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Posts tagged "Pedestrians"

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Hoboken: Where Safe Intersections Matter More Than a Few Parking Spots

Last week, I happened to be on the other side of the Hudson, cruising the New Jersey waterfront on a Citi Bike, going up from Jersey City to Hoboken and Weehawken, then back.

On the return leg of my trip, I just couldn't believe how comfortable the streets of Hoboken felt as I was biking and walking. One thing stuck out to me: Nearly every intersection has "daylighting," meaning the space approaching the crosswalks is kept clear of cars, so everyone at intersections is more visible to each other. At several intersections in Hoboken, every corner is daylit.

I didn't plan to make a video about daylighting in Hoboken or schedule interviews with city officials. But I had my camera, thinking I could get some nice NYC skyline shots (nope, overcast), and I'm glad I did. I started taping and put together these observations, which I think will be valuable in New York and elsewhere.

Daylighting is a strategy that advocates are well aware of, but city governments hesitate to do it if it means repurposing parking spaces. Even in New York, where most people don't own cars, at a typical intersection drivers are allowed to park right up to the crosswalk, limiting visibility to the detriment of public safety.

Hoboken is showing what a city can do when it prizes safety for everyone above free car storage for a few. It should be the default practice everywhere.

For bonus footage from Hoboken, check out the awesome Observer Highway protected bike lane -- one of the best green lanes I've seen in an American city!

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At some Red Lights in NYC, Cyclists Now Get Head Start

Earlier this week, NYC DOT announced a pilot program to let cyclists use the same head start as pedestrians at 50 intersections with “leading pedestrian intervals” or LPIs, which give people a few seconds to establish themselves in the crosswalk before drivers get a green.

Since then, a number of people asked for a visual showing it works. So on the way home yesterday, I got a few quick shots and produced this short video explanation.

NYC DOT has been implementing hundreds of LPIs each year as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative. The agency will study the results of letting cyclists use LPIs (first proposed by Council Member Carlos Menchaca), before deciding whether to make it permanent policy and expand the rule to other intersections.

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Listen to these New Yorkers ideas of what we should do next for safe streets!

As many of you know, here in New York City there was an overwhelming reaction to the horrible tragedy in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where two young children were killed by a red-light running driver. Numerous events held, including a large NYC March for Safe Streets, put together by Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets and many other community partners. Hundreds of people joined in an incredible show of emotion and anger, and there were many suggestions on what we need to do next as a city and state.

The clips here show five short revealing conversations I had with pairs of people and their ideas about what needs to come next. All of their relfections were smart, sobering and perfectly appropriate.

If you are Mayor de Blaiso, Governor Cuomo, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, a council member on the city council or one of the thousands of community leaders out there, you should take a quick listen. I'd say implement all of what these people have to say.

In order to save our children and save all of us, it is a good start point.

Read more...

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After Another Tragedy, Park Slope Residents Demand Safe Streets

Over 100 New Yorkers turned out this morning for an impromptu rally to demand that Mayor de Blasio take action to rein in reckless driving on Ninth Street in Park Slope, where yesterday a motorist ran a red light, killed two small children and injured their mothers.

Organized by Doug Gordon, a.k.a. Brooklyn Spoke, the crowd gathered outside the Park Slope YMCA, where de Blasio works out most mornings. As Doug says, these folks are tired of excuses from DOT, which allots two lanes for parked cars on Ninth Street but says there isn’t room to designate space for bike lanes.

As you’ll see in the video, the protest got the mayor’s attention. Whether he’ll live up to his Vision Zero rhetoric remains to be seen.

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The Right to Walk

Every person has the right to walk. Choosing to move on foot -- to work, school, or the market -- should be safe and easy for urban residents. Yet city streets are increasingly being built for high-speed, personal vehicles, with hazardous intersections and narrow or nonexistent sidewalks. In many cities, simply getting anywhere by foot has become a dangerous: thousands of pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads each week.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy works around the world to ensure safety and accessibility for all road users, including the most vulnerable. Pedestrians, wheelchair users, children, and the elderly deserve the right to walk safely and comfortably to their destinations. Reshaping our cities to encourage walking is part of building a sustainable future, and avoiding the high costs to build and maintain urban highways. Building better spaces for walking saves lives, emissions, and promotes urban equity.

