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Posts tagged "Mayor Bloomberg"

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Street Transformations – Union Square (NYC)

Going thru the archives found some really great "vintage" footage to put together yet another episode in the Street Transformations series, this one looking at the positive transformation of the roads that encircle Union Square.

Rewind to 2005 when I was really starting to dive in to the work that would become Streetfilms. I decided to tape a big Community Board meeting to announce the results of a year long traffic study to see the feasibility of extending Manhattan's Union Square north, specifically making two-way 17th Street, one lane, one-way west and adding ample footage for a sidewalk, an extension of Union Square or both.

The "livable streets crowd" really thought this would be a big win but alas - NYC DOT reported other than installing a barnes dance crossing and some small signal timing changes, that 17th street, 19th street and other nearby streets would suffer unacceptable "levels of service" according to the federal guidelines in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) handbook. In another word "gridlock"!

Of course back then the MUTCD factored very little for pedestrians & bicyclists and discounted livability in favor of moving traffic along at any cost, a huge complaint of sensible transportation advocates.

But as we all know since then, New York City has had a decent renaissance on its streets. Both NYC DOT Commissioners Janette Sadik-Khan and Polly Trottenberg have progressively chipped away at road space for vehicles and added two-way protected bike lanes on two sides, pedestrian plazas, a unique ped/bike one block only section on Union Square West and, yes, extended the park north as was once hoped for all those years ago.

This look back reveals the danger of relying solely on the MUTCD when evaluating cities and their neighborhood streets. NACTO under Sadik-Khan's leadership started a process to broaden the accepted techniques other cities have employed thinking creatively with pilot including paint, bollards, boulders and protected bike lanes.

In the end, what the real failure of the 2005 decision by NYC DOT is the fact that they projected traffic to grow over the ensuing ten years. No one questioned that. But in fact later as NYC slowly deemphasized Broadway as a through route of travel and removed some parking, it actually became easier to see that predictions of traffic Armageddon were not true. And besides: even if traffic on some streets did go up a bit, wouldn't it be worth it to the tens of thousands of pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users to have a much more peaceful journey?

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Highlights from NACTO’s 2012 “Designing Cities” Conference

The National Association of City Transportation Officials' 2012 Designing Cities Conference drew hundreds of city transportation officials from around the U.S. to New York City last fall to share ideas and learn about the latest innovations from places around the country.

As you'll see, the conference featured some nice twists on the usual fare and included many great speakers, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz. Among the headliners was NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who nicely encapsulated how some elected leaders are starting to approach transportation in their cities differently than their predecessors:

"Streets are there to transport people. They're not there necessarily for cars they're there to transport people - and there are lots of different ways of transporting people, and in fact one of the original ways was walking. So we've come full circle here - surprise, surprise."

Also, if you haven't already seen it, do not miss Streetfilms' video of the NACTO commissioner's panel, hosted by MSNBC's Chris Hayes. It is 52 minutes of fascinating dialogue between the transportation commissioners from five of America's greatest cities.

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Select Bus Service Debuts on Manhattan’s East Side

This weekend, Select Bus Service debuted on First and Second Avenues in Manhattan, bringing a package of improvements to speed trips on one of New York's most-used bus routes. Buses on the M15 route were traveling at a snail-like clip of less than 6 mph before the introduction of SBS.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City Transit's Director of Bus Planning Ted Orosz, and MTA Bus Company President Joe Smith spoke to Streetfilms about how SBS will make traveling on the east side of Manhattan faster and easier for transit riders. The major changes include dedicated bus lanes enforced by cameras, priority for buses at traffic lights, and off-board fare collection.

Select Bus Service in the Bronx has produced a 20 percent improvement in travel times and enticed thousands more New Yorkers to ride the bus. Officials project that once people get used to the new system on First and Second Avenues, transit riders on the east side will see similar gains. Have a look and see how it works.

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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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Mayor Bloomberg & Friends Announce “Summer Streets”

A large heaping of news media and livable streets advocates converged at Astor Place for the Mayor's presser to make the official announcement of "Summer Streets." Essentially the plan opens Park Avenue to pedestrians and cyclists from 72nd thru to the Brooklyn Bridge (using other connectors) on August 9th, 16th, and 23rd from 7 AM to 1 PM!

On hand with the Mayor were Lance Armstrong, David Byrne, Janette Sadik-Khan and Scott Stringer and we've included wonderful quottage from them all. And by the way, Lance may be the 7 time Tour de France winner, but we found an interesting "7" theme running throughout the proceedings. (Yes, we had a little fun.)

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The Mayor and Tyra Plant a Tree!

While out filming livable streets improvements around Gansevoort and Ninth Avenue today, we roamed into a quagmire of paparazzi in a feeding frenzy. Soon it was apparent why: Mayor Bloomberg and Tyra Banks showed up briefly to beautify our physically separated bike lane on Ninth Avenue by planting a tree!

As Streetfilms viewers know we are the beacon of breaking Ninth Avenue News - chronicling the continuing metamorphosis of NYC DOT's innovative initiative for cyclists. Flashback here to Halloween when some guy in a purple cape was running around saying he wanted a tree. Well, he got it!

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Campaign for New York’s Future: Congestion Pricing

This StreetFilm for The Campaign for New York's Future explains the health and transportation benefits of congestition pricing, one of the 127 proposals included in Mayor Bloomberg's ambitious PlaNYC2030.

The Campaign for New York's Future is a coalition of over 80 civic, business, environmental, labor, religious, public health and community organizations partnering to make every neighborhood in NYC a great place to live and work.