Trust New York City to lead the way. In this post from Curbed.com the David Bowie retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum has used its starpower to transform the Broadway-Lafayette subway station in an ode to Bowiedom.
There are also five different transit MetroCards that have been Bowie branded, and those have been released in a limited edition of 250,000 not consecutively but randomly. The Broadway-Lafayette subway station’s walls are full of photos of Bowie’s remarkable performances, images and life. And here’s the coolest part, this subway station was the one closest to Bowie’s New York City home. You have until May to see this unique collaboration of images that have been curated with the co-sponsorship of Spotify. Spotify is also introducing the “David Bowie Stories” series, looking at the musical icon’s life, tales and essays in concert with photos and videos from the David Bowie Archive. This subway artshow/branding has been an effective blend of pop culture history and art. Here is an opportunity for other transit systems pick up the idea of crossmarketing cultural events and exhibitions, making art in transit more accessible to all.
Below is a six-minute YouTube video of a transit walk through the Bowiefied Subway Station.
There is a remarkable restored film that was made in 1911 in New York City by the Swedish company Svenska Bigrafteatern. The footage has been slowed down and there is unfortunately a soundtrack added that is not original.
It does show the remarkable time when streets easily incorporated all users, and formal pedestrian crossings had not yet arrived. read on >>
As Curbed.com describes it there is a push for “supertalls” in New York City, those buildings that exceed the 984 foot height limit. As they note “These soaring towers aren’t always popular—many have actively fought against the buildings sprouting along 57th Street and Central Park South, worried that they’ll cause shadowing over the storied park—but it’s hard to argue against their status as marvels of engineering.”Read on >>
This proposal for New York City isn’t likely to be passed, but it raises the question: What should be the surcharge for ride-hailing services to use public infrastructure and to control congestion? From the New York Times:
With Uber and Lyft cars taking over Manhattan streets, a state task force has proposed a surcharge of $2 to $5 on rides in for-hire vehicles as part of a broader congestion pricing plan to keep traffic moving and raise money to shore up public transit.
But now a prominent transportation expert, Bruce Schaller, contends that those fees are simply too low to deter most passengers from calling cars, and in any case, would result in only a temporary reduction in congestion before being offset by the rapidly growing ride-hailing services.
In a new report on Wednesday, Mr. Schaller calls instead for charging all for-hire vehicles — including yellow taxis and Uber and Lyft cars — $50 per hour to drive in Midtown Manhattan during weekday business hours, and $20 per hour in Lower Manhattan, the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side. Mr. Schaller, a former city transportation official, said he based the fees on current parking garage prices in Manhattan.
“It takes high parking fees to really discourage people from driving into Manhattan,” said Mr. Schaller, who advised to the state task force. “Uber and Lyft and taxi passengers need the same price signals.”
The hourly fee would be passed along to passengers. By his calculation, the average fare for a ride that begins and ends in Midtown would more than double to $24 from $10. The average fare for rides from Midtown to other Manhattan neighborhoods, or vice versa, would increase to $28 from $14, he said.
It would also apply to vehicles even when they are not carrying passengers to discourage drivers from just circulating around Manhattan streets looking for business. Mr. Schaller said those fees would be billed to ride-hailing companies and taxi owners, who could pass that on to passengers through higher fares.
The result would be an immediate reduction in Midtown traffic since for-hire vehicles would make fewer trips, according to Mr. Schaller. He estimated that daily trips during the weekday would drop 11 percent to 64,000 from 72,000. He added that the top fee of $50 per hour would be charged in only a tiny fraction of the overall trips. …
Jon Orcutt, a spokesman for TransitCenter, a research and policy foundation, said that he supported Mr. Schaller’s approach of using an hourly fee rather than a per-ride fee to manage congestion “because I think we’re going to need tough measures to keep the streets moving.” He expressed doubt, though, that a $50 hourly fee would win approval from state officials, given that congestion pricing already faced significant hurdles in New York …
Yes, carwalking is a thing, and surprisingly became popular with Michael Hartmann in Munich Germany back in the 1980’s. He took this kind of thing seriously, climbing over hoods of cars that were in his way. Think back to the 1970’s and 1980’s, when motordom reigned supreme and everything was just a freeway ride away. Of course vehicles took advantage of their use of space and parked just about anywhere.
