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Streetfilms festival draws crowd

April 13, 2015

by Greg Meyers

The Madison Theater was packed for the Streetfilms mini-festival Monday night.  Streetfilms, an organization founded by UAlbany alum Clarence Eckerson, creates videos to help spread public awareness about urban planning, cycling and other forms of transit. One hundred and twenty five people from around the area, including Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Assembly member Patricia A. Fahy, came through to show support for a safer Madison Avenue.

Festival goers in Madison Theater Lobby/Greg Meyers

Festival goers in Madison Theater Lobby/Greg Meyers

“A lot of our elected leaders are on board,” said Eckerson. “But I think some of the general public still isn’t and that’s kind of the fight.”

Council Member Leah Golby said the film event should help get the public on board for protected bike lanes on Madison Avenue.

“I think this festival was a really good way for people who are interested in great city streets to come together and see how other cities are making changes,” said Golby. She also noted that building great city streets and making them safer will attract people as well as promote economic vitality and business.

There are already bike lanes in Albany on Clinton Avenue and Northern Boulevard, according to Lorenz Worden, member of the Albany Bicycle Coalition and Protected Bike Lanes Coalition.

“We have many streets in the city that would be wide enough to install bike lanes,” said Worden. “The difference is for Madison Avenue, we want to have protected bike lanes.”

Before the mini-films screening began, moviegoers could check out the tables in the lobby  set up by various organizations including Solarize Albany and Albany Bicycle Coalition. The Madison Theater supplied popcorn and other snacks and beverages as they would during a regular movie.

Eckerson, left, during Q & A hosted by Jason D’Cruz, right/Greg Meyers

Eckerson, left, during Q & A hosted by Jason D’Cruz, right/Greg Meyers

Nine different films were shown, with topics ranging from the culture of biking in Amsterdam to protected bike lanes in East Harlem. At the conclusion of the screening, audience members participated in a question and answer with Eckerson, hosted by Protected Bike Lanes Coalition member Jason D’Cruz.

Eckerson answered various questions about changing political infrastructure to make city streets safer for public transit and about how technology today is making it easier to use public transport and for travelers to find their way around a city using public services, such as a bus or taking a bike.

“It’s up to people using tools like the ones I create here, these films, to educate as many people as you can,” said Eckerson during his question and answer. “To get that groundswell of support so that you can get change.” -30-

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