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Lessons from Colombia

30 Dec
Sound track included. Press play on the vid to start the cumbia and check out my trip.
        1. Bogotá
        2. Ondrae
          SFO – BOG (@ San Francisco International Airport (SFO) w/ 139 others) 4sq.com/ShRLcd
        3. hackyourcity
          Bogota also has a sprawling Bus Rapid transit system. The @TransMilenio has triple-articulated busses, dedicated lanes, and is crazy packed.
        4. Bike lanes on all the sidewalks. You have to ride reaaaal slow though. Most accidents are from people walking in front of bikes. Not sure if I like it.
        5. La Ciclovia! I wrote about this back when. Got to check it off the bucket list.
        6. hackyourcity
          Every Sunday, for fourty years, Bogota shuts down most of major roads for families to bike, skate, dance, and run. Its the @ciclorecreovia
        7. hackyourcity
          Bogota’s Ciclovia was hugely influential in the United States in recent years as dozens of cities started their own. hackyourcity.com/2010/10/01…
        8. Separated bike lanes in the middle of dedicated bus rapid transit lanes in between a boulevard that’s closed to traffic for the day so families can run and bike together. What’s your city doing?
Tons of families biking, skating, and running.

Tons of families and every block where employees of the Ciclovia directing traffic.

Free Zumba in Parque de Simon Bolivar.

Free Zumba in Parque de Simon Bolivar.

Historic architecture sprinkled all over.

Historic architecture sprinkled all over.

And around every corner were really chill neighborhood parks.

And around every corner were really chill neighborhood parks.

They started making parts of the Ciclovia routes permanent.

They started making parts of the Ciclovia routes permanent.

Got to meet Bogota's most up street artist. He was hired to paint all the dividers on the Ciclovia.He gave me a stash of stickers and posters. Cool guy. http://www.flickr.com/photos/juegasiempre/

Got to meet Bogota’s most up street artist. DJ LU. He was hired to paint all the dividers on the Ciclovia.
He gave me a stash of stickers and posters. Cool guy.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/juegasiempre/

        1. Medellín
        2. hackyourcity
          The second biggest city, Medellin is warm, gorgeous, and full of beautiful folks. It was super dangerous back when, but fun and safe now.
Big Medellin

Big Medellin

Bandeja paisas is a common dish from Medellin, Colombia. The food from that part of the country is what's known around the world as Colombian food.  We got rice, red beans, an egg, platanos, a small arepa, aguacate, hella chicarones, chorizo, and some other meat too.

Bandeja paisas is a common dish from Medellin, Colombia. The food from that part of the country is what’s known around the world as Colombian food.
We got rice, red beans, an egg, platanos, a small arepa, aguacate, hella chicarones, chorizo, and some other meat too.

    1. hackyourcity
      The @MetroMedellin runs fast, clean, and dependable. Packed full of jerseys right after a football game gets out.
    2. Cable Car over Medellín. It’s part of the public transportation, transfer off the trai @ Metro Cable Linea K http://instagr.am/p/SosdzoskXt/
    3. hackyourcity
      Visited the @Rise_group at EAFIT University. Nice campus. Showed them the new new in map making. They taught me cutting edge spatial maths.
    4. hackyourcity
      Had beers with EAFIT people, went to look at the famous Medellin Christmas lights at the river. instagram.com/p/SmrpmWskal/
    5. So, uh, 18 million Christmas lights were just turned on tonight in Medellín. http://instagr.am/p/SmrpmWskal/
    6. Medellín lights up with a different theme every year. This time is Los Arboles. @ Medellín http://instagr.am/p/Smr9Q6Mkas/
    7. They turned the light on a week early because Madonna is playing tonight at the football stadium. http://instagr.am/p/Sms6t_MkbB/
    8. Went to a raw graffiti, bboy battle up in the hillside neighborhoods.
    9. Bboy battle at a street hip-hop fest in Medellín, Colombia. @ Bulevar de Castilla (La 68) http://instagr.am/p/Swr5BPskcy/
    10. The winning piece from the Spray a la Mano battle up in Castilla. #bigupfest @ Bulevar de Castilla (La 68) http://instagr.am/p/SwsT_WMkdI/
    11. Tons of families crowded the street for the battle. Some local famous writers were judging the rookies.
Barefoot Park. You start by taking your shoes off then meander through the bamboo forest.

Barefoot Park. You start by taking your shoes off then meander through the bamboo forest.

Then, eyes closed, you feel your way through the maze.

Then, eyes closed, you feel your way through the maze.

After massaging your feet in the sand, you can wash them off in these sitting pools.

After massaging your feet in the sand, you can wash them off in these sitting pools.

