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The Uselessness of Gridlock Alert Days

We sent our reporter extraordinaire Zardoz out on NYC's streets for a few hours to check out just how NYC's issuing of a Gridlock Alert Week of traffic armageddon is going.

As always, not good. Utter uselessness. A sock puppet could have predicted this.

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Clarence in Streetfilms 2000-2021 (Montage)

So following my 1,000th Streetfilm I put together a quick montage sample of all the Streetfilms/bikeTV to prepare for some media. I will be joining John Simmerman for his 100th podcast interview and it just seemed the time to let people see what I have been doing over the years.

Just so you know this is only a sample montage. I am sure I have missed some of my best appearances, but this at least gives a look into my work - sometimes skinnier, sometimes younger - but fun to check out my metamorphosis and the places I have been!

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In NYC You Can Go By Bike on the Pedestrian Signal!

So with a great "new" law on the books that allows bicycle riders to also legally use pedestrian signals (LPIs) to get a 5 to 10 second head start on drivers in NYC why did it take Streetfilms nearly a year to talk to the two people most responsible for it?

Well when it was passed council last year and slated to begin on December 20, 2019 it was the holiday season and freezing cold, and no one cares about watching videos end of year. We finally had scheduled to film it mid-March, but then Covid-19 prevented that.

I circled back around to the idea early this Fall after riding thru the NYC Summer Bicycle Boom™ explosion where I would frequently come upon LPI intersections where #bikenyc riders were frequently frozen waiting for the green light, ignoring the pedestrian beacon telling them, "Please go forth person on your bike with your walking cousins!"

So it's a good time to re-promote this great law that makes it safer for bike riders. Let those innovative who don't know it's legal to use the signals. Also, there are now so many brand new riders in the city that don't know all the rules of the road that frankly need enlightening. There are more than 4,000 of the lights.

We went to Brooklyn to the corner of Atlantic Ave & Smith Street and talked with Council member Carlos Menchaca and "The War on Cars" co-host Doug Gordon about what the law means and the journey to its realization.

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100+ Bikes Upgraded with Care at Big Fix Day BK in East New York

New York City Bike Mayor Courtney Williams provided the nucleus for Brooklyn's Big Fix Day, an event that brings out bike mechanics to the neediest area of the city, in this case East New York and the surrounding communities, to sponsor free bicycle fixing.

Notably this year, East New York, Brownsville, Canarsie and surrounding communities were hardest hit in Brooklyn by the Coronvirus epidemic. There has been a large toll economically in conjunction with the greater challenges of getting around via transportation and maintaining social distancing.

That's why Big Fix Day BK was so vital to bring mechanics and bike shop stores to the community to fix over 100 bikes for free for residents where every penny counts.

 

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Miracle on 34th Avenue: NYC’s Best Open Street is in Queens

The Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst areas of Queens were among the hardest hit in the United States by the Covid-19 epidemic. This film looks at the months-long struggle in Jackson Heights to get an open street on its beautiful tree-lined 34th Avenue. Featuring two-way streets separated by a median, it was the perfect place in the neighborhood to allow more social distancing, allow people to get some exercise and have better mental health due to the virus' long shadow on our city.

Now that the open street runs for 1.3 miles every day from 8am to 8pm, you will see children, families, exercisers, seniors and people using it that need to shop & run vital errands. It was a unique partnership from the city and neighborhood alliances. And in these days where we could use some good news and inspiration, the folks that made this happen should be applauded!

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Happy Valentine’s Bike Day Montage!

Well it's February 14th. And I just decided that for the first time ever Streetfilms was gonna do some happy, loving Valentine's Day biking imagery for a card to our subscribers and fans.

I sifted thru about 30 Streetfilms over the past ten years and lifted out lots of scenes of happiness from some of our videos from NYC, USA and around the world.

