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Posts tagged "Central Park"

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More NYC Teens are Biking to School

Biking is cheap. Biking is fast. Biking promotes independence and exploration. Biking is great exercise. And, biking sure is FUN! What better way for New York City's teens to navigate the city and get themselves to school?

This generation is politically active and solutions-oriented. The last few weeks, we've been interviewing students - some in Queens, some in Manhattan on the Hudson River Greenway, some biking across Central Park. All of them joyful and appreciative of the time away from screens, feeling the wind in their hair and connecting with nature and those around them.

One notable incentive for these students? Schools that provide indoor, secure bike parking (here's looking at you school administrators!). Our goal is for each and every teen to have the option to safely bike, walk, scoot to school. That means we need a connected, protected, low-stress bike lane network in each and every neighborhood in this city. The city's future depends on it - quite literally.

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How to Ride Your Bike Like a Gentleman (or a Lady)

This is a fun video. Some etiquette. Some style. Some advocacy. But all fun!

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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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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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Central Park is now “Car-free Forever” North of 72nd Street!

Last week, people walking and biking on the Central Park loop had to worry about taxi drivers and car commuters motoring through the park as a rush hour shortcut. This morning was different: Above 72nd Street, you could ride your bike, walk your dog, or go for a run on a safer, quieter path with a lot more elbow room.

Officials and advocates celebrated the permanent expansion of the park’s car-free zone under sunny skies this morning. While traffic is still allowed in the heavily-used southern section of Central Park, today’s ceremony marks a big step on the path to completely car-free parks.

Effective today, the Central Park loop north of 72nd Street is permanently car-free, except for emergency and service vehicles [PDF]. In Prospect Park, the West Drive will go car-free next Monday, July 6 [PDF]. Traffic will continue to be allowed at various hours on the Central Park loop south of 72nd Street, and during morning rush hour on the East Drive in Prospect Park.

The park is most crowded south of 72nd Street. That area, where the loop widens from one car lane to two, also has the highest levels of motor vehicle traffic, said Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. She hopes the new car-free zones will further reduce traffic and tee up a completely car-free park.

“What we’ve found over time as we’ve closed more and more entrances in the park, the traffic volumes have gone down,” she said this morning near 92nd Street. “We all hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future, we will have a press conference 20 blocks south of here.”

Supporters of car-free parks are going to keep the pressure on. “Allowing cars in the park is actually increasing congestion in the city,” said Manhattan Community Board 7 member and longtime car-free park advocate Ken Coughlin. “It’s drawing cars to Midtown like a magnet, and encouraging driving, which is the last thing we need to do. So we need to continue the fight to eliminate cars on the south loop.”

With cars out of big chunks of Central Park and Prospect Parks, the city’s traffic lights make less sense. Other interventions stand a better chance of reducing conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists, but don’t count on the city changing the current set-up.

Meanwhile, the car-free parks plan includes a significant transit improvement. To keep any spillover traffic from slowing down southbound buses, DOT is extending the Fifth Avenue bus lane, which carries 74,000 riders each day, north from 86th Street to 110th Street. Trottenberg said the bus lane will be installed “by the end of the summer.”

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Reflecting on the 10th Anniversary of the “First Streetfilm”: Central Park, Bikelash & Advocacy

Last month was a very bad month in the tabloids and local news for NYC bicyclists. As you've probably heard we had two awful tragedies on the loop drive of Central Park in 2014 with cyclists striking pedestrians, killing both. What followed was sadness, anger and head scratching. But also the predictable media manipulation demonizing cycling, much of it unfair or downright ignoring facts.

While there's no excuse for bicycling at excessive speeds in our public parks during heavy use periods, the fact there are still cars allowed in what should be places of solitude (Central, Prospect & Astoria Parks) is completely insane. I've been a member of Transportation Alternatives (T.A.) for nearly 20 years and know far too much the long campaign to rid our parks of cars. And that's why I really enjoyed Stephen Miller's recent Streetsblog post "Traffic Lights Don't Belong on a Park Loop", which I hope help enlightens the masses that our parks are not highways.

