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Get Your Tickets to the Streets Ball! Thursday, November 5

Streets Ball 2015 banner ad - with reserve tickets

Come join the Streetsblog and Streetfilms team next month for our annual benefit, the Streets Ball, where you can support a year’s worth of high-impact reporting and videomaking in one spectacular night.

Our guests of honor will be Council Member Jimmy van Bramer and Council Member Julissa Ferreras, who’ve been indispensable in the campaign to bring safer walking and biking to Queens, and Lizi Rahman and Lisa Sladkus, fierce advocates for livable streets whose work has benefited so many New Yorkers.

The Streets Ball is a wonderful moment to connect with people who care about safe streets and want to see New York City work better for everyone who walks, bikes, and rides the bus (or train). The event raises funds that propel Streetsblog and Streetfilms through the year ahead, enabling us to create content that makes a difference for NYC streets. And it only happens once a year!

Don’t miss out — tickets start at $50 ($25 if you’re a student).

Enjoy local food from Kickshaw Cookery, beer and wine, a silent auction, live music, and a great crowd of Streetsblog and Streetfilms supporters who envision a safer, more livable city.

The Streets Ball gets started November 5 at 7 p.m. at ADC Gallery, 106 W. 29th Street. See you there, Streetsblog readers.

Streetsblog.net
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Streets Have Changed Before, and They Can Change Again

Some of the fiercest battles over streets come down to resistance to change — fears that claiming a lane of traffic for transit will cause carmageddon, or that converting parking spaces to bike lanes will starve local businesses of customers.

The failed mall "Underground Atlanta" was once a busy urban corner, and it could be again soon. Image: ATL Urbanist

The failed “Underground Atlanta” mall was once a busy urban corner, and it could be again soon. Image: ATL Urbanist

Darin Givens at ATL Urbanist says some of that resistance stems from a failure of imagination. By looking at how streets have constantly changed in response to different values, ideas, and incentives, he writes, we can see cities as “a springboard for good ideas and as a canvas for implementing them.” He calls this a “mindscape” view.

To illustrate his point, he shows the past, present, and potential future of the “Underground Atlanta” area:

Instead of looking around and seeing only what the city is today, as represented in a current streetscape for instance, a mindscape view can allow you to see Atlanta in a way that links its past, present and future in a continuous flow, with its ever-changing cultural and physical environment apparent.

Doing so can establish a good foundation [for] civic innovation; because when the present-day city is viewed as a static entity, tied down to decisions and events from the past, that baggage often becomes a stumbling block to innovation (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or read a phrase similar to “that can’t happen here, Atlantans won’t accept it” or “Atlanta is a car town, that idea can’t work here”).

But when the city’s culture and structure are understood as a constant flow, we can be more optimistic about creativity and change. As an example, let’s look at one streetscape — a single westward vista of Alabama Street at its intersection with Central Avenue. We’ll take in the past and present while also envisioning a future that serves as an improvement to the present while also fitting in with the flow of the urban environment that began in the past.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Seattle’s Plan to Take Biking and Walking to School to the Next Level

Source: Seattle

Walking and biking to school is on the rise in Seattle, but it could go much higher. Source: Image via Seattle Bike Blog

Last week, communities around the country celebrated Walk to School Day to encourage kids to get to school the old-fashioned and healthy way.

In Seattle, the event was more than a one-off to raise public awareness — it was also the kickoff for a five-year action plan to increase walking and biking to school. While active transportation to Seattle schools has grown recently, reports Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog, there’s a lot of room for improvement: 83 percent of students live close enough to school to walk, and nearly all live close enough to bike.

Fucoloro says Seattle’s walk and bike to school initiative looks like one of the more sophisticated action plans in the nation:

The plan has been a long time in the making and includes extensive research into best practices for cities, parents, students, schools and police to all work together to increase the number of students getting to class under their own power safely. It outlines how to improve safety today, but also outlines how to invest in infrastructure and youth education to increase safety for a generation.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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An Urgent Plea for Better Management at Washington Metro

Ridership has declined on Washington's Metro rail in recent years, bucking national trends. Image: WMATA via WTOP

Ridership has declined on the Washington Metro in recent years, bucking national trends. Image: WMATA via WTOP

Things are not looking up at the Washington Metro. Despite service expansions, strong regional population and economic growth, and a national increase in rail ridership, fewer and fewer people are riding Metro.

