Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cool Pedestrian Stuff #1: PedFlags

These little guys caught my eye on a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest--a region that tends to get dreamy-eyed and giggly at the mere mention of alternative transportation modes.

I thought they were a new innovation, but it turns out that the City of Kirkland's PedFlag program has been in place since a series of pedestrian fatalities in 1994 led the city to bump up its efforts to address pedestrian safety.

After a group of rogue pedestrian advocates set up their own version in a Seattle suburb, the Seattle Department of Transportation implemented a one-year pilot program to test out the idea themselves. SDOT plans to decide this fall whether or not to continue the program.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Pedestrian Blog? That's so...pedestrian.

I'll admit that walking isn't the most glamorous mode of transportation out there. Compare a sneaker to a maglev train, or a lear jet, or even one of those goofy segways: it just doesn't have that much caché. But to quote Enrique Peñalosa, one of my favorite ped activists (and a pretty snazzy politician to boot),

"God made us walking animals — pedestrians. As a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to survive, but to be happy."

The problem is that the way we've built our cities and transportation systems generally makes walking a very unhappy activity. Our streets are dangerous, polluted, congested, and just plain ugly. And on top of it all, there's rarely a place for the poor, persecuted pedestrian to walk to.

But this blog is going to change all that.

Okay, maybe my eyes are a little too big for my flip-flops. After all, this is "Where the Sidewalk Starts" not "Where the Sidewalk is In Place Along All Major Streets and is Connected By Thoroughly Signed and Marked Crosswalks With the Occasional Median Refuge Thrown In As Appropriate." But as they say, every great journey begins with a single step (love those walking cliches!). Consider this step one.