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Posts from the "Aaron Naparstek" Category

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Tonight at Harvard: Aaron Naparstek Presents the Films of Clarence Eckerson

We’ve got a late addition to the calendar for our Boston-area readers. Streetsblog founding editor Aaron Naparstek, currently a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, will re-unite with Clarence Eckerson tonight for an evening of Streetfilms screenings and discussion. An hour of Streetfilms will be followed by a Q&A with Clarence and Aaron led by GSD Professor of Urban Planning Michael Hooper.

I’m not sure exactly what’s on Clarence’s set list, but hopefully he’ll follow through on the promo and screen some classics from the traffic-calming Sasquatch era.

The details, in case the graphic is giving you trouble:

Streetfilms Movie Night:
Documenting the Livable Street Movement. Moving Beyond the Automobile.

Monday, September 19, 6:30 to 8:00pm.

Piper Auditorium
Harvard University Graduate School of Design
48 Quincy Street, Cambridge

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Naparstek Steps Down as Editor-in-Chief of Streetsblog

naparstek_headshot_bridge.jpgAaron Naparstek in his Livable Streets Power Broker pose.
This will be difficult news for those of you who are already reeling from Oprah's retirement, Simon Cowell's abandonment of "American Idol" and Sewell Chan's departure from City Room, but here it is: I am leaving my job as editor-in-chief of Streetsblog.

For all of the readers, commenters, contributors and colleagues who have made Streetsblog such a powerful tool for transportation policy reform, high-quality online community and fun and interesting job: Thank you. It's been a great four-year run.

I'd say that I'll miss you guys except I'm sure I'll still be seeing you around. I will be moving over to The Open Planning Project's board of directors and I plan to continue to write and work on livable streets issues, among other things. If you want to keep up with me, you can follow me on Twitter @naparstek. I'll be dusting off and redesigning the old Naparstek.com blog as well. And it looks like we will probably be doing a going-away party on Friday, February 5. Stay tuned for details on that.

Naturally, I've been spending some time taking stock of these last four years and I can't help but find myself amazed at how far New York City's livable streets movement has come.

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Open Source Your Streets Tonight on 91.1 FM, 7pm

I'll be talking with author and media theorist Douglas Rushkoff on his new WFMU radio show, The Media Squat, tonight at 7:00 pm. We'll be focusing on what grassroots, locally-oriented livable streets activists can do -- and are doing -- to take control of the planning and design of their communities and reclaim their cities and lives from automotive tyranny.

Doug's got a great mind and conversations with him are always fun and interesting, so tune in to 91.1 FM in New York or 90.1 FM in the Hudson Valley. Media Squat is a live, call-in radio show and it would be great to hear from some Streetsblog readers and commenters while I'm there. Call in to 201-209-9368 if you want to join in.

LifeInc_1.jpgDoug's new book is called Life Incorporated: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back, and here's how he describes his radio show...

The Media Squat looks at both sides of Life Incorporated: How life has been literally "incorporated" by business and economics, and how can we incorporate LIFE back into our world via local commerce, community, social currency, and other emerging forms of participatory culture. This is free-form, bottom-up, open source radio looking towards similarly open source, bottom-up solutions to some of the problems engendered by our relentlessly top-down society.

You can find previous episodes of Doug's show and interviews with folks like Stephen Johnson, R.U. Sirius and Richard Metzger right here.

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Streetfilms: The Glory Days of Car-Free Park Rallies


If you've ever wondered how Aaron Naparstek and Clarence Eckerson whiled away the hours before the advent of Streetsblog and Streetfilms, here's your answer. They donned cheeseheads and Hummer suits while role-playing in support of a car-free Prospect Park. Clarence has been hanging on to this proto-Streetfilm for some time (it was shot in 2002), waiting for the right moment to spring it on us. With the push for a car-free Central Park and Prospect Park gaining steam as summer approaches, not to mention the launch of the Livable Streets Network two days ago, that time is now.

It may look silly, but this little demonstration -- together with a 10,000 signature petition drive and a 500-person town hall meeting -- helped win a significant expansion of car-free hours in Prospect Park. Before the campaign, cars had been allowed through the park 24 hours a day during the work week, from the end of October to the beginning of April. Afterward, cars were only allowed into the park during the morning and evening rush.

So, who says the glory days of car-free park rallies are over? A few more events like this could provide just the push advocates need to get a car-free trial for both parks this summer.

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Revenge of the Free Riders

From Transportation Alternatives' Spring 2008 magazine:

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The biggest hurdle congestion pricing faced was the simple fact that the people required to enact the legislation were the ones who stood to pay the most because of it.


On Monday, April 7, Sheldon Silver walked out of a closed door meeting of State Assembly Democrats and announced congestion pricing was dead. Never mind that New York City's mayor and City Council supported the plan along with the governor, the State Senate and an unprecedented coalition of business, labor, environmental and civic groups. Like so much else in Albany, the decision was made in secret, without a debate, a vote or even a record of the proceedings.

