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Streetfilms

By Clarence Eckerson

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Family and Friends Dedicate Cooper Stock Way


On Wednesday dozens of kids joined family members of Cooper Stock to designate W. 97th Street at West End Avenue as Cooper Stock Way. Cooper’s mother, Dana Lerner, shared memories of Cooper, along with classmates — “Cooper’s Troopers” — who waved signs imploring motorists to drive safely.

Cooper, 9, was killed by a turning cab driver in January 2014 as he and his father crossed the street in the crosswalk with the signal.

“On that night — why we have this sign — a driver was impatient,” said Barron Lerner, Cooper’s uncle. “Impatient. Broke the law. Couldn’t wait. And now Cooper is dead. Other children are dead. Adults are dead. Every day.”

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London’s First Open Streets


Five years ago, David Love experienced Summer Streets in NYC and was so captured by the warmth and excitement he decided to bring open streets to London.

The starter event was held in the borough of Southwark, on Great Suffolk Street, and featured music, dancing, food, art and, most important, activities for children and families to enjoy.

Open Streets London hopes to have frequent and bigger ciclovias in the future, and to continue to enlighten Londoners to the value of re-thinking their streets as places for more than automobiles.

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The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway

Just when you think you’ve seen everything in the transportation world, you encounter something different. That happened to me on an infrastructure tour in Cambridge, England, when my guides showed be this guided busway.

The video only shows a short segment of The Busway, but it’s fascinating. The wheels of the bus run between grooved concrete slabs along an old rail line. The system also handles drainage without burdening the sewers: Stormwater is absorbed by the ground.

At 16 miles, the Cambridge guided busway is the longest one in the world. Bus speeds can reach up to 55 mph.

A busy biking and walking path runs right next to the route. You won’t find railings separating the busway from the trail. There’s no honking or flashing lights like you would find in the USA — just common sense.

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Varick Street Gets a Granite Bike Path

As any bicyclist can tell you, a bumpy ride on cobblestones is no fun. In NYC, the DOT has implemented its first granite bikeway on one block of Varick Street to make it easier for cyclists and to keep them off the sidewalks.

You will almost never see me on a sidewalk in NYC for any reason, but I confess, I have used the sidewalk for this one block in the past. The smooth granite is a great idea.

I got to speak with Nick Carey, a project manager with NYC DOT’s bicycle program, about how the project came to be and how the department might use the same idea for future bike routes.

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The Philadelphia Bike Story

Of U.S. cities with more than a million residents, the one where people bike the most is Philadelphia. In 2012, the U.S. Census estimated Philadelphia’s bicycle commute rate at 2.3 percent [PDF], higher than Chicago (1.6 percent) and New York (1.0 percent).

It’s just about always been that way. That comes as a surprise to many people, since Philadelphia doesn’t have a lot of bike infrastructure. But there are other street design and urban design factors at work, many due to the fact that Philadelphia is an old city.

For one, the city has a lot of narrow streets. That makes it tougher to add bike lanes, but it also means motorists tend to travel at speeds that don’t intimidate people on bikes. On average, people also live closer to their jobs than in most other places, making bike commuting a better option. Stop signs are more prevalent than signals, and where there are traffic lights, the sequencing is short, so people on bikes don’t have to wait long at intersections. In the end, most people bike because it is the fastest, most convenient option.

Thanks to Alex Doty, executive director of the Bike Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and all the other bicyclists I got to speak with. They’ll tell you plenty more reasons why biking is good there, and how it could be better.

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Freeways Without Futures: I-345 in Dallas

In this Streetfilm, Patrick Kennedy, founder of A New Dallas, talks about the movement to replace Interstate 345 in downtown Dallas with connected streets and walkable development. Shot at the “Freeways Without Futures” session at the Congress for New Urbanism’s recent conference in Dallas, the piece provides views of I-345 from heights most people never get to see.

Kennedy was joined by Peter Park, who was instrumental in the removal of the Park East freeway in Milwaukee, and Ian Lockwood of the Toole Design Group. Their take on urban highways like I-345 was too powerful and logical to not share with the rest of the universe.

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Right of Way Memorializes Victims of Traffic Violence

On Saturday, Right of Way posted silhouettes along a Kent Avenue construction fence representing all 264 people known to have lost their lives to traffic violence in NYC in 2014. Each image was identical, save for victims’ names and crash dates. Smaller silhouettes were posted to represent children killed by drivers.

It was a very emotional scene as members of Families For Safe Streets came by to assist and passersby took in the power of the visual.

At one point during the installation, a truck driver hit the mural wall, and after about 15 minutes trying to make a turn, proceeded to drive up the Kent Avenue protected bike lane, one of the busiest bike routes in the city.

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Ride With Clarence on the Tour de Staten Island


Close to 2,000 people turned out Sunday for Transportation Alternatives’ 2015 Tour de Staten Island. For the event’s fifth year, riders were treated to areas of the new Fresh Kills Park that aren’t yet open to the public. Other highlights included oceanside riding and views of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, where the Harbor Ring Committee continues to advocate for bike and pedestrian access.

Naturally, Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson was there.

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Gabe Klein on How DC Built a Smarter Parking System

Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson is working on a piece about parking policy and was recently in Washington to discuss some of that city’s innovations with former District DOT chief Gabe Klein. The full Streetfilm is still a work-in-progress, but Clarence put together these clips where Klein explains the city’s pay-by-phone parking meter tech, which goes great with dynamic pricing, and its system for selling curb space for one-time uses like moving trucks, which cut down on fraud and looks like a smart way to prevent double-parking. Enjoy.

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NYC Replaces a Parking Crater With Parking-Free Housing and Retail

One of Manhattan’s few remaining parking craters is going to be filled in with housing and retail — all without any car storage, despite the city government’s belief that the site called for up to 500 parking spots. Call it “Parking Sanity.”

The project, called Essex Crossing, is on the Lower East Side. It replaces surface lots formerly known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, which were cleared decades ago and formed a parking crater engulfing multiple city blocks. The development will add 1,000 apartments (including 500 subsidized units), park space, a grocery store, a public market, and other retail.

Earlier this year, the developers decided to drop parking from the project entirely, even though the city pushed for up to 500 parking spaces — above and beyond the parking maximums that would normally be allowed under the zoning code.

The city, which initiated the project before selecting the developer, saw off-street parking as an elixir to help the project go down smoothly with the neighborhood. But it was not economical to build that much parking, and the developer eventually chose to eliminate parking entirely because site limitations would have placed the garage in a problematic location.

Streetsblog and Streetfilms recently sat down with Council Member Margaret Chin, who represents the area. Chin has advocated for the city to replace parking garages with affordable housing in her district, and she thinks things will be just fine without parking in the new development. As she says, people have plenty of other options for getting around.

Construction on the first phase of the development is set to begin this summer.