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Posts tagged "Mark Gorton"

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Biking around Hell’s Kitchen’s New Spaces with Charlie Todd

Last year while filming my NYC Family Cargo Bike documentary, one of the featured people I interviewed by chance was Charlie Todd from the NYC-cool Improv Everywhere group (You can see that most excellent Streetfilm here:

Over the last year I've seen him more often as I never realized he was a big bike advocate in his community. So I recently met up with him to go for a ride and warned him I would have my camera with me just in case he wanted to talk about the newest bike and pedestrian facilities going in on Eighth and Ninth Avenues in Hell's Kitchen. Well we ended up talking quite a bit about how the lanes work and how they have supplanted older facilities which didn't work for either mode.

Charlie is also now a member of Manhattan's Community Board 4!

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The Peaceful Pedestrian Plazas of Paris: Lessons for Your City

Continuing our Streetfilms series of looking at Paris, we already present our 3rd (of a half dozen expected) video short.

While in Paris, Streetfilms met up with Open Plans Founder, Mark Gorton, and recorded this impromptu look at the pedestrianized/low traffic streets of Paris after walking for nearly a half hour continuously and only seeing a handful of vehicles.

Mark gives us his evaluations and observations on how so much better the city has become by implementing policies that favor all forms of transportation and modality versus accommodating the car everywhere for every trip and allowing it to dominate the landscape.

And as a reminder: Paris plans to repurpose 50% of its current car parking bays by 2026 for alternate uses.

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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:

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Talking Public Spaces with Mark Gorton: Episode One with Meatpacking BID Jeffrey LeFrancois

Here's an absolutely great interview between Open Plans' Mark Gorton and NYC's Meatpacking BID Director Jeffrey LeFrancois. Intended to be the first of an on-going series with Mark Gorton where he interviews neighborhood leaders, BID directors and elected officials about how to manage open streets & open spaces and how much effort needs to be going on behind the scenes to pull it off successfully, he and Jeffrey chat about how this grid of streets in NYC has become more friendly to people.

This is a wonderful, enlightening interview that is filled with so much incredible footage of great events & everyday footage in NYC's Meatpacking District. For anyone who wants to make their city, neighborhood or BID more friendly to people this video is a MUST! Enjoy!

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All of our Ghent, Belgium Streetfilms in a Big Post!

As we worked towards our final edit for the anchor Ghent Streetfilm on the installation of their Circulation Plan, there were many smaller items we knew wouldn't make the final cut or were better off as quick items posted as shorts.

Above, of course, is the main feature. But below you will find some supplemental gems and fun.

This one below dives deeper in to the politics and the media negativism as the Circulation Plan for the city was getting ready to be installed.

In Ghent there is a very unique bridge that raises and lowers for boats WHILE cyclists ride over it, no need for pausing.

While we were on a bike tour of the city Vice Mayor Filip Watteeau showed us a program where neighbors can request and design their streets. Here is a clip.

And finally, there are quite a number of tram tracks, everywhere. And it is amazing and graceful to see the city's residents navigate them successfully, and most of them aren't wearing helmets either.



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Letting Citizens Redesign Their Streets: Mark Gorton Talks with Amsterdam’s Rocco Piers

This is essentially a follow-up from our smashingly popular Streetfilm from earlier this year where Amsterdam's new government announced they were removing 10,000 parking spaces from the streets.

Mark Gorton, the Chairman of Open Plans was curious to the exact decision process came about to remove on-street parking in the Frans Halsbuurt neighborhood , so he flew to Amsterdam to meet with Rocco Piers, the district alderman who is helping usher in a new way of allowing residents of streets to get together and re-design them the way they would like to see.

Of course the neighbors overwhelmingly favor: more green, more play areas, tons of bike parking and environmentally-friendly practices while also preserving limited access for cars and retaining ample loading zones on each block for residents to still use a car for when the need arises.

The original Streetfilm "Amsterdam's Removing 10,000 Parking Spaces: See what's possible!" can be found at this link:

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10 Years Later the Pedestrian Crush on NYC’s 34th Street is Still Chaos

Sidewalks around Penn Station are not wide enough to handle the number of people who walk in the area. That was the case in 2009, when Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson and Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton surveyed the pedestrian crush at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, and it’s no less true today.

Last spring DOT announced plans to add sidewalk space on Seventh between 42nd and 34th. Nearly 300 people were injured in crashes on that stretch between 2010 and 2014. One hundred thirty-eight of those victims were pedestrians — 12 of whom sustained severe injuries.

A year later, that project has not materialized. Clarence and Mark recently returned to 34th and Seventh to show how the city is still forcing people to walk in the street, even as motorists steal public space next to the curb.

“We filmed this exact intersection to show the sidewalk overcrowding, to show how we need more space for people,” says Gorton. “And in those 10 years nothing has happened. If anything it’s gotten worse.”

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No room for peds on NYC’s 8th Ave so they walk in Protected Bike Lane

Can you really blame pedestrians on 8th Avenue?

For a few hours at rush hour in the am/pm the protected bike lane is filled with walkers since they are forced off the dense sidewalks due to the astronomical number of commuters and residents on them.

