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Posts tagged "traffic"

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Yes, there are plenty of cars in Copenhagen!

Today I got pissed and fired out a montage I never even considered doing prior..

Got into one of those Twitter arguments about building safe protected #bikenyc lanes. The person replied, "YOU just want to take away our cars & driving. Like they've done in Copenhagen!"

Oh yeah? There's still PLENTY of driving there. And all is ok. LOOK!

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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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Unsustainable: Traffic 2018

New York is facing its most serious transportation challenge in decades.

Subway reliability is way down, and the bus system is shedding riders at an alarming rate. And because transit is so unreliable, today New York is accommodating growth in cars, in the form of the tens of thousands of Uber and Lyft vehicles we now find on our streets each day.

It's difficult to even list all the reasons why shifting transportation growth into cars in New York City is a bad thing. Choking the economy with congestion, safety concerns, making slow bus service even worse, poorer air quality - you name it.

For our latest Streetfilm, we spoke with leaders in New York's transportation, labor and business communities to get their take on this alarming trend - a problem "screaming for a solution."

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Biking on Amsterdam Avenue in NYC — Now More Like Biking in Amsterdam!

Getting a protected bike lane on NYC's Amsterdam Avenue was an epic struggle. This year, safe streets finally won.

Amsterdam Avenue is a neighborhood street on the Upper West Side, but it was designed like a highway with several lanes of one-way motor vehicle traffic. Local residents campaigned for nearly ten years to repurpose one of those lanes to make way for a parking-protected bike lane and pedestrian islands. They kept butting up against a few stubborn opponents of the street redesign on Community Board 7 (for viewers outside NYC, community boards are appointed bodies that weigh in on street redesigns, among other neighborhood changes).

Fed up with the dangerous conditions on Amsterdam, residents ramped up the activism. They staged silent protests and neighborhood actions to publicly shame the community board members stalling the redesign. Their efforts were rewarded earlier this year when CB 7 voted in favor of DOT's plan for a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue from 72nd Street to 110th Street. Although not fully built yet -- 14 more blocks above 96th Street are still to come -- the project has changed the feel of the street dramatically.

It was a hard-earned victory, and yesterday people who fought for a safer Amsterdam celebrated with a ride down the new bike lane. Here's a look at the ride -- a sight we should see many times again as advocates organize for more space for safe biking and walking throughout NYC.

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Vintage Transportation Films from the Prelinger Archives

The 1968 "Playstreets" video above just blows my mind - and probably will yours if you love open streets and ciclovias. I had no idea PAL (the Police Athletic League) was closing down streets/blocks in New York City for kids for so long. In fact since 1914, over one hundred years ago!

I found it while looking thru the Prelinger Archives which has made over 6600 vintage mini-documentaries, news reels and random works free to use by the public. There's so much history to peruse. I re-edited the "Playstreets" to under 3 minutes and added a bit of Streetfilms-style music to make it more swift & modern.

But really, some of the archives can be sad and stark. For example, check out this victim blaming 10 minute short produced to air in schools titled "The ABC's of Walking Wisely (1959), an attempt to cleverly "educate" children by using the letters of the alphabet to demonize walking behaviors. Never once in the film does the female narrator talk about the responsibility of drivers, instead choosing to call school kids insulting names while championing, "Don't be a J-Walker, be an A-Walker". I trimmed this down to several cringeworthy moments you'll be aghast by including the narrator saying, "show consideration for the drivers - and be safe yourself." I'll add: there are several moments where it looks like the producers dangerously put the children in potential harm filming around cars. Oh yeah, definitely watch.

There are dozens of transportation films I found in Prelinger sponsored by (who else?) car companies pushing the idea of how wonderful the modern conveniences of the car are.  Some are somewhat harmless like fun family car vacations but others push highway building, parking and the oil industry showing how the propaganda-filled 1950s set in motion some awful transportation policies.

And we are still recovering from the auto's invasion of our cities. "Give Yourself the Green Light" (1954) is a half hour bonanza chock-filled with moments that will make you groan, and likely, get depressed.  I selected about 4 minutes filled with items I found particularly egregious. You'll see: a frustrated Miss America searching in vain for parking, a narrator saying "the best investment a town can make is parking" plus some vintage highway footage on the Gowanus Expressway and BQE Brooklyn Heights where the script unbelievably notes that these are structures which solved transportation problems "without disturbing life below." (Yeah anyone seen Sunset Park under the elevated highway?)

You'll find full-length copies of "Give Yourself the Green Light"on Youtube if your interest is piqued and you want to consume the full film. But I fully encourage you to browse and use the Prelinger Archives. I watched 100s of them this past week. So much fun.

Read more...

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Zurich: Where People Are Welcome and Cars Are Not

When it comes to smart transportation options and city planning, Zurich can credibly claim to be the global champ. This Swiss city has enacted a number of policies and practices that have produced streets where people come first. Getting around and simply experiencing the city is a pleasure.

How did they do it? In a 1996 city decree referred to as "a historic compromise," Zurich decided to cap the number of parking spaces. From then on, when new parking spaces were built anywhere in Zurich, an equivalent number of spaces had to be eliminated elsewhere within the city limits. Many of the new spaces that have been built since then come in the form of underground garages, which allow for more car-free areas, plazas, and shared-space streets.

