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Posts tagged "paris"

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For the COP21 Paris Agreement to Work, Countries Must Watch these Streetfilms

We now have a "historic climate accord" from Paris via the COP21 summit with 195 countries on board. There are many noble goals including stopping climate change warming at no more than 2 degrees Celsius (that's 3.6 F) at which point most scientists have agreed is the point at which the planet will become drastically, catastrophically altered. It's a great achievement after many long decades of trying to get something very concrete in writing.

But there's nothing in the COP21 agreement that penalizes nations for not meeting goals. And that's troubling to many critics. Sure, there's talk about reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, transitioning to more efficient technologies and cutting back on pollution. But government leaderships change often. Global economic catastrophes can leave countries crying poverty. In short, we can have hope, but five or ten years from now will this pact remain solid?

For the world to thrive and rely less on energy, we'll need to make our dense cities function better on our streets. (And most of our suburbs too!) Residents of the United States and other countries will need to alter how they get around, using less of the private car. With that, I say, watch this batch of Streetfilms to learn what's working in cities and what is currently an abomination.

The Streetfilm at the top is from Groningen in The Netherlands, where the city has achieved a spectacular 50% bike mode share! Although we know it's asking too much for U.S. cities to easily and quickly that, we need to re-think the way our roads work and how our cities are structured. We can do much better: cities with 5% to 15% for biking trips is certainly not out of the question with the right infrastructure. Thanks to many decisions since the 1970's, Groningen has done far more than that, much like other great world cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

But it goes beyond bikes & walking. It means a solid commitment to transit and using the most efficient ways to get people around on our streets. You can see how Zurich does that with a clean, efficient, and often-running tram system that even people that are rich choose to use over the private car.

We also need to continue to make cities more attractive for people to live. See here what New York City has done over the last five to ten years with some of its public spaces with this incredible before and after montage!

Read more...

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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!

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Paris Skates!

Every Friday night and Sunday afternoon Parisians can take the streets and see their city on skates. And they do, by the thousands! Both mass rides, which are sponsored by different associations, started small and now are institutions of public street life in Paris.

In this video you hear from both, Tanao Terra, VP of Pari Roller, organizers of the Friday night skate and, Philippe Moulié, President of Rollers & Coquillages, sponsors of the Sunday afternoon Skate.

A little history: The Friday night skates were started by a small group of friends. After the transit strikes in 1995, which forced Parisians to find a new way to get around town, thousands of people began to show up on Friday evenings just to practice moving through the city on roller blades. The numbers inspired Pari Roller to form an official association working with Paris', and the world's, first roller blade national police unit.

Production note:  I got to chase both mass rides shooting on a velib (public share bike which you will see more on soon) while Caroline Samponaro from Transportation Alternatives skated with a helmet camera.

And if it looks fun, there seems to be a ride right here in NYC.