This of course turns the protected bike lane installed a few years ago into a virtual nightmare of dodging people. But look carefully, in the 30 minutes we were there pedestrians try to be as accommodating as possible walking in the null zone between bikes and parked cars. Cyclists, too, try to make their way slowly (most of them).

It has to be frustrating for all of them. But the true enemy is, as Mark Gorton points out in the video, we have given far too much of the street to vehicles and drivers. Both pedestrians and cyclists should be angry with NYC's administration for allowing this to happen.

At least one more driving lane (and maybe two!) should be given to widen the sidewalks.

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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 on Amsterdam Avenue in NYC — Now More Like Biking in Amsterdam!

Getting a protected bike lane on NYC's Amsterdam Avenue was an epic struggle. This year, safe streets finally won.

Amsterdam Avenue is a neighborhood street on the Upper West Side, but it was designed like a highway with several lanes of one-way motor vehicle traffic. Local residents campaigned for nearly ten years to repurpose one of those lanes to make way for a parking-protected bike lane and pedestrian islands. They kept butting up against a few stubborn opponents of the street redesign on Community Board 7 (for viewers outside NYC, community boards are appointed bodies that weigh in on street redesigns, among other neighborhood changes).

Fed up with the dangerous conditions on Amsterdam, residents ramped up the activism. They staged silent protests and neighborhood actions to publicly shame the community board members stalling the redesign. Their efforts were rewarded earlier this year when CB 7 voted in favor of DOT's plan for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue from 72nd Street to 110th Street. Although not fully built yet -- 14 more blocks above 96th Street are still to come -- the project has changed the feel of the street dramatically.

It was a hard-earned victory, and yesterday people who fought for a safer Amsterdam celebrated with a ride down the new bike lane. Here's a look at the ride -- a sight we should see many times again as advocates organize for more space for safe biking and walking throughout NYC.

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Gabe Klein Talks About Getting Sh*t Done in “Start-Up City”

Streets can be tough to change. Between institutional inertia, tight budgets, bureaucratic red tape, and the political risks of upsetting the status quo, even relatively simple improvements for walking, biking, or transit can take years to pull off -- if they ever get implemented at all.

But a new generation of transportation officials have shown that it doesn't have to be that way. Cities can actually "get shit done," as former DC and Chicago transportation commissioner Gabe Klein puts it in his new book from Island Press, Start-Up City.

Streetfilms and our producer, Mark Gorton, recently got to sit down (and walk around) with Gabe to talk about the ideas in the book, which ties together his career as a transportation commissioner and his experience in start-ups like Zipcar. Start-Up City is filled with advice about how to get projects done quickly while choosing the best option for the public (and, of course, having fun). You can get a flavor for the book in this extensive interview with Gabe.

Full disclosure: Gabe Klein sits on the board of OpenPlans, the non-profit that produces Streetfilms and Streetsblog. This video is made possible by the Knight Foundation.

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Watch what this group of frustrated Vision Zero activists did to get their Community Board’s attention!

For many years, residents of Manhattan's Community Board 7 have been frustrated by the lack of transportation initiative from the leaders of their board. So after many years of trying to work within the boundaries of the system they decided to stage a silent sign protest at February's board meeting.

Since Community Board members are rarely not re-appointed, their positions are essentially for life - meaning that newer and progressive ideas often aren't seriously considered. On the Upper West Side residents are sick and tired of the transportation arm of their board voting against sensible traffic calming and livable streets measures that save lives.


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Charles Montgomery Talks “Happy City” With Mark Gorton

In this Streetfilm, Mark Gorton interviews award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery about his fantastic new book, "Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design," which delves into the hard-to-measure question of how the built environment affects our mental wellbeing.

Mark and Charles discuss how research from the fields of neuroscience, behavioral economics, and psychology is helping us to understand the relationship between happiness and our surroundings. The film also ends up touching on quite a few New York City places like Times Square, the Lower East Side, and Jackson Heights, Queens.

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Mark Gorton’s “Rethinking the Automobile” Plays to crowds in Portland!

Friends, as you may know our major funder for Streetfilms, Mark Gorton, has a wonderful touring presentation called "Rethinking the Automobile" which he's been delivering at many gatherings throughout the country.  Recently he was in Portland, Oregon at the Active Transportation Summit a few weeks ago.

Dan Kaufman of PDXK Productions (and CrankMyChainCycle TV!)captured the entire speech and did a wonderful edit job putting this together for any of those who may have missed it.  See it below.  (There is also a shorter highlight version here.)

Dan also did a great guest editorial in The Oregonian which is a great read.

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Mark Gorton’s Rethinking The Automobile Talk Tours India

Mark Gorton is not only the co-founder of Streetfilms, he is an information technology and finance entrepreneur. His success is well recognized in India and drew crowds for his presentation, "Rethinking the Automobile: Lessons from 100 years of Urban Experience with the Automobile” by India's top thinkers, business leaders, and information technology students. In a week-long tour, organized by the Institute for Transport Development Policy, Gorton made stops in Delhi, Chennai and Ahmedabad, generating a buzz in the media about the harmful impacts of automobile dependency.

Mark was able to share his ideas and lessons learned from the Livable Streets movement in New York.  Along the tour we were able to see and document best practices in Bus Rapid Transit and space allocation. Watch some of Mark's observations and reactions to India's changing transportation landscape.