Saturday, July 31, 2010

This Week on Foot

There has been plenty of good news on the pedestrian safety front this week. In Utah, HAWK signals aim to make Salt Lake City streets safer, while in Oregon Bandon youth build safe pathway for pedestrians and in Michigan the Legislature approves 'Complete Streets' plan to improve transportation for pedestrians and bicyclists. Perhaps all the initiative for ped safety is blowing over from the UK, where in Derby Cyclists in pedestrian zones face crackdown.

But it's not all bright and cheery out there. Even though the in Georgia a City wants downtown pedestrian-friendly, locals are thwarted in their efforts to install pedestrian safety improvements. As the article describes, the city council was, "...forced to deny a citizen's request to install pedestrian crossing signs around the Court Square because state law prohibits it." Sounds like Georgia could use the help of Peaton Man.

Then there was the Pedestrian struck and killed by car in Balboa Park while wearing headphones, a crash that's sure to fuel the debate over the dangers of distracted walking.

Another pedestrian debate is raging in Florida, where this week we learned about South Florida's sidewalk debate: To pave or not?. On the con side are those who argue that sidewalks,..."would attract all the traffic, dog-walking, people-walking and noise that they bring." I'll refrain from comment on that one, as anything I write is likely to be too snippy for this family-friendly blog.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Best Towns 2010

Here's how I know I'm getting to my husband: he's started spotting all the articles featuring pedestrian issues in his magazines.

This month it was Outside Magazine's list of the Best Towns of 2010, which picked the westside town of Boise, Idaho (runner-up: Carbondale, Colorado) and eastside Portland, Maine (runner up: Chattanooga, Tennessee) as the best hometowns for outdoor enthusiasts. I would have loved the list no matter what because it includes Port Townsend, Washington--birthplace of my forefathers and mothers and also home to Walkable Communities-- but I was especially pleased with the Outside editors for choosing cities based on whether or not you could "walk--not drive-- from your home, and in a few minutes later engage in the sport you love most."

I think that should be a top criteria for every city. Even if your favorite sport is shopping.

Port Townsend, WA

P.S. The editors did consider Ventura for the list...then rejected due to the high cost of living. Wry sigh.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pedestrians in Canada Take Back The Streets

My toes turned green with envy when I came across this article in the Vancouver Sun about Victoria, BC's move to decriminalize jaywalking in its central business district. Midblock crossings are currently prohibited downtown, but after years of efforts to pedestrianize the area's streets, lawmakers see no reason to keep pedestrians from crossing wherever they see fit ("provided they make reasonable choices," of course).

Granted, Canadian walkers already have a leg up (so to speak) when it comes to crossing the street. Unlike here in California, where midblock crossings are only allowed when at least one of the nearest intersections is unsignalized,* Canada's Motor Vehicle Act allows peds to cross anywhere between intersections as long as they yield to vehicles.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Week on Foot

The week has been full of ups and downs for pedestrian bridges -- literally, a Neb. pedestrian bridge full of kids dips in middle. Perhaps Nebraska needs to take a look at Oregon's pedestrian bridges, where a Pedestrian span garners another award for Salem.

Yes, things are dangerous out there for pedestrians. Why else would New York hire Crossing Guards To Help Adults Cross Perilous West Street ? (And, why doesn't the City look for more permanent improvements to the street?). 

Fortunately, in nearby in Hoboken, community members are Improving Pedestrian Safety, One Post-It At A Time, and across the world in Kuala Lumpur work has begun on a set of funky-looking paths that are expected to provide a Safer walk for pedestrians. Plus, Grand Rapids christens first official "complete street" for bikers, pedestrians and vehicles.

And it's not just adults who are getting involved in improving walkability. In the Canadian city of Tillonsburg the Day Camp Walkability Challenge promotes healthy, active living for local children. Kids who participate in the program are sent out on foot with walkability checklists in hand to evaluate community walking conditions are learn about pedestrian safety. The program is meant to help kids understand how people, "choose to get around in the community, and to appreciate the personal health and environmental benefits of walking as a means of transportation."