ITDP’s work around the world – in Mexico, China, Brazil, and across Africa – promotes the safety and priority of those on foot. It’s time to put pedestrians front and center. For more information, visit itdp.org and connect with ITDP on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rotterdam: A Post-War Central City Moves Beyond the Automobile

On a trip to the Netherlands this summer for the VeloCity conference in Nijmegen-Arnhem, I had one extra day on my itinerary. So I asked the Streetfilms Twitterverse what I should do with my 24 hours, and I heard loud and clear from people in Rotterdam that I should come see their wonderful city. I'm glad I did.

Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands. Because so much of the city was razed during a World War II carpet bombing, Rotterdam lacks a historic central district. Its newness makes it an interesting comparison to American cities. Even though much of central Rotterdam was built during the era of mass motoring, the city is still taking major steps to shift away from cars and toward transit, biking, and walking.

Traffic and parking are on the wane in Rotterdam as the city actively encourages more efficient modes of travel, with an extensive tram system and improving bike network (bicycling mode share currently stands at 20 percent and it's rising quickly). The city even has rain and heat sensors at traffic lights that give cyclists more green time during tough weather.

My guide to the city was José Besselink, a planner and one of the leaders of Rotterdam's "City Lounge" initiative, which makes public spaces in the central city more active and inviting for people. The program has been transforming parking lots and other underused spaces since 2008, and the results are impressive.

Perhaps the most stunning change is around the majestic Rotterdam Centraal Station. A 2014 overhaul reallocated huge amounts of space around the station, limiting car access while opening up more room for pedestrians and cyclists and laying down a "green carpet" for trams.

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Congestion Pricing Was Unpopular in Stockholm — Until People Saw It in Action

It’s natural for politicians to feel squeamish about enacting a big policy change like congestion pricing. People who’ve grown used to free driving privileges defend them loudly, while the potential benefits feel diffuse and uncertain. That may explain why Mayor de Blasio hasn’t warmed to congestion pricing despite its promise to deliver a fairer, safer, greener, and more efficient transportation system.

Stockholm transportation director Jonas Eliasson has some advice for New York officials worried about diving in: Just do it.

Eliasson steered the implementation of congestion pricing in Stockholm in 2006. From that vantage point, he watched a skeptical public quickly embrace the policy as soon as they saw it in action. Eliasson shared lessons from the city’s experience in a talk at TransitCenter last night.

When Stockholm began charging drivers to access the city center, car trips across the cordon dropped 20 percent. Travel times improved immediately, and emissions fell. Contrary to doomsday predictions from Stockholm media and political opponents of congestion pricing, the policy was an overnight success.

Before implementation, public support for congestion pricing had fallen below 40 percent. After a six-month trial period in 2006, more than 52 percent of Stockholm residents voted to make it permanent. By 2011, public support for road pricing stood at nearly 70 percent, and above 50 percent even among people who pay the fees most often.

“The closer you get to implementation, the more the drawbacks stand out,” Eliasson said. “If you survive this valley of political death, and people actually see the benefits, and also realize that, in addition to the benefits, it’s actually not as bad as you thought — it’s not so hard adapting to this — then support starts going up again.”

Pricing worked because the transportation planners who put it together prioritized systemic improvements for traffic and transit over the whims of elected officials and political parties. Getting the details of the pricing system right was too important to leave in the hands of politicians.

“Designing an efficient and effective congestion pricing scheme that actually delivers benefits is not easy,” Eliasson said. Deciding the specifics of where tolls should be placed, the price at which they should be set, and when they should be in effect is “really the job for experts.”

In Sweden, the effectiveness of road pricing helped raise public awareness of the drawbacks of other car subsidies. “It did something to the rationality of transport policy debate,” Eliasson said. “We don’t have debates anymore [about] ‘parking pricing is just philosophically wrong’ — no one says that anymore.”