Back in 2004, I was hired by T.A. to produce the (above) short film "The Case for a Car-free Central Park." Though I had been doing transportation videos long before, now looking back I consider it my first Streetfilm. Running an epic 20 minutes we interviewed health care professionals, advocates, authors, electeds and a cross-section of users from all the adjacent park neighborhoods.

Read more...

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“The Case for a Car-Free Central Park” (A 2004 Flashback)

Though it's sad we still allow cars to drive through NYC's Central & Prospect Parks, there've been numerous victories over the years as advocates have nibbled away hours cars have been allowed in our parks.

Flashback to 2004:  there had been little to get excited about in nearly ten years on the car-free Central Park movement. Looking for a way to gain momentum and take advantage of a 100,000 signature campaign in progress, Transportation Alternatives (T.A.) hired me to produce a mini film called, "The Case for a Car-Free Central Park", which featured interviews with many prominent New Yorkers like Columbia Professor Ken Jackson and author Robert Brandes Gratz amongst dozens of everyday parkgoers testifying about how they felt about the issue of cars in the Park.

The film was the centerpiece of a T.A.rally attended by nearly 700 people.  The crowd reaction was dramatic and enthusiastic.  Just a few weeks after the rally, the city took substantial action.  From T.A.s website which features a great chronology of Car-Free Central Park:

2004:  Speed limit on the loop drive reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph. West 90th and East 102nd Street entrances and exits closed to cars. West 77th and East 90th entrances closed to cars. West 72nd street slip-ramp closed to cars. People reclaim overnight and early mornings in the park. Cars get to enter 7 am to 10 am and 3 pm to 7 pm. HOV 2+ rule on West drive during morning rush hours.

Although I had been promoting bicycle issues on my cable access show bikeTV since 1999, in many ways this was the first major activism victory in NYC transportation where film played a large role.  And a reminder: YouTube didn't get started until 2005, that makes it all the more impressive.

Thus, it's an absolute honor that "The Case for a Car-Free Central Park" was selected as a featured element at the Museum of the City of New York's upcoming exhibition "Activist New York".  Beginning May 4th, the program examines social activism from the 17th Century right up to the present. We're glad the curators realized the significance of this video in New York's history.

Make sure you go check out what surely should be an excellent exhibit.  And for now if you want to watch the entire 20 minute film, you can right here, for the first time ever available on Streetfilms!

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Biking around town with Randy “The Ethicist” Cohen

A few years back, Randy Cohen, writer of the NY Times Magazine "The Ethicist" column, visited the Streetfilms set for a unprecedented interview with Mark Gorton about "Transportation Ethics.".  Well we wanted to talk more, so this time we got out of the studio to take a two-wheeled jaunt around New York City and visit many of his favorite spots and take in the alfresco enchantment of the capital of the world.

As you'll see during our ten mile journey, Mr. Cohen offered up some very decisive opinions about car-free Central Park, weighed in on the ethics of  "bike salmoning" (riding wrong way in bike lanes), whether he stops for red lights (you might be surprised by his answer), and comments on how transformative our streets have become for pedestrians and cyclists.

He also doesn't hide the fact he has a massive "policy crush" on NYC DOT chief Janette Sadik-Khan.

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Mobilized Moms for a Car-Free Central Park

Transportation Alternatives Car-Free Central Park Campaign got a booster shot from a group of mothers and families calling themselves the Mobilized Moms. With a group of nearly 50 supporters, they marched from Central Park West and 72nd Street, through Strawberry Fields and rallied at the Bandshell on Tuesday afternoon, pleading for a car-free Central Park. Mobilized Moms draw inspiration from author, community activist and mother, Jane Jacobs and other mothers, who in 1956 effectively stopped Robert Moses' plans to pave part of Central Park for a parking lot.

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Gridlock Sam: Car-free Central Park

In this segment of our interview with Sam Schwartz, he draws upon his decades of experience as a transportation engineer to explain how eliminating cars from the Central Park Loop Drive will not result in long-term traffic nightmares for the surrounding neighborhoods or NYC in general.

"Gridlock Sam" Schwartz served as NYC's Commissioner of Traffic from 1982-86 and is a former Chief Engineer/First Deputy Commissioner at the NYC DOT. He also writes a daily transportation column for the NY Daily News.