Bikes = Love

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Oonee Debuts Bike Parking in Brooklyn

A spectacular event in the pouring rain with major elected officials in NYC as Oonee pod debuted their first Brooklyn bike parking pod at Atlantic Center near Barclays Center.

The pod holds parking for 20 bikes which can serve about 150 members at a time. The structure is beautiful, solar powered and serves as a beacon for one day having a fleet of 100s of this sort of structures throughout the New York City area.

There has been a pod operating in Jersey City since September as part of the Journal Square PATH Train transportation nexus in partnership with the Port Authority of NY-NJ.

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Madison Square Before & After Pedestrian Plazas (and more!)

Check out this video montage showing how horrible and inhumane Madison Square/Flatiron Building area was for pedestrians & cyclists in 2007 compared to now!

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Bus Lane in Bloom: Flower Street and the Urgency of Speeding Up LA Bus Service

Slow, unreliable bus service is a major problem for transit riders in Los Angeles. Since 1994, average LA Metro bus speeds have dropped more than 12 percent. Bus riders account for nearly three-quarters of all LA Metro fixed-route transit trips, but bus ridership is steadily falling.

While LA has a few bus lanes, they are sparse, and implementation has typically proceeded at a snail’s pace. For a city where so many residents ride buses bogged down in traffic -- and whose mayor, Eric Garcetti, now leads the global coalition of “climate mayors” -- bus lanes should be much more extensive.

Over the summer, LA transit riders caught a glimpse of what a more urgent approach to prioritizing bus service can do. With a large section of the Blue Line light rail shut down for rehabilitation, LA Metro and LA DOT, encouraged by LA Councilmember Mike Bonin, quickly implemented a 1.8-mile bus lane segment on Flower Street to speed trips for as many as 70 southbound buses per hour during the evening rush.

The bus lane transformed a frustrating slog into satisfying service, shaving time off bus trips and substantially improving reliability. Even with light rail repairs wrapped up and trains back in service, Flower Street remains a major bus corridor, and officials are evaluating whether to make the bus lane permanent. Beyond Flower Street, LA Metro and LA DOT are in the early stages of planning a more comprehensive bus lane network. As Tafarai Bayne, chief strategist with CicLAvia, explains in this Streetfilm, riders on major bus streets like Vermont and Western urgently need dedicated transit lanes too

One of the lessons of Flower Street is that faster implementation of bus priority projects is possible, providing a template for accelerating bus lane rollout throughout the transit network. In this Streetfilm, advocates, agency officials, and Councilmember Bonin discuss how the Flower Street approach could translate to faster bus service on other streets in and around Los Angeles.

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The Smashing Success of NYC’s 14th Street Busway (featuring Zardoz)

Since just about everyone around the world has been asking where is Streetfilms' coverage of the 14th Street Busway, the true answer has basically been: just about everyone else did such a pretty good job documenting (and mostly loving) it, that I really felt this one didn't need my input or care. The world really is changing. And social media - particularly Twitter - really branded it a great change for the city on Day One: for transit users, pedestrians and bicyclists using the corridor.

But then my kid found and starting playing with this sock puppet from over 10 years ago. And, well, Zardoz, our fun and enthusiastic sock puppet correspondent was born.

From 6am thru 10pm only buses, trucks, delivery vehicles and EMS/FDNY are able to use it as a thru route. All others must turn off after only traveling one block. This still allows for drivers and car services to access the entire street, but they need to exit which has led to a vast improvement of bus speeds. But not only that but a more human environment. It can be very quiet at times. You can hear birds sing, people talk to each other. With due care you can easily cross the street almost anywhere on the corridor without fear of being killed.

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The Case for Dedicating the Queensboro Bridge’s South Outer Roadway To Pedestrians: Now!

In the 1990s, cyclists fought hard to finally gain access to the Queensboro Bridge when the city dedicated one of its 10 lanes to shared bike & pedestrian use.

That was acceptable back when few commuters used those modes on the bridge. Now?

