Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week has been full of more buzzing about the recent study of the bike-ped relationship. As multiple sources point out, according to the Study: Pedestrians safer with more bikes on the street and
Local Data Confirm: NYC Bike-on-Ped Injuries Declined as Cycling Rates Rose . So, I guess it's no surprise that the Bike-Pedestrian Safety Study Draws Jabs.

Meanwhile in New York, A New Look Is Coming to Times Square: Minimalism, and  Audible Pedestrian Signals Debut At 25 NYC Intersections!

But it's not just New Yorkers thinking about pedestrian infrastructure. In Pennsylvania a Group wants to make Kennett Square more "walkable", and there's a Pedestrian bridge finished over Maine Turnpike.

Of course, here in LA it's the vehicle infrastructure people care about, as Protesters to Demand Their 'Apron' Parking Spots Back. Given the dangers pedestrians face here, like the Pedestrian struck by car and badly injured in El Monte or the Pedestrian Struck on PCH in Pacific Palisades, it's a shame cars are getting all the attention.

But in other parts of the country, pedestrians are getting their due, like in Oregon where a Report highlights bike, pedestrian activity in region, Baltimore where Pedestrian, bike safety issues are focus of efforts, and Philadelphia where AARP and the Mayor's Commission on Aging Partner to Make Philadelphia Streets More Walkable for the City's 50+ Population.

Unfortunately, similar efforts in Florida may not have been enough, as Traffic deaths drop in Florida, but pedestrian deaths climb. But across the ocean in Abu Dhabi Pedestrian deaths drop by a third, so at least there's some positive news out there--and speaking of positive stories, if you're looking for one, check out how this Pedestrian hit by train tells story of recovery.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cool Ped Stuff # 18: Elmer the Safety Elephant

Elmer the Safety Elephant’s Poem Look all ways
Before you cross the street.
Use your eyes and ears
Before you use your feet.

Courtesy of our friends to the north, Canada's Elmer the Safety Elephant teaches kids how to remain safe in all sorts of circumstances--including when walking to school, which is particularly important because coming up on October 5 is International Walk to School Day. I'll post some info about local activities, but check out the website if you'd like to see what your local school is up to next week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

More Walk Friendly Communities

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) has announced another set of Walk Friendly communities that are working to improve a wide range of conditions related to walking, including safety, mobility, access, and comfort. They include:

Gold Level
Chicago, IL
Minneapolis, MN
San Francisco, CA

Silver Level                                      
Alexandria, VA
Philadelphia, PA
Santa Monica, CA

Bronze Level                                     
Cary, NC
Corvallis, OR
Davidson, NC
Lee’s Summit, MO    

“We were very pleased to have a great mix of designated communities this round,” said Carl Sundstrom, WFC program manager. “Through the application process, communities share their best practices and, in turn, we’re able to share this information to all of the communities who apply through the technical assistance we provide.”

You can read more about the program and all the Walk Friendly communities on the Walk Friendly Communities website. Think your community deserves to be on this list? Applications open for the next round in November.

Oh, and of course I have to mention that to date, my hometown of Seattle, Washington, has been the only Platinum-level Walk Friendly Community awarded. Kudos to the Emerald City!        

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This Week on Foot

Just as we've been discussing the relationship between bikes and pedestrians, this week a Study looks at pedestrians hospitalized after bicycle crashes in New York State, and shows that the numbers are higher than previously suspected. But in Chicago, it's trains not bikes that are the problem and Suburban train crossings prove most deadly. And of course, here at home it's the vehicles, like the Angry driver allegedly runs down pedestrian in Redondo Beach.
At least in some places they're thinking about pedestrian safety and walkability, like in Lompoc where Safe walking routes focus of health summit, St. Louis where there's a Pedestrian 'lid' over highway on track for Arch improvements, or even outside the US where Pedestrian-friendly model roads mooted, a Pedestrian Safety Blitz Deemed a Success, and  Uruguay Street pedestrian nightlife area opens in Beirut.

