Friday, April 1, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week Five Pedestrians Awarded Compensation from Mobile Phone Companies for injuries they sustained at the hands (or should I say, vehicles?) of distracted drivers. The move encouraged legislators in New York and Texas to introduce bills that would impose Mandatory Loss of Cell Phone Privileges on drivers convicted of talking or texting while on the road.

In other good news, congress is moving forward with Changes to Federal Transportation Funding Regulations that favor pedestrian travel over highway improvements and high-speed rail projects. Perhaps inspired by their federal counterparts, Wisconsin's state assembly voted to Increase Gas Taxes to Pay for Sidewalks throughout the state.

Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles Caltrans has announced plans for a Temporary 405 Closure, a la cicLAvia, allowing locals to enjoy the iconic freeway on foot or pedal. The San Diego and Ventura district offices are considering similar plans for the 5 and the 101 within their jurisdictions.

Outside of the US, pedestrians in Mumbai, India have staged an Encroachment Sting Operation with the help of local officials, forcing businesses and vendors to clean up their sidewalks and remove barriers to pedestrian travel. The work has inspired similar efforts in other cities throughout the country.

Back home, one small town in Idaho is considering Ordinance Changes to Remove the Word Jaywalking from its traffic code, in recognition of the concept that streets belong to more than just vehicles. Similarly, in Canada, Vancouver and Victoria move to Eliminate Fines for Crossing Outside Crosswalks. These types of changing attitudes could explain why in Arizona, Police Blame Motorist for a nighttime crash involving two pedestrians. 

Finally, in a heartening story out of South Carolina, one city declares April 1 Pedestrian Appreciation Day. To celebrate, major streets around the city center will be closed to vehicle traffic, neighborhood groups will participate in various "street beautification" activities, and the mayor will lead a group of students on a Safe Routes to School walk audit of the local elementary school.

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