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By Clarence Eckerson

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A Thousand New Yorkers Call for Action on Vision Zero

A crowd estimated at 1,000 people strong gathered in Union Square yesterday evening to remember victims of traffic violence and call for preventive action at the Vision Zero Vigil, organized by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets.

The message was simple: Traffic crashes and the suffering they cause are preventable. We can’t accept life-altering injuries and the deaths of loved ones as unavoidable “accidents.” Robin Urban Smith was there to capture it for Streetfilms.

New York’s streets are getting safer, but not fast enough. With 123 traffic deaths and more than 23,000 injuries so far in 2015, the city has to do better. There’s much more the de Blasio administration can do with street design and traffic enforcement to rapidly reduce the scale of traffic violence. Hopefully last night’s gathering left an impression on DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYPD Deputy Inspector Dennis Fulton, who were both in attendance.

Aaron Charlop-Powers, whose mother was killed by a bus driver while she was biking in the Bronx five years ago, closed out the vigil with a call to carry the momentum forward. “We aren’t asking for your condolences,” he said. “We are asking for your action.”

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Fort Worth Turned Two Parking Lots Into Sundance Square Plaza

While in Dallas for the CNU23 conference this May, I wanted to explore. It was my second time there in less than a year, and I wanted to see if Fort Worth was much different than the tough-to-be-a-pedestrian conditions I was experiencing in Dallas. I spoke to some folks at Project for Public Spaces (PPS) who convinced me that I needed to go see Sundance Square Plaza, which PPS President Fred Kent has called one of the best squares in the world.

I was glad I went. Sundance Square Plaza is a bold, beautiful space filled with energy. As PPS wrote soon after the plaza opened in 2013:

Where once there were two parking lots on either side of Main Street in the center of downtown Fort Worth, there is now the much-loved and much-used Sundance Square. The Square has become an integral part of the downtown Fort Worth experience, hosting events both large and small, and taking on an increasing role in the life of the city.

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It’s Smart to Be Dense

As the world’s population continues to urbanize, our cities have two options for growth: densify or sprawl. To accommodate a more populous and more prosperous world, the spread-out, car-dependent model of the 20th century must change. In this video, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and Streetfilms team up to bring you the most important reasons for building dense.

If you like this one, don’t miss our other productions with ITDP:

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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.