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Posts tagged "safety"

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More NYC Teens are Biking to School

Biking is cheap. Biking is fast. Biking promotes independence and exploration. Biking is great exercise. And, biking sure is FUN! What better way for New York City's teens to navigate the city and get themselves to school?

This generation is politically active and solutions-oriented. The last few weeks, we've been interviewing students - some in Queens, some in Manhattan on the Hudson River Greenway, some biking across Central Park. All of them joyful and appreciative of the time away from screens, feeling the wind in their hair and connecting with nature and those around them.

One notable incentive for these students? Schools that provide indoor, secure bike parking (here's looking at you school administrators!). Our goal is for each and every teen to have the option to safely bike, walk, scoot to school. That means we need a connected, protected, low-stress bike lane network in each and every neighborhood in this city. The city's future depends on it - quite literally.

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Clusterf*ck on Varick Street: The Case for Congestion Pricing

“If you’re looking for the place that shows the failure of New York City to have any sort of traffic management policy, this is the spot.”

That’s Doug Gordon, a.k.a. Brooklyn Spoke, who recently joined Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson Jr. in Lower Manhattan to document the lunacy at the intersection of Varick, Carmine, and Clarkson streets, where drivers converge to inch and honk their way toward the Holland Tunnel.

There’s a toll on the inbound Holland Tunnel, but driving outbound is free. The main distortion stems from the free rides across all the East River bridges, along the length of Manhattan, and the east-bound Verrazano Bridge.

Put it all together, and New York’s network of free roads and one-way tolls turns this neighborhood into a perpetual funnel for drivers who pay nothing to travel through the congested heart of the region. There are neighborhoods like it everywhere streets feed into free crossings into or out of the Manhattan core.

Says Doug: “This is what happens when you don’t charge people anything to drive through Manhattan.”

By putting a price on driving in the most crowded parts of the region, congestion pricing would thin out these car trips and divert a lot of this traffic to highways, where it belongs.

But after establishing his own panel to come up with a congestion pricing plan, Governor Cuomo chose not to put any muscle behind its recommendations this year. Assembly members like Lower Manhattan’s Deborah Glick, who represents this area, continued to sit on the fence as their constituents suffer from crushing gridlock.

Thanks to do-nothing state electeds, New Yorkers who drive and the car-free majority both continue to be subjected to chaotic, dangerous, stressful conditions like the clusterfuck on Varick Street.

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How Seville Got Its Bicycle Network

As recently as 2006, almost no one in Seville got around by bicycle. The city's bike network was nearly non-existent. When the leaders of this city of 700,000 in Andalusia decided to make bicycling a viable transportation option, they didn't mess around -- they built an 80-kilometer bike network in just 18 months -- and that was just the beginning.

Not long after the initial bike network was set in motion, a poll revealed that 80 percent of city residents approved of bike lanes. Most of the new bike lanes are bi-directional and placed at sidewalk grade to keep drivers out. Today, Seville has an expansive bike network and is approaching 10 percent bicycle mode share.

As you can see in this Streetfilm, few people wear helmets, and lots of older residents are out biking. The temperature approach 100 degrees while I was there, and it didn't discourage people from biking, even men in suits. The relatively large share of women who bike -- 35 percent of all bike trips -- is another testament to the success of the bike network.

Seville's bike infrastructure isn't perfect. Some of the new bike lanes are too narrow for the number people riding on them. There's a movement afoot to widen these sections and expand the bike network to more neighborhoods, as Seville aims to double the rate of cycling by 2022.

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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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Speed Camera Myths: The Streetfilms Comic Strip!

Speed Camera Poster

If you're like us, you're probably sick of the standard mainstream news media treatment of safety measures for pedestrians, bicyclists and - yes - drivers. Most times the coverage is sensational, often featuring a small group of really loud voices or annoying protesters claiming street safety measures are unnecessary, because, well because.

One topic nationwide that always generates that usual friction is speed cameras. Often going by the same playbook wherever you live, you'll hear common refrains that the tickets are a "cash grab" to "hardworking taxpayers" that are "unfair speed traps" which "infringe on our personal liberties" and "don't save lives." Some of these groups are even referred to as heroes and even destroy (yes, destroy!) hardware meant to keep people safe. You'll rarely find any of these stories take time to interview pro-camera community leaders or talk with someone who lost a loved one to speeding.

So we thought it'd be good to draw up a comic that makes it takes on the myth perpetuated that the poor, poor driver is so unfairly treated. Though our story takes place in New York City, many cities nationwide have some or all of the same limitations placed on their use.

Thus presenting our second Streetfilms Comic (although Treehugger has taken to calling them Street Comics) on Speed Camera Myths. And don't miss our first here on the #sneckdown phenomenon. Click the image below to see it in all it's larger glory.

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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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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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Groningen: The World’s Cycling City

It's no secret that just about anywhere you go in the Netherlands is an incredible place to bicycle. And in Groningen, a northern city with a population of 190,000 and a bike mode share of 50 percent, the cycling is as comfortable as in any city on Earth. The sheer number of people riding at any one time will astound you, as will the absence of automobiles in the city center, where cars seem extinct. It is remarkable just how quiet the city is. People go about their business running errands by bike, going to work by bike, and even holding hands by bike.

The story of how they got there is a mix of great transportation policy, location and chance. You'll learn quite a bit of history in the film, but essentially Groningen decided in the 1970s to enact policies to make it easier to walk and bike, and discourage the use of cars in the city center. By pedestrianizing some streets, building cycle tracks everywhere, and creating a unique transportation circulation pattern that prohibits vehicles from cutting through the city, Groningen actually made the bicycle -- in most cases -- the fastest and most preferred choice of transportation.

It does feel like bicycle nirvana. When I first got off the train in Groningen, I couldn't stop smiling at what I saw around me. In an email exchange with my friend Jonathan Maus from Bike Portland, he described it as being "like a fairy tale." This jibed with my first thought to him -- that I had "entered the game Candyland, but for bikes!" In fact, for our teaser I originally titled this Streetfilm "Groningen: The Bicycle World of Your Dreams," before I talked myself out of it. Although there is a magical quality about being there, in reality there is nothing dreamy or childlike about it. With political will and planning, what they have done should - and can be done - everywhere.

In our Streetfilm you'll see the 10,000 (!) bicycle parking spaces at the train station, some of the incredible infrastructure that enables cyclists to make their journeys safer and quicker, and you'll hear from many residents we encountered who go by bike just about everywhere they travel. But as one of my interview subjects, Professor Ashworth, wanted me to point out: the three days I was there were bright and sunny, and the hardy people keep up the bicycling through the cold winters. As with many bicycling cities, there area also big problems with cycle theft, and residents are always yearning for more bicycle parking.

I think most of us would trade some of those problems for a city with 50 percent mode share (and up to 60 percent in the city center!!).

 

 

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“Running Man” Crosswalk Countdown Timer in Guadalajara

I've started to see a slew of countdown timers popping up all over Queens & Manhattan of late, but this one I saw while in Guadalajara last week surely ups the fun quotient of crossing the street, not to mention evoking a chuckle or two.

It's not as if I haven't seen countdown signals with moving glyphs before, but this certainly is the most robust and speediest pedestrian I've ever come across.  (For brevity, we're only showcasing the last 20 seconds as the first 25 seconds prior has the pedestrian moving at a snail's pace.)

After some research, I've discovered that these kinds of crossing signals are somewhat common in Asia and some places Central America.  Anyone seen anything with mucho gusto in the U.S.?