Streetfilm: Earl Blumenauer Visits New York

"The tide is turning," Transportation Alternatives Paul White exclaims towards the end of this most recent Streetfilm, "In fact, it’s already turned."

White is celebrating the good work underway in New York City during a tour of the city’s bike facilities with the head of the Congressional Bike Caucus, Portland’s Earl Blumenauer.  To their credit, the tour wasn’t just a review of NYCDOT’s greatest hits; but also included a ride on the 6th Ave. bike lane, which might be the most dangerous one in North America.

However, the tone of the video is triumphal. Blumenauer himself notes that change is in the air across the country.  In addition to New York and Portland, he ticks off a list of cities who’s activists are paving the way towards sustainability.  Chicago.  Washington, D.C. Los Angeles.  Better biking isn’t just for college towns anymore.

The Streetfilm ends with a call for action.  At some point Congress and President Obama are going to agree to a transportation funding and policy bill.  Even though Congress is hearing more and more from Livable Streets advocates, it’s going to be incumbent on all of us to give them the cover to buck the auto industry when the time comes.  Hopefully someday soon a visit from Blumenauer won’t be cause for celebration because every city will have its own contingent of bike-friendly Congressmen.

(editor’s note: Streetfilms has undergone a re-design and looks pretty nice.  If you haven’t been over there in some time, make sure to check it out at.)

  • “What you’re seeing in New York [diverse Brooklyn bridge bike/ped crossing], Chicago [great clip of people riding in the cold Chicago winter], Los Angeles [NOTHING! literally nothing, just a delay on the chicago clip], Washington DC [smart bike DC station]…”

    LA has so far to go, we don’t even have any streetsfilm-clip worthy facilities! Could you imagine them showing the LA river path with all the cars jammed right up next to it stuck in traffic on the 5! I wonder if Daryl even tried to throw in an LA clip, or just laughed it off…

    We need some streetsfilmers in LA, put us on the (video)map

  • A crew of dudes out of the Bike Oven have been shopping around our own LA-based streetsfilm-esque operation to non-profits.

    We even cut together a sample film using DJ Chicken Leather’s Root Down Ride Around footage from the Bike Summit in 2008.

    If there was a place that a rich person or a foundation looking to have an impact in LA wanted to put their dollars to good use, a media outfit covering livable streets issues through online video would be an incredibly good place to invest in. Mainstream media misses the mark on so much that is going on in LA right now. An effective communication channel to the general public would give LA’s advocacy movement a huge boost – allowing us to ask for more in a shorter time frame than might otherwise be possible.

  • DJB

    Getting more bike facilities strikes me as less a matter of needing federal money and more a matter of building local consensus to take space away from cars.

    At the end of the day, all the federal bike cash in the world won’t convince drivers to give up space in roads for bike lanes and traffic calming street design. That’s a case that has to be made directly to drivers.

    Is a community of carless (or nearly carless) advocates too insular to meaningfully advance that kind of dialouge? Do car commuters feel safe enough here to voice their opinions? :)

  • I’m working on bringing some funding for more L.A. Streetfilms myself. Ubrayj, I know we talked about this in the past, but if I manage to scrape up some funds before you, we should talk…

  • David Galvan

    @DJB:

    I’m a car-commuter and not ashamed of it. I live in Sherman Oaks and work in Pasadena. The 2-bus commute takes 1.5 hours each way. The car commute takes 0.5 hours each way.

    I dunno, I think of this whole transit advocacy culture as a mix of pragmatism and passion. There are certainly those who are passionate enough about not using their cars that they will inconvenience themselves to avoid use of automobiles. That’s admirable and all, but not sustainable across most of the population. Most people just commute using the mode that is most convenient, and most rapid, and within their comfort zone. For most people in L.A., that is using the car.

    Now, for those who don’t care about advocacy and just do what makes the most sense for their situation, there is almost certainly a subset of people who would be willing/able to ride their bikes for all or some of their commute IF they were convinced it was safe. Paint some more bike lanes, build some more bike paths, get more people to cycle so it seems normal, and you start to build momentum. Those people will actually consider cycling as an option that didn’t exist before within their comfort zone.

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