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Streetfilms and Streetsblog: The First 10 Years

This summer, Streetfilms and Streetsblog celebrated our 10-year anniversary, and to mark the occasion, we created this film looking back at how our reporting and videos have changed streets in New York, the U.S., and cities all over the world.

This film showcases only a small portion of the work that thousands of volunteers and advocates have put in. It begins with the NYC Streets Renaissance, a collection of organizations that banded together in 2005 to rally people around the idea that streets can change, by showing best practices from other cities and photosimulations of what NYC streets could become.

You’ll see clips from important Streetfilms like the series on Bogota’s Bus Rapid Transit and Ciclovia, as well as recaps of how Streetsblog influenced transportation policy at City Hall, defended the work of transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and put pressure on Albany to stop raiding transit funds. Getting closer to the present day, we look at why Streetsblog’s coverage of traffic crashes matters, the new generation of elected officials working for better streets, and what’s next for advocacy in NYC.

A note: This Streetfilm runs over 12 minutes, but if we had the resources it easily be a 90-minute feature documentary. Apologies to anyone left on the cutting room floor and topics not addressed, but perhaps someday we’ll be able to make that film!

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Transportation Alternatives Staten Island Activist Committee Meeting

Local activists are planning fun bike rides and organizing campaigns to change dangerous streets in the borough.

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Walk the Conduit

Join Southern Queens Greenway organizers at Vito Locasio Field Saturday, August 13 as they walk north along Conduit Boulevard to Cedar Lane Stables, City Line Park and Highland Park and visit some local gems of the Cypress Hills community. Bring a bottle of water and sunscreen as sections of the walk are not shaded.


Get Your Tickets to the 10-Year Bash for Streetsblog and Streetfilms

Ten years ago, Mark Gorton, Aaron Naparstek, and Clarence Eckerson started a new media venture — Streetsblog and Streetfilms. The idea was to show that cities work best when streets are designed for people, not cars, and to press public officials to bring street design and transportation policy into the 21st century. No one had seen anything quite like it before, and looking at how much has changed since 2006, the impact is undeniable.

On November 14 we’ll be honoring Mark, Aaron, and Clarence at our annual Streets Ball benefit in New York City, and we hope you’ll join us.

This being a special anniversary, we’re doing things a bit bigger this year. We’ll be celebrating with cocktails and a delicious sit-down dinner at Current on Chelsea Piers, off the Hudson River Greenway by 18th Street.

As much as we’ll be looking back on a decade of progress, don’t forget — this is also the kick-off party for the next 10 years of Streetsblog and Streetfilms. Tickets start at $250 and all proceeds go toward the production of high-impact media that makes the case for safer streets and better transit.

Thanks for supporting our work — come celebrate with us on November 14.


10 Years of Streetsblog and Streetfilms — Celebrate With Us November 14

Ten years ago today, Aaron Naparstek hit “publish” on the first official Streetsblog post.

“The $46 Million Parking Perk” was an exposé of the city’s parking placard system based on the work of analyst Bruce Schaller. I don’t have a screengrab of the story as it appeared that day, but here’s a look at the banner readers saw when they punched into their browsers on June 16, 2006. (In those early days, Streetsblog and Streetfilms were the media arm of the New York City Streets Renaissance, a multi-pronged advocacy campaign to upend the cars-first status quo at, primarily, NYC DOT.)


Aaron and Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton started the site out of a sense of both frustration and optimism. Frustration at the inertia inside a city government that still viewed streets’ primary purpose as moving and storing motor vehicles. Optimism about the future of city streets and the capability of online media to change public policy for the better. Together with videomaker Clarence Eckerson and his fledgling Streetfilms operation, they set out to shake things up.

Mark, Aaron, and Clarence hatching plans in 2006.

Mark, Aaron, and Clarence hatching plans in 2006.

To honor Mark and Aaron and to celebrate all the progress we’ve made since they brought their brainchild into the world, Streetsblog and Streetfilms will be putting on a big 10-year anniversary benefit on November 14 at Current, right off the Hudson River Greenway at 18th Street. Save the date, mark your calendars, and watch this space — we’ll keep you posted on the event as we firm up the details.

