire day riding a bike around the course (and even said some nice things about me to my mom.)

We'll spare you the 200 adjectives we could list about how transformational it was, for it was beyond anything on the printed page. The general consensus was that the event succeeded beyond even the most hoped for expectations and would pass even the most pessimistic of measuring sticks. A page has been turned, clearly there is no doubt: the future will hold many more large scale street openings for pedestrians, cyclists, runners, children, dog walkers, dancers, and any other reasonable livable space use.

The swarms of people and happy faces made for much positive energy. Around noon, some blocks were getting very crowded, but there was a general courtesy that existed between pedestrians and cyclists. The city built it - and the people came. And they smiled a lot.

StreetFilms
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Williamsburg Walks!

If you regularly visit Williamsburg's Bedford Avenue you know that the area is an eclectic mix of shops, people, and synergy. But the sidewalks are often jammed with people. Bikes are clamped to anything that won't move. Consequently, it can be uncomfortable to navigate its density.

This past Saturday (and three more upcoming thru August 9th) Bedford has undergone a livable streets alchemy. From noon to 7 pm, Bedford has been opened up to pedestrians, bikes, and people power between Metropolitan to North 9th Street. On July 19th it was quiet, safe, relaxing, and human. Word of mouth promises to make future weeks even better. I am surely going back again; without a camera so I can chillax in the street too.

One important distinction to make here: this is not a street fair in any sense of the word. It is simply a street that has been de-motorized and opened to allow residents to re-discover, re-imagine their street. They decide what they want to do. Credit goes to many groups, individuals, and businesses, but look to Williamsburg Walks which has done a great job working with everyone to make this possible.

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Block Party Summer

It is 4th of July weekend, can't think of anything fun to do? Might a Block Party fancy you? There are over 3000 block parties in New York every year. There is bound to be one in or near your neighborhood. Check the Block Party NYC list of locations. Or, if you know about a party that is not listed, just add it yourself. Here is a taste of the *87th Street Block Party in June.*Extra footage for this video was shot by Sasha Sumner and Robin Urban Smith.

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Depaving Day!

The Towards Carfree Cities VIII kicked off Monday in Portland, Oregon with an exciting community event. Hundreds of conference participants helped break and remove asphalt from a 3000 square foot parking lot. Depave.org is the mastermind behind the Fargo Garden Project. They promote the removal of unnecessary concrete and asphalt from urban areas. Depave.org will continue to work with Goldsmith Properties to transform this now asphalt-free site into a community greenspace. Once completed, the site will be used to educate the public about pavement removal and storm water drainage management. Notice an example of Depave's work in this video at founder Arif Khan's house.Music by Reptet and Dreamtime Stilters.

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Ciclovia (Express Version)

Since many cities around the world are now flirting with the idea of doing their own Ciclovia-style street closures, we have been asked by a few individuals and advocates for a shorter version of our Ciclovia film, which is helping push the debate from idea to reality in some places. And so we have capitulated. Here is a teaser which runs 1/4 the original length.

But you should really still check out the full version here.

StreetFilms
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Bike Share on Governors Island

I went out to the first free Friday on Governors Island and met dozens of people taking advantage of this carfree biking oasis. Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), Transportation Alternatives and Bike and Roll have joined forces to create what they are calling New York City's first sustained bike share program. Every Friday between June 6th and October 4th, Governors Island visitors can rent adult and children's bikes at no charge. On Saturdays and Sundays bikes can be rented at cost. To find out more about biking on Governors Island, click here.
StreetFilms
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Taking a Bite out of Traffic in Istanbul, Turkey

I recently visited Istanbul, Turkey and was struck immediately by the car traffic congestion. However, knowing that Istanbul hosted the World Carfree Conference last year, I set out to uncover what NYC can learn from a city with a population of 12 million plus people, 2.4 million cars and at least 100,000 new vehicles each year.

I met up with urban planner, World Carfree Network Advisory Board Member and local StreetStar, Kevser Üstündag. As a professor at the Architectural Faculty of Mimar Sinan Fine Art University in Istanbul, she teaches about the social, environmental and economical impacts of urban transportation planning. In this video she discusses the importance of adjusting urban planning to the needs of people - including public transportation, pedestrian only streets, and Car-free Sundays.

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Ciclovia: Bogotá, Colombia

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel with comrades Karla Quintero (Transportation Alternatives) and Aaron Naparstek (Streetsblog) to Bogotá, Colombia to document some of the amazing advances going on in the livable streets movement there. On Sunday we spent the entire day - from 5 AM 'til nearly 5 PM - riding bicycles around the city courtesy of the Ciclovia, a weekly event in which over 70 miles of city streets are closed to traffic where residents come out to walk, bike, run, skate, recreate, picnic, and talk with family, neighbors & strangers...it is simply one of the most moving experiences I have had in my entire life. Read more...