Back in the US Ann Arbor police begin ticketing motorists who don't stop for pedestrians, but in Pittsburgh DU Police may begin ticketing negligent pedestrians. Fortunately elsewhere in Pennsylvania they're taking a brighter stance on walking, like in one small town where Tredyffrin sidewalk ordinance aims for a walkable community.

Speaking of small towns, this week the NRDC brings us news of How a small community is becoming greener - with help from some important friends. And in a slightly bigger community, Putnam Avenue Closed For New Pedestrian Plaza in New York...but Pedestrian Plazas Remain Magnet for Homeless at Night, Despite Outreach  , which some folks aren't too happy about.

In North Carolina it's distracted pedestrians they aren't happy about, as the N.C. DOT to pedestrians: don’t text and walk, and in Glendale one person doesn't seem happy about any pedestrians, as we learn in A note to Saint Pedestrian.

Finally, on a lighter note, one take on Pedestrian Art examines how ordinary objects on the street can make walking a little more interesting.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

War or Peace? Exploring the Relationship between Bikes and Peds

A recent question from a reader got me thinking once again about our friends on two wheels. I'll say up front that while I like and appreciate bikes--I have even been known to occasionally ride the one I own--I've always found it odd that they are inevitably grouped together with pedestrians. Given their widely differing demographics, trip lengths and purposes, and infrastructure needs, lumping cyclists with pedestrians strikes me as akin to calling submarines and spacecraft the same because both require users to travel with their own oxygen.

Nonetheless, it seems impossible for transportation policymakers to separate the two, and although there are some extraordinary partnerships between the modes (e.g. the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center), just as often we hear of intense conflicts as cyclists and pedestrians jostle for urban space. Are we really at war, as so many news articles claim? Let's examine the issues.

My observation is that when pedestrians complain about cyclists, they're most often grousing about illegal or inconsiderate behaviors: riding on sidewalks (where prohibited), riding too fast or in the wrong direction, or generally riding in ways that make pedestrians feel unsafe. (To be fair, cyclists could say the same about pedestrians).

While there are always going to be people who behave badly no matter what the circumstances,  a combination of enforcement and educational campaigns can help address these problems. This is an area where a partnership between cyclists and pedestrians can be particularly effective, as the two groups could work together to develop formal Codes of Conduct for both walkers and riders, lobbying for increased or clearer signage on shared paths, or create informational websites, signs, or brochures to help the public understand the expectations for all users.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Success! Sort of...

Thanks to your efforts, Senator Coburn temporarily softened his opposition to transportation enhancement funding and allowed federal surface transportation legislation to move forward...for now. But he's brokering a deal that will allow an "opt out" of those pesky enhancements like ped and bike projects as part of a future, long-term transportation bill. Read all about it on Streetsblog, and stay tuned for more calls to action.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

This Week on Foot

Disappointingly (though expected), this week Coburn Blocks Quick Senate Vote on Transportation Extension, leading to a reminder from T4America to Sen. Coburn: Cutting Bike/Ped Won’t Fix Oklahoma’s Problems. In fact, just the opposite, as we learn this week about how improving walking infrastructure is part of How to Build a Greener City, not to mention The suburb — in search of an identity. It's all about that Good Old Brand-New Urbanism.

And some places in the country get that. In Orlando a Project's goal: Make streets safer for pedestrians, Virginia promotes safety for cyclists, pedestrians, in Boston Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Day Returns to BU, and  Safe Kids Greater Chattanooga And FedEx Unveil Pedestrian Safety Improvements.

But it's not all rosy out there. In New York Two Manhattan Pedestrians Killed 24 Hours Apart, while in the ultimate irony a Pedestrian Horror: Woman Injured By Falling Walk Signal.

From walk signals to sidewalks, in Atlanta they're wondering Who Should Fix Our Broken Sidewalks? And sadly, in Chicago we learn that Suburban police write few tickets on crosswalk law

Perhaps its because the focus in that city is on the danger from bicycles, where a Cyclist Cell Phone Ban Mulled By Chicago City Council. And it's not just Chicago that's thinking about the relationship between cyclists and pedestrians. Across the ocean In city of cyclists, pedestrians feel the squeeze. Could we really be talking about The cyclists’ war on pedestrians?