Until congestion pricing came around, I never paid all that much attention to Albany. Sure, I knew about the sex and graft scandals, the "three men in a room," and the Brennan Center reports showing New York's government has more in common with the old Soviet Politburo than America's 49 other state legislatures. I knew "dysfunctional" was the official adjective to describe Albany. But the dysfunction never seemed to impinge on my own life in any immediate, tangible way. Until congestion pricing.

I was really looking forward to seeing motorists pay to drive into Lower Manhattan. While I understood the importance of $354 million in federal aid, $491 million per year in revenue for transit and fewer kids growing up with asthma, this wasn't what pumped me up. What I liked most about congestion pricing was the fact that the people who make life in New York City most miserable -- the armada of horn-honking, exhaust-spewing, space-hogging, oil-guzzling, climate change-inducing motorheads that rolls through my neighborhood every day, to and from the free East River bridges, were finally going to have to pay for the privilege.

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Streetfilm: Transforming NY City Streets


Streetfilms' Elizabeth Press was in attendance this week at the New York Historical Society where neighborhood activists, professional planners, and experienced advocates gathered to share their secrets on how New Yorkers can transform the public realm. The event was hosted by NYC Streets Renaissance and was moderated by Streetsblog editor Aaron Naparstek.

Panelists included:

Here are some highlights.

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Streetfilm: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Bogotá


Want to learn more about Bus Rapid Transit? Watch this StreetFilm and let Streetsblog editor Aaron Naparstek show you how BRT works in Bogotá, Colombia. Take a gander and you’ll see an efficient, modern and — relatively speaking — inexpensive way of moving 1.3 million people per day.

In Bogotá, where the BRT system goes by the much more sexy name, TransMilenio, you’ll travel almost three times the speed of the typical New York City bus. The average TransMilenio vehicle travels at 17.4 mph. In New York City, buses poke along at 6.2 mph. Some TransMilenio routes average nearly 25 mph!

For quite a few years now, New York City’s Department of Transportation and the MTA have been studying and studying and, sigh… studying the possibility of implementing BRT routes on selected corridors. And if Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan passes, a significant portion of the promised $354 million in federal funds will go towards launching new BRT lines.

Hopefully, New York City’s BRT system will offer many of the excellent features that we saw in Bogotá; features like physically-separated bus lanes, pre-boarding fare payment, wide doors that open at boarding level and a control room nerve center that monitors and manages the entire system. These features give Bogotá a bus system that really works. Take a look.

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Next Monday: How You Can Transform New York City Streets

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What can you do to reduce automobile dependence and improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders in New York City? As an individual with finite time, energy and resources, how can you make a Livable Streets revolution happen in your own neighborhood?

On Monday I'll be moderating a panel discussion with eight of New York City's most successful neighborhood change-makers. They'll be sharing inspiring stories and practical advice on what it takes to transform the public realm.

If you're interested in getting more involved with New York City's growing Livable Streets movement or you have ideas for changes you'd like to see made in your own corner of the city, don't miss this event. Seating is limited, so RSVP now.

Street Renaissance: How You Can Transform NYC Streets
Monday, January 28
New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West. Enter at 77th Street.

6:00 pm: Panel discussion
8:00 pm: Reception and exhibit

This event is free and open to the public but seating is limited.
Please RSVP online

Panelists include:


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Merry Gridlock!


Streetsblog editor Aaron Naparstek and StreetFilms' Nick Whitaker hit the intersection of Atlantic, Flatbush and Fourth Avenues Thursday morning to see what a "Gridlock Alert Day" looks like at one of New York City's most congested intersections.

After about 25 interviews with drivers it became pretty clear that if City Hall truly wants to reduce traffic congestion during the holiday season, it needs to do a whole lot more than just say, "Hey, everybody it's a Gridlock Alert!" 

What might the City do instead of issuing futile alerts? Here's one idea from London that seems to be working pretty well.

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Ciclovía: A Moving Experience in Bogotá, Colombia

 


 



 

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel with comrades Karla Quintero of Transportation Alternatives and Streetsblog editor Aaron Naparstek to Bogotá, Colombia to document some of the amazing advances going on in the livable streets movement there. We spent an entire Sunday, from 5am 'til nearly 5pm, riding bicycles around during Ciclovía, a weekly event in which over 70 miles of city streets are closed to traffic and opened to walking, biking, running, skating, recreating, picnicking, and talking with family, neighbors and strangers. Ciclovía was simply one of the most moving experiences I have had in my entire life (no pun intended).

I shot with no plan, not knowing much of what was coming up next while we rode our bikes, just trying to capture the event in the moment. We were aided tremendously by the indefatigable Gil Peñalosa, Executive Director of Walk and Bike for Life (yes, he is brother of Enrique, the former Bogotá mayor). Gil and his friendly support crew booked us an ambitious schedule and provided unparalleled access to people and places, allowing this mini film to be so much more than I had planned.

And dare I leave out our StreeJ Karla Q, who was just so great on the mic and shows she has some hot dance moves too. I think we came up with something very special and fun that will hopefully support and propel this movement forward in U.S. cities.

Read more of Clarence's thoughts on Ciclovía here.