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Posts tagged "Clarence Eckerson Jr."

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Check out the newest 2022 Citi Bike E-bikes (Exclusive kickoff ride with Streetfilms)

When friends heard the release of the new Citi Bike e-bikes into the wild was imminent, many wanted to me give them a review ASAP. Little did I know I would get invited to the first public unveiling where we had a huge geek out over and getting to ride with Citi Bike staff and members of the NYCHA riders program. As you will see we had a great time!

The new bikes feature a different color scheme. But they go farther (now nearly 60 miles on a charge), they accelerate faster, they have new cool safety lighting schemes, the seat is so easily adjustable that your wrists will want to kiss the stem, it has an actual battery-life indicator right on the screen and plenty of other fun features!

So take a look at our sort of exclusive video of the Queens kickoff ride (Streetfilms was the only camera crew at the launch!) One thing I have to mention is that I have covered a lot of group rides. I arrived via my large and heavy Workcycle and the new Citi Bike e-bikes get you so quickly up to speed that I had a very hard time keeping up with the riders to get my footage. But as you'll see I got to use one at the end.

 

 

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Announcing the 2022 World Bicycle Day Award for Streetfilms!

Announcing very exciting news as Clarence Eckerson, Jr. the director & producer of over 1,000 videos for Streetfilms over the past 17 years, has been selected by the United Nations as a Lifetime Achievement recipient of the World Bicycle Day awards for 2022 on June 3rd.

Spanning a career of nearly 25 years, Mr. Eckerson has been making films by bike in New York City since the late 1990s and for the majority of that time covering the advocacy movement for biking nationally and worldwide while director for Streetfilms. Prior to working in his current role (which began in 2005) he's also done ample documentation and coverage during his volunteerism thru Transportation Alternatives and for the cable-access show bikeTV for six years.

The Class of 2022 includes over two dozen recipients from all six inhabited continents and over 15 countries. Included in the eclectic list is the Nepal Cycle Society, Maud de Vries of The Netherlands, Ugandan urban planner Amanda Ngabirano and the London Ambulance Service's Cycle Response Unit!

Unfortunately, due to Covid protocols the United Nations is not holding their usual ceremony and presentation in-person. However, each honoree was shipped their award and told to take promotional photos to announce their achievements. But since Streetfilms' specialty is making movies, Leszek Sibilski from the United Nations granted his blessing for us to make this very short acceptance in one of the most people-friendly places in New York City: Queens' 34th Ave open street which demonstrates how much safer bicycling and public space is becoming in New York. Clarence would like to thank the United Nations, his family, all of his co-workers from over the years and the wonderfully diverse Class of 2022 for inspiring him to keep documenting the worldwide movement!

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The NYC Cargo Bike Revolution: More Families take to the Streets!

If you've lived in New York City for a long time, you'll realize there are many more cargo bikes cruising the streets! It used to be rare you'd see one, but the last five years their presence has undoubtedly been on the rise and since Covid-19 hit in 2020 there has been a dramatic uptick for many reasons you will hear.

Back in May I decided while I was out covering other events I would find a way to fit in talking to the many families using cargo bikes in NYC and why. Sometimes it would be a tweet out just to meet me at an event I was already shooting but other times it was a completely random meet up. The comments here are really just the tip of the iceberg as several interviews didn't make the final cut. Propel Bikes, whose founder Chris Nolte we talked to, has done some cool features on Youtube but not much else out there from the NYC universe.

It's not often I do films over 10 minutes, but there is a lot of joy, information and family-fun packed into this Streetfilm and well worth the 13 minute view time. Also: for fairness I will divulge that we are a two-cargo bike family - I have owned a Workcyles FR8 since my son was born and my wife Fatima obtained a Tern bike in 2021. (She previously also had a Taga for a few years for my son's first bike riding experiences.) If you ask either of us we can extoll the many benefits for you and your kid(s) being al fresco commuting, exercising, meeting friends or shopping.

Much thanks to Jeff & Madeleine Novich (she is on Instagram at @Cargobikemomma) for gathering an initial pod meet up for an open street on 103rd Street in Manhattan. A few of these folks also appear in that Streetfilm which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixKR1U0sNT8

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Bike Boulevards Debut in NYC: Check out Queens’ 39th Avenue!

Earlier this year the NYC DOT announced it would pilot one bike boulevard in each of the five boroughs. Some were actually on the ambitious side and none more so than in Sunnyside, Queens where 39th Avenue (which was designated an open street during 2020 Covid) was converted to a bike boulevard on an integral connection for bike riders for 8 blocks. The innovative treatments (well for NYC) include a diagonal traffic diverter and frequent lane direction changes as well as swaps for wide protected bike lanes at times. Listen to what supporters had to say!

