TA’s “25 x 25” campaign is an inspiring push for people-centered streets

There’s been a lot of talk in Portland in recent years about the need for transportation reform advocates to take a more intersectional, coalition-oriented approach when pushing for big changes.

The NYC 25×25 campaign launched Monday by New York City-based nonprofit Transportation Alternatives looks to have set the standard by which all such efforts will be judged. It’s one of the most bold, exciting, and inclusive advocacy efforts we’ve ever seen.

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New York City’s big bus breakthrough

No longer a dangerous traffic snarl.
(Photo: Streetsblog NYC)

Like their bold reclamation of Broadway Boulevard and Times Square Plaza a decade ago, the New York City Department of Transportation has once again changed the game.

They’ve pushed through serious opposition to create bus-only lanes on one of the busiest streets in Manhattan. Neighborhood groups filed a lawsuit to stop the project, claiming spillover traffic would choke nearby streets and the lack of auto access would doom the neighborhood. A court overruled those claims and allowed the project to go forward. Over a day in, the opposition’s fears have not come to pass (big surprise). The new service has been so successful that the Wall Street Journal reported bus drivers had to slow down to keep their schedules.

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The Friday Profile: Boris and Melissa Kaganovich, Portland’s merry pranksters of street reinvention

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pranksters

Four years after coming to Portland from New York and two years after co-founding Better Block PDX, the Kaganoviches are moving to Toronto on Monday.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland unless noted)

Boris Kaganovich was talking quickly, as he often does, when he walked past the button-activated pedestrian signal at Northeast 60th and Glisan. Without breaking stride, he slammed the heel of his hand into the button and kept walking in another direction.

The lean, curly-haired 30-year-old grinned a little too widely.

“I just hit those whenever I walk past them,” he explained cheerfully.

It was August 2014, and if Kaganovich was acting a little like a cat who had eaten the canary and gotten away with it, he could probably be forgiven.

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Q&A: NYC’s top biking advocate wants you to talk more about death

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paulswhite

Paul Steely White at the 2010
National Bike Summit.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Talking about “livable streets” is out; talking about “safe streets” is in.

That’s the advice from Paul Steely White, executive director of the country’s largest local transportation advocacy group. The executive director of New York City-based Transportation Alternatives since 2004, White was a major force behind the city’s emergence as a national leader in reimagining streets as pleasant public spaces.

But as he heads to Portland for a keynote address Monday to the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, White is urging his fellow believers in livable streets to readjust their message when talking to politicians and the public. We spoke by phone on Thursday about why and how his organization has put Vision Zero, the campaign to completely eliminate road deaths, at the middle of their message.

Are you on a national Vision Zero tour, or is this a one-off thing?

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Five ideas from NYC’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan that Portland could steal

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Tomorrow, Portland’s city council is expected to approve a project (item 234) that’s likely to chart the city’s shift to “Vision Zero,” the philosophy that nothing — not vehicle speed, not road capacity, not even economic productivity — is more important to the transportation system than preventing the serious injury or death of a person on the road.

It’s a provocative idea. But what exactly does it mean the city would do that it doesn’t already do today?

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As CitiBike launches, what’s next for Portland’s Alta Bicycle Share?

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Alta Bicycle Share principal Mia Birk explains Portland's future system to possible sponsors

Alta Bicycle Share principal Mia Birk explains
Portland’s future system to possible sponsors
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland-based company that leads the nation in bikesharing just enjoyed its biggest launch yet, kicking off a 6,000-bike deal worth tens of millions of dollars over the next few years. And for Alta Bicycle Share, 2013 is only going to get more interesting.

Alta’s system is planning to launch in Chicago in “late summer.” San Francisco and the Bay Area are slated to join Alta’s empire in August with 350 bikes, and Columbus will get a 300-bike fleet in July. Alta already operates systems in Washington, Boston, and now New York City, meaning the company’s municipal bikeshare systems will be in five of the country’s 10 biggest metro areas by year’s end. Waiting in Alta’s wings: Vancouver BC, Seattle, and of course Portland. (Atlanta and Philadelphia, two more top-10 metro areas, seem to be on their way to bikesharing, too, and Alta will be a strong contender.)

This sort of growth is huge for a company that’s less than four years old — and also risky for a company that just lost a top executive to a possible competitor and has had to weather serious technical delays and complicated labor issues in the middle of its rapid expansion.

So I decided to talk to two national bikesharing experts about Portland’s locally-grown industry leader and the future of bikesharing in general. The two were Matt Christensen, managing editor of Bikeshare.com, a Santa Monica-based website that posts jobs and other news about the bikesharing industry; and Paul DeMaio, founder of DC-based bikeshare consulting firm MetroBike LLC, who’s been publishing The Bike-sharing Blog for six years now.

bikeshare experts Matt Christensen and Paul DeMaio

Bikeshare.com’s Matt Christensen and MetroBike LLC’s Paul DeMaio.

Both of these guys were thoughtful, frank and upbeat in their assessment of where Alta and the concept of bikesharing are headed. The questions and answers below have been combined from separate interviews that covered many of the same subjects.

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The Monday Roundup: NYC’s CitiBike and more

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Happy Memorial Day, Portland. As you might have noticed, Jonathan and I will be serving up bike-related reporting for the next two weeks by way of a transcontinental tag-team. Let’s start things off with the national bike news that caught our eyes in the last week.

New York City’s long-awaited CitiBike sharing system launched today, and it’s the talk of the town and the bike world in general. With 14,000 annual memberships presold at about $100 apiece, it’s poised to be the biggest win yet for Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, which operates the systems. Here are some interesting tidbits from this week’s coverage of CitiBike:

— The New York Times showed how the modern bikeshare system was invented in Paris, improved in London, priced in DC and built on station hardware from Montreal. In another piece, the paper reports that experts seem to agree that bikesharing will be remembered as the key achievement of Michael Bloomberg’s 12 years of transportation reforms. “If this is the playoffs, what’s the finals?” says Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re there.”

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Video of the Week: Scenes from a New York City bike lane

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Just finished watching My Commuted Commute, a video that I think everyone should spend five minutes to check out. A woman from New York City, Rachel Brown, shot helmet cam footage and offers commentary about what it’s like to ride in one of the new, green-painted, curbside bike lanes. For all the positive buzz NYC is getting lately, this video shows that it takes much more than paint to create a truly functional lane for bike traffic.

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Blumenauer takes a ride in New York City

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Blumenauer (in green jacket) avoids
a taxi while riding on Sixth Ave.
-Watch video below-

U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer went for a ride with bike advocates in New York City over the weekend and Streetfilms was there to capture the action.

Blumenauer rolled down the bike lane on Sixth Ave, calling the experience “pretty grim”. However, when he turned onto the cycle track on Ninth, his feelings “changed completely”.

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, shared how far New York City has come in recent years:

“We started years ago aspiring to be Portland, looking to Portland for best practices, now we’re at the point in New York where Portland is actually borrowing from us.”

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