If you have a minute, go back and read that first story about parking placards. Even that proto-post bore the hallmarks of the Streetsblog strategy. It turned transportation wonkery — the value of parking spaces and the effect of free parking on commute habits — into breezy prose that anyone could latch onto. With a whiff of corruption in the headline, it caught the attention of the tabloids, which picked up the story. And it got under the skin of people in government (in this case, the fellows over at NYPD Rant).

The steady drumbeat of placard coverage also prompted a response from City Hall, which cut back on the number of placards issued. Sure, in 2016, we’re still fighting the placard scourge. But take a moment to think back on how different New York City streets were 10 years ago.

There were no on-street protected bike lanes, no plazas in Corona or Jackson Heights or New Lots, no pedestrian safety plan, no speed enforcement cameras. Not a single bus route in the city allowed passengers to save time by paying before boarding. Hundreds of thousands of people walking through Times Square every day were shunted off to the margins of the street, hemmed in by a motoring armada. New Yorkers made about 200,000 fewer trips by bicycle each day. And about 90 more people lost their lives in traffic each year.

The most-watched Streetfilm of all time (more than half a million views!) tells the story well:

It took a small army of advocates, volunteers, and public servants to attain all the progress we’ve made since then. And it’s safe to say we wouldn’t have come this far without Streetsblog and Streetfilms.

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Manhattan Community Board 4 Transportation Committee Meeting

The agenda includes an update from the DOT on M23 Select Bus Service; a presentation from the MTA on the L train Canarsie tunnel reconstruction; a presentation from ReThink Studio on the trans Hudson crossing; and a discussion of Tri-State Port Authority Bus Terminal Working Group principles.
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Death By a Thousand Cuts: Sprawl, State Neglect Crippling Cleveland Transit

According to a recent analysis by the Century Foundation, during the recession and recovery Cleveland transit riders endured more bus service cuts than any other major system in the country. But just a few years later Cleveland transit riders are facing further cuts, and a fare hike to boot.

Cleveland's RTA is one of the 20 largest transit systems in the country. But it's been in cutback mode for a long time. Photo: Green City Blue Lake

Cleveland’s RTA is one of the 20 largest transit systems in the U.S. But it’s been in cutback mode for a long time. Photo: Green City Blue Lake

A bad economy, an unfriendly state government and a steady trickle of Cleveland sprawl are killing the system, which is by far the most robust in the state of Ohio, RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese said at a mobility event Wednesday.

Marc Lefkowitz at Network blog Green City Blue Lake caught the speech and summarized:

When Joe Calabrese left Central New York RTA to take the helm at Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority 16 years ago, 1.392 million people lived in Cuyahoga County, where they provide 1 cent on every purchase to support RTA operations. The sales tax contribution covers more than 70% of RTA’s operating budget, but has been sliding since 11 separate transit companies merged under the regional banner in 1978 when 1.539 million county residents contributed.

A one-two punch of job losses and sprawl has dominated Calabrese’s tenure as CEO and general manager, the longest of any major, U.S. transit system boss, according to his introduction at today’s Hope for the City: Mobility Matters series at the Old Stone Church in downtown Cleveland.

By 2010, another 100,000 people had left Cuyahoga County and wouldn’t be supporting RTA with its purchase power. When the U.S. Census came out, RTA would also have to contend with the federal government trimming $3 million (based on population size) from its budget.

Reeling from the recession, RTA faced possibly its worst year of revenues. Meanwhile, Ohio lawmakers had an opportunity to ride in and preserve RTA, the largest transit system in the state and in the Top 20 in the country. Ohio refused Calabrese’s modest proposal to increase its funding support 3% per year, and RTA was forced to make deep cuts.

Meanwhile, state support for transit has dwindled from $43 million a year at the beginning of Calabrese’s tenure to just $7 million today. RTA’s share of that is a measly $225,000.

