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Posts tagged "Eric Britton"

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Contested Streets: Breaking New York City Gridlock

Produced in 2006 as part of the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, Contested Streets explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to present.  This examination allows for an understanding of how the city --- though the most well served by mass transit in the United States --- has slowly relinquished what was a rich, multi-dimensional conception of the street as a public space to a mindset that prioritizes the rapid movement of cars and trucks over all other functions.

Central to the story is a comparison of New York to what is experienced in London, Paris and Copenhagen.  Interviews and footage shot in these cities showcase how limiting automobile use is in recent years has improved air quality, minimized noise pollution and enriched commercial, recreational and community interaction.  London's congestion pricing scheme, Paris' BRT and Copenhagen's bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are all examined in depth.  New York City, though to many the most vibrant and dynamic city on Earth, still has lessons to learn from Old Europe.

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Rethinking Streets in Paris

Back in July I made a video about Paris' public bicycle system, Velib. Its success must in part be credited to the provisions made for safe cycling and the understood "street code," where users are responsible for others whose vehicles are lighter than their own.

This video explores traffic calming amenities Paris has installed. For example, in several areas of Paris curbs have been removed and bikes, pedestrians, buses and taxis coexist at low speeds. On wider roads bikes share the BRT lanes with buses and taxis. Counter-flow bike lanes expand the bike network. Raised crosswalks and neckdowns slow traffic and make pedestrians more visible at intersections. Watch for more.

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Mobilien: Paris’ Version of Bus Rapid Transit

Le Mobilien is Paris' version of what we know as a bus rapid transit system or a surface mass transport network. Paris has been doing “bus rapid transit” for decades, and after years of on-street operation and continuous fine-tuning they have now developed a system which they call the “Mobilien” - French for MOBI-lity plus “LIEN” which means link. Linking mobility. Unlike the BRTs that most US cities are looking at, the Mobilien adapts to different city contexts (i.e. street width and specific neighborhood dynamics). Mobilien doesn't aim at producing top speeds but making steady progress through the traffic stream. It launched in Paris after three years of planning in 2004 with the goal of cutting down on car traffic. To make the project possible, Paris' officials eliminated much on-street parking to create dedicated bus lanes that are shared with bicycles, taxis and emergency vehicles. Eric Britton from the new Mobility Agenda took me on a tour of Mobilien.

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Vélib’

On July 15, 2007 Paris debuted the world's largest self-service "bicycle transit system" called Vélib outdoing previously designed bike share programs. Vélib is a balance of scale and functionality, clocking in with more than 20,000 bikes, and 1,451 docking stations, which are never more than 1,000 feet apart. As a result, Vélib is effectively a new form of public transportation that has generated more than 25 million new bicycle trips in its first year, 10% of which substitute former car trips.Today the program celebrates its first anniversary. And, throughout the year cities across the globe have kept a close eye on the progress of this environmentally-friendly public transportation mode. Overall, bike-share programs have proven to increase public transportation options at a relatively low cost to the city. Any registered user can "borrow" a bike from a station for a nominal fee and return it to any other station in the system. In Paris, Vélib has saved the city 10 million km in car trips, roughly equal to $10 million in savings. With 200,000 Parisians paying the city $50 each for an annual Velib pass, this has yielded an additional $10 million in revenues. Beyond economics, Paris has seen tremendous traffic calming and air quality benefits from this public bicycle system. Here in the States, a bike share program is about to kick off in Washington DC, and Chicago and San Francisco are in the process of implementation as well. Last week The New York City Department of Transportation announced its plans to examine the possibility of creating a bike share program. In April, I had the chance to visit Paris with Transportation Alternatives' Caroline Samponaro to learn about Vélib. Check out this video to get a picture of it yourself. Oh, and Happy Birthday Vélib!