Besides Michael Hartmann other creative individuals have also carwalked, including the legendary Peatonito in Mexico City. Wearing a wrestler’s mask and superhero cape he “works tirelessly” through humour and other pedestrians to draw attention to cars that are in pedestrians’ way. This link from citylab shows Peatonito’s actions in New York City traffic a few years back.
And here is the link to Michael Hartmann’s Autoschreck video from 1993 describing why he carwalks. Has much changed in 25 years in the relationship between pedestrians and vehicles in the pursuit of safe and equitable space?
And one more with Mission Impossible music, from Honduras, to complete the Friday file. This can also be viewed here.
From planetary scientist Dr. Kat Volk comes this oldie but goodie Guardian article about a cyclist that was ticketed for-wait for it-not travelling in the bike lane. Casey Neistat was so incensed, he created a video that has not only gone viral, it has been called a “great piece of gonzo filmmaking”.
“The backstory here is that the New York Police Department announced late last year that they were going to get tough on cyclists’ infractions of the law. And they meant it. First, there was the controversy of the ticket blitz in Central Park, where cops were on duty before dawn to nab bikers training on the park’s closed loop road. Eventually, after a strong pushback from park users and residents and the bike community, the cops backed off that policy and an uneasy truce reigns. But elsewhere, the new approach continues: according to the New York Post, the NYPD has handed out nearly 14,000 tickets so far this year, up nearly 50% on the same period last year.”
Meanwhile, Casey’s video has had over twenty million hits. And it still resonates today, as cyclists continue to have obstacles show up in bike lanes that really should not be there in the first place. Take a look.
From Park People.ca and Ken Greenberg comes the video by Garrick Mason “Something New from Something Old” describing some unique and some familiar concepts in making great public spaces. Using conversations with urbanists in New York City and in Toronto, the film explores how low density streets can give up much space for the car, but space for humans walking and biking is still a street fight. Opportunities for more green space has come with the “glacial recedence of industrial uses that have revealed new opportunities. Eric Landau with the Brooklyn Trust describes how the area under DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) has been transformed from industrial to park space. With ten per cent of the area being developed to cover the operational and maintenance costs of the new Brooklyn Park, former five acre industrial docking piers have been transformed into park experiences, each with their own unique purpose and use.
Opening up with music that was first performed by singers on New York City’s Highline, the film discusses the importance of public/private financing, noting that redeveloping green space as amenities creates real estate value for surrounding properties.
As the film maker observes: ” I decided to ask experts, designers, and planners involved in some of the highest profile conversion projects in Toronto and New York City about the rationale behind these conversions, the challenges involved in designing under such novel constraints, and the difficult issues — like funding, accessibility, benefit sharing — that come with them. Their answers were both fascinating and encouraging, pointing to a world in which the development of cities will have more to do with gracefully evolving in place than with spreading outwards to infinity. ”
You can watch the video on Vimeo by clicking on the blue tab on the “Sorry” link below.
In cities where there is a shortage of housing and people are living in unorthodox dwellings, how do you carry out a census count? The New York Times reports on the challenges of ensuring that every person is accounted for in the census, which is used as the base for planning and funding cities. Federal resources are tied to the census which is done every ten years, with the next in 2020. In New York City planning department staff have already spent fifteen months reviewing addresses, finding 439,000 that the federal Census Bureau had missed, representing 13 per cent of the housing stock. These units were in illegal basement, attic, and garages, “revealed by extra door bells and mailboxes.”
Disasters and construction need to be factored in, especially with Houston’s displacement of people with Hurricane Harvey and the thousands of new built units and addresses that will be constructed in New York City in the next two years.How much federal money is tied to the decennial census? In San Jose California as many as 70,000 residents were not counted, resulting in $20 million dollars annually not being allocated federally for the city.
This spring, volunteers will use a texting app the city tested in December to identify these and similar units for inclusion in the Census Bureau’s master list. The app will not be available to building code enforcement or to officials for immigration enforcement. “A nonprofit founded by the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Cities of Service, is hoping to spread the tool to other cities that will be receiving their address databases from the census in the coming weeks.