Concerned about reliability and safety, riders are losing faith in Metro. Furthermore, Greater Greater Washington has pointed out that the agency’s finances are increasingly unsustainable.

In light of these problems, GGW’s David Alpert joined a coalition of business, labor, and advocacy organizations that drafted an open letter demanding changes, including the hiring of a new general manager:

Our groups have been staunch advocates for maintaining transit service, ensuring adequate funding, and expanding capacity such as through more eight-car trains. Yet recent events have shaken our, and the public’s, confidence in a system and agency which our region depends upon. We are weighing in now to help the agency reach a path to restore this confidence.

Read more…

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Thursday: Come On Over to Streetsblog’s Goodbye Party for Stephen Miller

At the end of the week, Stephen Miller is hanging up his Streetsblog cleats after three-plus years of powerhouse reporting. Before we post his final byline, come join us at Streetsblog HQ Thursday evening for a farewell party celebrating Stephen’s time here and wishing him the best as he heads over to Council Member Jimmy van Bramer’s staff.

The party will kick off at 5:30 p.m. on the roof deck of 148 Lafayette Street (the top floor). We’ll have beer, snacks, and other refreshments, plus some rousing toasts. Please RSVP by Wednesday at 5 so we won’t run out of supplies and can make sure you’re on the list at the front desk.

To RSVP, send an email to the man himself: smiller@streetsblog.org. Once he gets off the phone with this source, he’ll be standing by…

sm

See you Thursday!

Streetsblog USA
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Will the Pope’s Visit Lead to Massive Car-Free Days in Philly?

Since Pope Francis’s visit this weekend, #pOpenstreets has become a rallying cry in Philadelphia. The hashtag has turned into a collective record of photos and insights about the surprising amount of fun and freedom that city residents enjoyed when 4.7 square miles of the city center went car-free.

The Pope's visit to Philadelphia closed the streets to cars and opened people's eyes about the city's unrealized potential. Photo: Patrick Miner at Rebuilding the Rust Belt

The Pope’s visit to Philadelphia closed the streets to cars and opened people’s eyes about the city’s unrealized potential. Photo: Patrick Miner at Rebuilding the Rust Belt

Impromptu soccer games and bike rides, a lot of relaxed strolling — it’s really easy to see how much people loved this new way of interacting with their streets.

Now a grassroots group inspired by the event is pushing for more. In the past three days, the Open Streets Philly Facebook page has been “liked” 5,000 times. Locals are using that page, the hashtag, and a Change.org petition to try to push for more and bigger open streets events.

What they’re asking for is car-free streets on a scale never seen before in the U.S., but much like what happened in Paris last weekend. About 3,500 people have signed the petition, addressed to the Democratic nominee for mayor, Jim Kenney.

“Everything’s kind of open to negotiation,” said Jon Geeting, one of the organizers, who also writes at Plan Philly. “We’re asking for at least like a quadrant [of the city] — we’re asking for a pretty big thing.”

There’s a lot of momentum, including a barrage of positive press. And in the wake of #pOpenstreets the idea is gaining serious political traction. So much so that the current mayor might beat the next mayor to the punch.

Read more…

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Streetsblog Is Hiring: Cover the Evolution of NYC Streets and Transportation

After three tremendous years covering the Streetsblog NYC beat, Stephen Miller is moving on next month to serve as Council Member Jimmy van Bramer’s legislative and budget director. New York City government is gaining a special talent, and we’re going to miss him.

Among Stephen’s many gifts are his knack for putting sharp questions to public officials, his aptitude for quickly synthesizing even the most arcane policy matters (just look at his body of work on parking minimums!), and his seemingly limitless fount of story ideas. All that, and he has probably shattered the Streetsblog record for community board meetings attended.

To hear my full rhapsody, you’ll have to come to the sendoff we’ll be giving him. Stay tuned for details.

In the meantime, please spread the word that Streetsblog is hiring

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We’re looking for a talented journalist to help Streetsblog NYC cover the movement for safe streets and effective transit in the five boroughs.