More than 5,400 cyclists crossed the Queensboro Bridge daily in 2017, a 35% jump from five years earlier. And easily another thousand or so run or walk.

Advocates want the NYC DOT to convert another lane from car use and make separate biking and walking paths on both sides of the bridge. The DOT is said to be open to the idea, however it would take up to two years to implement. That is too long to wait.

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The Climate March: A Streets Perspective (2019)

Where can you find the ONLY coverage of NYC's Climate Strike including a Manhattan march, a group bike ride and PARKing Day 2019 all wrapped in one tidy package?

(And also shot only by human power over 5 hours at dozens of locations?)

Well right here on Streetfilms my friends. Enjoy!

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Letting Citizens Redesign Their Streets: Mark Gorton Talks with Amsterdam’s Rocco Piers

This is essentially a follow-up from our smashingly popular Streetfilm from earlier this year where Amsterdam's new government announced they were removing 10,000 parking spaces from the streets.

Mark Gorton, the Chairman of Open Plans was curious to the exact decision process came about to remove on-street parking in the Frans Halsbuurt neighborhood , so he flew to Amsterdam to meet with Rocco Piers, the district alderman who is helping usher in a new way of allowing residents of streets to get together and re-design them the way they would like to see.

Of course the neighbors overwhelmingly favor: more green, more play areas, tons of bike parking and environmentally-friendly practices while also preserving limited access for cars and retaining ample loading zones on each block for residents to still use a car for when the need arises.

The original Streetfilm "Amsterdam's Removing 10,000 Parking Spaces: See what's possible!" can be found at this link: vimeo.com/339735964

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Utrecht: Planning for People & Bikes, Not for Cars

Utrecht is a city with unbelievable momentum for altering how its city center integrates with people. They've been slowly pushing the car out for decades in favor of bicycling and transit. But in the last few years it has turned up the dial.

For one, they are removing multiple roadways and converting them to bikeways, featuring green spaces and restoring the city's canal which was removed in the 1970's for a highway. They are on the verge of having 33,000 bike spaces with the opening of a to-be 12,000 space facility under Utrecht Centraal, which you are legally allowed to bike thru! They are encouraging more bike use with new routes and the Dutch way of bicycle streets. And they have built the symbolic Dafne Schippersbrug, a technological feat of creative imagination that features a multi-use path that lands on top of a school.

You have got to see it all and that is one reason why this Streetfilm clocks in at 13+ minutes, the 2nd longest video we have produced of all time (only Groningen - also in the Netherlands - is longer).

It was such a joy bicycling around the city. Everything felt reachable by bike or transit. That's why 98% of residents own at least one bike and the city center boasts a 60% bike mode share. Transit abounds, whether it's buses, trains or trams (a new one is opening as we speak).

The lesson for the world is that Utrecht has put the health and well being of its citizens first, not car travel. That transportation plays an integral role in doing that so making traveling simple and easier by bike or bike/transit/walk combo is far better than having people driving around in metal boxes polluting, hogging road space and making it dangerous to road users. Cars create far more problems than they solve. And hopefully Utrecht can export that lesson to the world.

Sure, you cannot make your city become Utrecht overnight. It takes decades of planning and smart policy. But if your city isn't so friendly to people, bikes and transit you can get started today. And then maintain that commitment to change.

The most incredible thing I learned? Utrecht works so well that taxi/car service/Uber is hardly a thing there.

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Go Fourth and Ride: Families Celebrate Brooklyn’s 4th Ave Protected Bike Lane

Another Streetfilms Exclusive!

The future is bright in Brooklyn. Children & families came out in a large bunch to ride the NYC DOT's first installed portion of the 4th Avenue Protected bike lane, a lane many community members have been asking nearly 10 years for!

It's hard not to get emotional seeing how if we build proper infrastructure and a bike network and people will come out. Brooklyn Spoke's Doug Gordon and friends organized a short ride to PS 118 and I was surprised to see so many happy faces!