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Parking Day Meets PeopleWay! (2017)

With the 15-month shutdown of L-train service west of Bedford Avenue coming up in 2019, NYC DOT and the MTA need to figure out new ways to move hundreds of thousands of people each day.

In Manhattan, a big piece of the puzzle is rethinking 14th Street. To keep people moving, Transportation Alternatives has proposed a car-free PeopleWay, maximizing the efficiency of the street by dedicating space exclusively to buses, biking, and walking.

On Parking Day -- an international day of action to repurpose street space for people, not cars (see previous Streetfilms herehere, and here) -- a few dozen TransAlt volunteers were out collecting signatures and educating people about why 14th Street needs the PeopleWay. Streetfilms was there to document the occasion.

Take a look. As one concerned citizen told us, "The clock is ticking New York!"

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Tour the Safer 111th Street With People Who Fought 3 Years to Make It Happen

For people who live west of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the only way to walk or bike there is to cross 111th Street. But until recently, getting across this street was a death-defying risk, especially for parents with young kids.

The old 111th Street had five travel lanes and two parking lanes, forcing people to scramble across a wide street with rampant speeding to get to and from the park. Most people on bikes chose to ride on the sidewalk instead of mixing it up with motor vehicle traffic.

In 2014, a coalition of Corona groups banded together for safer biking and walking access to the park. Working with Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, advocates from Immigrant Movement International, Make the Road New York, and Transportation Alternatives pushed for a redesign that would narrow the pedestrian crossings and install a two-way protected bike lane.

Three years later, Mayor de Blasio finally gave the green light to DOT’s safety overhaul of 111th Street. It was the culmination of relentless advocacy by local residents, including the newly-formed collective Mujeres en Movimiento, who had to overcome opposition from local power brokers like Queens Community Board 4 transportation co-chair James Lisa and Assembly Member Francisco Moya.

With DOT crews wrapping up work on the 111th Street project, local residents went for a celebratory ride last week. Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was there and put together this video tour of the redesigned street and retrospective of the three-year advocacy campaign to make this project happen. Congratulations to everyone involved on a hard-fought victory for safe walking and biking in the neighborhood.

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Chicago’s Dearborn & Randolph Protected Intersection

While in Chicago for another project, I stumbled upon my first ever U.S. protected intersection LIVE and in the concrete flesh! I knew I had to squeeze in a short documentation on it since other than the amazing animation by Nick Falbo (which really got demand going in the United States) there's really not a ton of watchable protected intersection videos here other than a few clips on Youtube & Vimeo and some bland press conferences.

And certainly this configuration in Chicago may be the most heavily used in the U.S. by not only bike riders but pedestrians as well. During the busiest times of rush hour and lunchtime, it sure gets a ton of use by plenty of people. I was lucky to grab Kyle Whitehead from the Active Transportation Alliance for 30 minutes to show me both of Chicago's protected intersections. The one in this Streetfilm is at the intersection of Dearborn & Randolph and was completed near the end of 2016.

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Streetopia: Reclaim Your Streets! (Streetopia Kickoff Promo)

Welcome to Streetopia the new push to drastically reimagine our city streets as places for people, with more efficient transport and safety for children & seniors to recreate and live. This is the "kickoff" promo, one of five we produced for the event.

The below paragraphs were so excellently written by Streetsblog's David Meyer in the article "Envisioning NYC Next Streets Revolution" that I'll now just lift those paragraphs below to describe some of why Streetopia is upon us.

About 12 years ago, a coalition of advocates under the banner of the New York City Streets Renaissance set out to transform city transportation policy away from the car-oriented status quo and toward people-first streets. Streetsblog and Streetfilms have their origins in that campaign, propelling a growing public awareness that NYC doesn’t need to settle for dangerous, traffic-choked streets.

While small interventions like signal changes, pedestrian islands, and safer markings have touched many neighborhoods, only a sliver of a fraction of city street space has been reallocated from cars to other modes. You’re less likely to lose your life in traffic now than 12 years ago, but New York still doesn’t have streets where, say, parents feel comfortable letting a child in elementary school walk a few blocks on their own to a friend’s house.

