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Posts tagged "Transportation Alternatives"

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Mary Beth Kelly on NYC’s 25 mph Speed Limit (Families for Safe Streets)

In this 90 second PSA, Mary Beth Kelly, one of the founding members of Families for Safe Streets, shares her opinions on how she would like to see driving practices change when NYC institutes its historic, citywide 25 mph speed limit on Friday, November 7th.

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PARK(ing) Day Was Streetfilms First Big Hit in 2006!!

Gasp, was it really eight years ago PARK(ing) Day San Francisco 2006 happened? It only feels like a few years have passed. I'll never forget being in Oakland visiting a friend and learning that PARKing Day was happening the following day. I got up early, jumped on BART with my camera and went looking for all the spots inspired by Rebar, a unique & awesome art and design studio in San Francisco.

What a day. I never had so much fun as an in-the-moment filmmaker. I shot for almost 8 hours straight and by the end was exhausted and nearly dehydrated. But as I saw the energy and the diversity of the spots - and the underlying message in Rebar's mission - I knew I had to churn out a film fast. 36 hours later the above film debuted on-line. It was easily our most popular film for the next two years until Bogota's Ciclovia Streetfilm surpassed it.

Since then PARK(ing) Day has really launched a worldwide phenomenon and inspired the awesome parklet movement. It has given regular citizens a chance to see how we can re-purpose parts of streets for cafes. mini-parks, and bike parking. Streetfilms continued documenting PARK(ing) Day in NYC and 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Read more...

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“NYC’s Summer Streets 2013: Citibikes Abound” & “T.A.’s We Demand our Right of Way Rally”

I stopped by NYC's Summer Streets on Saturday to pick up an interview for another project, but once there was swept away but the thousands of people (easily the busiest one I have ever seen) and had to grab a little bit of video to share. Here it is:

The most amazing thing this time around?  The sheer numbers of folks using Citibikes to cruise up and down Park Avenue. I don't know if they set a daily record Saturday, but surely must have come close. There were long lines at the kiosks (one shot in the video).

Last week, Transportation Alternatives held a rally at City Hall to ask for more action from the city's leaders to do something about the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists still being killed by cars on our streets. And to put the batch of candidates for Mayor on notice that they'll be demanding more from them.  Here is a short video with soundbites from that presser.

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Local Spokes: Community-Based Bike Advocacy in Chinatown and the Lower East Side

Local Spokes is a coalition of nine organizations that joined up to engage low-income residents, people of color, immigrants, and young people in the Lower East Side and Chinatown to envision the future of bicycling in their communities. To understand the transportation needs of the neighborhoods, Local Spokes conducted an extensive survey in 2010 and 2011 and held a series of workshops in Chinese, English, and Spanish.

Last summer Local Spokes synthesized everything the coalition had gathered from this process into a neighborhood action plan for bicycling [PDF]. The goal of the action plan is to ensure that residents of the Lower East Side and Chinatown will have a role guiding decisions about bike-related policies and initiatives for their streets, and to create a model for community-based bike plans in other neighborhoods.

Streetfilms teamed up with Local Spokes in 2012 to document their work, and in this video you can see them in action.

So, what’s next? After receiving initial support from the JM Kaplan Fund, this year Local Spokes is seeking new funding to realize the goals of the action plan. Also on the agenda for 2013: releasing a blueprint for how to bring a Local Spokes-style coalition to the neighborhood where you live. Stay tuned for the blueprint launch at the 2013 Youth Bike Summit and on the Local Spokes website in February.

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My NYC Biking Story: Bin Feng Zheng

This spring, Transportation Alternatives launched a program to promote safe cycling throughout the five boroughs. Bin Feng Zheng, 23, works for this program as an NYC Bicycle Ambassador. Bin started riding a bike just two years ago, so he knows all about the challenges of learning to ride. He's also tri-lingual -- speaking Chinese and Spanish -- which helps him promote responsible riding and the benefits of bicycling in the diverse neighborhoods where he grew up. He says one of his big motivations is to bring biking to Chinatown and the Lower East Side, "because in the end it's not just about biking, it's about having a more vibrant community, it's about having safer streets."