“People forget it is an enumeration of the population, but it’s an enumeration of the population in housing units and in group-quarters facilities,” said Joe Salvo, the director of the New York City planning department’s population division. “Essentially, everyone needs to be put down on a map. Everybody needs a recognized address.”
You can find out more how federal funding is allocated through the ten-year census count at this Brookings Institute website.
Sidewalks are the mark of universal accessibility for walkers, people in wheelchairs, and people with babies in strollers. There is an emerging voice that with motordom, “Prioritizing the mobility needs for one mode while being silent on all other modes, it’s messed up.” And motordom is being championed in Los Angeles,not walking.
Urbanist and writer Alissa Walker in Curbed.com has written a compelling article about sidewalks~and lack of them. While groups of sidewalk “advocates” do inventories and champion city councils to build/mend sidewalks, plant trees, and make walking easier, it’s just not been a priority for municipal government. Many citizens in metro Vancouver cities struggle with the same issue. “Someone in City Hall told me there’s no constituency for sidewalks and that’s why it wasn’t a priority for them,” says Investing in Place’s director, Jessica Meany… “They said no one is knocking on their door asking to fix sidewalks.” Even though Los Angeles has the largest sidewalk network in the United States, Los Angeles County has “invested less than 1 percent of all its transportation funds for sidewalks, including crosswalks and signals, although a ballot measure passed in 2016 bumped that up to 8 percent for the next 50 years. Investing in Place estimates that half of the city’s 11,000 sidewalk miles are insufficient for basic navigation. In 2016, after almost a half-century of deferred maintenance, LA put up a billion-dollar plan to fix just the pavement, but now it can’t keep up with the repairs—the city receives more requests in a week than it can address in a month.”
While one hundred years ago sidewalks were perceived as “the centers of American cities—public places for business transactions and social interactions. ” Ms. Walker suggests that maybe sidewalks are not so great. Before sidewalks all uses were pushed in the street. Why did pedestrians end up with a “sliver of space” and accept the invention of “jaywalking” which shamed and blamed pedestrians who dared to leave their alloted sidewalk? What is curious is that the interest in maintenance of municipal walking infrastructure coincides with the surge of education of the health benefits of walking and the wearing of fitness trackers.
But despite guerilla gardening, people plazas, parklets out of parking spaces and “complete streets “the dramatic shift in mode share—people swapping car trips for walking trips in large numbers—didn’t happen. Americans are driving more than they were before the supposed walking revolution. In 2016, Americans drove more miles than they have in any other year in history. (Compare that to Paris, where a combination of pedestrianization projects and vehicular regulations has meant 45 percent fewer car trips since 1990.) In U.S. cities, most of the talk about walking remains just talk.”
New York City and San Francisco have effectively redesigned some streets for pedestrians and had traffic deaths fall, to the “lowest number of traffic deaths last year since the introduction of the automobile”. The rest of the country? Not so much. Street safety is also an ” an environmental justice and racial justice issue,” says Emilia Crotty, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Los Angeles Walks. Across the country, she notes, African Americans and Latino Americans are 60 percent and 43 percent more likely to be killed while walking than white Americans.” Ms. Walker also notes that one-third of Americans don’t drive, and that Americans are getting older, with 20 per cent of the population 65 or older by 2030.Those old Americans are “outliving our ability to drive safely and comfortably yet seniors keep driving because their independence relies on it. “If you stop driving, you cease to exist as a viable human being.”
A coalition of transit tech companies have announced a unified vision which includes car-sharing, bike-sharing and ride-hailing, as well as profit making.They are “vowing to work together toward streets of the future that are “shared, multimodal, and zero-emission.” Ms. Walker suggests that supplying new transportation options means that there can be a major transformation of how we use space. Since walking is “the connective tissue” that allows us to move between options, it is now time to get out of sidewalk repair that “perpetuates a driver-first mentality” and “shift to one surface that serves all the mobility needs of its citizens”…”One hundred years from now, we’ll find fragments of sidewalks in our cities as a reminder of the time we ceded our cities to cars and pushed people onto narrow slabs of cracked cement. And we’ll wonder how we had it so backwards.”
Is she right? You can read the whole context of this discussion here.