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Posts tagged "Urban Design"

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Walk21 NYC: World Pedestrian Leaders Take Manhattan

With all the recent, remarkable livable streets improvements to the streets of New York City, it's no surprise the 10th annual, Walk21 Conference chose us for its host digs. Visitors and attendees were treated to a cornucopia of pedestrian street infrastructure to salivate over and debate; including tours of the recently opened High Line to a special visit to the soon-to-be-restored High Bridge. Featuring a plethora of speakers, design charrettes and walking workshops, the three-day event drew experts from the UK, Austria, Japan, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Italy, and Australia, just to name a few.

We were able to speak with the organizers and as well as conference registrants, and also got to a chance to chat with some of those on the marquee such as Jan Gehl (Gehl Architects, Copenhagen), Janette Sadik-Khan (Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation), Kristina Alvendal (Vice Mayor of Stockholm) and Gil Peñalosa (Walk and Bike for Life, Ontario), about the future of walking and the vital importance of this conference in inspiring world leaders.

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Jaime Lerner on Making Curitiba’s First Pedestrian Street

This is the third installment of videos from Brazil. Demonstrating again how Curitiba Brazil was 35+ years in front of our NYC livable streets curve, this video is about a street transformation.

Former Mayor and founder of Bus Rapid Transit, Jaime Lerner sat down with me during my visit to discuss how and why he made the first pedestrian street in the middle of downtown Curitiba.

Rua XV de Novembro (15th of November Street) is a vital artery through downtown Curitiba. In 1972 under the direction of then Mayor Jaime Lerner, it became the first major pedestrian street in Brazil. The first phase of closing the street to automobiles and opening it to people took place in only 72 hours. The pedestrian plaza spans 15 blocks, and although it was initially unpopular, it is now a central meeting spot and the epicenter of local businesses in the center of Curitiba.

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San Francisco Carves a Park from the Midst of Its Pavement

The entire family of San Francisco city agencies responsible for maintaining its streets made an unconventional decision to close a portion of a street to cars and convert the new space into a simple, yet elegant, public plaza. The project combines all the important elements of plaza creation that have been successful in New York City and elsewhere: take space from cars, use simple treatments to convert the space into a pedestrian sanctuary, including movable furniture and leftover granite blocks from city salvage yards, and engage commercial interests around the plaza to help maintain and care for the new public realm.

Though some neighborhood constituents voiced skepticism that the plaza would be empty at best, or filled with miscreants and vagabonds at worst, the plaza's success is hard to dispute. In fact, so many people are using the new space and enjoying the tables and chairs, the businesses around the plaza have contemplated leaving the furniture out later than sunset, which was the initial closing time agreed upon between them and the Castro/Upper Market Community Betterment District. This film takes an in-depth look at the construction of the plaza with some of the agencies responsible for it, and includes some entertaining man-on-the-street interviews.

StreetFilms
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People Friendly Design in London

Streetfilms voyaged across the pond to visit some of London’s innovative transportation and public realm projects. We interviewed Paul Harper, a head urban designer at Design for London, who was in charge of the 100 Public Spaces Programme.

The 100 Public Spaces Programme improved the public realm of London through streetscaping, transportation and public space planning. In this interview, we take a special look at—and a visionary zoom around—Aldgate, a neighborhood in East London undergoing considerable change, including an inclusive transformation from car-dominated streets to a large public park.

Design for London is now part of the London Development Agency's Design, Development and Environment Directorate. The 100 Public Spaces Programme has transformed into new public space initiatives under the current mayor, Boris Johnson, with a focus on the legacy of the Olympics site in East London. The Aldgate neighborhood's public realm continues to become more people friendly with transportation planning and parks.

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The Transformation of NYC’s Madison Square

We figured we'd hit at least one spectacularly warm day during the doldrums of winter, and yesterday was it. So Streetfilms ventured out to Madison Square to remind the denizens of Gotham just how sassy some of these new public spaces are - and how much support they have.

