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Posts tagged "Pedestrians"

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Touring Copenhagen’s Car-Free Bridges

Copenhagen is great. One of the things that makes it so is that the city is continually trying to find ways to make biking and walking better for its citizens. And one way they are doing that now is by erecting many bridges (especially over their harbor) that are car-free, which helps take the stress off of current routes that have become congested with bicycling.
Marie Kastrup, the Bicycle Program Manager for the City of Copenhagen, was very kind to take me on a tour of just some of the bike & ped bridges Copenhagen has constructed in the past ten years. And the amazing thing is: there are even more on the way, four in the next few years are planned!

Every major city should be looking at their waterfronts and making it easier to cross bodies of water. While we debate, possibly widening the Brooklyn bike/ped path sometime years into the future, I would love to see some new car-free crossings over the East River in NYC being seriously discussed. If you are a cyclist and want to go between boroughs, sometimes it is very, very tough since there are not many places to cross.

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Vintage Transportation Films from the Prelinger Archives

The 1968 "Playstreets" video above just blows my mind - and probably will yours if you love open streets and ciclovias. I had no idea PAL (the Police Athletic League) was closing down streets/blocks in New York City for kids for so long. In fact since 1914, over one hundred years ago!

I found it while looking thru the Prelinger Archives which has made over 6600 vintage mini-documentaries, news reels and random works free to use by the public. There's so much history to peruse. I re-edited the "Playstreets" to under 3 minutes and added a bit of Streetfilms-style music to make it more swift & modern.

But really, some of the archives can be sad and stark. For example, check out this victim blaming 10 minute short produced to air in schools titled "The ABC's of Walking Wisely (1959), an attempt to cleverly "educate" children by using the letters of the alphabet to demonize walking behaviors. Never once in the film does the female narrator talk about the responsibility of drivers, instead choosing to call school kids insulting names while championing, "Don't be a J-Walker, be an A-Walker". I trimmed this down to several cringeworthy moments you'll be aghast by including the narrator saying, "show consideration for the drivers - and be safe yourself." I'll add: there are several moments where it looks like the producers dangerously put the children in potential harm filming around cars. Oh yeah, definitely watch.

There are dozens of transportation films I found in Prelinger sponsored by (who else?) car companies pushing the idea of how wonderful the modern conveniences of the car are.  Some are somewhat harmless like fun family car vacations but others push highway building, parking and the oil industry showing how the propaganda-filled 1950s set in motion some awful transportation policies.

And we are still recovering from the auto's invasion of our cities. "Give Yourself the Green Light" (1954) is a half hour bonanza chock-filled with moments that will make you groan, and likely, get depressed.  I selected about 4 minutes filled with items I found particularly egregious. You'll see: a frustrated Miss America searching in vain for parking, a narrator saying "the best investment a town can make is parking" plus some vintage highway footage on the Gowanus Expressway and BQE Brooklyn Heights where the script unbelievably notes that these are structures which solved transportation problems "without disturbing life below." (Yeah anyone seen Sunset Park under the elevated highway?)

You'll find full-length copies of "Give Yourself the Green Light"on Youtube if your interest is piqued and you want to consume the full film. But I fully encourage you to browse and use the Prelinger Archives. I watched 100s of them this past week. So much fun.

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In Queens: 111 Moms Shut Down 111th Street for 111 Seconds

On the day before Mother's Day in Queens, 111 moms (and plenty of other supporters) angry that their Community Board (Queens, CB 4) has failed to even vote on a NYC DOT proposal that would add protected bike lanes, wide crosswalks and a road diet by completely re-designing 111th Street showed up for an act of civil disobedience to shut down the street to motorists and let their feelings be known.

Council member Julissa Ferreras has allocated $2.7 million dollars to the revamp of the road, which was last majorly designed for the Worlds Fair. The road features extremely wide driving lanes which leads to speeding and has been missing crosswalks at most crossing points, even though it is a popular commuting route for cyclists and for pedestrians going to Flushing Meadows Corona Park.  Here's another video we did showing just how scary it is to cross: https://vimeo.com/132055092

The group was led by Mujeres en Movimiento and many groups combined to make it happen including Make the Road, Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer, Immigrant Movement International and Queens Bike Initiative.

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Sneckdown: The Streetfilms Comic Strip!

