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Colbert Gets in on This Whole Rabinowitz Thing

It’s not quite as brilliant as Al Madrigal’s segment on the Daily Show last week, but Stephen Colbert’s riff on Dorothy Rabinowitz at the end of this clip is totally worth your time this morning.

Streetsblog NYC 17 Comments

“The Daily Show” on Citi Bike: “Doesn’t Anybody Have a Real Objection?”

Forget the ridership numbers: you know you’ve hit the big time when Jon Stewart and company spend a full nine minutes satirizing you at the top of “The Daily Show.”

The first segment, which leans heavily on the fact that European cities also have bike-share and pseudo-satirizes unfounded fears about the program’s safety, is funny while not exactly pro-bike. But the second segment, embedded above, is a needed laugh for New Yorkers who have endured nonsensical objections about bike-share from NIMBY neighbors and editorial board members alike.

Correspondent Al Madrigal traveled to the West Village to talk to people who object to bike-share in the pricey Manhattan neighborhood. ”Apart from the 159 meetings, they didn’t say a word,” Madrigal said to a man who claimed the stations appeared overnight and without warning. “Even though that’s not true,” Madrigal asked, “why is it?”

Madrigal also went to Bedford-Stuyvesant to hear from a man who complained that the program wasn’t expanded further into Brooklyn. Let’s just say Bed-Stuy’s residents come off looking a lot more reasonable — and also managed to pop a wheelie for the camera.

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Streetsblog Needs Your Support Tonight to Keep Rolling in 2014

Tonight at midnight marks the end of Streetsblog’s spring pledge drive, and we need your contributions to helps us stay on the beat for livable streets and sustainable transportation in San Francisco in 2014.

We’re looking forward in the coming months to bringing you the details on the approaching launch of Bay Area Bike Share, advancing the discussion on transforming streets like Second and Barlett into people-friendly havens, and keeping the pressure on city leaders to increase the abysmal levels of funding for Muni and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

It’s because of your contributions that we’ve been able to bring recent coverage setting the facts straight on heated issues like freeway removal, rational parking pricing, and fearmongering around parking removal for protected bike lanes on Polk Street.

If you haven’t already donated, please show your support if you care about what we do. If you have donated, thank you — and feel free to donate again! Don’t forget — those who donate $50 or more will be in the running to win a gorgeous hand-painted Belle Helmet, a Yardstash tent for your bike, or the grand prize: a Dahon folding bike.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to those who have shown their support. See you on the streets.

– Aaron

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Help Streetsblog Keep the Lights on — Donate Today

We’re extending our spring pledge drive til the end of the week to reach our target of $40,000 in reader donations. If you haven’t given already, please make a tax-free gift today and help keep Streetsblog and Streetfilms going strong this year.

Streetsblog and Streetfilms rely on individual donations, foundation support, and sponsorships and ads to produce content that makes the case for safer streets and more effective transit — and to pay our internet bills and keep the lights on. To sustain this media enterprise, we need to hit all of our fundraising targets. We’re not there yet this spring but the goal is within sight. If 100 readers make a contribution by Friday — less than 1 percent of our daily unique visitors — we’ll wrap up this pledge drive in good shape. Please contribute.

For extra motivation, we have two more prizes to give away. In addition to the grand prize of a Dahon folding bike for one lucky reader who gives $50 or more, one reader who gives before Friday at midnight will win a beautiful Belle Helmet, handpainted by Danielle Baskin, and another donor will win a Yardstash tent to keep your bike gear dry and outside (if you have the yard space).

Note: Image not to scale.

If you’ve been holding out on donating until just the right moment — now’s the time! Thanks for reading and for supporting Streetsblog and Streetfilms.

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Support Streetsblog, Your Translator of Transpo Planner Jargon

Even SF transportation planners know: they can be pretty hard to understand. Listening in on a discussion about safer streets encrypted in countless acronyms and technical terms can often leave the layperson feeling pretty lost.

See, in planner-speak, it’s not “getting run over” — it’s “a multi-modal right-of-way conflict.”

In San Francisco, this language barrier is perhaps most likely to be found in a staff meeting at the SF County Transportation Authority, which manages San Francisco’s transportation financing and long-term planning. You know, the dry stuff.

The SFCTA candidly admits this — the agency produced the tongue-in-cheek video above, in which one character explains that transportation planners are “trained to talk about our shared urban experiences in a way that is nearly unrecognizable to the general public.”

Not to worry, though — that’s one reason Streetsblog is here. Before we post many of our articles, we decode zoning terms, planning documents, presentations and interviews — and turn them into legible stories about what’s happening to our city’s streets. And it’s contributions from our readers that allow us to continue that work.

If you value the work we do to translate cryptic concepts into a cohesive narrative about re-shaping San Francisco’s streets for people — not cars — please make a donation to Streetsblog. And don’t forget: All donors who contribute $50 or more will get a chance to win a new Dahon folding bike.

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Support Pro-Human Transportation Journalism – Give to Streetsblog

We are rolling right along with our spring pledge drive. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far — your donations will be converted into Streetsblog posts making the case for more livable streets and Streetfilms videos showing success stories and ideas from cities around the world.

But we need more readers to step up and contribute. Streetsblog and Streetfilms cannot continue to produce the level of content we currently churn out unless we hit our fundraising targets. If you value the media we make and you haven’t given to our spring pledge yet, please donate today.

