Thursday, September 13, 2007

Contested Streets

We attended a viewing of the excellent film Contested Streets, produced by Transportation Alternatives, the New York City group “working for better bicycling, walking and public transit, and fewer cars”. The film explores the history of streets in New York, discussing how they evolved form being used mostly by people and horses in the early 1900's, to being dominated by automobiles now, and efforts underway to return them to the people. Examples from Copenhagen, London, and Paris are used to show how communities have taken back their streets from motorized traffic and made them more complete streets, usable by all.

A planner from Copenhagen explained that their success was not based on a comprehensive plan but was done piecemeal, retaking one street at a time and proving that people still moved, shops survived, and streets became safer when cars were limited or banned altogether.

Transportation Alternatives produces a very good bi-monthly newsletter to which we subscribe. They are an effective organization currently concentrating much of their effort on passing congestion pricing legislation for NYC. Stockholm implemented their system on August 1, 2007. It has worked in London where bicycle traffic has doubled since the law went into effect. It currently costs about $16 per day to enter the city by automobile.

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