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This year in NYC we had one giant #Blizzard2016 but little other snow to speak of.  The region as a whole has missed out on the train of traditional nor'easters that dump feet of snow on the D.C.-Baltimore-Philly-NYC-Boston megalopolis.  This year #sneckdown hunting was certainly down.

But we still wanted to get this fantastic comic strip on sneckdowns that my brother Gary put together out in front of the masses (and we'll probably be using it every season anyway!) It's a real unique way to have a little humor and educate the public on traffic calming and Vision Zero. In fact, we are hoping to raise a little bit of funding so we can do this on different transportation terms maybe monthly. So hopefully more to come. Enjoy and click the image below to embiggen.

sneckdown

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Peatónito in NYC: Protecting Pedestrians in the Crosswalk

Peatónito ("little pedestrian") might be the most beloved figure in the world of street safety. How can you not love a superhero who protects pedestrians from cars?! Since donning the cape and luchador mask three years ago, he's become a media sensation in Mexico. This week he's in New York City for Transportation Alternatives' Vision Zero for Cities 2016 conference, and Streetfilms was lucky enough to squeeze in this exclusive whirlwind walking tour of Brooklyn and Queens streets showing him in action.

Jorge Canez, the man behind the mask, has been a pedestrian advocate in Mexico City for quite a while. He's been involved with many tactical urbanism-type of interventions, like painting crosswalks with his own spray can. As Peatónito, he's attained a new level of fame for gently scolding drivers, escorting pedestrians though dicey intersections, and pushing cars (or occasionally walking over the tops of cars) to make motorists more aware of their transgressions.

Come along for a fun short as Peatónito hits the intimidating streets near Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the constantly blocked bike lanes on Jay Street by MetroTech, and crosswalks in Jackson Heights, Queens, helping children walk to school.

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If You Want to Buy a Car in Japan…

If you want to buy a car in Japan, first you have to prove that you have somewhere to park it. That's one of the policies Streetfilms encountered while interviewing experts for an upcoming three-part series on parking best practices.

Here's a sneak peek courtesy of Streetfilms correspondent Joe Baur, who grabbed this interview about the costs of car ownership in Japan with Byron Kidd from Tokyo By Bike.

The parking requirement is one of several policies that helps keep cars from overrunning Japanese cities. Factor in yearly taxes, high parking fees, and tolled roads, and Japan does an excellent job of ensuring that car owners pay the full costs of their vehicles -- while the first-rate transit system enables people to get around efficiently.

Stay tuned for the full parking series later this year.

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World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2015 (NYC)

Sunday, November 15th was World Day of Remembrance and Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives hosted a march from NYC's City Hall to the United Nations to honor those we have lost to traffic violence and enlighten New Yorkers to use the term "crash" instead of "accidents" when describing such events on our streets.

About 500 people turned out for the powerful event which included speeches by many elected officials including Mayor Bill de Blasio who promised he has only begun to change NYC's street when he first announced "Vision Zero" would be one of his priorities early in his administration. Marchers wore yellow, carried flowers, and held photos of loved ones that are no longer with us. It was one of dozens events held thru-ought the world on World Day of Remembrance.

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Randall’s Island Connector: The Bronx’s new car-free link to Manhattan

This spring, the Highbridge re-opened between the Bronx and Manhattan, the first car-free crossing linking the two boroughs. Now the second one in less than a year is open with the debut of the Randall's Island Connector. The project has been in the pipeline for what seems like forever, and on Saturday it opened to the delight of many South Bronx residents.

The connector provides a direct and easy link between the developing South Bronx greenway network and Randall's Island, with its athletic fields, picnic tables, miles of beautiful greenways, and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. From Randall's Island, you can bike or walk to the big island via the 103rd Street footbridge.

Advance apologies for some of the sound. When the winds are gusting over 30 mph and you are below an Amtrak train trestle, well, those aren't ideal conditions. But kudos to the hundreds of people who showed up on a cold and blustery fall morning to celebrate the occasion.

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How D.C. Cut Traffic Fatalities by 73% in a Decade

We continue to present short videos from our tour around Washington, D.C. with Gabe Klein, the former Transportation Commissioner in our nation's capital.

These are the final two vignettes in our series which focus 1) on the incredible reduction in traffic fatalities in D.C. and 2) the role of fast evolving technologies which has drastically altered transportation in our cities in the last few years - and will so much more in the years to come.