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Coronavirus Has Changed Our Streets And We Need To Heed Those Lessons

I live in NYC's Jackson Heights, 11372. Which is currently among the hardest hit zip-codes in the USA for Coronavirus cases and fatalities.

It has been a tough month for many of our neighbors and friends. I get outside for a socially distanced hour every day so I can get footage to show how drastically our streetscape has been altered by the virus — and to make the case that once this is all over, we should never accept how we allocate public space in favor of car drivers rather than the majority of New Yorkers who get around on narrow sidewalks, unprotected bike routes or on buses that are constantly being delayed by people in their own private vehicles.

Under normal circumstances, the world is upside-down — as a result of a minority of NYC car owners, the rest of us are breathing toxic exhaust, getting stuck in their traffic, being killed by their reckless use of steel cages, being terrified just to cross a street, etc. So let's change that. When you see my before-and-after videos, you can see that no one will want to return to the pre-virus status quo. The first step will be to eliminate all unnecessary car trips. Then we can redesign our streets to prioritize long-suffering bus riders, cyclists and pedestrians, who are fighting over crumbs. So many U.S. cities are leading.

It's time for Mayor de Blasio to allow his best city planners take over from do-nothing bureaucrats and allowing the police (most of whom live in the suburbs) to dictate streets policy.

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The Streets Have Changed: A NYC Bicycle Journey During the Coronavirus

I hadn't been on my bicycle in over a week, choosing to walk and run for exercise during the Coronavirus (and observing recommended precautions) but I was curious what my normal commute looked like. So on Friday I chose to get my exercise by bicycling in to Manhattan and brought my camera along as I visited many spots I might typically do if scouting for great locales to film footage for a Streetfilm.

The amazing thing is I have so much archives of New York City that in many cases I had exact matching footage from the last few years of each location or spot, showing what it looks like typically (or in some cases showing what it looked like before the streets received an intervention from NYC DOT) and in some cases is pretty mind blowing.

I hope this Streetfilm (likely the final "new" one shot until the world heals) is entertaining, gives you hope and stretches your mind to what is still possible when we emerge from this pandemic.

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Highlights from NOLA: Riding Blue Bikes, Fixing Transit & The “Neutral Ground”

As I usually try to do, here's a quick wrap-up of highlights from my adventures in New Orleans from mid-December to work with TransitCenter and Ride New Orleans. The above Streetfilm was quickly pieced together as I wasn't there to focus on bicycling. But thanks to using New Orleans' Blue Bikes bike share to get around to many shoots (its debut week!) and being around the Bike Easy staff (who shares an office with Ride) I was able to gather a few interviews and footage. Let me stress this one fact: New Orleans has a lot of cyclists. An incredible diversity in age, race, sex and type of bike ridden. I don't think my footage here does it any justice. Cyclists are a constant presence on the streets, but unlike many big cities, you won't see commuting peletons or large groupings waiting for lights. They are just there. Every intersection you'll see them.

But as I said the mission was to showcase the hard work of Ride New Orleans who is scoring victories for its riding public and providing momentum in a city that desperately needs even the bare essentials for its bus riding public. Simple things many might take for granted like signage, route schedules, benches and shelters. The above excerpt with Matthew Henrickson, the Policy Director for Ride, wasn't planned. We were waiting to interview another subject and he sarcastically pointed out we were standing under a bus stop. Knowing there are uncountable similar conditions throughout the city, I just told him to start talking. We got one fast take in right before our interviewee showed up. But this shows the hard choices facing their incoming mayor, which was buoyed by this late December news where the RTA approved a long-range, comprehensive plan to improve NOLA transit.

And speaking of interviews, one of the lovely people you will meet is Ms. Sonja (below with me, and by the way that's HER bike bag) who is on the Transit Riders’ Advisory Committee that meets first Saturday of the month. They're a wonderful, smart group of people who know they pushing the conversation to drastically change their city. Ms. Sonja gathered 600 signatures to get a bench and bus shelter installed at her senior living home, which she is very proud of. And now she is helping other volunteers and motivating people do the same.

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I really get to meet so many nice people in my travels. She's certainly one of them.  You'll get to meet her and up to a dozen others (hopefully) by the end of the month or early February.

And finally, if you watched the Streetfilm at the top of the page, you'll see I became a bit obsessed bike riding in the "neutral ground", which is the term for medians (grassy, concrete, whatever) in NOLA. I did some research on it and the history of the evolution of the term is quite cool. Click to read here. Then watch my extended outtake riding on the neutral ground and many of the other people riding bikes enjoy there.

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2004: bikeTV Examines the dangerous Manhattan Bridge bike entrances

Here's one from the archives from my bikeTV days (2001-2006) when we had a group of advocates strongly advocating for better safety measures for the access points to the new Manhattan Bridge shared bike-ped path on the south side.

