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Posts tagged "“Gridlock” Sam Schwartz"

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Complete Streets: It’s About More Than Bike Lanes

Over the last four years, New York City has seen a transportation renaissance on its streets, striking a better balance by providing more space for walking, biking, and transit.

As with any departure from the status quo, it can take a while for everyone to grow accustomed to the changes. So Streetfilms decided to look at three of NYC’s most recent re-designs — Columbus Avenue, First and Second Avenues, and Prospect Park West — and show how pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers benefit from safer, calmer streets. We talked to transportation engineers with decades of experience, elected leaders, community board members, people on the street, and business owners to get their take on the new configurations.

The truth is, no matter how hard some media outlets try to spin it otherwise, these new street safety projects have broad community support. And while the story of these changes often gets simplified in the press, the fact is that the benefits of the redesigns go far beyond cycling. A street with a protected bike lane also has less speeding, shorter pedestrian crossings, less lane-shifting and more predictable movements for drivers, and the opportunity to add more trees and plantings. Injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and car passengers drop wherever the new designs go in. And on the East Side, these improvements have been paired with dedicated bus-only lanes with camera enforcement, making service more convenient and attractive for thousands of bus riders.

At 11 minutes, this is one of our longest Streetfilms. We cover a lot of ground here, and we hope it’s illuminating no matter what side of the issue you fall on.

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MBA: Highway Removal

In this week's episode of "Moving Beyond the Automobile," Streetfilms takes you on a guided tour of past, present and future highway removal projects with John Norquist of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU).

Some of the most well-known highway removals in America -- like New York City's Miller Highway and San Francisco's Embarcadero Freeway -- have actually been unpredictable highway collapses brought on by structural deficiencies or natural disasters. It turns out there are good reasons for not rebuilding these urban highways once they become rubble: They drain the life from the neighborhoods around them, they suck wealth and value out of city, and they don't even move traffic that well during rush hour.

Now several cities are pursuing highway removals more intentionally, as a way to reclaim city space for housing, parks, and economic development. CNU has designated ten "Freeways without Futures" here in North America, and in this video, you'll hear about the benefits of tearing down the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx, the Skyway and Route 5 in Buffalo, and the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans.

Streetfilms would like to thank The Fund for the Environment & Urban Life for making this series possible.

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MBA: Congestion Pricing

In the fifth chapter of "Moving Beyond the Automobile," we demystify the concept of congestion pricing in just five short minutes. Here you'll learn why putting a price on scarce road space makes economic sense and how it benefits many different modes of surface transportation.

In London, which successfully implemented congestion pricing in 2003, drivers now get to their jobs faster, transit users have improved service, cyclists have better infrastructure, and pedestrians have more public space. More people have access to the central city, and when they get there, the streets are safer and more enjoyable. While the politics of implementing congestion pricing are difficult, cities looking to tame traffic and compete in the 21st century can't afford to ignore a transportation solution that addresses so many problems at once.

Streetfilms would like to thank The Fund for the Environment & Urban Life for making this series possible.

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In Appreciation of the NEW Times Square

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to announce his verdict on Times Square's new pedestrian spaces very soon. Will the changes be permanent? This morning Bloomberg told radio host John Gambling that we'll find out sometime next week. In the meantime, it seems like the media has decided to fixate on rumorsthat Midtown traffic speeds may not have increased across the board, without paying much attention to the tremendous difference this project has made for hundreds of thousands of pedestrians every day.

It's been eight months since this part of Broadway went car-free, and maybe it's hard to recall just how bad Times Square used to be for everyone walking around. To really appreciate what we have today, you've got to take a trip back in time to see the crowded, dangerous mess that used to fester at the crossroads of the world. Naturally, the moment calls for a Streetfilms retrospective.

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The Queensboro Bridge turns 100!

It's extremely rare you get to cross one of New York City's major bridges by foot using the main roadway, but early Sunday morning that's just what happened as the Queensboro Bridge turned a hardy 100!

The NYC Bridge Centennial Commission is in the midst of celebrating the completion dates of six major NYC bridges and holding events to honor the magnificent stories behind them. And boy does Master of Ceremonies, "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz, have a doozy for the Queensboro: touring the bridge with politicians back in the 1980s, he used a hammer to knock holes in its rusted beams to demonstrate its dire need of repair. As the B-52s might say: "Tin roof, RUSTED!"

Mayor Bloomberg was on hand at center span to reenact the ceremony from 1909 as marching bands played, vintage automobiles ferried borough presidents from their respective sides, and there was ample picture taking and handshakes. But the moment of the day had to be when Sam Schwartz unveiled a sign replica dating to the bridge's opening. If you didn't know already folks - the Queensboro Bridge once had a 10 cent toll for automobiles. Oh, where did we go wrong?

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Physically Separated Bike Lanes

Advocates from Transportation Alternatives, The Project for Public Spaces, and The Open Planning Project join "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz and Enrique Penalosa to call for New York City to consider experimenting with some form of physically separated bike lanes in the near future.

Physically Separated Bike Lanes - Paul White

Featuring ample footage and photos from over a dozen cities worldwide, this video makes the case that America is woefully behind the curve in protecting its cyclists in big cities.

Physically Separated Bike Lanes - Diagram

Though this video is NYC-centric in nature, all lessons and video easily apply to cities across the U.S.

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Gridlock Sam: Parking Policy & Permits

Part Two of our interview: Sam Schwartz and T.O.P.P. founder & Executive Director Mark Gorton discuss how the modal split into NYC's Central Business District (essentially south of 59th Street) has changed over the last half century and how some of those numbers could easily be reversed by revoking free parking permits for NYC Governmental employees.

"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.

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San Francisco: Removal of the Embarcadero Freeway

In 1989, a 7.1 earthquake struck the Bay Area which severely damaged many of its elevated highway structures. The Embarcadero Freeway - an ugly, double-decked highway - was replaced with a grand boulevard which emphasizes access to the waterfront and provides people with transportation options like walking, mass transit, and bicycling instead of an emphasis personal vehicle use. In this 12 minute mini-doc, you'll see some of the dramatic changes and how all users benefit when planning takes a pedestrian and people-first attitude.

Just look at these BEFORE and AFTER shots!

Embarcadero 2

Embarcadero 3

Also discussed: Octavia Boulevard which replaced part of the former-Central Freeway.

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Canal Park: The Re-Emergence of a Park!

Richard Barrett talks about his community's struggle to rebuild Canal Park, a task deemed impossible by New York City's Department of transportation.