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Posts tagged "Queens"

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A #bikeNYC Weekend Wrap-up!

#bikeNYC is always alive during October. It's a beautiful time to be out riding. It seems of late I've gone on a Streetfilms Shorties tear, which are essentially videos that only take a few hours of shooting & editing for me to publish. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about them and don't anticipate many thousands of plays, but smaller groups of watchers (especially in NYC) will appreciate.

First off, on Saturday got to go on a fun Queens "Zombie Ride" ride with Kidical Mass NYC! About 30 people turned out for their second official ride and they hope to continue the expanding with more rides. Check it out.

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Sometimes #Sneckdown Dreams Come True!

Ah yes, that's the now-famous "Snowy Neckdown Redux: Winter Traffic Calming" Streetfilm above. As you may recall, I shot the video in my Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights a few years ago to demonstrate how we could extend our curbs further into the streets to slow drivers and shorten pedestrian crossing distances. Then the idea completely blew up this winter with the #sneckdown hashtag causing a media sensation.

Now, as you can see in this series of photos, I can report some unexpected progress.

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In the last week, curb extensions have sprung up at many of the intersections I documented in the video (and photos). It looks like neckdowns will be installed at 81st, 82nd, 83rd, and 84th streets on 35th Avenue, a stretch that has seen its share of car violence, and maybe more are coming.

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Slowing traffic in this residential area is especially important. There are many schools nearby, and lots of senior citizens crossing 35th Avenue. And this type of traffic calming is perfectly aligned with the new 25 mph default speed limit set to take effect in NYC this fall.

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People in many other cities did their own photo documentation of sneckdowns this winter. It'll be interesting in the coming months and years to see if sneckdown mania helped lead other local DOTs to take action. Let me know via @Streetfilms on Twitter using the #sneckdown hashtag or tell us about it here in the comments.

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Sunnyside, Queens Becomes a Bike-Friendly Business District!

Transportation Alternatives has been working all across NYC to foster goodwill and support for bicycling in the business community. Recently, they've begun to declare certain neighborhoods Bike-Friendly Business Districts and the first one in the outer boroughs is Sunnyside, Queens.

Come along as a group of over 50 cyclists explored 6 of 70 bike-friendly  restaurants to sample food and exchange goodwill as cycling continues to grow all across NYC.

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Corona Plaza: One of the Best Pedestrian Spaces in NYC Gets a Big Boost!

Streetfilms Shortie - Dancing in Corona Plaza from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Mega-wowsers! Today out in Corona Plaza there was a big press event to announce an $800,000 donation from JPMorgan Chase Foundation to the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership which goes to help fund the upkeep of ped plazas in low-income neighborhoods. Streetsblog has the full story, so I am not gonna re-hash the important bits, I'm just gonna post some nice photos for you to soak in.

That fun video clip above of kids jumping up and down was a spontaneous celebration. I love this plaza. If you haven't seen my original video from last year's opening days, I am requiring you to watch it - so click here.

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Presentation of the $800,000 check with many community representatives posing with Janette Sadik-Khan and special guest musician David Byrne! That's Queens Museum's Tom Finkelpearl with the spade.

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Councilperson Julissa Ferreras poses with students from P.S. 16 prepare to do some gardening.

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Councilperson Danny Dromm, one of this year's Streets Ball honorees, delivers remarks.

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How Many More Children Need to Die on NYC Streets Before We Hold Drivers Accountable?

The answer to that question should be zero. But in NYC and many other cities we allow drivers to do whatever they like with very few consequences. And as we have seen far too many times in just the past few weeks, if a driver mounts a sidewalk and runs over and maims or kills, there's a chance they wont even be issued a summons.

Thankfully people are getting mad. On Tuesday, a march was held in Queens by a group called Three Children Too Many. And the parents of 3 year old Allison Liao spoke in what can only be described as an emotional, brave and intelligent speech that should be seen by every person who gets in a car.  Please watch below and share with everyone you know. Hopefully it can make a difference.

The Parents of Allison Liao Speak at the Three Children Too Many Traffic Safety March from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

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Three Children Too Many March: NYC Residents Fight Back for Safer Streets

A new group, Three Children Too Many, held a march for traffic justice for recent victims of senseless crashes in or near Jackson Heights. The rally was well attended and about 200 people joined up at three different points during the 30 block walk.