Hopefully not, because pedestrians have enough to contend with from other quarters, like across the ocean where a Rhos-on-Sea pedestrian crossing hits stumbling block due to business owners' concerns about pedestrians interfering with parking. Because after all, it's the cars that do the shopping, not the people...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Upcoming Webinars

A bunch of interesting and (mostly) free webinars to up your pedestrian and transportation expertise.

September 20, 12:00 pm PT
2011 National Walking Survey Results

America Walks, the American Public Health Association, and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals have teamed up to present a free webinar on the National Walking Survey. Panelists will discuss the findings from the 7,000 who responded to the online survey and address the potential implications for advancing walking and health-related policies and programs. The webinar's capacity is limited, so register today here.

September 21, 12:00 pm PT
APBP Professional Development Webinar Series - ADA Compliance: Self-evaluation and Transition Plans

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been in place for over 20 years, many communities still struggle to understand the parameters of the obligation to make the public right of way accessible or have not established a comprehensive transition plan to address deficiencies. This webinar offers two examples of recent plans and the process through which they were developed. Representatives from Hennepin County, Minnesota, and Miami/Dade County, Florida, will present case studies from their communities; the session also includes a brief update from the U.S. Access Board on the updated accessibility guidelines and the proposed rule-making on shared use paths.

These examples will offer insight into common issues: the self-evaluation process, including methods of data collection and prioritizing projects; implementing, financing and documenting corrective measures; how to update policies and practices; and establishing a protocol for regular updates to the transition plan once it has been adopted.

Register here.

September 22, 10:00 am PT
Creating Pedestrian-Friendly Streets: A Short Walk Through Legal and Practical Issues

Join us for a webinar on key practical and legal considerations involved in creating pedestrian-friendly streets. You’ll also learn about policy tools that can make walkable streets the default in your community, including our new directory filled with examples of codes from communities across the country that make streets safer and more comfortable for pedestrians.

We’ll be joined by Scott Bricker from America Walks, who will offer success stories, challenges, and tips from communities nationwide. He’ll also present data from a recent national survey on walking habits and talk about how this information can be used in advocacy campaigns.

Register here.
October 12, 11:00 am PT
Public Involvementin the Transportation Planning Process―Webinar

The National Center on Senior Transportation will partner with Easter Seals Project ACTION to present a webinar on Public Involvement in the Transportation Planning Process. This event is designed for transportation advocates who want to come to the table better informed and prepared better informed and prepared to offer input that will be heard, understood and incorporated into their regional transportation plans.

Register by October 7 here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Action Alert from America Walks

Those of you who have been less distracted by poopy diapers than me have probably been following the debate over the extension of federal transportation funding closely, but just in case you haven't here's an important request from America Walks to show your support for ped and bike funding ASAP. If I can find time to do it, so can you!

Save Transportation Enhancements in the Transportation ExtensionContact Your Senators Today to Preserve Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding

This year, around $700 million of Federal transportation funds, which is less than 2 percent of total transportation dollars, will be spent on bicycling and walking.  In 2012 that figure could be a big fat zero if Senator Coburn (R-OK) gets his way.

In the next few days, Senator Coburn (R-OK) is expected to try and hold up the extension of the SAFETEA-LU transportation bill unless Congress eliminates funding for the federal Transportation Enhancements (TE) program.  For twenty years, Transportation Enhancements has been the primary funding source for sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, trails and more.

Sen. Coburn is threatening to let tens of billions of transportation spending expire after September 30 (the current expiration of SAFETEA-LU) over the small amount that bicycling and walking receives.  If Sen. Coburn were to succeed, it would mean an immediate end to funding for Transportation Enhancements.  It would also mean that our chances of sustaining any funding for bicycling and walking (including for Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails) in the long-term reauthorization bill would be more difficult.

Members of Congress who oppose bicycling and walking funding are saying that these projects are “job-killing regulations.”  But, bicycle and pedestrian projects create more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects.  And, bicycle and pedestrian projects help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety, get people active, and give us all more transportation options.

