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9th Annual Bike JC Ward Tour Draws Nearly 3,000 Riders!

Well over 2,000 people came out on World Bike Day for Jersey City's ninth annual Ward Tour, a 16-mile ride that visits all six wards in the city, according to ride organizer Bike JC.

Big things are afoot in Jersey City. As Mayor Steven Fulop (who rode the whole way) told the crowd, work is now underway on a bike master plan, known as Let's Ride JC, that aims to extend a network of safe, comfortable bikeways throughout the city.

At the finish line, riders got to see a pop-up protected bike lane made out of paint and a few small plants. It's the type of demo project that the Street Plans Collaborative, which is leading development of the bike plans, aims to show a lot more people in the months ahead.

All in all, everyone had a great time riding on the streets of Jersey City and imagining a city that's better for bicycling.

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Ride the new Connect Historic Boston bike trail

Protected bike lanes are becoming less rare in many U.S. cities and I got to ride a fine new one in the City of Boston. Called the Connect Historic Boston Bike Trail, it is the beginning segment - about two miles so far - of a longer loop that plans to circle the downtown area.

The idea was to connect historic Boston places via a safe bike route that not only commuters could use to get about, but also visitors or residents wanting to further explore the city.

The segment features a lot of good design practices. Where it intersects with driveways or parking lots the drivers are slowed by having to meet the bike lane which has been raised to the level of the sidewalk. It also features ample #freshkermit (that's green paint) in areas to highlight possible conflict areas between motorists and cyclists. Additionally, some intersections have been built with some protection.  And some environmentally friendly bits as well: permeable pavement and a bioswale.

There's one section here tha'ts center running - which, yes, always has its critics - but in this case it makes much more sense to put riders away from crowded sidewalks at North Station/TD Garden. I'd much rather ride in the freedom of the center versus contending with pedestrians and cars. Just imagine this scenario averted.

Big thanks to the good transportation folks from the City of Boston who came out to meet me after work with little notice to take a one hour excursion with Streetfilms!

StreetFilms
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The Car-Free Central Park Victory Lap

For about eight more weeks, drivers can still use parts of the Central Park loop as a traffic shortcut. Then, on June 27, that’s it, the exhaust spewers need to clear out.

Would it be nice to enjoy a car-free park a little sooner, during these mild spring days full of flowering trees? Sure. But this interim period at least gives us some time to let the enormity of the 50-year campaign to get cars out of Central Park sink in — and to boo lustily at the people who are still driving on the park loop, knowing their days are numbered.

This morning, car-free park advocates went out with Council Member Helen Rosenthal for a victory lap. Or, as indefatigable advocate Ken Coughlin called it, the last protest ride for a car-free Central Park.

StreetFilms
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10 Years Later the Pedestrian Crush on NYC’s 34th Street is Still Chaos

Sidewalks around Penn Station are not wide enough to handle the number of people who walk in the area. That was the case in 2009, when Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson and Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton surveyed the pedestrian crush at 34th Street and Seventh Avenue, and it’s no less true today.

Last spring DOT announced plans to add sidewalk space on Seventh between 42nd and 34th. Nearly 300 people were injured in crashes on that stretch between 2010 and 2014. One hundred thirty-eight of those victims were pedestrians — 12 of whom sustained severe injuries.

A year later, that project has not materialized. Clarence and Mark recently returned to 34th and Seventh to show how the city is still forcing people to walk in the street, even as motorists steal public space next to the curb.

“We filmed this exact intersection to show the sidewalk overcrowding, to show how we need more space for people,” says Gorton. “And in those 10 years nothing has happened. If anything it’s gotten worse.”

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No room for peds on NYC’s 8th Ave so they walk in Protected Bike Lane

Can you really blame pedestrians on 8th Avenue?

For a few hours at rush hour in the am/pm the protected bike lane is filled with walkers since they are forced off the dense sidewalks due to the astronomical number of commuters and residents on them.

This of course turns the protected bike lane installed a few years ago into a virtual nightmare of dodging people. But look carefully, in the 30 minutes we were there pedestrians try to be as accommodating as possible walking in the null zone between bikes and parked cars. Cyclists, too, try to make their way slowly (most of them).

It has to be frustrating for all of them. But the true enemy is, as Mark Gorton points out in the video, we have given far too much of the street to vehicles and drivers. Both pedestrians and cyclists should be angry with NYC's administration for allowing this to happen.

At least one more driving lane (and maybe two!) should be given to widen the sidewalks.

StreetFilms
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2018 Bike-to-Work Ride With Brooklyn BP Eric Adams

On Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hosted his fourth annual Bike-to-Work Ride, taking off from Prospect Park and ending at Borough Hall in Downtown Brooklyn. Besides having fun on a beautiful day, the goal was to show streets that need better infrastructure for biking and walking.

The first leg took on the speedway section of Flatbush Avenue next to Prospect Park, which is terrifying to bike on. NYC DOT is studying options to make the street safer, but it's clearly an ideal situation for a two-way protected bike lane, just like on the west side of the park.

Also on the itinerary: Ninth Street, which is in line for a redesign after a driver killed two young children last month, and a stop at Hamilton Avenue to meet with the young people in Red Hook campaigning for a safer crossing under the BQE.

StreetFilms
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Case for Car-Free Central Park (2018 Re-edit)

Back in Summer 2004, I made a great film with Transportation Alternatives, one that kinda helped launch my career into Streetfilms. It was called "The Case for a Car-Free Central Park" and featured footage from dozens of leaders, advocates and park users calling for a Central Park. It was 20 minutes long. See it here in its entirety, it is certainly an important archive.