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Friday Jobs Market

Looking to hire a smart, qualified person for a position in transportation planning, engineering, IT, or advocacy? Post a listing on the Streetsblog Jobs Board and reach our national audience of dedicated readers.

Looking for a job? Here are some current listings:

Program Coordinator, Austin Transportation Department, Austin, Texas
The Austin Transportation Department (ATD) seeks a talented Project Coordinator / Pedestrian Coordinator to lead policy implementation, project development, planning efforts and programs related to active transportation, with a focus on pedestrian initiatives.

Membership Assistant, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, San Francisco
The membership assistant will serve as the primary greeter and receptionist at our office, and assist with accounts and member services. The position will represent the SF Bicycle Coalition as the first point of contact for inquiries from members and the broader community.

5291 Planner III, San Francisco Planning Department, San Francisco
The essential functions of this job include, but are not limited, to: managing the development of long-range citywide or neighborhood plans and programs; preparation, revision and updating of the General Plan and/or Planning Code; leading Community outreach and engagement processes; preparing recommendations for Department, Planning Commission and other city Commissions/Boards actions.

Special Event Staff, Sunday Streets/Livable City, San Francisco
Event Staff will assist with site set-up and breakdown of the Sunday Streets route and information booths at all eight events. During event hours, they will support Sunday Street Staff and lead volunteers staffing the event, conducting outreach, selling merchandise, and collecting data.
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Philly Reduced Its Public Parking Supply and More Spaces Opened Up

Even has Philly has shed parking spaces, more parking spaces sit empty. Graph: Plan Philly

Even as Philly has shed public parking spaces, the occupancy rate has declined. Chart: Philadelphia Planning Commission via Plan Philly

If you remove a bunch of parking from the center of a city, you’ll get carmageddon, financial ruin, and the complete unraveling of society as we know it — right? That’s what you tend to hear at public meetings when a proposal that would reduce parking comes up, but as this real-life example from Philadelphia shows, there’s really nothing to fear.

Jon Geeting at Plan Philly reports that the city has steadily reduced the supply of parking in public lots while adding more buildings, but the public parking spots that remain aren’t in higher demand:

The Center City development boom reduced the number of public parking spaces by 7.2 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the Planning Commission’s 2015 update to the Center City Parking Inventory.

The inventory, which the Commission updates every five years, found that about 3,623 off-street public parking spaces disappeared during this period as several lots and garages were replaced by high-rise buildings. A “public” space in this sense is one than anyone can rent, as opposed to a private space that’s exclusive to building tenants or employees.

One might guess that losing more than 3,600 parking spaces in a five year span would drive up occupancy rates in the remaining lots and garages, but on the whole this hasn’t been the case. Counterintuitively, parking occupancy actually declined by 1.7 percent during this period, from 75.6 percent down to 73.9 percent. Parking occupancy peaked at 77.7 percent in 2005, so this is part of a 10-year decline.

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Give to Streetsblog and You Could Win a Sweet Tern Folding Bike

Are you a regular Streetsblog reader? Do you count on our reporting to stay informed about policies that affect walking, biking, and transit? Do you value the work we do to explain streets and transportation issues and hold public officials accountable for their decisions?

If you do, please keep us going strong as we head into 2016 and make a tax-deductible year-end contribution.

Streetsblog relies on reader support to produce original reporting and commentary. We’re making the case day in and day out to repurpose street space from cars to people. We’re prodding public officials to do more for safe streets and better transit. And we’re amplifying the voices of neighborhood advocates who want to be able to walk and bike free from the fear of traffic.

Our work commands the attention of decision makers in government and opinion shapers in mass media, and your donations directly fund our work.

This year we have a great prize to raffle off to one lucky donor — a folding bike from Tern Bicycles. (Thank you Tern!) Make a tax-deductible gift before the end of the year and you’ll be entered to win this beauty, a Link D8:


If you’ve given before, continuing your support is essential. And if you’re giving for the first time, that’s going to make a big difference going forward. Thanks for your support and for making Streetsblog an effective voice for transforming our streets.