And just in case you missed it, last week Gabe talked about the evolution of how D.C.'s center-running, two-way, protected cycle track came into existence (and who challenged him to put it in!) We re-present that here so we have a nice trio of Streetfilms Shorties for you to ingest!

Gabe Klein's new book, "Start-Up City", is available on Island Press.

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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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Central London Streets Transformed: A Walking Tour with Iain Simmons

While filming an exciting Streetfilms update about the progress of the "20's Plenty" campaign in the UK, I got to interview Iain Simmons, assistant director of city transportation for the City Of London. What was originally supposed to be a few short clips for that piece turned into an unexpectedly generous two-hour walking tour of central London! I seized the opportunity and kept the camera rolling. The result is this "bonus" Streetfilm.

We did quite a bit of impromptu touring, looking at sidewalks that have been widened, traffic calming techniques that keep speeds at 20 mph, and one of London's next generation of protected bike lanes under construction.

What I found most refreshing was hearing a public official speak so candidly about how we need to accommodate people first and not cars. Mr. Simmons emphasizes the lesson cities have learned over and over: While skeptics always predict "everything will start to fall apart" when new bike lanes, sidewalk extensions, and traffic calming street redesigns are proposed, "the reality is it never, ever, ever does."

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Cambridge: Britain’s Cycling Capital

In the city of Cambridge, just about an hour's train ride north of London, you'll find lots of people bicycling. In fact, the official bike mode share is 22 percent, but advocates believe it's even higher and could comprise up to 50 percent of all trips in the city center.

More than protected bike lanes, the key to Cambridge's success has been the management of motor vehicle traffic. For one, the city center is now ringed by a cordon of moveable bollards that only recede for buses, taxis, and some service vehicles. Private cars are not allowed downtown but people on bikes are free to enter at any time -- which makes the bicycle the most convenient mode of transportation.

In residential neighborhoods, Cambridge has also tamed cars using a strategy called "filtered permeability" -- placing physical barriers at some intersection that divert motorized traffic while allowing other modes to filter through. This prevents motorists from using residential areas as short cuts and encourages cycling. Similar techniques are employed in famous cycling cities like Groningen, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam, and even here in the U.S. in places like Portland and Berkeley.

Cambridge is a growing city, and if new residents choose to drive cars, its streets could become overwhelmed by traffic. So the effort to create better streets for biking and walking continues. Recently, the city has adopted a 20 mph speed limit for most of its roadways, and a new push is on to install much more robust protected bike lanes in targeted areas where cycling feels less safe.

For bonus footage of Cambridge streets, check my post from earlier this week.

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London’s First Open Streets Is a Success!

Five years ago, David Love experienced Summer Streets in NYC and was so captured by the warmth and excitement he decided to bring open streets to London.

The starter event was held in the borough of Southwark, on Great Suffolk Street, and featured music, dancing, food, art and, most important, activities for children and families to enjoy.

Open Streets London hopes to have frequent and bigger ciclovias in the future, and to continue to enlighten Londoners to the value of re-thinking their streets as places for more than automobiles.

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America’s Love Affair With Great City Streets

People crave interaction with other people. Given the choice, we'll gravitate to places where we can socialize or just be in the presence of our fellow humans.

It's not in our nature to spend hours each day isolated inside a car, but for much of the 20th century we shaped our streets and cities to make driving inescapable. In a few short decades we all but designed walking out of our lives. The good news is that by now, many cities have recognized that mistake and are working to fix it. We're falling in love with our streets again.

In this Streetfilm, four American mayors talk about why they're working to make their cities more walkable, bikeable, and sociable, and you'll hear from advocates and experts who are leading the movement to reclaim streets for people.

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The Green Benefits of NYC Protected Bike Lanes

As I have watched the numbers of protected bike lanes grow in New York City each year, I've noticed the tree canopy above the lanes gets denser and number of trees extending out into the roadway grows.

Though I freely admit this could just be anecdotal, I'm pretty sure the simple reason is this: on the avenues with protected lanes large vans & trucks are no longer constantly brushing and bruising trees since they aren't parking curbside. Although it's not an exact correlation since you can certainly find some blocks where the opposite is true, generally there is much, much more green on these bike corridors.

Add in pedestrian safety islands that have trees and other plantings (many thanks to community associations and businesses) and the buffer zone being a perfect place to put bike parking and Citibike stations, and I think this helps make for a future selling point to communities!