We welcome applications from engaging writers, reporters, and advocates who want to contribute to an influential source of information and commentary on transportation and planning issues. The ideal candidate will have a firm grasp of local politics and a keen sense of how Streetsblog coverage can advance transportation policies that improve conditions for walking, bicycling, and transit.

Responsibilities

We are seeking a reporter to craft original content, interviews, event coverage, and commentary. Applicants should be enthusiastic about the notion that journalism can be conducted with integrity and fidelity to the truth while espousing a clear point of view. Knowing how to effectively impart a message is a critical skill for this position.

Read more…

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NYPD: Drivers Injured 1,228 Pedestrians and Cyclists in June, and Killed 10

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twenty people died in New York City traffic in June, and 4,795 were injured, according to the latest NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of June, 62 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 6,277 injured, compared to 62 deaths and 7,080 injuries for the same period in 2014.

Citywide, at least 11 pedestrians and one cyclist were fatally struck by drivers: two pedestrians in Manhattan; one pedestrian in the Bronx; three pedestrians and one cyclist in Brooklyn; one pedestrian in Queens; and two in Staten Island. Among the victims were Dorothy Gerstenfeld, Moshe Grun, Ethan Villavicencio, Martin Celmer, Diana Ealkamenetz, Jeri Pearson, Millwood Hughes, David Craig, Betty Jean DiBlasio, Yekutiel Rapp, an unnamed male pedestrian in Manhattan, and an unnamed male cyclist in Brooklyn. Motorists killed at least one child and four seniors in June: Ethan Villavicencio, 7; Dorothy Gerstenfeld, 88; Diana Ealkamenetz, 67; Millwood Hughes, 93; and Yekutiel Rapp, 66.

Drivers killed at least two pedestrians whose deaths were not reported by NYPD.

Across the city, 769 pedestrians and 459 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of 12 fatal crashes on surface streets reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, one motorist was known to have been charged for causing a death. Based on NYPD and media accounts, at least seven victims were likely walking or cycling with the right of way when they were struck, including one victim who was on the sidewalk and one who was hit while inside a building. Police and district attorneys are known to have applied the city’s Right of Way Law only once in June. Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

In one case, immediately after a pedestrian was killed, police exonerated the driver by telling the press the victim was “outside the crosswalk.”

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Transpo Funding Intrigue in Washington State

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the Streetsblog Network today…

Washington Governor Jay Inslee may go ahead and swallow the “poison pill” that Republican legislators insisted on including in a state transportation package, reports Frank Chachiere at Seattle Transit Blog. That would mean Inslee will go ahead with a low-carbon fuel standard for the state, which will torpedo a funding package for roads, transit, and street safety projects. With Inslee having already secured a separate $15 billion authorization for Sound Transit that will be untouched by the poison pill, however, local transit advocates don’t seem too worried about the governor’s strategy.

A developer’s rendering of a mixed-use project in the works by the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station in DC. Not depicted are the 2,000 parking spaces the plan calls for. Image via GGW

Darla Letourneau at BikeWalkLee has a mid-year progress report on street safety in Florida’s Lee County. After spikes in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in recent years, street safety is getting more attention from the press and policy makers. However, injury rates for walkers and bikers don’t show signs of improvement yet. “The bottom line is that while there are lots of efforts underway to make it safer for people walking and biking in Lee County, we need to step up our game, if we expect to lower our stubbornly high bike/ped fatality and injury numbers,” she writes.

At Greater Greater Washington, Jonathan Neeley reports on a big mixed-use housing project coming to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station. While the development would replace car-oriented retail, the plan currently calls for 2,000 parking spaces — more than the number of new apartments. Is this the best DC can do?

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Students Plead With Manhattan Community Board 7 to Act on Street Safety

Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side is where street redesigns get delayed indefinitely, where the urgency to prevent people from getting killed in traffic dissipates into the ether, and where the same people get reappointed for years on end to posts where they can block safety improvements.

Last night, kids who go to school in the neighborhood came out for a civics lesson at CB 7 and to deliver a message about what they want to see change. Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson and Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton were there.