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Streetsblog NYC 54 Comments

Don’t Hate the Parking App Profiteers, Hate the Free Parking Game

Haystack, the latest app allowing drivers to sell access to a parking space, blazed across the Internet this month after Boston Mayor Martin Walsh threatened to ban it. Valleywag called it a “scourge.” The Awl compared it to profiteering off access to clean water. The haters have it wrong though: The apps aren’t screwing over the public — local governments are.

Following on the heels of MonkeyParkingHaystack is a recent Baltimore-based entry that borrows heavily from car service Uber for its look and feel. If you’re new to the grey market of sell-your-parking-spot apps, take a look at the promotional video. The premise is simple: A driver about to leave a parking spot can use the software to sell the space to another app-using driver cruising for parking. Haystack also has a “make me move” feature where users offer to move their vehicles for the right price, even if they hadn’t planned on going anywhere.

The video itself is a bit much. Over cheery music, a smiling young woman about to drive around Baltimore says things like, “Together, we did our part to make our neighborhood a little greener.”

Go ahead and vomit at the smugness of the marketing campaign. But putting a price on curbside parking isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that these apps are a poor substitute for real public policy that manages the curbside parking supply for the public good.

Read more…

Streetsblog Chicago 32 Comments

Study: To Keep Bicyclists Outside the Door Zone, You Need a Buffer

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A buffered bike lane does a better job of encouraging bicyclists to ride outside the door zone than a wide bike lane. Photo: John Greenfield

A new study has found that bike lanes with a buffer next to the parking lane are better than conventional bike lanes at encouraging bicyclists to ride outside the door zone.

The study, recently published by the Transportation Research Board, concludes that wider but un-buffered bike lanes aren’t necessarily better than narrower lanes in encouraging bicyclists to ride outside the door zone. If there’s enough space to make a wider bike lane, the authors conclude, that extra space should be used to install a “narrower bicycle lane with a parking-side buffer,” which “provides distinct advantages over a wider bike lane with no buffer.”

Researchers reached their conclusions after observing thousands of cyclists using various bike lane configurations in Chicago and Cambridge, Massachusetts. On one Chicago street, for example, few bicyclists rode outside the door zone when the bike lane had no buffer, then after a two-foot buffer was striped, 40 percent rode outside the door zone.

Bicyclists are more likely to ride outside the door zone in a buffered bike lane than any other bike lane width studied.

Bicyclists are much more likely to ride outside the door zone in a buffered bike lane than in any other bike lane width studied.

That’s because the door zone is four feet wide, and riding in the center of a six-foot-wide bike lane still doesn’t give a cyclist enough clearance.

The on-street tests demonstrated that a six-foot-wide bike lane offers no advantage over one that’s five feet wide, or even four feet wide. Regardless of the width, bicyclists still ride in the center of the lane — within the radius of a typical car door swinging open. Dooring crashes are common in urban areas like Chicago: In 2012, the last year for which data is available, 18 percent of reported bike crashes were doorings.

The researchers were studying different types of bike lanes, and how people use them, in order to refine recommendations in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ ”Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities.” The guide recommends five-foot-wide bike lanes and says four-foot-wide bike lanes can be used in other situations — but it was based on trial and error, not scientific research.

While protected bike lanes weren’t studied in this research, the authors’ observations show how proximity to moving traffic contributes to doorings. For instance, the study concluded that, “as traffic volume increases, bicyclists move away from vehicles in the travel lane and position themselves closer to parked vehicles or the curb.” Researchers observed the same response as truck traffic increased. This leads bicyclists to ride in the door zone — but with protected lanes, cyclists don’t have to ride next to motor vehicle traffic, and this isn’t a problem.

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A Warm Welcome To SBLA Summer 2014 Intern Aviv Kleinman

Streetsblog Los Angeles' 2014 intern Aviv Kleinman

Streetsblog Los Angeles’ 2014 intern Aviv Kleinman

There is a new face at Streetsblog Los Angeles this summer. Our latest intern Aviv Kleinman grew up in Los Angeles and currently attends SUNY Binghamton.

Here’s Aviv’s introduction in his own words:

Since I was very young, I’ve had a strong affinity for transportation.

With my wooden train set and any other toys and props I could find, I would spend nearly every Saturday morning on our living room floor constructing my own intermodal transportation systems, teeming with both freight and passenger rail systems, cargo-bearing trucks, passenger buses, cars, boats, and mobile construction machinery. I would sit for hours fascinated and transfixed by these many systems.