I did an entire episode on entrance/exits to all five East River bridges in 2004.  Here you can see particularly dangerous conditions on Brooklyn side competing with 18-wheelers and fast cars coming off the ramp.  Some of the footage is scary as vehicles hit the curb.  On the Manhattan side it would be a little bit safer if NYPD vehicles weren't parked everywhere possible on the sidewalks surrounding the bridge access points. But a simple stop sign you will see does nothing to slow cars.

Of course these days for bicyclists the path is now on the north side and is pretty much wonderful after years and years of continued improvements. You can see many of those in this "4 Boro Protected Bike Ride" at the 2 minute mark of this awesome 25-mile tour!

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Surviving Montreal’s Frigid, “Snow Moon by Bike” Ride

I'll come out and say it: I am a NYC winter-bike-riding wimp: I almost never jump on the bike once temps dip below about 35 degrees. But after visiting Montreal to ride on easily the coldest night I ever have, just maybe I'll re-think that.

On Saturday, I participated in Velo Quebec's "Snow Moon By Bike" ride which featured about a thousand riders taking a journey around the city in temperatures in the single digits. (Wind chill below zero F). Montreal had just finished hosting the Winter Cycling Congress and I decided if I was gonna try to make it thru, I'd ask people not only about why they come out for the ride, but any advice they could offer riding in sub-zero temperatures.

Many good layers, of course, was the suggestion of the day. But also making sure to take it easy so you don't sweat which can be very perilous in the cold. I also learned - the hard way - that breathable footwear and gloves (mittens especially) were especially vital in the wind!

It was a challenging but fun ride for me since I not only had the icy roads and other riders to contend with, but also was documenting, thus I had to hop on and off and only wear a very light glove on my shooting (right) hand. By the end I couldn't feel my middle finger at all - and my hand didn't really return to fully useable until about a half hour indoors. My toes got it pretty badly, too, they felt fine walking around prior to the start but once you're on the bike the blood flow in your feet changes and any wind just wicks heat right away. My doubled up socks in my snug sneakers weren't much of a barrier, but I didn't bring boots.

All in all this was a splendid experience. I certainly have even more respect for the #VikingBiking mentality of Montreal residents to battle temperatures that scare me. I think I'll now be more brave in my future winter NYC riding.

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Streetfilms and Streetsblog: The First 10 Years

This summer, Streetfilms and Streetsblog celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and to mark the occasion, we created this film looking back at how our reporting and videos have changed streets in New York, the U.S., and cities all over the world.

This film showcases only a small portion of the work that thousands of volunteers and advocates have put in. It begins with the NYC Streets Renaissance, a collection of organizations that banded together in 2005 to rally people around the idea that streets can change, by showing best practices from other cities and photosimulations of what NYC streets could become.

You'll see clips from important Streetfilms like the series on Bogota's Bus Rapid Transit and Ciclovia, as well as recaps of how Streetsblog influenced transportation policy at City Hall, defended the work of transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and put pressure on Albany to stop raiding transit funds. Getting closer to the present day, we look at why Streetsblog's coverage of traffic crashes matters, the new generation of elected officials working for better streets, and what's next for advocacy in NYC.

A note: This Streetfilm runs over 12 minutes, but if we had the resources it easily be a 90-minute feature documentary. Apologies to anyone left on the cutting room floor and topics not addressed, but perhaps someday we'll be able to make that film!

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Biking NYC Pre-2005: Shorts from the bikeTV era of 2001-2005!

That's me above in a promo for bikeTV!

Many of you know that before I got heavily involved in what was to become Streetfilms, I produced a cable access show in New York City called bikeTV. We had a lot of fun and the main goal of the half hour weekly slot was to show New Yorkers how much fun it was to bike places in the city with friends, how much better biking could be and to cover the advocacy world (Transportation Alternatives, Time's Up, 5BBC, etc) and what they were promoting.

Recently, I took the time to finally upload some episodes from my work (and other contributors) to Vimeo and Youtube. It's quite amazing some of the work we did - usually trying to produce a new half hour show every month. I still have people come up to me and say they discovered biking through bikeTV!

Read more...

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Why are New Yorkers bicycling to work in record numbers?

Today is Bike To Work Day in NYC. And as usual Transportation Alternatives was out hosting some fueling stations in the morning.

We thought with the newest NYC DOT data showing bicycling at an all-time high, it would be great time to ask bicyclists why they are riding their bikes more. Interestingly, the answers seemed to fall in three distinct categories: it is safer, it is healthy and MTA is falling apart.

But don’t take our word for it, listen to what your fellow city riders told us.

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Streetfilms University: The “Simple” Art of Editing (YOU can do it!)