New York can be a city where everyone from young kids to elderly seniors can get around without fear, where neighborhood streets can be places of congregation and activity instead of motorways. To become that city, we’ll have to shift a lot more street space from cars to transit, biking, and walking.

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NYC Earth Day 2017: A Car-Free Broadway

This year for NYC's 2nd Car-Free NYC Earth Day, things picked up considerably from last year's inaugural event. The big spectacle was that you could walk or bike up Broadway from Union Square all the way to Times Square on car-free streets. But in a way since the Science March was already coming down Broadway to 47th street from the north, many people were able to traverse it all the way to Columbus Circle.
NYC Council Member (and Transportation Chair) Ydanis Rodriguez has been a real star in the move to get the city to think big things and also a great ally in the Vision Zero quest for safe streets. In this short, we got to walk with him for a few blocks and also talk to many New Yorkers about the state of the streets. Many dream big, wanting to see a car-free Broadway in the future, a proposal Mr. Rodriguez also would love to see.
As usual at these events there was plenty of programming. Running clubs. City agencies. Aerobics classes. Free Citibike rentals. In many ways it felt similar to one of the Summer Streets Saturdays in August, except this time it was on Broadway in the heart of the city. A statement to our city that it can be done. All we need is the will. After all 55% of NYC households don't own a car; and 77% of those in Manhattan.

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Sneckdown Legitimized: Real World Applications from NYC Streets

I just got sick of it.

Every time I post a new video on the sneckdown phenomenon, I get all sorts of comments, emails and tweets on social media that it will never work. That you can't justify the idea. That I should "stop hating on cars". That no matter how well done, the video showing sneckdowns 10 feet from the curb that have been there for weeks (that drivers are successful navigating) that they couldn't work. That we still need all the asphalt for video and that pedestrians are second class citizens.

Well thank goodness I had a camera with me as I walking around the city a few days ago! Since by chance I stumbled upon a number of installations the NYC Dept. of Transportation has placed at intersections that are exactly what we would like to see after sneckdown documentation.

Enjoy. I think this really visualizes how effective traffic calming can be.

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Santiago, Chile: 2017 Sustainable Transport Award Winner

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy gives out the Sustainable Transport Award each year to a city that demonstrates "leadership, vision, and achievement in sustainable transport and urban livability." Over the past year, Santiago made major improvements in pedestrian space, cycling, and transit. Santiago will receive the award at a ceremony in Washington, DC, in January, and will be the site of MOBILIZE 2017, ITDP’s annual Sustainable Transport Summit.  For more information, visit staward.org.

Take a spin through Santiago's streets as former mayor Carolina Tohá describes the stunning transformations.  This fantastic video was shot and produced by Claudio Olivares Medina and the team at Bicivilizate. You can follow Claudio at @bicivilizate.

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Great Streets: Walking Burlington’s Church Street

From the beautiful photos of its major car-free shopping street, I've always been intrigued by Burlington, VT. While looking for a destination to bring our young son for his first airplane trip, we opted to go explore via a one hour flight to Burlington.

It's a very lovely small city and as you'll see Church Street did not disappoint. We spent a good deal of our time there. It was a vacation but my wife allowed me a few hours to shoot a little video and an interview.

One thing that did not make the final cut, was the story of how the marketplace came to be. I will type it verbatim for you from the historical markers that bound the street.

In 1962 architecture student Bill Truex experienced the transformation of Straget, Copenhagen's main shopping area, from traffic-snarled nightmare to successful pedestrian mall. Seven years later, while on the Burlington Planning Commission, Truex enlisted support from Pat Robins of the Street Commission and together they promoted turning Church Street into a pedestrian district. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and his chief of staff, Paul Bruhn, secured a federal grant and Burlington voters, with support from Mayor Gordon Paquette, passed a bond for the city's share of construction costs. The Church Street Marketplace, which opened on September 15, 1981 has been described as a the gem in the crown of the Queens City of Burlington.

What's amazing of course is how much further Copenhagen has gone in the years since the 1960s. Church Street is a great street and more U.S. cities need the heart of their downtowns to look the same.