We already touched on Madison Square in our in-depth interview with Janette Sadik-Khan last fall, but we always felt that it deserved a much closer examination based upon all the footage we couldn't use in that Streetfilm. In fact, I feel like even at this length, this short doesn't really do it justice. It also hit me while editing that I've started to forget what an ugly nightmare that nexus of Broadway & 23rd used to look like. Chances are you have to, so here is a reminder of the great work NYC DOT has done there. Take a gander, then go out in your community or city and spread the word that well designed public spaces work.

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Los Angeles’ Eco-Village

Last Summer contributor Nicholas Whitaker had the opportunity to visit the Eco-Village in LA, to see what it's like to practice more sustainable ways of living, while having a lesser negative impact on the environment. In the third installment of Lessons from LA, the people who work and live at the LA Eco-Village show how even in an urban setting, there are ways to live closer to the earth and in better harmony with the people and environment around you.

Read more...

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Transformando las Calles de Nueva York: Una conversación con Janette Sadik-Khan

Desde que empezó en su nuevo puesto como comisaria del Departamento de Transporte en la mitad del año 2007, Janette Sadik-Khan se retó a transformar las calles de Nueva York. Se reto a mejorar la comodidad y seguridad vial para peatones y ciclistas y a reorientar el foco del departamento al diseño de calles para múltiple medios de transporte. Empleando conceptos innovadores, la comisaria y su equipo lograron muchos cambios a favor de ciudadanos en poco tiempo. Para definir esta nueva dirección, el departamento tomó lecciones de otras ciudades - como Bogotá, Colombia y Copenhague, Dinamarca que lograron transformar sus sistemas de transporte - para crear su propio modelo para revolucionar el sistema de transporte en Nueva York.
En esta entrevista exclusiva, la comisaria conversa con Mark Gorton, el director ejecutivo de “The Open Planning Project” acerca de algunos de sus proyectos a corto plazo que aún logrados en poco tiempo, han mejorado totalmente el ambiente de la ciudad. Estos proyectos incluyen la nueva cicloruta en la 9o avenida, plazas para peatones en Madison Square y Broadway, vías exclusivas para los buses en carreteras principales y un evento exitoso estilo Ciclovía.

To watch in English without subtitles click here.

StreetFilms
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Daylighting: Make Your Crosswalks Safer

Daylighting is a simple pedestrian safety measure achieved by removing parking spaces adjacent to curbs around an intersection, increasing visibility for pedestrians and drivers and minimizing conflicts. It's beneficial to young and old, but is especially helpful to children, who often cannot see, or be seen by, oncoming traffic. By removing parking adjacent to the crosswalk, the child does not have to wade into the street to see vehicles entering the intersection. At the same time, drivers don't have to roll into the crosswalk to see if pedestrians are waiting to cross.

Compare the photos below, showing the sight line difference with and without a parked car.

Neighborhoods around NYC and beyond are nearly shouting for daylighting to be implemented for safer streets. Streetfilms went to Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan to check out what some neighborhood leaders have to say. And though we love the concept, we think the term, Daylighting, is a little stale. So how about some suggestions? As you'll see, we came up with one, "Pedestrian Peek-a-boo," but we're sure there are others out there.

Learn about daylighting on Streetswiki.

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Grand Street 2005

With all the hullabaloo over the new Grand Street bike lane, we thought we'd resurrect a Streetfilm (actually before they were even called Streetfilms!) from back in June 2005 with TOPP founder Mark Gorton talking about the then incredible width of Grand Street and the inequity of street space devoted to its users. We used this at some early gatherings in the infancy of our movement to try to use media to raise public awareness of what is happening on our streets. It had not been on the Streetfilms site 'til now, but is available (with other oldies) on the old NYCSR site.

Whatever your viewpoint on the new bike lane, it is easy to see why Grand Street and others like it are good candidates to give back some road space to pedestrians and people.

