Friday, January 21, 2011

This Week on Foot

Pedestrians and health advocates everywhere are groaning over statements this week from Governor's Highway Safety Association Director Barbara Hasha suggesting that Michell Obama's "Get Moving" campaign might actually be working--and the result is that Exercise, iPods could be causing pedestrian deaths. I won't dwell on the absurdity of this much, except to point out that 1) a single year's rise in pedestrian deaths is hardly a trend, so it's a bit early to begin pointing fingers, and 2) wouldn't rising vehicle miles traveled and rising rates of distracted driving be an equal (and more plausible) possibility? And as if American madness wasn't enough, there's the Road Madness in Ghana, we are all not safe.

No indeed we aren't, and there are efforts on many fronts to address that problem. In Canada City brass hope signs cut crossing confusion --they think a sign instructing "Wait for Gap" is easier for pedestrians to understand than "Pedestrians Yield to Vehicles"-- and in Glendale Plan clears path for cyclists and pedestrians. Meanwhile China TV shows grisly deaths as driving lessons and in Wisconsin UW Wants Pedestrians To Stop Walking In Street (here's a thought: maybe you shouldn't close the sidewalk then).

Elsewhere in the world pedestrians fight back--sometimes a bit too strongly, like the Suspect stabs man in pedestrian-rage incident.  But it's easy to understand where the anger comes from when in places like Toronto Sidewalk snowed under near Scarborough Town Centre and there's no snowplow in sight.

Finally this week, a note on vehicle safety. Grist explains that Smaller SUVs are safer than bigger ones, but walkability trumps all . It sure does.

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