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Posts tagged "Times Square"

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How to Ride Your Bike Like a Gentleman (or a Lady)

This is a fun video. Some etiquette. Some style. Some advocacy. But all fun!

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The Streets Have Changed: A NYC Bicycle Journey During the Coronavirus

I hadn't been on my bicycle in over a week, choosing to walk and run for exercise during the Coronavirus (and observing recommended precautions) but I was curious what my normal commute looked like. So on Friday I chose to get my exercise by bicycling in to Manhattan and brought my camera along as I visited many spots I might typically do if scouting for great locales to film footage for a Streetfilm.

The amazing thing is I have so much archives of New York City that in many cases I had exact matching footage from the last few years of each location or spot, showing what it looks like typically (or in some cases showing what it looked like before the streets received an intervention from NYC DOT) and in some cases is pretty mind blowing.

I hope this Streetfilm (likely the final "new" one shot until the world heals) is entertaining, gives you hope and stretches your mind to what is still possible when we emerge from this pandemic.

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NYC Earth Day 2017: A Car-Free Broadway

This year for NYC's 2nd Car-Free NYC Earth Day, things picked up considerably from last year's inaugural event. The big spectacle was that you could walk or bike up Broadway from Union Square all the way to Times Square on car-free streets. But in a way since the Science March was already coming down Broadway to 47th street from the north, many people were able to traverse it all the way to Columbus Circle.
NYC Council Member (and Transportation Chair) Ydanis Rodriguez has been a real star in the move to get the city to think big things and also a great ally in the Vision Zero quest for safe streets. In this short, we got to walk with him for a few blocks and also talk to many New Yorkers about the state of the streets. Many dream big, wanting to see a car-free Broadway in the future, a proposal Mr. Rodriguez also would love to see.
As usual at these events there was plenty of programming. Running clubs. City agencies. Aerobics classes. Free Citibike rentals. In many ways it felt similar to one of the Summer Streets Saturdays in August, except this time it was on Broadway in the heart of the city. A statement to our city that it can be done. All we need is the will. After all 55% of NYC households don't own a car; and 77% of those in Manhattan.

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Streetfilms and Streetsblog: The First 10 Years

This summer, Streetfilms and Streetsblog celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and to mark the occasion, we created this film looking back at how our reporting and videos have changed streets in New York, the U.S., and cities all over the world.

This film showcases only a small portion of the work that thousands of volunteers and advocates have put in. It begins with the NYC Streets Renaissance, a collection of organizations that banded together in 2005 to rally people around the idea that streets can change, by showing best practices from other cities and photosimulations of what NYC streets could become.

You'll see clips from important Streetfilms like the series on Bogota's Bus Rapid Transit and Ciclovia, as well as recaps of how Streetsblog influenced transportation policy at City Hall, defended the work of transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and put pressure on Albany to stop raiding transit funds. Getting closer to the present day, we look at why Streetsblog's coverage of traffic crashes matters, the new generation of elected officials working for better streets, and what's next for advocacy in NYC.

A note: This Streetfilm runs over 12 minutes, but if we had the resources it easily be a 90-minute feature documentary. Apologies to anyone left on the cutting room floor and topics not addressed, but perhaps someday we'll be able to make that film!

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Five Eclectic Questions for Streetfighter Janette Sadik-Khan

Right before former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan set off on a multi-city book tour for Streetfight (along with co-author Seth Solomonow), I was able to get a few minutes to ask her five eclectic questions in Washington Square Park.

Want to know the story behind the appearance of hundreds of cheap lawn chairs on opening day in car-free Times Square? We asked her. Want to know if she has a crush on David Byrne? We asked her that too! Want to know her favorite color jellybean? Well, we didn't ask her that.

But we think you'll enjoy our quick, engaging conversation that's saturated with footage from the Streetfilms vault from Sadik-Khan's 2007-2013 tenure at NYC DOT.

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Defending NYC’s Wonderful Pedestrian Plazas

For a few weeks now I've wanted to write about this New York City anti-plaza sensationalism since the desnudas showed up in Times Square . Thankfully many articulate others were busy crafting their own smart opinions like this and this shortly afterwards and laid the truth at Mayor de Blasio's feet.

By complete happenstance, I found myself grabbing a quick lunch on Saturday in one of NYC's newest plazas at 33rd Street in the shadow of Madison Square Garden. The temporary plaza, maintained by Vornado Royalty Trust, will be removed October 11th, then evaluated. I happened to have my gear from a cancelled shoot and though only there about 20 minutes, grabbed the fun montage above to demonstrate just how thriving the human element becomes and how much we need more space in a often loud, cramped city of 8.5 million people.

Of course the Steve Cuozzo's of the world never see it that way. He's one the loudest barkers in the anti-livable streets movement - a man who'd probably be happy to see 12 lanes of cars down every NYC Avenue. He's all about bluster and never making the world a better place for people. I like to balance the absurdity of words from people like him.