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An Alfresco chat with Jan Gehl

Every time we manage to snag an interview with Jan Gehl, it ends up being one of the coldest days of the Fall. But that didn't stop the Danish livable streets maestro from grabbing a table in New York City's new wonderful public space, Madison Square, to chat with Streetsblog's Editor-in-chief Aaron Naparstek.

It was just a little over two years ago we talked with Mr. Gehl in the iconic Times Square "bowtie" where he offered up a sobering evaluation of the lack of public space in NYC. You can watch that here. But thanks to recent initiatives by the NYC DOT, these days the future looks more promising for pedestrians and cyclists. During their conversation Mr. Gehl and Aaron covered much ground including the rapid pace of the transformation of our streets, the concepts behind the fluidity of traffic, the release of World Class Streets: Remaking New York City's Public Realm, and the democratic process - with a shout out to our future 44th prez!

If you love this, don't miss some of our past interviews. Here are just a few: Janette Sadik-Khan. Enrique Penalosa. Gridlock Sam. Donald Shoup. Randy Cohen.

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A New Vision for the Upper West Side

Supporters of a greener, safer and more livable Upper West Side were joined by elected officials, renowned urban planner Jan Gehl and P.S. 87 students in the Livable Streets Education program, to celebrate the launch of the "Blueprint for the Upper West Side: A Roadmap for Truly Livable Streets," at P.S. 87 on Thursday. Check out The Upper West Side Streets Renaissance Campaign on Livable Streets to learn more about the plan and how you can take action to make changes in your neighborhood.

StreetFilms
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Bike-Thru Window Banking – Boulder, Colorado

How's this for customer service? The Pueblo Bank & Trust in Boulder, Colorado has been providing bicycle customers a bike drive-thru window for some time now, complete with a bike rack and H2O for thirsty travelers!

Although this is the first bank I've heard about, in Portland, Oregon there are a number of cafes and restaurants that have been providing bicycle customers with window services. It only seems civilized, right? Well, remember this hotly discussed topic on Streetsblog a few months back? Discuss...

StreetFilms
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Street Transformations: Grand Army Plaza

As one gentleman said to me while admiring the new greenery and traffic islands in Grand Army Plaza, "Wow, sometimes government does work!" It's easy to quickly forget how things were, but we here at Streetfilms aim to not let that happen. Check out these extraordinary before/afters; especially the new separated bike lane which safely shepherds riders from Prospect Park.

How'd we get here? Check out: Grand Army Traffic Survey, Reclaiming Grand Army, Minding the GAP.

StreetFilms
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Chicanes In My Neighborhood

With sincerest apologies to Fred Rogers, let's go for a walk in Clarence Eckerson's Neighborhood - where you will see a livable streets phenomenon created by (gulp!) double-parked cars.

On alternate side of the street parking days, many communities in Brooklyn have worked out a deal so car owners are allowed to double park with impunity so the streets can get their weekly brushing. (Okay, let's not touch that argument today.) During the interim switchover when drivers are relocating their cars - usually lasting about 15 to 20 minutes - chicanes are temporarily created, which delightfully slow car speeds to more human levels.

We're always trying to enlighten the public here at Streetfilms, by getting inventive using already existing street reality to placate opponents of traffic calming. (Remember our snowy neckdowns?) To add, yes, I have seen vans and small trucks successfully navigate narrow blocks like these. Also please note: in my travels, typical neckdown installations are usually much less drastic then the conditions created here.

StreetFilms
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The Street Life of Havana

Project for Public Spaces' Ethan Kent recently visited Havana, Cuba and took some amazing photographs of street life, perfectly capturing the vitality of its neighborhoods. As you sit thru his reflections and wonderful montages of what he saw, think about what our streets might look like if they were designed for living and not for speed. Ethan posits:

"If children playing in the streets is an indicator of the success of a city, then Havana's streets may be some of the most successful in the world."

Havana serves as a window into some of what we have lost and what we can gain back. Come time travel with us.