Since today is the historic announcement by Mayor Bill de Blasio of a - finally - fully car-free Central Park, I thought I'd go back to the film and do a 3 minute recut and let one man get a lot of credit who deserves it: Ken Coughlin the chair, energy and momentum of the Transportation Alternatives Car-Free Central Park movement for over a decade who gathered thousands of signatures and helped make this happen! And allow him, using his own words back then along with a few specially placed current day montages, to prove he was always right - that this would happen one day.

He said in our 2004 film that regarding a car-free park, "I still believe it is right around the corner, and I believe in the city and eventually city officials will do what's right."

14 years later Ken they have. Thank you very much.

StreetFilms
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A Year From L Train Shutdown, TransAlt Begins Series of Bike Trains

It's now a little less than a year from the imminent 15-month closure of the L train which will impact at least a 1/4 million daily subway riders. So Transportation Alternatives kicked off their first of many "bike train" rides in order to educate, cajole and help residents feel safer in attempting cycling to work.

StreetFilms
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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.

StreetFilms
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The Women’s Ride on Queens Boulevard Takes Aim at NYC’s Cycling Gender Gap

Braving the brisk cold of a March morning, hundreds of people turned out Sunday for the Women's Ride on Queens Boulevard.

The event was both a celebration of women's role in bike advocacy and a call to action. About a quarter to a third of cyclists on NYC streets are women, according to NYC DOT, and this ride sent a strong message that the city can do better.

Watch these highlights from the ride and hear from participants about why cycling matters to them, and how changing infrastructure and culture can make cycling in New York more welcoming for women.

The ride started along the new Queensbridge Park Greenway, traveling through Sunnyside to Queens Boulevard and its new protected bike lanes, before wrapping up at Queens Borough Hall. The route was chosen intentionally: Two significant segments -- in Sunnyside and on Queens Boulevard approaching Borough Hall -- are slated for safer bike infrastructure this year, but local politicians have been waffling on those projects. Participants want to make sure these important bike connections get built this year.

Thanks to all these organizations for putting on a wonderful event:

Transportation Alternatives Queens Volunteer Committee
Ciclistas Latinoamericanos de New York
Make Queens Safer
Bike New York
Queens Bike
Jackson Heights Beautification Group
New York Cycling Club
NYSBRA Juniors
Women's Adventure Cycling Club
Trips for Kids
NYC Youth Cycling
Eastern Queens Greenway
Families for Safe Streets
WE Bike NYC
Mujeres en Movimiento

StreetFilms
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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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Stop the Child Murder: Kids Lead the March for Safe Streets

Last night hundreds of New Yorkers marched in Brooklyn for safer streets. In the lead were kids, mourning the loss of other kids — 13-year-old Kevin Flores, 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein, and 20-month old Joshua Lew were killed by motorists in the first three months of 2018.

In this Streetfilm by Clarence Eckerson Jr., Families for Safe Streets member Amy Cohen — who lost her son Sammy when a driver struck him in 2013 — likens yesterday’s march to the Dutch movement to stop the killing of children with automobiles the 1970s, which led to dramatic and sustained decreases in traffic deaths.

We can reshape our streets and our laws to protect children’s lives too. As you can see in the video, New Yorkers are ready for bold action to prioritize people over cars.

At Monday’s event, city leaders including Council Speaker Corey Johnson pledged to do what it takes to prevent further loss of life on NYC streets. To make good on that commitment, they’ll have to reform a system where even the most basic safety improvements are subject to the whims of people whose top priority is preserving curbside parking.

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Ride New Orleans: Setting the Transit Agenda

Since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the city's transit recovery has been sluggish and asymmetrical. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) made the decision to prioritize streetcar restoration and expansion at the expense of bus service, limiting economic mobility for residents. As a result, even today the average New Orleanian with a car can reach 86 percent of the region’s jobs in 30 minutes or less, but the average New Orleanian relying on transit can only reach 11 percent of those jobs in the same time period.

The advocacy group Ride New Orleans formed in 2009 out of a growing sense that the comfort of the average New Orleanian wasn't being prioritized by the RTA. In just a few short years, the group is already setting the transit agenda. Ride has organized bus riders into a powerful force, releasing influential State of Transit reports and sparking policy changes at the RTA such as increased bus frequency and overnight service.

But perhaps most importantly, they've strengthened communication channels between riders and the transit agency. The RTA recently released its Strategic Mobility Plan with a specific to do list of improvements. It largely is informed by contributions from transit riders.

But don't just take our word for it - watch for yourself!

StreetFilms
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The Netherlands Megamix Bike Montage

Over the past five years, I've visited several great cities for cycling in the Netherlands. One thing you'll notice if you go to places like Amsterdam, Groningen, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Nijmegen is that there are a lot of kids biking.

Contrary to what advice columnist and bike lane opponent Amy Alkon has been spouting on Twitter, there's no evidence that biking with kids in the U.S. is more of a hazard than driving with kids. And if you're really concerned about children's safety, you shouldn't be trying to put a stop to bike infrastructure in your neighborhood.

I hope this short "Netherlands Megamix" montage, culled from some of my favorite shots and including some never-before-seen footage, helps bring home the idea that in countries with sane transportation policies, the goal is to make cities safe for people of all ages to bike, not to banish parents from cycling with their kids.