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Posts tagged "Mark Gorton"

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MBA: Bus Rapid Transit

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) provides faster and more efficient service than an ordinary bus. "These systems operate like a surface subway, say BRT advocates, but cost far less than building an actual metro." Watch this chapter of Moving Beyond the Automobile to learn about the key features of bus rapid transit systems around the world and how BRT helps shift people out of cars and taxis and into buses.

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

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Revisiting Donald Appleyard’s Livable Streets

You may have wondered, while watching a Streetfilm or reading a post on Streetsblog, where we got the term "livable streets."FTGMlogo4web

The answer can be found in the work of Donald Appleyard, a scholar who studied the neighborhood environment and the ways planning and design can make life better for city residents. In 1981, Appleyard published "Livable Streets" based on his research into how people experience streets with different traffic volumes.  The Second Edition of Livable Streets will be published by Routledge Press in 2011.

Today we're revisiting Appleyard's work in the second installment of our series, "Fixing the Great Mistake." This video explores three studies in "Livable Streets" that measured, for the first time, the effect of traffic on our social interactions and how we perceive our own homes and neighborhoods.

"Fixing the Great Mistake" is a new Streetfilms series that examines what went wrong in the early part of the 20th Century, when our cities began catering to the automobile, and how those decisions continue to affect our lives today.

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Tom Vanderbilt Talks “Traffic”

Whether you're a transportation geek or just curious about why people do the things they do behind the wheel, Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic is one of the most fascinating books you can open up.

Tom, who also writes the excellent blog How We Drive, was kind enough to drop by the Streetfilms office for a conversation about his vast research into the world of car and driver. Here's our ten-minute highlight reel of his talk with OpenPlans founder and Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton. The interview covers subjects from the Invisible Gorilla to intense DriveCam footage of automobile crashes to the dangers of noise-canceling technology touted by car manufacturers. Whether you drive every day or not at all, you'll be enlightened about what happens inside people's heads once they're inside an automobile.

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10 Things to Be Thankful for on Gridlock Alert Days

Each year, New York City DOT and the MTA create a Holiday Traffic Mitigation Plan to ensure that traffic flows as smoothly as possible throughout the busy holiday season. You can do your part by taking mass transit whenever possible, especially on gridlock alert days (when traffic is expected to he heavy enough to warrant announcements encouraging people not to drive). So far, there have been six such alerts this month.

On one of them, Streetfilms and Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton went for a whirl around lower Manhattan to see how the alert kept traffic flowing. In this light-hearted video, he shares his top ten things to be thankful for on gridlock alert days.

Beware: The next gridlock alert is Wednesday, December 23.

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Drivers Behaving Rudely

Just because there's a livable streets revolution underway in NYC doesn't mean that drivers have gotten the message. Cars blocking crosswalks, drivers failing to yield to pedestrians, unnecessary honking and a slew of other quality-of-walking violations are still a routine occurrence to contend with on nearly every corner of New York City.

Mark Gorton, publisher of Streetsblog, wants to put drivers on notice of their rudeness. While he acknowledges the majority of drivers are not bad or mean people, their actions speak otherwise and they may not even realize it. After all, one rude driver sitting in a crosswalk can inconvenience or endanger dozens of pedestrians in one light cycle. Yet would that same person take a shopping cart in a supermarket and purposely block an aisle and make people navigate around him or her? The betting line says likely not.

So what is it about driving a car that allows people to get a societal pass on their rudeness?

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“The Pedestrian Crush” on 34th & 7th Avenue

Although there is undoubtedly an amazing streets renaissance going on in NYC, there still remain places in dire need of improvement.  Heavily-used areas like the blocks surrounding Penn Station area from 4 to 7 PM on weekdays are overwhelmed with pedestrians making their way home to via a network of subways, NJ Transit, the Long Island Railroad, Amtrak and catching myriad buses.  The sidewalks are so clogged by this "crush of humanity" that people are forced to walk in the streets.  If you've never seen it or fear claustrophobia, get ready.

Our Executive Director Mark Gorton recently went out to the sample the atmosphere on a typical weekday commuter night and posits that we can do much better in our choice of allocation of street space.  His words sum it up nicely:

The reason it's so crowded here is not because there's not enough space, it's because we give all of our space to the least spatially-efficient form of transportation available.

Of course he is referring to the automobile, especially the single-occupant vehicle.  Oddly enough, I did a PSA over three years ago which aired during our initial NYCSR campaign launch.  I filmed most of it in the same location.  And it still looks much the same, perhaps worse.

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The Search for the Zozo

In the early part of the 1900s, Zozos - large, furry, innocent, purple creatures - once freely roamed New York City's streets, and were seen frequently mingling among its denizens and enjoying the public realm. But with the advent of the automobile their numbers slowly dwindled, until the 1930s when sightings became rare and they were thought to go extinct.

But now thanks to a burgeoning livable streets movement and a marked improvement in public spaces in NYC, Zozo sightings have been reported. World-renowned crypto-zoologist Donald Druthers has convinced us to document the facts - and yes, it looks like Zozos could be making a comeback! See the evidence for yourself.