Many years later, that fascination has only grown.

I’m currently a Senior at Binghamton University, studying Urban Planning and Environmental Studies. It is my goal to become a Transportation Planner who can make improvements in transportation infrastructure to both reduce our damaging footprints on this Earth and to get us to where we need to go, faster, more comfortably, and more efficiently.

Transportation speaks to me. Wherever I travel in the world, whichever city I learn about, I always try to understand how people move around, and how people get to where they need to be. I find that the methods people around the world use to travel to and fro say a lot about their culture, and truly shape how they act in the world.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA No Comments

Time Is Running Out to Become a Streetsblog Superhero — Give Today

This is it! The final days and the final giveaway of our spring pledge drive. So far, 221 superheroes have donated to Streetsblog and Streetfilms. To reach our goal, we need 179 more readers to step up and give by Sunday at midnight.

If you’ve been been holding out until the end of the pledge drive to make your mark (or just casually procrastinating), now’s the time to fill out our secure donation form and contribute to media that makes streets safer and more sustainable.

More to the point, if you value the impact of Streetsblog in your city, if you want to see more coverage making the case for 21st century transportation policies that work for people, not cars, if you value the way Streetfilms help great ideas for city streets go viral — your gift makes it all happen.

In keeping with the superhero theme of this pledge drive, our final giveaway will reward one lucky donor with an impervious cape and another with an eye-grabbing yet utilitarian belt. Give before midnight on June 1 and you’ll be entered to win a Cleverhood rain cape in Ocean State Blue, imparting the power of dry all-weather biking, or a reflective CINCH belt from Vespertine, which makes you extra-visible and is available in your choice of three colors:

Cleverhood_Vespertine

Big thanks everyone who’s contributed so far. One more big push and we’ll reach our goal.

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Pledge Drive Special Today! Support Streetsblog Los Angeles!

I want to make a personal appeal to Angelenos to support Streetsblog Los Angeles.

It’s pledge drive time. If you haven’t stepped up already, please make a donation today. Contribute today and you’ll be entered in our special sweepstakes – see details below.

I’ve been doing bicycle advocacy in Los Angeles for more than 15 years. In the mid-1990s it seemed like I personally knew most cyclists I encountered on L.A. streets, because there weren’t too many of us. Today, there are many more cyclists: young and old, native and immigrant, fast and slow. Greater Los Angeles is seeing an unprecedented increase in bike facilities.

Bicycling, walking and transit are taken more seriously. These modes are up locally and statewide. There are frequent national stories about how, overall, driving mileage is declining.

But there’s still a long way to go.

The overwhelming majority of transportation dollars still go to automobile facilities. Many governmental agency planners and engineers, broadcast media, many elected officials, and others, still see L.A. as a place where cars are the only way to get around. Halfway-ambitious street projects and plans still get bogged down. Crashes, many of them hit and run, are still killing and maiming dire numbers of Angelenos.

Streetsblog Los Angeles is the go-to source for news on these issues.

It’s not just L.A. – there’s an entire network. When you give to Streetsblog you’re helping to set the agenda for streets and transportation policy at the national level and in cities across the country. Federal officials pay close attention to Streetsblog’s reporting. Capitol Hill staffers use our analysis to brief members of Congress. Metro boardmembers, city councilmembers, and advocates bring back to their cities best practices they first read about on Streetsblog. Small-scale struggles for better cities catch fire when they get national attention on this site.

I am happy that past reader support of Streetsblog Los Angeles enables me to work here and track and report on issues that you and I care about. Your support has helped us to expand coverage, into Long Beach, Santa Monica, and now statewide. If you appreciate the work that I and my colleagues do, please donate today. Keep Streetsblog strong, healthy, and independent.

Donate by midnight tonight and you could win $200 worth of Velocio bike apparel!

Like many media outlets, Streetsblog is grappling with how to survive and thrive financially. We believe our readers value the impact of our reporting and will contribute to keep it going. If you agree, don’t assume other people will take care of it. Please make a secure, tax-deductible donation today

This week, bike apparel maker Velocio has generously put up a $200 gift certificate for their goods, to be awarded to one lucky donor who gives before midnight tonight –  Tuesday May 27th.

Thank you Velocio, and thank you to everyone who’s pitched in to the pledge drive. Keep it going this week and help us finish strong.

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Streetsblog Receives Three Final Nominations (So Far) from L.A. Press Club

The Los Angeles Press Club announced about half of the finalists for awards at its annual banquet. Thus far, Streetsblog Los Angeles’ staff is nominated for three awards. We are still awaiting word on five other nominations (two more for Sahra Sulaiman, one for me, one for Brian Addison and Streetsblog Los Angeles itself as “best blog).