Please take two minutes to contact your Senators today to urge them to vote against the Coburn amendment and sustain dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements.  Don’t let them take away this vital investment program for smart, sustainable, safe transportation choices.

Thank you for your action. With your help, we can preserve funding for bicycling and walking in the extension and put us in a better position for the long-term transportation bill.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cool Ped Stuff # 17: The Pedestrian Jar

The Pedestrian Jar - Teaser from pedestrian jar on Vimeo.

This official selection from this year's Toronto International Film Festival was made in response to a recent uptick in pedestrian fatalities in the Toronto, leading director Evan Morgan to wonder, "What can be done to create more awareness of the relations between pedestrians and cars?"

The film is intended to be the first of a series addressing varying perspectives on roadway safety, including the role that pedestrians and cyclists must play in keeping themselves safe in a dangerous setting.

As Mr. Morgan explains, "...whether or not drivers are able to recognize their unfortunate tendencies within the context of this narrative, it doesn't mean that the message will easily translate into practical experience. What I mean is that they'll still likely be overly preoccupied with 'making that right turn', and perhaps fail to acknowledge a pedestrian every now and again.

I think that the value of the movie's message is actually for the pedestrians themselves, who perhaps have learned to take drivers for granted - as though cars will immediately stop for them the second they step out onto the road.

We have to remember that these vehicles are not robots, but are being operated by human beings, who can easily space out or become distracted for any number of reasons. I think the movie's criticism of drivers is relevant in so far as it reminds us to be more vigilant when navigating our city on foot."

In other words, yet more evidence that our streets would be better if only cars WERE robots that drove themselves. But that's a different post...

Friday, September 9, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week our friends down south are making great strides towards pedestrian friendliness, as Bolivia bans cars for 'Day of the Pedestrian'. Yet other parts of the world aren't so promising. In Toronto, there's a Scramble intersection under city scrutiny, and Cyclists defend using sidewalk where pedestrian was struck and killed. But the quest for walkability carries on. In Vancouver the Public pushes for a pedestrian zone, and in India a study shows us that Rajkot, Surat need dedicated pedestrian space.

Closer to home there's much talk about Reese Witherspoon’s Accident: Are Pedestrians Really In Growing Danger. The definitely are, at least in Montana where Friends, neighbors remember bicycle-pedestrian advocate who died in crash.

Meanwhile, over at Streetsblog they're wondering, With a Growing Effort Toward Safe Routes to Schools, Why Not Safe Routes to Universities? It's a good question, given that here in California a Safe routes to school equity bill signed into law, while in Minnesota State schools nab $3.8M windfall for sidewalks
Elsewhere in the country, Fairhope pedestrian safety project teaches civics lesson--one that perhaps they haven't learned in Maryland, where Montgomery police pledge to step up ticketing of jaywalkers, in contrast to Utah, where Park City's walkable vision ahead of planning curve.

Finally, From the archive, 8 September 1921: Right or Left? Pedestrians need to be told how to walk properly along those things "Americans call sidewalks."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Volunteers Needed for LA Bike and Ped Count

An urgent request from the LA Bicycle Coalition:

We are conducting our 2nd bike and pedestrian count in the City of Los Angeles next week over two days. Tuesday, Sept 13th from 7 to 9am and 4 to 6pm and on Saturday, Sept 17th from 11 to 1pm. We still have a ton of locations all across the City of Los Angeles that need your help and the help of your friends & neighbors.

If you could sign-up to volunteer, just for one of the count times it will make a tremendous impact towards the collecting this vital active transportation data. What isn't counted is not funded, and currently the City of Los Angeles and LA County in general are lagging in collecting data on bicycles and pedestrians.

This count is our opportunity to get out there and make sure we are counted. So whether you ride a bike or walk to transit, this count is being held to count YOU!

So please help us make this count possible by signing up to count today. More information can be found here. Login here and see the locations, dates and times available and sign-up today!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Upcoming Walking Events

September 16 12:00-1:00 PM (PT)
Visioning San Diego Lunch Forum

WalkSanDiego will feature Elyse Lowe, Executive Director of Move San Diego, as the guest speaker for its next Visioning San Diego Lunch Forum on September 16, 2011. Ms. Lowe will announce the beginning of The MOVE Alliance, a new program recently formed by her organization to review, recognize and endorse well designed development projects in the San Diego region that enhance residents’ transportation options and provide for more sustainable growth.

