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FLOW! Getting Around the Changing City

How do you get around a city of millions? This June, hop on board with Van Alen Institute as we explore the present and future of urban mobility. Through a lively mix of public programs that bring together the city planners and urbanites of today with the city-makers of tomorrow, we will imagine new approaches to moving people through our streets, sidewalks, and waterways, and will get to test our stamina as we navigate the ups, downs, ins, and outs of our urban landscape.

All festival events will take place rain or shine.

From the Bus: The M101 from the EV to Harlem
Sunday, June 17, 10:30am
Exploration & Conversation

Meet at the Astor Place Cube
8th and Lafayette Streets, Manhattan

Every set of eyes sees a different city – giving us 8.5 million unique New Yorks to observe. While riding the M101 bus route beginning in the East Village and ending in Harlem, riders will step into new shoes to observe the drastic neighborhood changes along the way. Some will track the shifting sounds, some will look at pedestrians, some will pay attention to the changing facades. At the end, we’ll meet in a Harlem hangout to put our observations together for a new view of the city. Discussion and tour will be led by Garnette Cadogan, an essayist and author who studies the art and science of walking in the city.


Life in the Bike Lane: Bike Brooklyn
Sunday, June 17, 11am
Brooklyn Giro Bicycle Tours
160 John Street, Brooklyn

Forty years in the making, nearly 1,000 miles of bike paths, lanes & greenways wend their way through New York City. Brooklyn has most of them–over 300 miles worth. Participants of all ages and skills are invited to join this 3-4-hour bike tour that aims to show that pedal power is here to stay.

Presented with Brooklyn Giro Bicycle Tours


Everything but the L Train: The Williamsburg Challenge
Sunday, June 17, 2pm-5pm
Exploration & Conversation
Meet at Union Square Park
14th Street, Manhattan

One year from now, with the closing of the L train for much-needed repairs, 275,000-plus daily riders will be affected. How will residents commute quickly, safely, and affordably between Brooklyn and Manhattan? Help us test and compare routes by taking the Williamsburg Challenge, a technology-enhanced afternoon relay race from Union Square in Manhattan to Williamsburg. Get fitted for your data tracking device, pick your mode, break into groups, and off you go! The one rule is, you can’t use the L train. Along the way, with the help of a FLOW! guide, and using Multimer biosensors, we’ll track your time, mood, roadblocks, and pace. Our final destination is a fave Bar & Grill in Williamsburg, where all groups will meet to share data, travel stories, observations, and experiences. Be the first to arrive and win a surprise!

Presented with Multimer


The Politics of Mobility
Monday, June 18, 7pm
Van Alen Institute
30 West 22nd Street, Manhattan

Focused on increased competition for street space, the inclusive or exclusive nature of ride-sharing, and the many opportunities and threats posed by autonomous transport, this lively debate will illuminate the present and future of mobility. With voices from urban design, city planning, architecture, community activism, and academia, the talk will engage the following issues: who’s allowed to move and where? What forms of movement and modes of mobility are prioritized (or not)? What are the consequences of restricted mobility for different communities, and what can be done to achieve better outcomes for society?


The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
Tuesday, June 19, 7:00 p.m.
Screening and Discussion
Van Alen Institute
30 West 22nd St, Manhattan

In 1980, William H. Whyte published the findings from his revolutionary Street Life Project in The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. The book was instantly labeled a classic and launched a mini-revolution in the planning and study of public spaces. The accompanying film is one of the most well-regarded documentaries about urban planning, and an incredible time capsule of New York City street life of the late 1970s. Whyte and his team chose a variety of public spaces including plazas, streetscapes, playgrounds, and neighborhoods, and set about observing and recording how and why people use them.

Join us for a screening and discussion of this classic documentary with
Nidhi Gulati, Program Manager Transportation, Project for Public Spaces.


Mind the Gap: Improving Urban Mobility through Science and Design
Wednesday, June 20, 6:30 pm

Van Alen Institute
30 West 22nd Street, Manhattan

Engaging a variety of tools and approaches from neuroscience, environmental psychology, and behavioral psychology, this special event with AIANY will examine scientific approaches to understanding how populations are impacted as they move through cities. Participants will learn innovative ways practitioners in design and the sciences are collaborating to create better and healthier environments for all.


Going and Coming: A Crossroads Conversation
Thursday, June 21, 4-7pm
Public Discourse
Cadman Plaza Park, Brooklyn

Is the start of your commute like the end of your commute? What is the same and what is different? This installment of our Crossroads Conversations series invites passersby to share stories about how they get around the changing city and their perspectives and hopes for improving our  vital subway and bus system. Facilitated by author Kio Stark.

Presented with Brooklyn Historical Society


Delancey, Grand & Essex: Pizza & Build Flash Competition
Friday, June 22, 5:30-10:30pm 

Flash Competition
New Design High School, Manhattan

With the impending shut down of the L train, the MTA proposes to send 70 shuttle buses an hour over the Williamsburg Bridge. This fast-paced, one-night design competition invites multidisciplinary teams to propose design solutions for moving traffic, pedestrians, bikes, and buses safely at this contested crossroads. Spectators are invited to watch the presentations and jury comments, followed by the announcement of a winner and a celebration.

Presented with New Design High School


Embark/Disembark: The Urban Mobility Variety Show at Figment NYC
Saturday, June 23, 2–3pm
Figment NYC- Colonel’s Row, Governors Island

Take to the water as our Variety Show lands on Governors Island as part of Figment NYC. This afternoon mix of provocative and compelling performances puts participants front and center as our performers interpret the notion of “getting around the changing city” through interactive dance, music and performance events.

Presented with FIGMENT NYC


These programs are made possible through our Program Leadership Council, co-chaired by Andy Bernheimer (Bernheimer Architecture), Katherine Chia (Desai Chia Architecture), Sara Grant (Murphy Burnham and Buttrick Architects), Matthew Moss (Think Construction), and Joel Sanders (Joel Sanders Architect).

Thank you to council members Ramona Albert, Elliot Berkowitz, Jennifer Bolstad, Matthew Bremer, Chip Brian, David Briggs, Jerry Caldari, Philipp von Dalwig, Koray Duman, Kevin Erickson, Lisa Frazar, Jared Gilbert, Chris Hughes, Scott Hughes, Andrew Kotchen, Drew Lang, Amy Lau, David Leven, Gareth Mahon, Michael Manfredi, Philippe Meyersohn, Ted Porter, James Ramsey, Suchi Reddy, Juergen Riehm, Carol Swedlow, Michael Szivos, Kyle Twitchell, Jonce Walker, Marion Weiss, and Stephen Yablon.

The Van Alen Spring Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. FLOW! Getting Around the Changing City is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.