All donors who contribute $50 or more will be in the running to win a new Dahon folding bike, and everyone who gives between now and Saturday at midnight will also be entered to win one of these handmade messenger bags courtesy of Forest City Portage, a one-man shop operating out of Cleveland, Ohio.

Here’s a look with the flap down, and with the flap up:

More people are reading Streetsblog now than ever before. If our regular readers all pitch in, we’ll be able to make media that supports streets for people, not cars, for a long time to come. Please make a contributiontoday.

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Pledge to Streetsblog and This Awesome Elly Blue Collection Could Be Yours

Have you given to Streetsblog’s spring pledge drive yet? If not, may we suggest that this is the week to do so. In addition to supporting livable streets journalism and putting yourself in the running to win a Dahon folding bike, you could take home a sweet collection of books and zines courtesy of eminent bike-ologist Elly Blue.

If you make a habit of reading Streetsblog and you value the work we do to make the case for transforming our streets, please make a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing it.

We’ll send one donor who gives by midnight Friday this Elly Blue library, including Bikenomics, Taking the Lane, and the brand new Bikes in Space: A Feminist Science Fiction Anthology (sample story: “in Elizabeth Buchanan’s classic pulp tale of postapocalyptic Appalachia, a gripping bicycle-truck chase gives a young woman a surprising new hope”).

If you value the work we’ve done to counteract all the misinformation about the redesign of Polk Street and other projects to improve walking, biking, and transit in San Francisco, show your support by making a generous donation to Streetsblog. Judging by the situation in New York, the approaching launch of Bay Area Bike-Share may mean there’ll be lots more work in store for us in the fact-checking department.

Streetsblog NYC No Comments

Give to Streetsblog By Thursday and You Could Win Goodies From Planet Bike

Thanks to everyone who’s given to Streetsblog and Streetfilms so far in our spring pledge drive — we’re nearly a quarter of the way to our fundraising goal of $40,000. I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is for readers to chip in and help us reach our targets. Your contributions keep us going so we can deliver news and commentary about the transition to safer city streets that work for people, not cars. So keep those donations coming!

For the next two days, we have an extra set of goodies to give away to three lucky donors: a commuter pack courtesy of Planet Bike. This bicycle accessory horn-of-plenty includes all of the following:

Give by Thursday at midnight to be eligible for this drawing. And don’t forget that anyone who gives $50 or more at any point during the pledge drive will be entered to a win a new Dahon folding bike.

Thank you for supporting Streetsblog and Streetfilms. If we could give all our donors a free bike, we totally would.

Streetsblog NYC 67 Comments

Transit Commuters Are Stinking Low-Lifes, Subaru Tells Transit Commuters

Think transit commuters are unwashed, uncouth bums? Subaru does. And the carmaker doesn’t mind telling them so.

In recent Canadian editions of Metro — the free daily distributed at transit stops — Subaru ran a two-page spread spouting just about every negative transit, and transit rider, stereotype you can think of. The ad was brought to our attention by a Sabrina Lau Texier, a transportation planner in Vancouver.

“While you’re sitting on public transit, just imagine your commute in a new Subaru Impreza,” the copy reads. “No weird smells, no overhearing awful music, and nobody asking you for spare change.” Classy.

On the first page are “coupons” for an “odour free ride to work” (nothing but that carcinogenic new car smell), “less chance of being asked for money” (except by Subaru and Exxon), savings on “obligatory transit conversations with coworkers” (down with human interaction!), “free confidence” (for $19,995), and our favorite: “half off arbitrary and inexplicable transit delays.” As opposed to the gridlock-free ride we can expect if we all ditch transit to drive a Subaru to the office — alone, of course, to avoid those unpleasant conversations with co-workers.

Read more…

Streetsblog NYC 4 Comments

Driver Safety Laws: An Old Approach That’s Worth Reviving

In the aftermath of a crash, we inevitably ask: How can a dangerous driver be kept off the road? It seems that the entire automobile transportation regime is aimed at keeping the driver behind the wheel. Absent impairment or flight from the scene of the crash, police quickly conclude that “no criminality is suspected.” The name of the responsible driver may be carefully guarded by police, even when the name of the victim or selective details are not. Government compels the insurance market to continue insuring the responsible driver, even if the market would consider the driver too risky to insure. The under-resourced legal system and insurance industry neglect and obstruct crash litigation, pressuring victims to simply accept whatever insurance is available without holding the driver personally responsible.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Before the advent of compulsory auto insurance laws in the 1950s, New York and most other states had “safety responsibility” laws instead. Under these laws, drivers involved in crashes had their licenses suspended until they posted a bond or demonstrated insurance in an amount sufficient to compensate the crash victim. Based on their involvement in a crash, these drivers would also be required to maintain insurance as a condition of keeping their driving privileges.

Under New York’s safety responsibility law (codified as Section 94-b of the Vehicle and Traffic Law), the crash victim had the right to directly petition the commissioner of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for suspension of license of any driver involved in a crash causing personal injury or $25 of property damage. Absent the requisite showing of financial responsibility, the commissioner was required to suspend the license of a driver within 45 days — even if there had not been any finding of fault. At least for those drivers without insurance and financial means, this approach resulted in prompt suspension of driving privileges for drivers involved in crashes.

Though ensuring compensation of victims was clearly the primary purpose of the safety responsibility law, it also had an undeniable deterrent effect. As one New York court explained in 1942, “the penalty which § 94–b imposes for injury due to careless driving is not for the protection of the [crash victim] merely, but to enforce a public policy that irresponsible drivers shall not, with impunity, be allowed to injure their fellows.”

Read more…