I've documented quite a few plazas in NYC, probably more than anyone else in the city. And physically I have visited just about every one. From Sunnyside's Bliss Plaza under the 7 train to Brooklyn's DUMBO Plaza, one of the very first waaay back in 2007. And, frankly, I'm pretty insulted by all this negative coverage and the lack of intelligence by a few powerful men.

Just take a look at the video above from Corona Plaza. It's a wonderful people space. And so popular it is scheduled for a $3 million dollar upgrade.

Look at what they did in Jackson Heights, turning 78th Street into a paradise. I am now proud to call it my home all these years later.

The transformation Janette Sadik-Khan and her team at NYC DOT did to Madison Square is nothing short of remarkable. In some ways, I think it is a bigger success than Times Square.

And speaking of Times Square, here's what we can never return to. Our interview between Mark Gorton and Jan Gehl in the Times Square of 2005 shows how horrible conditions were. Just watch. There's no better way to end a blog rant when you have irrefutable visual proof.

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William H. Whyte in His Own Words: “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces”

When I first got started making NYC bike advocacy and car-free streets videos back in the late-1990s on cable TV, I didn't know who William "Holly" Whyte was or just how much influence his work and research had on New York City. A few years later I met Fred and Ethan Kent at Project for Public Spaces. I got a copy of Whyte's 1980 classic, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, which in its marvelously-written, straightforward style is the one book all burgeoning urbanists should start with.

Recently, I read it again. With all the developments in video technology since his day, I wondered: How might Whyte capture information and present his research in a world which is now more attuned to the importance of public space? What would he appreciate? Are his words still valid?

So I excerpted some of my favorite passages from the book and tried to match it up with modern footage I've shot from all over the world while making Streetfilms. I hope he would feel honored and that it helps his research find a new audience.

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Hollywood Screws Up Times Square ONCE AGAIN!

LucyScreenGrab2

I can't help that I'm a obsessive creature when it comes to anything to do with transportation and complete streets.

But what really gets me irked is the awful treatment the movie industry to continues to spew on our wonderful car-free spaces in Times Square.  I've seen the roads of the once-snarled bow-tie still choked with cars in at least a half-dozen recent films - including here from the most recent "Resident Evil" picture.

Summer 2014 trailers show there are a few films coming out with scenes in Times Square. In what looks like it could be an otherwise tremendous film, "Lucy" stars ScarJo as a woman who develops some sort of telekinetic crazy super powers. However, as you can see in the top and  below snapshots those powers do not seem to include "Livable Streets 101" of Times Square.

LucyGrab1

That's not to say all movies have gotten it wrong. It looks like the next Spider-Man installment will be returning to duel with evil baddies in Times Square. The sneak-preview trailer shows what appears to be a ped-friendly Times Square (though there seems to be a few blown up NYPD  vehicles tossed about.)

Spideyscreen

Read more...

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Janette Sadik-Khan’s Greatest Streetfilms Hits!

Now that former NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has moved on to her next transportation chapter, Streetfilms thought the time was perfect to look back at some of her greatest moments with us.  We've always had a great relationship with Janette and during her six and half year reign and she's been in a few dozen Streetfilms.

Let's begin with the gem above we went deep in the archives to pull up: Sadik-Khan's one-minute speech before the crowd for the 2007 Transportation Alternatives Tour de Brooklyn. It was her first big public appearance for most cyclists, and listening to her visionary words I don't think you you'd find anyone involved in the livable streets back then who thought she would accomplish all she did.  I spliced in just a few of her many Streetfilms appearances over time to tease what was to come.

One of the biggest Streetfilms we had with Janette was a thorough sit down interview with Mark Gorton, our biggest donor and supporter of our work.  Even though she had only been at work for a little over a year, you can see the amount of swift change Sadik-Khan had already accomplished in our Q&A and walking tour.  I knew we'd hit a home run when a week after posting it, there were many fans mobbing her at a Railvolution conference saying they had watched every minute of the Streetfilm.

The video above was compiled after the new Times Square pedestrian spaces were created. My favorite moment is when I got to interview her sitting amongst the lawn chairs on the first day. That's about 3 1/2 minutes in if you don't want to watch it all. Read more...

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The Metamorphosis of NYC Streets

There's nothing more dramatic than looking back five or ten years at Streetfilms footage to see how much the streets of New York City have changed. In this wonderful montage, check out the incredible changes at Times Square, Herald Square, the Brooklyn waterfront, and many other places that outgoing NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and her staff have intrepidly transformed.