Award-winning journalism isn’t free, and during Streetsblog’s pledge drive month; its doubly important that if you haven’t given to Streetsblog before, or haven’t done so in awhile, you consider doing so today.

What’s striking about our three nominations thus far is how they demonstrate the growth Streetsblog experienced in past years into a multi-platform news organization.

Online Journalist of the Year: Sahra Sulaiman

Sherika Simms holds the last photo taken of her brother, Maurio Proctor, outside one of their childhood apartments in Jordan Downs. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

Sherika Simms holds the last photo taken of her brother, Maurio Proctor, outside one of their childhood apartments in Jordan Downs. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

The Press Club highlights the beginning of Sahra’s series on community violence and how it impacts Livable Streets. As we saw with Fidel last year, the nomination and story itself mean more to those portrayed than they do the author. This is one of many signs of how unique and important Sahra’s work is. If you haven’t read, “Death and All His Friends Cast Long Shadows When They Appear in the Public Space,” set aside some time over the next week to do so.

News Photo: Sahra Sulaiman

Jose Vazquez leaves a candle at the ghost bike memorial for Andy Garcia, killed last month in a vicious hit-and-run. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

While Sahra’s coverage of the tragic hit and run crash that killed Andy Garcia was one of our most-read stories of 2013-2014; for many people it’s this picture of Jose Vazquez lighting a candle at Garcia’s memorial that many will remember. Beautiful, sad and haunting it has long been one of my favorite pieces of Sahra’s many photographic contributions despite the sad moment it captures.

Online Multi-Media Package: Kris Fortin, Shireen Alihaji, Damien Newton

When I first approached Kris and Shireen about this project, I was proposing “something like a Streetfilm” for each of the candidates. But the two film-makers who took the lead on this project had a more documentary-film style which served the series well…and they still managed to add some humor and light moments from our interviews into the final project. After we released the edited videos, we also released the full (nearly) unedited audio.

Last year, we were finalists for three awards. While we hope to have even more of our work recognized, for a small outlet such as ours to be continually tapped is a testament to our team.

Of course, we wouldn’t exist without your support as readers, commenters, tipsters and donors. It’s that last role I’m asking you to fill today. To help us continue to grow and produce quality independent journalism, make a donation by clicking here.

3 Comments

SBLA Editor Damien Newton Honored by Society of Professional Journalists

Last night at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, the Society of Professional Journalists honored Streetsblog Los Angeles’ founding editor, and the Southern California Streets Initiatives’ Executive Director Damien Newton for “Distinguished Work in New Media.” Congratulations, Damien! You’ve done great work and deserve the acknowledgements you’re now receiving.

Newton and Linton (who presented Damien with the award) at the SPJLA Awards dinner last night. Photo Dawn Newton

Damien Newton and Joe Linton (who presented Damien with the award) at the SPJLA Awards dinner last night. Photo Dawn Newton

Less than four years ago, Streetsblog Los Angeles faced challenges due to a changing funding landscape, particularly with our primary funder at the time. SBLA formed our own non-profit, the Southern California Streets Initiative. We’re happy that, under Damien’s leadership, SCSI is thriving, with not just Streetsblog Los Angeles publishing online but also Long BeachizeSanta Monica Next, and expanded coverage of California statewide issues.

Last night’s honor is just the most recent in a string of awards for Streetsblog Los Angeles. Last year, SBLA was recognized by the Los Angeles Section of the American Planning Association for excellence in journalism. Sahra Sulaiman was singled out by the APA. Both Sulaiman and Newton were honored for individual pieces by the Los Angeles Press Club.

From its founding in 2008, through the challenges of 2010, through the victories of the past two years; Streetsblog Los Angeles, and its companion websites, have thrived because of the support of our readers.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, SCSI relies nearly exclusively on grants and individual donations for our financial support. If you value the work that Damien and his staff do, and you want to see it continue and grow, please support Streetsblog by giving to Streetsblog, Santa Monica Next, or Long Beachize.

And congratulate Damien in the comments below.

(Juan Matute is the president of the board of directors of the Southern California Streets Initiative.)

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We’re Hiring: Streetsblog Is Searching for a Managing Editor

Streetsblog is looking for a talented journalist to shape and oversee coverage throughout our growing family of news sites.