Lunch: $5.00 in advance, $7.00 at door
RSVP here by 9/14/11

September 20 10:00 AM (PT)
Safe Routes Webinar: Creating BUZZ Around Your SRTS Event
Each year students from schools in more than 40 countries join together to celebrate walking and bicycling during Walk to School Month in October. Organizing your students for Walk to School Day (WTS) or another walking event is a great way to invigorate an existing Safe Routes to School program or kick off a new one. This webinar will highlight a unique and fun WTS event and provide tips on how to get the word out, involve media, and bring attention to your WTS activities.

For more information please contact Michelle Gulley

September 27, 11:00 AM (PT)FHWA Webinar Series: Designing for Pedestrian Safety Webinars

Part 5: Signalized Intersections
Presented by Michael Moule, President, Livable Streets, Inc.
and Fred Ranck, FHWA Resource Center Safety Design Engineer
Register at View the Recording here

The Ins and Outs of In-Roadway Flashing Lights

Photo courtesy of Streetswiki

Driving through Santa Monica over the long weekend we encountered a pedestrian waiting at one of these--and a dilemma. Being the well-trained pedestrian-advocate's partner that he is, my husband slowed to stop for the pedestrian--just as the vehicle next to us sped up to catch the green light at the next intersection.

It got me thinking about the safety of in-roadway flashing lights, and the danger of crossing multi-lane roads. First, some info on the lights: they're a relatively new technology (the first was installed in Santa Rosa in 1993), and because of this we don't have a lot of good data on their long-term effectiveness. However, the folks at the PBIC have put together a useful summary of the available research. Some key points:
  • Some improvement in yielding to pedestrians has shown at most locations where in-roadway flashing lights have been installed, but it is not always dramatic or consistent across all conditions.
  • The effect of in-roadway flashing lights on vehicle speed is unclear. Some studies showed a reduction in vehicle speeds following treatment installation, while others showed no reduction or mixed results.
  • The two studies of in-roadway flashing lights at multi-lane roads also produced inconsistent results in terms of whether or not the treatment improves yielding to pedestrians, leading the PBIC to recommend that "caution should be exercised, and perhaps additional treatments implemented if [an in-roadway warning light system] is considered for uncontrolled crosswalks at multi-lane locations."

Friday, September 2, 2011

This Week on Foot

As summer ends and the school year ramps up, this week we're offered Back to School Red Light Safety Tips for Millions of Pedestrians, Cyclists and Motorists and urged to Keep an eye out for pedestrians. And it's not just about the kids: an AARP forum urges steps to improve pedestrian safety for another vulnerable population, the elderly. 
Of course, some jurisdictions are being more proactive with regard to pedestrian safety. Pleasant Hill addresses pedestrian safety with crosswalk signs, while in Tennessee Decatur Gets $261,541 Grant For Pedestrian Bicycle Project and in Missouri a City receives extra $5.9 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements. At the advice of walking expert Dan Burden Casper tries new street parking in Wyoming, and in Kansas the Douglas plan is a nod to street's past (that is, its more walkable past). Even Houston Is On The Way to Becoming A More Walkable Urban Destination.

In less positive news, we learn that As the Motor City, metro Detroit dangerous for pedestrians; limited sidewalks a problem--however one commenter suggests we Protect Pedestrians by Removing the Sidewalks and using woonerfs instead.

Either wayMotorists urged to go slow at pedestrian crossings, in part due to the new challenge of pedestrians distracted by mobile devices. On that topic, this week we learned that Listening to music more distracting than using a mobile phone (at least for pedestrians).

Of course, even more dangerous for pedestrians is excessive drinking...particularly when it results in passing out in the road. Towards that end: Don't drink and lie, police warn pedestrians. Also beware your footwear. According to Police: Flip-Flops Blamed In Pedestrian Crash in Boulder, Colorado.