A really tall afro-caribbean guy stepped out of the little door moments later.

A really tall afro-caribbean guy stepped out of the little door moments later.

Sunset on the old colonial wall.

Sunset on the old colonial wall.

Finished my trip in the paradise of Parque Tayrona.

Finished my trip in the paradise of Parque Tayrona.

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The Story of San Francisco’s Sunday Streets

1 Oct

Photo by Sirgious

San Francisco’s Sunday Streets are an awesome event where the City shuts down major roads to car traffic and invites thousands of people to come play in the street. From bikers to rollerskaters to strollers, rolling down the middle of the street is an experience because of how different it feels there with the cars gone. You begin to imagine what it would be like if your neighborhood was always like this, with old folks and young out playing, feeling good and safe, smiles on every face.

“Slowly it dawns on them that they can use the main drive and the roads. For once the world does not belong to the automobile. The bicycle is king again and the rider may go where fancy dictates without looking nervously over his shoulder. You are even allowed, for a few unrealistic minutes, to reflect on how pleasant life would be if the car were banned from San Francisco.” Herb Caen, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/28/73

All the local stores set up booths outside selling neighborhood delicacies. They say Sunday Streets is their best day of business. San Francisco’s Sunday Streets has an interesting history though, it came to be during a time of animosity towards biking in the city.  In 2006, the SF Bike Coalition was trying to get riders some car free roads to play on in Golden Gate park on the weekends. There was opposition from the new de Young museum that didn’t want any shortage of parking. Mayor Gavin Newsom sided with the drivers and insistently blocked the car-free streets idea in the park. It took a lot of organizing and support from the Board of Supervisors to finally get the first Healthy Saturday approved, and even then it was only a very small stretch of closed streets in the park. Also, our city wide bicycle plan was bogged down in an expensive lawsuit. Every obstacle stood in the way of bringing clean and healthy transportation options to San Francisco. Then something interesting happened.

The story of Sunday Streets begins a long time ago, far far away. The idea of closing down streets for the primary purpose of bicycling begins in 1976 in Bogotá, Colombia with their now world famous Ciclovias, a weekly event where the City closes 70 miles of streets to cars and encourages everyone to come outside and play.

The amazing StreetsBlog and StreetsFilm crew went to visit Bogotá. The video above was made, along with a full length version, and it became viral in the advocate community. Eventually it was shown at the US Conference of Mayors, and they freaked out. Every city in the country began racing to be the first to host a Ciclovia. Mayor Newsom flipped his whole script and gave official City support to the crew who were starting up the Ciclovia here in SF. Where before we were fighting for every inch of bike lane, we now had national support for car free streets.

In 2010, San Francisco held nine Sunday Streets and all them are a blast. Most major cities around the world are now hosting Ciclovias as well. All it took was a well made video and and good idea to change the world. Hack Your City officially salutes the StreetsBlog crew and the visionaries in Bogotá. San Francisco’s Sunday Streets are currently part of the DIY Urbanism exhibit on display at SPUR right now. If you are one of the four readers of Hack Your City, you need to go check it out.

DJ Kool Herc

19 Jun

Dj Kool HercHe was a young Jamaican American and he just wanted to throw a party. His uncle had given him the best sound system in the neighborhood, yet he had no venue to play at and he was broke. What Kool Herc chose to do could have been done anywhere, but because it happened in New York, he forever changed the world.

Kool Herc brought the party to the people and set up his sound in the streets.


“To accommodate larger crowds, Herc moved his parties further up Sedgwick Avenue into Cedar Park. He had seen construction workers hooking up power by tapping the light posts, and so he started doing the same. “I had a big Macintosh amp. That thing cost a lot of money and pumped a lot of juice. It was 300 watts per channel. As the juice started coming, man, the lights start dimming …  The results shocked the borough.” Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, pg 78,  by Jeff Chang.


“At dusk a van rolled up with Kool Herc and his crew. His boys dragged a couple of portable tables into the schoolyard through a hole in the fence, while Herc unscrewed a plate in the base of a light pole and hooked a heavy industrial extension cord into an outlet inside. Soon crates of records, large speaker cabinets, and Dj equipment were set up and Herc started getting busy. ” – Hip Hop America, pg 26, by George Nelson.

He hacked the city and fathered the global movement of hip-hop.

Kool Herc had that hacker mind state though, he was the first DJ to buy two of the same record and play the break over and over, turning a five second snippet into a five minutes of something brand new. He also custom built his sound to be louder than any of the other local djs in the Bronx. Yet the act of hacking into the city’s hidden innards and demanding that it serve him, a young black man from the Bronx ghetto in the 70’s, is why Kool DJ Herc is the godfather of Hack Your City.