On a final note, this week we say a last goodbye to a walking fixture of LA's Silver Lake community:

Rest In Peace: Silver Lake Walking Man

Monday, July 19, 2010

Upcoming Walking Events

California Air Resources Board
Workshops on greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets -
Stop by and show your support for high targets and investment in pedestrian infrastructure:

LOS ANGELES--Tuesday, July 20 from 9am-12pm
Los Angeles Metro Building
Board Chambers-3rd Floor
One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, Ca 90012
SAN DIEGO--Wednesday, July 21 from 9am-12pm
San Diego County Administration Bldg
Board Chambers
1600 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92101
VENTURA--Friday, July 23 from 9am-12pm
Ventura County Govt. Ctr.
Board Chambers
800 S. Victoria Avenue
Ventura, Ca 93009

Designing for Pedestrian Safety
Free 8-part Webinar Series - Register here.
  • Part 1: Introduction to Pedestrian Safety Design and Planning Principles -Tuesday, July 20 at 11:30 a.m. PST
  • Part 2: Sidewalk Design - Tuesday, August 3 at 11:00 a.m. PST
  • Part 3: Treatments at Unsignalized Pedestrian Crossings - Tuesday, August 17 at 11:00 a.m. PST
  • Part 4: Intersection Geometry - Thursday, September 9 at 11:00 a.m. PST
  • Part 5: Interchanges and Roundabouts
  • Part 6: Signalized Intersections
  • Part 7: Pedestrians and Transit
  • Part 8: Road Diets
Comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Design and Planning Summer Workshop
August 16-20, 2010
Portland State University

From PSU: This week-long course will provide practitioners with the fundamentals of pedestrian and bicycle planning and design through an intensive week of interactive classroom and field experience. The course will integrate transit access and connections, bridges, trail crossings, and other special features into the discussion. Project case studies and funding will highlight practical applications of the principles and techniques discussed.
Additional information, and the registration form, here.

Pedestrian Crossing Primer

For those under the misimpression that crosswalks are just two white lines across the street,  check out this critter-inspired post from The City Fix for a thorough explanation of the myriad of crossing options available to pedestrians these days:

 Zebras, Puffins, Pelicans or Hawks for Pedestrians?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

This week on Foot

This week we're reminded again of how often motorists escape charges when they hit and kill pedestrians. In Pennslyvannia there No charges in fatal Shrewsbury pedestrian accident, police say, because the parked vehicles along the street made it difficult for the driver to see the pedestrian.

Then in Nevada, a Pedestrian in hit-and-run crash dies; no charges filed because the pedestrian was "likely at fault" and the motorist didn't know he had struck a pedestrian when he left the scene.

At least in the UK an Injured pedestrian to get damages over untrimmed bushes, and in Hawaii the Heat turned up on crosswalk-violating motorists.

It makes you understand why a Legally blind blogger working to improve pedestrian safety in Montgomery.

Maybe in LA matters will improve with a Pedestrian bridge would link Glendale to Griffith Park. We can only hope.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cool Ped Stuff # 8: Rate My Street

Rate My Street is a  UK-based site that allows users to rate their favorite (or least-favorite) stretch of street based on eight key factors (e.g. pavement width, trip hazards, clean/attractive). There's also a space to add a detailed description of street conditions or tips about nieghborhood character. Given the general dearth of data about pedestrian conditions in cities, this could be a really useful tool for planners as they try to understand and improve walkability:

Along the same lines, Car Free Chicago has put together a similar site for transit stops in the city:

Friday, July 9, 2010

This week on Foot

This week Tech firms aim to keep wayward walkers on path through a number of fancy innovations like see-through phone screens and phones that use built-in cameras to capture an image of the ground in front of the phone and place it on the screen for users to look at while they type. Unfortunately, no progress in creating a phone that forces walkers/drivers/bikers to stop texting/talking/websurfing and pay attention to the road.