The first thing I like to emphasize to folks when they come to see me at conferences to give my Streetfilms University presentation is that if you have a little bit of patience, really anyone can make and edit a decent short film. Even with little or no experience. Sure, perhaps not to a "Streetfilms standard" right off the bat, but believe me: if you put the time in, you can edit and make a successful and perfectly watchable advocacy tool.

One method I like to use is playing videos showing a progression of clips, each step showing the transformation of a talking head interview to its placement within a Streetfilm. First, I play the raw soundbite I was working with. Next, I edit down my taking head and remove extraneous information to make a sleeker, faster answer. Then, I show what it looks like with b-roll (footage), sound and/or graphics edited in to showcase the final Streetfilms product.

This above clip is of Professor Norman Garrick from the University of Connecticut. He's easily become one of my favorite people to interview and this featured edit progression is from my recent Streetfilm "Zurich: Where People are Welcome and Cars Are Not." You'll see how I took a one minute soundbite and edited it down to 27 seconds with five edits. Then what it looks like once music and footage of transit & city life is ladled in.

There are many ways and styles to edit a film. But as a beginner don't get bogged down much on what music you are gonna use or how you are gonna begin the video or fancy animated graphics or kinds of transitions/fonts/titles you want. Just concentrate on your interviews. Edit them down to tell the story you want to. All of the other elements will actually be easier to decide once you have soundbites lined up. Trust me. There's not much sense putting effort into editing a fancy 20 second opening montage to your video and then saying to yourself, "Okay, now what?"

Here's another edit progression I've included, this time featuring three of transportation greatest heroes from the Streetfilm "The Rise of Open Streets". watch how three perfectly wonderful sound bites at a length of 1:12 sound even better at 33 seconds, and then the momentum it picks up by adding the appropriate corresponding footage.

I'm not saying this approach is the best for everybody, but it 's simple and always works. And you can duplicate it. Just be aware that it may take listening to a soundbite dozens of times to find out what to remove. Or better yet: letting the video sit and sleeping on it and coming back with a fresh set of eyes and ears. Just like a college term paper!

This final "riding interview" sequence I am attaching not to recommend you try for yourself (after all I've been doing this for 15 years) but it does illustrate how you can make magic happen. This is a clip of fellow media maker Chris Bruntlett I shot while riding in Montreal's Tour de l'Île. I accidentally had a GoPro recording during our chat and later when I realized I had the two angles, I wanted show what I sometimes endure and navigate while in the midst of my job. Nevertheless, the final product shows how adding in the right video b-roll helps tell the tale. Enjoy!

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Journey Around Copenhagen’s Latest Bicycle Innovations!

Copenhagen just keeps finding new ways to make it easier and more convenient to bike. Recently I had the chance to take a tour with Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize and see some of the innovations that have changed the city's streets since I was there four years ago.

First off, if you've seen my 2010 Streetfilm about Copenhagen's bike infrastructure and culture, the busiest bicycle street in the world has changed: The Knippelsbro Bridge now boasts 40,700 riders per day! And speaking of bridges, Copenhagen is building six new crossings exclusively for biking and walking to help its citizens get around.

Last month another cool bridge debuted -- the Cykelslangen ("Bicycle Snake"). You'll see loads of footage as we traveled back and forth. It is truly a handsome piece of infrastructure. Even going uphill seems pretty easy!

You'll see lots of other things that will make you happy (or angry your city isn't doing more!), including waste baskets angled for cyclists, LED lights that indicate whether riders have to speed up to catch the green wave, and a cool treatment for cobblestone streets that helps make biking easier.

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How a Massive Bike Tour Inspired Montreal to Become a Bike-Friendly City

Especially in the warmer months, Montreal is simply alive with street life and, of course, lots of bicycling. Its car-free spaces are inviting to everyone, and there's so much art and interactive installations in public space.

In 2001 and again in 2003, I got to ride the Tour de l'Île in Montreal while on group trips with NYC's Five Borough Bike Club. Both times were incredibly exciting, not only because of the rides, but because I could see and use wonderful, safe bike infrastructure. It helped me realize what could be possible in NYC one day.

I was invited by Vélo Québec to participate in this year's Tour de l'Île (as well as the Tour la Nuit), and I still think it's the best group ride in the world.

Riding this year, I was accompanied by many advocates and journalists from other cities. I learned how the ride's formation in 1985 helped inspire much of the city's bike infrastructure, and how it has kept pressure on the government to continue building more.  There are cyclists everywhere in Montreal: One report puts the bike-to-work mode share in the Le Plateau – Mont Royal neighborhood at about 18 percent.

So just go to Montreal. And go often. Don't bring a bike -- they have Bixi. That's all you'll need. If this video isn't enough of an endorsement, how about this: In all my riding over five visits, I've only ever seen one car parked in a bike lane.