We have similarly high hopes for Mayor Bill de Blasio as he takes office, and look forward to what he and new NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg accomplish. Even though so much has changed, the vast majority of our streets still need to be rethought and redesigned. We need more space for efficient modes, slower speed limits, and traffic calming for our most vulnerable citizens. I hope this short gets them excited to top the transportation record of the Bloomberg administration.

Please note: This is but a short sample of the before-and-after footage at our disposal. Seriously, we could have put together a one hour version!

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Highlights from NACTO’s 2012 “Designing Cities” Conference

The National Association of City Transportation Officials' 2012 Designing Cities Conference drew hundreds of city transportation officials from around the U.S. to New York City last fall to share ideas and learn about the latest innovations from places around the country.

As you'll see, the conference featured some nice twists on the usual fare and included many great speakers, including U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz. Among the headliners was NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who nicely encapsulated how some elected leaders are starting to approach transportation in their cities differently than their predecessors:

"Streets are there to transport people. They're not there necessarily for cars they're there to transport people - and there are lots of different ways of transporting people, and in fact one of the original ways was walking. So we've come full circle here - surprise, surprise."

Also, if you haven't already seen it, do not miss Streetfilms' video of the NACTO commissioner's panel, hosted by MSNBC's Chris Hayes. It is 52 minutes of fascinating dialogue between the transportation commissioners from five of America's greatest cities.

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Hollywood Screws Up NYC Streets Again

I see a lot of films. And since so many are shot on the streets of New York City, I'm quick to pick up on things that are inaccurate (or cool) about our quickly evolving transportation landscape.

I recently got the latest "Resident Evil" chapter on Netflix. Why? Well as I've told many people - I see prefer to watch bad movies because 1) you learn more from very bad movies than mediocre ones and 2) only from watching plenty of potentially bad movies do you discover the 10% of them that are truly great gems you can recommend to friends and look like a film genius. This film is not one of those.

In "Resident Evil: Retribution", there's a scene about halfway thru where Milla Jovovich our heroine-clone-computer simulation (or whatever she is) is in Times Square getting ready to kick some monster ass. She walks around a recreated Times Square except this 2012 video game world eliminates ALL the pedestrian space and crams it with parked cars.

Imagine this scene with planters, chairs and tables. This film missed out big time, those could be great livable streets weapons to use when battling monsters!!

Later when the world goes boom, cars are shown occupying what is usually a great pedestrian environment. Read more...

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Biking around town with Randy “The Ethicist” Cohen

A few years back, Randy Cohen, writer of the NY Times Magazine "The Ethicist" column, visited the Streetfilms set for a unprecedented interview with Mark Gorton about "Transportation Ethics.".  Well we wanted to talk more, so this time we got out of the studio to take a two-wheeled jaunt around New York City and visit many of his favorite spots and take in the alfresco enchantment of the capital of the world.

As you'll see during our ten mile journey, Mr. Cohen offered up some very decisive opinions about car-free Central Park, weighed in on the ethics of  "bike salmoning" (riding wrong way in bike lanes), whether he stops for red lights (you might be surprised by his answer), and comments on how transformative our streets have become for pedestrians and cyclists.

He also doesn't hide the fact he has a massive "policy crush" on NYC DOT chief Janette Sadik-Khan.

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In Appreciation of the NEW Times Square

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to announce his verdict on Times Square's new pedestrian spaces very soon. Will the changes be permanent? This morning Bloomberg told radio host John Gambling that we'll find out sometime next week. In the meantime, it seems like the media has decided to fixate on rumorsthat Midtown traffic speeds may not have increased across the board, without paying much attention to the tremendous difference this project has made for hundreds of thousands of pedestrians every day.

It's been eight months since this part of Broadway went car-free, and maybe it's hard to recall just how bad Times Square used to be for everyone walking around. To really appreciate what we have today, you've got to take a trip back in time to see the crowded, dangerous mess that used to fester at the crossroads of the world. Naturally, the moment calls for a Streetfilms retrospective.

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Veronica Moss Visits Times Square

She's back!  The woman you love to hate (and hate not to love) Veronica Moss, a Washington, D.C. lobbyist for - ahem! - the Automobile User Trade Organization (A.U.T.O.) In this "chapter", she's getting her first gander ever at the new pedestrian-friendly Times Square and she invited Streetfilms along to record her virgin journey.

Naturally since she advocates for cars for a living with her every breath, her viewpoints are bound to rankle some of those in the livable streets camp.  Here are a few splendiforous musings as she reminisced about the "old" Times Square - where visitors "had to fight" for every last inch of space:

  • "Pedestrians are cystic acne on the teenage forehead of this city."
  • "I used to feel this wonderful sense of being totally overwhelmed and being displaced when I walked through Times Square.  And that's how it should feel."

Of course, that's nothing new for Ms. Moss, who first appeared on Streetfillms a few months ago in an "exclusive" interview to let us know how she feels about cyclists and pedestrians.