The rally was met along the route by numerous elected officials and some of the parents and friends of those killed by cars - all of them preventable tragedies. Particularly moving were Amy Tam and Hsi-Pei Liao who spoke about their three year old daughter Allison's death in a brave, emotional speech which can be seen here in its entirety.

We need immediate action. We can no longer wait for any other children to suffer the same fate. We have a new mayor that must put plans in motion to change our streets. A promising new council who must draft new legislation to dramatically lower speeds and raise the penalties for drivers. And we must lean on our state government to allow NYC to have more speed cameras, more red light cameras and more autonomy in making our city a liveable, safe place for children to walk the streets.

 

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Greenery Outside an Auto Body Shop Makes a Big Difference!

It's always nice to see nature and beauty pop up places you wouldn't expect. Near the western terminus of Queens' 34th Avenue, there are two auto body shops at the corner of 64th Street that go the extra mile to make their corner of the world a little brighter and greener.

The amazing thing is this area is very industrial and somewhat desolate.  You'll find very few pedestrians passing thru at anytime of the day. (Though I'll point out the number of cyclists using this stretch of the 34th Avenue bike lane just keeps growing, they far outnumber pedestrians - and probably cars - during rush hour.)

Every time I pass thru here, I smile.  There are over 20 large mega-planters scattered around the auto shops and they're generously filled with lush plantings - they also take wonderful care of the tree pits.  I spoke to a worker outside on break.  He might have been suspicious of my motivations while snapping these photos thus he didn't want to offer up too much except to say they try to keep it clean and he was glad I enjoyed the flowers.

Just another short, inspirational tale from our streets.

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NYC Keeps Rolling Out the Bioswales in Queens

It's fair to say that I've been geeking out over streetscape improvements in NYC that incorporate plantings to manage stormwater runoff (here, here, and here). These sidewalk expansions are popping up all over the place near my apartment in Jackson Heights.

Recently, I was on Junction Boulevard between the Long Island Expressway and Queens Boulevard and saw some significant street reclamations. Some photos:

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Brand New Bioswales/Storm Water Pits Installed in Elmhurst!

I've been writing quite a bit about my excitement over bioswales and storm water treatment of late. Today while taking a few photos of the new 20 mph Slow Speed Zone in Elmhurst, I noticed something absolutely new for the first time in Queens - small storm water treatments!

I counted at least fifteen either fully installed, near completion or marked for construction.  There were quite a few in the streets to the west of the Queens Center Mall area which could use some greening.

The designs are nice, though except for a curb cut allowing water runoff in, the average citizen probably will not discern much difference from a nicely presented tree pit. But they are groundbreaking - wide scale use of these will make a huge difference for the city the next time we have a mega storm. Recently, I'd seen strange markings (below) for a few months and was wondering what they were going to be. Now I know.

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Is This the First NYC Community Board Meeting Held in a Public Plaza?

I can't say with certainty that this is the first NYC community board meeting held in a public plaza, but it certainly is the first I've heard of in my 22 years in New York City. On Thursday, Queens Community Board 3 held their monthly meeting amid the hustle and bustle of Jackson Heights' Diversity Plaza on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th Streets.

By my count the meeting began with at least 150 people seated or standing. Plenty of on-lookers stopped by and admired the proceedings. The plaza was quite crowded.

City Council Member Danny Dromm (to the right of the mic), an early and vocal supporter of the plaza, spoke to the crowd. Without his steadfast leadership, there's a good chance this meeting space wouldn't exist.

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My Favorite NYC Bioswale (and it’s along the “Queens Bike Superhighway”!)

Folks, as you may be aware, we did this Streetfilm Shortie (below) on the Storm Water Treatments along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. It was just something I cobbled together as an "extra" since I was surprised by the enormous size & placements of the bioswales along their protected bike paths.

With rising seas and the urgency to treat more stormwater, we really need to get going with these in New York City - and we are slowly - but we do have a few goodies in the ground. My favorite is one installed at 39th Avenue & Woodside along the burgeoning (as I call it) "Queens Bike Superhighway" which runs from 34th Avenue thru Sunnyside and on to link up with the Queensboro Ed Koch Bridge bike path to Manhattan.