Streetfilms would like to thank Tread Bike Shop for sponsoring this chapter in our My NYC Biking Story.

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The Prospect Park West Family Bike Ride

On a grey, chilly Sunday, an estimated 750 people, many of them on training wheels and balance bikes, turned out to ride the Prospect Park West bike lane and show their support for the traffic-calming redesign. Since the two-way, separated bike path debuted last summer, it's become indispensable for many parents who use it to take their children to school and get around the neighborhood. On weekends, the lane is full of families heading to the green market at Grand Army Plaza and kids riding to Prospect Park.

The "We Ride the Lanes" event was the brainchild of Mitch Sonies, who rides the PPW bike lane with his six-year-old daughter and wanted to do something positive to highlight how much people appreciate having a much safer street in their neighborhood. "It was a real celebration of this great, safe bike path," said Mitch. "When I first started kicking around the idea of a family ride, I never imagined so many people would want to take part. It's a real testament to the popularity of the lane."

As you can see, the ride was a hit with families and young children, who filled the entire length of the bike lane for more than 40 minutes as they paraded from Grand Army Plaza to Bartel Pritchard Square. The free cupcakes at the end of the ride didn't last long.

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The Slowest Bus in New York City

New York City has some of the slowest bus service in the country. The 9th annual Pokey and Shleppie Awards, given by NYPIRG's Straphanger Campaign and Transportation Alternatives, shine a spotlight on this unfortunate fact by recognizing the slowest and most unreliable buses in the Big Apple. Tune in above to see which routes earn the oh-so-prestigious award.

We won't spoil the surprise by telling you the winner, but even despite speeds slower than walking, the slowest route in New York City carries 3.7 million passengers annually. The runner-up, the M14, carries 12 million riders a year. Higher speeds would not only help all those New Yorkers get to work or spend more time with their families, they'd also surely increase ridership.

That's why the Straphangers are organizing support for Select Bus Service along Brooklyn's Nostrand Avenue. The current limited bus service there, the B44, ranked as the fourth-slowest bus in the borough -- not quite a Pokey Award winner, but a real contender. With innovations like off-board fare payment, dedicated bus lanes, and transit signal priority, the B44's 13.3 million annual passengers could soon face a far faster ride. In the Bronx, Select Bus Service on Fordham Road improved bus speeds by 20 percent and ridership by 30 percent. In the first month of operation, Select Bus Service on First and Second Avenue cut trip times by 14 to 19 percent.

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The Taming and Reclaiming of Prospect Park West

Up until this summer, speeding was the norm on Brooklyn's Prospect Park West. With three wide lanes inviting motorists to hit the accelerator, it was a street monopolized by car traffic. That changed in a big way in June, when NYC DOT converted one vehicle lane to a two-way bikeway separated from traffic by the parking lane. Physically separated bike lanes are making New York safer for cyclists and pedestrians wherever they're installed, and this one is no exception.

The new lane feels safe and comfortable to ride on, no matter how much experience you may have as a cyclist, and it's attracting riders of all ages. For everyone walking to and from Prospect Park, the street re-design means slower cars -- compliance with the speed limit is up by a factor of five, according to a study by Park Slope Neighbors -- and safer crossings at intersections.

The transformation has been dramatic, and like any major change to the street, this one has attracted some vocal critics -- most notably Borough President Marty Markowitz.  While some opponents contend that the lane has been installed without public input, the truth is that community groups have been calling for traffic calming and safer biking on this street for years. Watch and see how the new Prospect Park West has made good on those demands.

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A Case for Open Data in Transit

Ever find yourself waiting for the next bus, not knowing when it will arrive? Think it would be great if you could check a subway countdown clock from the sidewalk? Or get arrival times on your phone? Giving transit riders better information can make riding the bus or the train more convenient and appealing. And transit agencies are finding that the easiest and least expensive way to do it is by opening data about routes, schedules, and real-time locations to software developers, instead of guarding it like a proprietary secret.

I recently got the chance to dive into the topic of open data in transit with my colleagues at OpenPlans. We went up to Boston to see what transit riders got out of the transportation department's decision to open up its data. We also talked to New York MTA Chair Jay Walder, City Council Member Gale Brewer, Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase, and Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White to paint a full picture of what it would mean if cities shared their transit and transportation data. The information is there, waiting to be put to use to help people plan transit trips, waste less gas driving, or make their streets safer.