Presenting our long-awaited mockumentary "The Search for the Zozo," featuring many of New York's greatest citizens. You'll hear NYC urban expert Professor Kenneth T. Jackson from Columbia University talk about the history of the Zozo. But in addition, you'll hear accounts of sightings and Zozo-inspired stories from Colin "No Impact Man" Beavan, restaurateur (and cyclist) Florent Morellet, livable streets advocate Mary Beth Kelly, author Tom Vanderbilt, and a slew of advocates working to make safer streets a reality for pedestrians, cyclists, and the general public.

And if you see a Zozo? Let us know in the comments section, or dial 555-ZOZO. You can also check out our website WhereistheZozo? for the latest in sightings and news.

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Carmaggeddon Averted as Broadway Comes to Life

When New York City opened up new pedestrian zones in the heart of Midtown this summer, naysayers predicted a traffic nightmare. Nearly two months later, we're still waiting for the much-feared Carmaggedon.

In this video, Streetfilms funder Mark Gorton takes us on a tour of Broadway's car-free squares and boulevard-style blocks, where conditions have improved dramatically for pedestrians, cyclists, and, yes, delivery truck drivers. As Mark says, the counterintuitive truth is that taking away space for cars can improve traffic while making the city safer and more enjoyable for everyone on foot. There are sound theories that help explain why this happens -- concepts like traffic shrinkage and Braess's paradox which are getting more and more attention thanks to projects like this one. While traffic statistics are still being collected by NYCDOT, there's already a convincing argument that Midtown streets are functioning better than before: To understand it, just take a walk down Broadway.

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Block Party NYC

2008 was the kickoff for BlockParty NYC, a new on-line initiative to promote block parties in the five boroughs.   The site helps you plan your own block party or find and existing parties near you so that you can enjoy a day free from the usual hazards of a car-filled street. You can also apply for a mini grant to throw a party, but you better hurry since the deadline is fast approaching.

To celebrate block parties we created this mini film.  Last year Streetfilms visited many parties and talked to residents about their streets and life without the automobile.  We were also able to talk to urban planners, community figures like Majora Carter, historians, and NYC photographer, Rebecca Lepkoff.

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Grand Street 2005

With all the hullabaloo over the new Grand Street bike lane, we thought we'd resurrect a Streetfilm (actually before they were even called Streetfilms!) from back in June 2005 with TOPP founder Mark Gorton talking about the then incredible width of Grand Street and the inequity of street space devoted to its users. We used this at some early gatherings in the infancy of our movement to try to use media to raise public awareness of what is happening on our streets. It had not been on the Streetfilms site 'til now, but is available (with other oldies) on the old NYCSR site.

Whatever your viewpoint on the new bike lane, it is easy to see why Grand Street and others like it are good candidates to give back some road space to pedestrians and people.

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Transforming NYC Streets: A Conversation with Janette Sadik-Khan

Since taking over as New York City's Commissioner of the Department of Transportation in mid-2007, Janette Sadik-Khan has taken on the challenge of making NYC streets more bike & pedestrian friendly while emphasizing livable streets and re-orienting them to accommodate all modes. She and her staff have done it quickly with innovative concepts, thinking outside the box and drawing on successful street designs from around the world to come up with a NYC model that is already changing the way our city feels.

In our exclusive Streetfilms interview, she talks with The Open Planning Project's Executive Director, Mark Gorton, about some of the highlights her department has achieved in a very short period of time including a physically-separated bike lane on Ninth Avenue, multiple pedestrian plazas (including Madison Square and Broadway Boulevard), new efforts to boost efficiency and speeds on some bus routes, and the city's phenomenally successful, Ciclovia-style closure "Summer Streets".

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Block Party Summer

It is 4th of July weekend, can't think of anything fun to do? Might a Block Party fancy you? There are over 3000 block parties in New York every year. There is bound to be one in or near your neighborhood. Check the Block Party NYC list of locations. Or, if you know about a party that is not listed, just add it yourself. Here is a taste of the *87th Street Block Party in June.*Extra footage for this video was shot by Sasha Sumner and Robin Urban Smith.

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Illustrating Parking Reform with Dr. Shoup

On his recent visit to New York, Dr. Donald Shoup, professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, sat down with Mark Gorton of the Open Planning Project in front of a typical NYC street grid map to discuss parking policy.

Shoup concludes that charging more for curbside parking would free up more parking space, reduce congestion-causing cruising and generate funds for local street improvement projects.

Related StreetFilm: Dr. Shoup: Parking Guru

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Transportation Ethics

Who knew that Randy Cohen, a guy who spends most of his day analyzing right and wrong as the New York Times Magazine's acclaimed "Ethicist," turns out to be one of New York City's most captivating and articulate voices for Livable Streets.

The Open Planning Project's Executive Director Mark Gorton recently interviewed Mr. Cohen on the ethics of urban automobility. The result has been condensed here into a 9 minute talk that touches on a multitude of topics ranging from Congestion Pricing to Parking Policy.

StreetFilms hopes this inspires even more debate as we approach these issues from the angle of personal responsibility. We think you'll enjoy this.

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A Walk around the Upper West Side

StreetFilms presents the full version of TOPP Executive Director Mark Gorton and neighbor Lisa Sladkus walk around the Upper West Side as they pointing out certain traffic calming features and road geometry changes that could be done to make the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Previously we have posted very short primers here, but today we offer the full tour, complete with many diagrams and photos, which we hope will inspire denizens of Gotham and beyond to use these ideas in their neighborhoods. So go take a walk around your block and start the transformation!