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Queens Auto Dealer: Ditch the Exercise, Buy a Car

Major World in Queens is at it again.  This time they're using a portable billboard to broadcast the message that bicycling and walking aren't the best choice to get around.

One side features a tricycle and asks potential clients if they are being treated "like a kid". Though one could argue the tricycle is  just a symbol of youth, the message is pretty clear: they're also attacking cycling.  The other side shows a version of the same ad we saw a few months ago in the New York Daily News where Major World proclaims that walking is a great exercise "and you'll never have to do it again".

I'd really love to know if anyone actually DID trade in their old shoes OR "three wheeler" towards a credit for a new car.

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How Many NYC Drivers Fail to Signal?

If you walk on New York City streets (or frankly anywhere in the U.S.), you're well aware of how much unlawful and dangerous driving happens on nearly every block: red light running, speeding, double-parking, you name it.

I first moved to NYC in 1991, and one thing that seems to have gotten much worse since then is the percentage of drivers who fail to signal their turns. I've lost count of the times I've been walking or bicycling and nearly been hit by drivers who didn't use their directionals. Anecdotally, I would estimate that about 25 or 30 percent of drivers don't signal.

So I set out to put my theory to the test where I live in Jackson Heights, Queens, taping the first 100 turning drivers I saw. I won't spoil the final count, but this video is more evidence of the poor quality of driving across the city. Failing to use blinkers makes it hard for walkers, bikers, and other motorists to anticipate a driver's behavior -- this is basic Driver's Ed, people -- but so many people just don't do it.

Every week we read horrible stories of drivers crashing into pedestrians or mounting sidewalks -- and yet hardly anyone is ever charged or even issued a ticket. NYPD could be issuing plenty of tickets for drivers failing to signal turns on just about any block at anytime. They could start a crackdown tomorrow, it doesn't require more legislation. It doesn't require an officer to be stationed in a car with a radar gun. Just stand on the corner and pull people over. Simple.

NYPD credits cracking down on small crimes with helping to dramatically lower the city's overall crime rate. If we started to show less tolerance for "smaller" infractions, might drivers in NYC eventually change their overall driving habits?

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NYC is Back in Business: Post Sandy, Queens Mode Montage

NYC has suffered greatly post superstorm Sandy. While we still have a long ways to go, people are starting to go back to work and venture out of their homes.

Thursday marked the first day of modest subway restoration. It also saw the return of limited ferries. As well as a full MTA bus schedule and Mayor Bloomberg's emergency order declaring all vehicles crossing the East River Bridges must have three occupants. But the numbers of people using their feet and bicycles is huge and an always encouraging sign. Streetfilms was up early in Queens near the Queensboro Bridge to see how people were using all the transportation options out there.  Here's the montage we got.

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Queens’ Corona Plaza: A Community Place Rises

Something special is happening in Corona, Queens.

Last week, Streetfilms visited Corona Plaza -- the city's newest car-free space, next to the 103rd Street stop on the 7 train -- and found it already packed with families, children, and shoppers.

This plaza has been in the works for many years, and the local community has taken ownership of it immediately. Volunteers help in locking up the tables and chairs at night and assist in cleaning the space themselves.

The area previously had no public seating whatsoever, which is astonishing considering the dozens of restaurants nearby. Now it is a magnet for people, especially kids, who give the place a vibe that feels different than most other pedestrian plazas. To watch parents sit calmly while their kids play would have been unheard of before the street was reclaimed from traffic and parking.

Andy Wiley-Schwartz, an assistant commissioner at the NYC Department of Transportation, tells us about the future of this space and the thinking behind its current incarnation:

We're planning long term for what we call a capital reconstruction -- where we would build this plaza out completely with concrete and pavers and fixed seating with permanent plantings in the ground and really make it into a beautiful, permanent plaza.  But for the moment we can capture this space by putting things on the surface.  So we paved over the asphalt with epoxy gravel - loose gravel that is glued to the ground to make it look like a public space. We moved in planters to green and beautify the space. We have moveable seating that people can move in or out of the sun and also the umbrellas. And blocking off the space with granite blocks so that cars cannot drive in it. That way we can create this space for a few years while we are planning and constructing the capital portion.