While in Oslo shooting a Streetfilm on the city’s ambitious plans to become as car-free as possible by 2019, I got to interview Frode Hvattum, head of strategy for Ruter, the regional transit agency. I asked a quick question about Oslo’s amazingly efficient train and bus service. In this short video, Hvattum discusses how Oslo’s city center buses and proof of payment system speed things up for riders.
By Clarence Eckerson
One of the things that makes Copenhagen great is the city is continually finding ways to make biking and walking better — like building car-free bridges.
Bicycle Program Manager Marie Kastrup was very kind to take me on a tour of some of the bike and pedestrian bridges Copenhagen has constructed in the last decade. And more are on the way, with four others planned for the next few years.
With DOT looking to improve the Brooklyn Bridge for people who walk and bike, and the Port Authority planning to shortchange George Washington Bridge pedestrians and cyclists for generations to come, it’s a good time to consider how a leading city for car-free transport moves people across the water.
Bike-share has the capability to expand access to jobs and transit for communities in need of better transportation options — but only if the system is set up and operated in an equitable way. Our latest collaboration with the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) examines how to build a thriving, equitable bike-share system.
At the end of June, the Better Bike Share Conference brought together advocates, employers, and experts in the field to share ideas and strategies about how to improve access to bike-share. We interviewed a dozen leaders about what bike-share systems are doing to overcome barriers to use, and what more needs to be done.
NACTO has some great resources available for people who want to take a deeper look at issues of bike-share and equity, including papers on:
This Streetfilm features footage of nearly a dozen bike-share systems, but primarily Indego in Philadelphia, Citi Bike in New York, and Capital Bikeshare in DC. As part of the filming, I got to ride along with Black Girls Do Bike NYC for a Citi Bike tour from Bed-Stuy to Red Hook in Brooklyn — you can see more scenes from that ride in this short.
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.
When City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer talks about street safety and automated enforcement, the message is clear: speeding is always wrong, it’s dangerous, and anyone who gets a ticket needs to change their behavior.
In NYC, you have to be driving 11 mph or more above the speed limit to trigger a camera ticket. With a $50 fine and no license points, the penalty is small — but the reward is great, as speeding drops by 60 percent where cameras are deployed.
Listen to Van Bramer and ask yourself, wherever you live, ‘How would my leaders react?’ To change the mindset of drivers and achieve Vision Zero, politicians can’t crumble anytime a constituent complains about being penalized for dangerous driving.
Santa Monica is trying just about everything in its transportation system: bike-share, a mix of bike lane treatments, a new rail line, neighborhood greenways, a pedestrian action plan, a new promenade/protected bike lane where the Expo line terminates, and of course they have the hard-to-miss Big Blue Bus!
In the last six months alone the city has launched Breeze bike-share and opened the Expo rail line to downtown Los Angeles, which cuts travel times from an hour and a half by bus to 50 minutes. (Personal note: At rush hour the discrepancy can be even bigger — after spending the day shooting this story I endured a two-hour, 15-minute bus ride back to L.A.’s Union Station.) Breeze bike-share was my first experience with a smart bike system, and it was easy to use and comfortable.
Come see how Santa Monica is making it easier to get around without a car. Thanks much to the wonderful Cynthia Rose from Santa Monica Spoke, for giving me the grand tour and making my first visit there a joy.
By every metric, today New Yorkers are biking more than ever. So to mark Bike to Work Day, Clarence Eckerson went over to the Transportation Alternatives commuter station by the Queensboro Bridge to ask people if they’re biking now more than five years ago, and why. Here’s what they told him.
There’s a lot of great insight here, but tops on the list for me is how new bike infrastructure has helped people beset by crowding and delays on the 7 train. A fully built-out network of low-stress bikeways could be such a valuable complement to a transit system that is bursting at the seams.
While out collecting footage yesterday, one of my missions was to document a whole bunch of street conditions that NYC DOT is actively working to improve. One was the chronic double-parking that has overrun the Jay Street bike lane in Downtown Brooklyn forever.
The level of disregard for the bike lane is just about unmatched anywhere else in New York City. Even with all that bike lane obstruction, 2,400 cyclists a day use Jay Street, since it’s a critical link to the Manhattan Bridge. NYC DOT is working on a plan to replace the current design with parking-protected bike lanes on each side of the street.
I intended to sit on all my “before” footage to use in future pieces, but I just couldn’t believe how bad it was, so I posted this. I had budgeted about an hour to film Jay Street, but I only needed about ten minutes to sufficiently document the dysfunction on camera. As you can see, the immediate yield was very high.
On top of it all, NYPD loves to hand out tickets to cyclists up and down Jay Street. But how many tickets do they write for these drivers? I’m not sure, but since parking placards are everywhere on Jay Street and the illegal parking situation never seems to improve, I’m guessing it’s close to none.
Barring any real enforcement, we sure could use Peatónito, or a battalion of Peatónitos, on Jay Street to set these illegal parkers straight.
Back in 2012, Houston’s bus network was in trouble. Ridership was down, and weekend ridership was especially weak. Frequent service was rare. Routes didn’t go directly where people needed to go. If you wanted to get from one place outside downtown to another place outside downtown, you still had to take a bus downtown and transfer.
It was a system that had basically stayed frozen since the 1970s. And as you can surmise, the service it provided was not effective, convenient, or appealing for many types of trips.
METRO’s solution was to wipe the slate clean. What would Houston’s bus network look like if you designed it from scratch? By re-examining every bus route in the city, talking to bus riders, and making tough decisions, METRO reinvented its bus network. The new system features better, more efficient routes, shorter wait times, and increased service on nights and weekends. The changes were essentially revenue-neutral — Houston now runs a better bus system on the same budget, because it optimized the use of existing resources.
This Streetfilm was produced in partnership with TransitCenter, the first in a series of four films looking at transit innovation in American cities.
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.