Zurich also has an intricate system of more than 4,500 sensors that monitor the number of cars entering the city. When that number exceeds the level Zurich's streets can comfortably accommodate, all cars are halted on highways and main roads into the city until congestion is relieved. Thus, there is never significant traffic back-up in the city itself.

It's tough to top the city's transit options. Zurich has a network of comfortable commuter trains and buses, plus the magnificent gem of the city: its 15-line tram system. Trams run everywhere frequently and are easy to hop on and off. The coordination of the lines is a wonder to behold. And it's the preferred way to travel in the city center -- business men in suits traveling to the richest banks in the world ride next to moms and skateboarders.

That's only the beginning of some of the great things going on in Zurich. Bike mode share is now 6 percent and climbing. People flock to the amazing parks and rivers that have been cleaned up. Car-free and car-lite streets are filled with restaurants and people at all times of day. If you can never get to Zurich yourself, I hope you'll be able to experience a bit of what it's like via this Streetfilm.

Note: All stats in the video are from the Mobility and Transport Microcencus of 2010 by the Federal Government of Switzerland. The survey on travel behavior has been conducted every five years since 1974.

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Revisiting Donald Appleyard’s Livable Streets

You may have wondered, while watching a Streetfilm or reading a post on Streetsblog, where we got the term "livable streets."FTGMlogo4web

The answer can be found in the work of Donald Appleyard, a scholar who studied the neighborhood environment and the ways planning and design can make life better for city residents. In 1981, Appleyard published "Livable Streets" based on his research into how people experience streets with different traffic volumes.  The Second Edition of Livable Streets will be published by Routledge Press in 2011.

Today we're revisiting Appleyard's work in the second installment of our series, "Fixing the Great Mistake." This video explores three studies in "Livable Streets" that measured, for the first time, the effect of traffic on our social interactions and how we perceive our own homes and neighborhoods.

"Fixing the Great Mistake" is a new Streetfilms series that examines what went wrong in the early part of the 20th Century, when our cities began catering to the automobile, and how those decisions continue to affect our lives today.

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Tom Vanderbilt Talks “Traffic”

Whether you're a transportation geek or just curious about why people do the things they do behind the wheel, Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic is one of the most fascinating books you can open up.

Tom, who also writes the excellent blog How We Drive, was kind enough to drop by the Streetfilms office for a conversation about his vast research into the world of car and driver. Here's our ten-minute highlight reel of his talk with OpenPlans founder and Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton. The interview covers subjects from the Invisible Gorilla to intense DriveCam footage of automobile crashes to the dangers of noise-canceling technology touted by car manufacturers. Whether you drive every day or not at all, you'll be enlightened about what happens inside people's heads once they're inside an automobile.

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Drivers Behaving Rudely

Just because there's a livable streets revolution underway in NYC doesn't mean that drivers have gotten the message. Cars blocking crosswalks, drivers failing to yield to pedestrians, unnecessary honking and a slew of other quality-of-walking violations are still a routine occurrence to contend with on nearly every corner of New York City.

Mark Gorton, publisher of Streetsblog, wants to put drivers on notice of their rudeness. While he acknowledges the majority of drivers are not bad or mean people, their actions speak otherwise and they may not even realize it. After all, one rude driver sitting in a crosswalk can inconvenience or endanger dozens of pedestrians in one light cycle. Yet would that same person take a shopping cart in a supermarket and purposely block an aisle and make people navigate around him or her? The betting line says likely not.

So what is it about driving a car that allows people to get a societal pass on their rudeness?

StreetFilms
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Meet Veronica Moss, A.U.T.O. Lobbyist

Ever wonder what folks working for sustainable transportation at the federal level are up against on K Street? For this Streetfilms exclusive event, we were granted unfettered access to Veronica Moss, lobbyist for Automobile Users Trade Organization (AUTO). Veronica gave us a few precious moments inside her SUV to talk about roads, traffic, cyclists, and big cities. After instructing us on proper honking techniques for "old people" and children, she also offered up some choice bons mots. Here's a sample:

"People need to be able to drive their cars - that's an American right!"

"Bikers are a pimple on the butt of any city."

If you love Veronica, make sure to check out our mockumentary on The Search for the Zozo, where she also makes an appearance.

UPDATE:  3/29/2012  And congratulations to Kate McKinnon for being added to the cast of SNL!  She was so good as Veronica Moss.  SNL could not have picked a funnier gal!

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Accomodating bike speeds by re-timing signals on Valencia Street

As the cyclists in this video point out, re-timing signals for bike speeds (Green Wave) would make roads safer for all street users on Valencia Street. Before even mentioning re-timing signals, this was many cyclists' top request to improve their journey.

Recently, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) found that during peak commute times vehicles run more efficiently when signals are timed at the speeds they actually travel during congestion -- 12 to 15 mph -- rather than the current 25 mph. Major bike streets in Portland, the Netherlands and Denmark have been timed for bike speeds and now it is time for San Francisco to ride the Green Wave! For more information read my previous SF Streetsblog article on the topic.

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PSA-So Why Are They Driving?

Nearly every person who drives into New York City has an alternate means of transportation.