The Managing Editor will work with the Editor-in-Chief and our roster of editors and reporters to hone Streetsblog’s coverage of transportation and planning issues, grow our audience, and bring our brand of advocacy journalism to more cities.

We welcome applications from journalists with extensive experience in new media and a keen sense of transportation policy and politics, who share our vision of Streetsblog as a respected, influential source of information and commentary.

Job description

Streetsblog currently publishes four city-based sites, a national policy and livable streets news site, and highlights from bloggers around the country who belong to the Streetsblog Network. Reporting to the Editor-in-Chief, the Managing Editor will work directly with our team of reporters and editors to assign and select stories, edit drafts for content and style, write headlines, present graphics, and share content on social media.

Streetsblog content runs the gamut from video- or photo-based posts with scant text to 2,000-word enterprise pieces with detailed reporting. On any given day, stories might deal with bikeway design, infrastructure financing, traffic-related case law, parking policy, or a range of other topics that affect the quality of city streets. Most posts must be situated within a specific political context and/or advocacy campaign. The Managing Editor will shape and fine-tune every type of post, from headline to kicker, to achieve the desired impact.

In addition to possessing excellent writing and editing skills, applicants should be enthusiastic about the notion that journalism can be conducted with integrity and fidelity to the truth while espousing a clear point of view. The ideal candidate will have the background knowledge and analytical skills to accurately process information and make sense of it for a mass audience in a timely manner. A passion for livable streets is essential.

The managing editor will:

  • Work remotely with other editors and reporters to structure, refine, fact-check, and copy edit their work, creating a daily stream of original news and content for audiences in multiple cities.
  • Think strategically about how to cover ongoing stories, such as pieces of legislation or specific street redesigns, and apply those strategies to the development of content.
  • Manage the appearance of Streetsblog landing pages by writing heds and deks and selecting graphics.
  • Report and write original news and commentary, as time permits.
  • Assist the Editor in Chief and Development Director with business development and fundraising as needed.
  • Oversee the launch of Streetsblog expansion sites together with the Editor in Chief.

Qualifications

  • Excellent writing and reporting skills, as evidenced by clips.
  • Deep knowledge of progressive urban planning, transportation, and land use topics.
  • Previous experience editing reporters, ideally covering transportation or planning issues.
  • Experience with WordPress or other blogging/content production platforms, familiarity with basic HTML and basic PhotoShop, experience using Twitter and Facebook as media platforms.

Salary commensurate with experience. While preference will be given to candidates based in NYC, the Managing Editor may be based anywhere in the United States.

To apply

Send a resume, cover letter, and relevant clips/links to ben@streetsblog.org.

4 Comments

Society of Professional Journalists Recognizes Damien Newton for “Distinguished Work in New Media”

Earlier today, the Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recognized Streetsblog Los Angeles editor Damien Newton for “Distinguished Work in New Media” for 2013.

Newton and his stunt double at the March 2010 signing of the City of Los Angeles Bike Plan. Photo: Carter Rubin

Newton and his stunt double at the March 2010 signing of the City of Los Angeles Bike Plan. Photo: Carter Rubin

The Distinguished Work in New Media award was created in 2008 and is given to a journalist who uses the new media’s unique characteristics and capabilities while striving to uphold traditional journalism’s highest standards of honesty, accuracy, responsibility and accountability.

In response to receiving this honor, Newton released the following statement:

“I am truly humbled by all of the recognition Streetsblog Los Angeles received this year starting with the American Planning Association, continuing with the Los Angeles Press Club, Los Angeles City Council, and Annenberg School of Journalism, and now from the Society of Professional Journalists. While my name is on the plaque, any award won by a member of our team is a reflection on all the writers, editors, donors, commenters and board members that works so hard to produce Streetsblog Los Angeles, Santa Monica Next and LongBeachize every single week day.

In particular, I would like to share this honor with Sahra Sulaiman, a uniquely talented and dedicated writer whose work has literally changed the way people think about Streetsblog and the communities that she covers.

A special thanks also to my family, especially Marybeth and my Mother, who supported my vision for Streetsblog in easy and hard times.

And last, a thanks to OpenPlans, the founders of all the Streetsblogs and our partners in publishing. “

The awards banquet will be held in Spring of 2014, with the date and location to be announced.

12 Comments

Where’s Damien?

Sorry for the delay in getting our content up today. I’ve been out of the office doing some research for an upcoming series of stories. So where was I? I’ve put a teaser video above, and the first person to correctly say where I was this morning in the comments section wins a Streetsblog t-shirt.