At least there's Help for Pedestrians and Metro Stations in Dehli, where enhanced pedestrian facilities are expected to make transit use easier. Elsewhere in India, Parisar wants pedestrians to stand up for their rights . The NGO, which focuses on sustainable development, hopes their new study of pedestrian access in Pune will help convince authorities to develop a pedestrian policy for the city.

Pedestrians in Jamaica could use a similar policy, as Pedestrian deaths increase despite drop in traffic fatalities. Naturally, the authorities blame poor pedestrian behavior for this problem.

Of course, it could be worse. In Washington, the City of Everett makes kids walk to school to save money. Oh, the horror.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Upcoming Walking Events

Safe Routes to School SoCal Conference Call
July 13, Noon – 1pm
Conference Call Number: (218) 862-1001
Access Code: 1009315#, *6 mute/unmute

Highlights from the Agenda:
  • Overview of what the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and the Regional Transportation Plan
  • SB 375 and upcoming California Air Resource Board (ARB) workshops in Southern California and why it matters
  • So Cal SRTS Action Plan update and Action Teams
  • Spotlight on City of LA SRTS Encouragement Project
Balboa Park Walk
July 24, 9:00 am
Meet at 6th Ave. & Laurel St.
Cost: $20

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The (bleak) Future of Personal Transportation

The combination of reading this post from NYC Streetsblog about how pedestrian crashes are the top danger for kids in the Big Apple and this report on the future of personal transportation in the world's mega-cities (hint, the authors don't predict more foot travel) got me riled up for the umpteenth time about the dangers of pedestrian travel, particularly in the developing world. I've copied one of the report's tables that I find particularly distressing:

Likely changes in personal transportation in metropolitan areas by 2025

See all those little "++"s under road fatalities in Latin American and Asian countries? Those represent people dying, folks. And by "people," I mostly mean poor people, because that's the demographic that gets hit hardest--so to speak--by this trend. On top of it all, children, the elderly, and other particularly vulnerable road users are sure to be overrepresented in those statistics, since they are the ones most likely to be killed or injured in vehicle crashes.

All the more reason that the work of pedestrian advocacy groups like the Right To Walk Foundation in India and ABRASPE in Brazil is so important. Now if only we could get something started in Shanghai...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Perils of the Pedestrian Push Button

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about pedestrian push buttons. Okay, full disclosure? I’ve been thinking about pedestrian push buttons because a few weeks ago a police officer yelled at me for crossing against the “don’t walk” sign.

Yes, yes, I know this is bad behavior for a pedestrian advocate. But here’s the thing: I arrived at the intersection a mere second before the traffic light changed to green. Just as I reached for the button— *click* green light—and there I was stuck waiting through a full signal cycle, even though there was more than enough time for me to safely cross.

I feel there are other walkers out there who can empathize with this situation. They might even be asking, like me, “Why? WHY? must I push the crosswalk button every time or be stuck languishing at the edge of the sidewalk while the vehicles next to me whisk gleefully through the intersection?”

Friday, July 2, 2010

This Week on Foot

This week a new study provides yet more proof that driving too much is a pain in the butt: IBM Global Commuter Pain Study Reveals Traffic Crisis in Key International Cities. But the real pain? Unsuspecting pedestrians who keep getting hit by vehicles in unsuspected places. I suppose I can understand a Pedestrian struck by SUV, in critical condition, but when a Pedestrian in fair condition after hit-and-run in parking lot or a Car hits pedestrian on sidewalk--sheesh, is there nowhere safe for us walkers?

I guess it explains why Lagos Enforces Use Of Pedestrian Bridge--although if you read the description of bridge conditions, you understand why pedestrians are so reluctant to use it...

Well, at least there are More pedestrians in downtown Portland. Guess we can always count on Oregonians to do the right thing by walkers.

And there's at least one other positive bit of news on the walkability front. In the Atlantic's article Charting the Housing Collapse, we learn that homes in walkable neighborhoods have maintained their value better than those in areas where walking is not so easy.