Moving Beyond the Automobile is a ten part video series which explores solutions to the problem of automobile dependency. It’s a visual handbook that will help guide policy makers, advocacy organizations, teachers, students, and others into a world that values pedestrian plazas over parking lots and train tracks over highways. Cars were then, and this is now. Welcome to the future.
Now, I have a really good reason: Mr. Streetfilms, Clarence Eckerson, is in town, and he wants to watch it with you. Check it.
An Evening with Clarence Eckerson What: A “special showing of a select lineup of shorts [which] will include a first time public showing of films from [Streetfilms’] new 10-part series, Moving Beyond the Automobile, and will feature commentary and a post-film Q&A with filmmaker Clarence Eckerson Jr.” Where: REI Seattle (222 Yale Street) When: Friday, April 29th, 7 PM How much: $7 (Members of sponsor orgs get a discount on advance ticket purchases.)
I’m going (absolutely would not miss it). Hope to see you there.
It’s been a slow month (and a half) for blogging. The move, which I intend to write about at some point, (mostly from a “selecting a home for a car-free family” perspective) and which is still in progress (at least, the getting settled part) took a lot out of me. That, plus a couple of consuming projects, extreme technical difficulties, and seemingly endless weekend events had me shifting most of my alt-transpo energies to Twitter.
For the time being, I have returned to writing full sentences, and I’d like to use them to tell you about:
A mad, mad man
The New York Times recently published a piece about Vincent Kartheiser, aka Pete Campbell from Mad Men. Apparently, Mr. Kartheiser, who lives in Los Angeles, has been car-free for three years. Unlike a lot of high-profile non-drivers, Vincent prefers to get around on PT.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “Instead of driving and being stressed out about traffic, you can work your scene, you can do your exercises or whatever on the bus. Everyone’s got their own deal.”
“I like that my life slows down when I go places,” he said. “I have all these interactions with the human race and I can watch people living their life and not just in their car.”
And the best quote of the article?
“They’ve done a study and they’ve found that people under 30 no longer view cars as status symbols or even positive things,” Mr. Kartheiser said. “They look at them as pollutants.”
On September 15th, Zipcar kicked off its second annual Low Car Diet. Participants in 12 cities have agreed not to use their cars for one month (through October 15th) in exchange for transit passes, Zipcar driving credit, miscellaneous SWAG, and a chance to think differently about how they get around.
I had the pleasure of meeting the Seattle participants at the kickoff, and I’ve been keeping up with their progress (speaking of Twitter) ever since. So far, I’m impressed by the creativity and enthusiasm they’ve brought to the month-long challenge. Here’s hoping that they follow in the footsteps of 61% of last year’s dieters and decide to make a permanent switch.
Citizen activism in Queens
Streetfilms has a cool new film about the Jackson Heights neighborhood, which has succeeded in reclaiming some of its public space.
While I’ve been focused on learning to fold an umbrella stroller with a baby on my chest, a bag on my shoulder, and a two-year old in my grasp (more on that in a future post), the transit world has continued to turn–sometimes around unpleasant corners.
I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the video of the tunnel beating, but I’ve been paying attention to the discussion. It feels very close to home and very threatening, both because the victim turned out to be the cousin of a family friend, and because it happened on the heels of the assault I recently witnessed on the 4. I’ve never felt that the tunnel was particularly safe,* but that was mostly because of the stairwells and other areas where it would be easy to corner someone. I certainly didn’t think that a major assault could happen on the platform, in front of several witnesses.** Then again, that’s what I said last month.
On a happier note, Clarence from Streetfilms paid a visit to our fair city earlier this month. He came to check out Link and has posted some cool videos from his trip (including one of him biking with Mayor MCGinn) on the Streetfilms site.
In this case, they were witnesses who were paid to prevent such an assault from happening–or so we thought. Now, of course, there’s an outcry about the quality of tunnel security and transit security in general. (We’ll see what happens with the new contractor.) Lord knows I want buses to be safe (and how!) but as far as I know, no one’s offering up additional sources of funding.
The folks at Streetfilms have (yet again) done something cool: They’ve asked livable streets advocates from across the country and world to select their favorite Streetfilms of 2009. If you’re looking for some quality vacation entertainment, you can find the entire list, including my pick (hint: candy paint ain’t just for cars), here.
…acting FTA Administrator Matt Welbes announced his agency is immediately releasing $13.8 million dollars to help fund the acquisition of new articulated hybrid-electric coaches and other system improvements to support Metro’s first RapidRide line. The funding will help pay for 16 new buses, various station and shelter enhancements and real-time information systems for the “A Line” serving the cities of Tukwila, Sea Tac, Des Moines, Kent and Federal Way beginning in 2010.
•If you’ve got 10 minutes to spare, watch the Streetfilm, “The Search for the Zozo.” I won’t even try to explain it. I’ll just say that it’s a bit different from the usual Streetfilms fare, and, if you’re in the mood for silly (Who isn’t these days?) it’s worth the watch.
• Pierce Transit driver Brentt Mackie won first place in the American Public Transportation Association’s annual Bus Roadeo. (Yes, people, there is really such a thing.)
From an APTA press release:
Lakewood, WA – For the second time in three years, Pierce Transit Bus Operator Brentt Mackie has been awarded the First Place trophy in the 40-foot Transit Coach Division at the 2009 International Bus Roadeo that just concluded in Seattle.
The Roadeo competition requires drivers to maneuver their vehicles through an intricate maze of graded exercises that includes serpentine turns, passenger stops, and reverse turns that duplicate the demanding requirements of everyday driving. The final exercise is high-speed braking where operators maneuver through a row of ten 55-gallon barrels spaced only inches wider than the bus.
Whoa. I want to be on his bus.
Brentt “Skillz” Mackie
This year, the festivities were held here in the 2-0-sickness. Seattle Transit Blog has the scoop on the other Washington State winners.
• Seattle police are cracking down on drivers who don’t stop at crosswalks.
Seattle police are sending more pedestrian decoys onto city crosswalks, to nab drivers who blow through without stopping.
Seattle tends to rank among the safest U.S. cities for pedestrians. Nonetheless, 468 car-pedestrian collisions were reported to police last year, said Gray. She is project manager for the city’s new Pedestrian Master Plan, soon to be released, which calls for more enforcement.
Posts will continue to be slow in the coming days. (The project is not yet complete, I’ve just recovered from a nasty bug, and my poor little Chicklet is still sick.) In the meantime, get thee to a library and check out The Subway Chronicles, a fabulous collection of essays by well-known New York writers (Colson Whitehead, for one) about their experiences getting around on PT. Talk about a perfect ride read!
And yes, I know that the book came out in 2006, but 1) I’m almost always late to the party (that is, when I’m not leaving early) on stuff like this*, and 2) my “to read” list is so long, I have actual relatives whose books are waiting to be cracked.
Speaking of New York…
Streetfilms is celebrating 200 fun, informative films–all free and easy to watch and share–with a cool promo. Congrats (and thanks) to the Streetfilms team.
* And by “stuff like this,” I mean any newly released form of art that is not related to Toni Morrison.