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The View from atop the High Bridge

Back in October as part of the Walk21 conference, I was very lucky to be able to accompany a small group of international pedestrian experts on an exclusive walking tour of the High Bridge, which has been closed to the public for nearly 40 years. Since Streetfilms is all about sharing, we interviewed a few folks-in-the-know and have posted the breathtaking experience of what it was like being up there.

Not soon after starting as a volunteer for Transportation Alternatives back in the 1990s I can recall reading of a push to open the High Bridge during a postcard campaign directed at then Parks Commissioner Henry Stern in 1998. In the years since, there have been many community groups, non-profits, and public agencies which have gotten involved in raising public awareness and advocating for its re-opening. City Parks Foundation, The High Bridge Coalition, and C.L.I.M.B. just to name a few.

Although over the years there have been many announced target opening dates and talk of getting the capital funds needed, of recent there is much momentum. Very early in 2010, community input and design will finally begin. Then we can hope it will not be long until we can all walk and bike across this magnificent structure.

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Mr. Blumenauer goes to New York City to ride bikes

It's not everyday that you get to ride bikes in a big metropolis with a member of Congress, even one who loves to bicycle whenever he can.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer dropped by Transportation Alternatives' offices to take a quick excursion around mid-town with Executive Director, Paul Steely White, and Senior Policy Director, Noah Budnick. They checked out a few standard (painted) bike lanes and some of the newer (physically separated) facilities, of which the latter Mr. Blumenauer thought were superior. Along the way he offered much commentary about the state of biking and livable streets in the nation.

With a new, Congressional transportation bill due to percolate to the surface sometime in the near future, Mr. Blumenauer believes the next decade will be the one when we can finally achieve some balance for pedestrians, bikes, and livable streets.  For the sake of our planet, our health, and the green growth of our cities - cheers to that.

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PARKing Day 2009 NYC

This year we took it down a notch. After covering PARK(ing) Day events for the past three years, we figured it was about time we got to relax a little and enjoy the space and - frankly - not get dehydrated from bicycling about all day. Oh, that and the fact we were trying out the new-ish FLIP cameras to evaluate whether or not you can pull off a good-looking video with them. I think the result speaks for itself.

So sit back and enjoy. This year over twenty countries participated. New York City featured about 50 spaces filled to the gills with people, sod, chairs, food, fun, games, and in one case - bubbles galore! You'll also get a look at "Hex Pack Patio" the POP.Park winning design from Samina Iqbal.

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NYC Summer Streets 2009

On Saturday the New York City Department of Transportation and partners kicked off the second annual Summer Streets. A car-free zone was created from 7 AM to 1 PM starting at 72nd Street and traveled mainly along Park Ave to the Brooklyn Bridge. New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan estimated that double the number of people visited the 7 mile route compared to the first Summer Streets event last year. If you missed Summer Streets on Saturday, don't worry for you have two more chances to experience the car-free bliss on August 15th and 22nd.

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Tour de Queens 2009

As usual, one of Transportation Alternatives "Tour de" rides brought out mega fun and happy faces to ride bikes. This year's 2nd Annual Tour de Queens event took riders on an 18 mile circuit of the most diverse borough on the planet, introducing newbies to St. Albans, Kew Gardens, Hollis, and many other neighborhoods. Once again, the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing-Corona Park, helped host the event and Tom Finkelpearl (its president) rode the entire route. There were many more riders this year, probably due not only to this year's beautiful weather but the fact that last year's high temp was 96!

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Queens Boulevard Bike Pool

On the second Friday of the month, Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee leads a "bike pool" along Queens Boulevard. This street is a critical, yet dangerous part of many bike commutes in Queens. By riding together in a group each month, the bike pool aims to educate drivers that bikes are on the street, make a statement about the need for a bike lane, and give the borough's bike commuters a safe, escorted ride home. I joined up with the ride last month after seeing on the Bike Month Calendar. The next "bike pool" is tomorrow Friday June 12.