Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pedestrians of the Future

This great find from the blog Paleo-Future provides a fascinating look at what people at the turn of the 20th century predicted (or maybe just hoped) would happen over the next 100 years in the fields of energy, education, linguistics, transportation, and many others. It's good for a laugh, although some of the guesses are remarkable prescient. A preview of the pedestrian-related predictions:

There will be no street cars in our large cities
Transit advocates might cringe at this one, but the point was to place noisy, high-speed vehicle traffic above- or below-ground, separating it from the pedestrian-oriented streets at ground-level. It's an idea that's been floated before, notably by Da Vinci in the late 1400s.

Automobiles will be cheaper than horses
True...until you factor in the external costs of cars and private vehicle travel, including the costs of all those pedestrian injuries and deaths.

And my personal favorite:

Everyone will walk ten miles
"A man or a woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling." Health advocates, rejoice.

Friday, May 27, 2011

This week on foot

In honor of our trip to the Pacific Northwest this week, I'll start out with some news from around the region. First,  King County and Renton Partner for Improved Sidewalks, Walkability in West Hill Neighborhood . Elsewhere in the area, Seattle to build at $10M bicycle-pedestrian overpass.

Meanwhile, Transportation for America's Dangerous by Design update is the top story around the country. A sampling of coverage from across the nation: Minority Pedestrians Disproportionately Killed in California Accidents, Report: Detroit Among Most Dangerous for Pedestrians  , and Dangerous Crossings: a low ranking for pedestrian safety gets some attention. And in case you were wondering about pedestrian statistics outside the US, Toronto has one of Canada's highest rate of car collisions with bikes, pedestrians 

But all the attention pedestrians are getting hasn't changed everyone's attitude. For instance, Here's the Chinatown Intersection Where NIMBYs Killed a Pedestrian Overhaul in New York, and in Canada a manager insists Bus-pedestrian collision isn't a sign of a larger problem.

Maybe that's true in Canada, but in Maryland Few places to cross safely has pedestrians taking risks, and across the ocean in Wales, a Pontypridd Family Fears Pedestrian Crossing is a "Death Trap" . In Armenia pedestrians are taking matters into their own hands, with a Let Everyone Use Pedestrian Crossings Flash Mob to be Held in Yerevan, while As America Ages, a Push to Make Streets Safer. 
Even in Tennessee a Green Hills mom wants drivers to stop for crosswalk. One strategy she shouldn't try are the Little. Yellow. Dangerous. "Children at Play Signs" imperil our kids

In Los Angeles, there are other perils:  Thieves leave Elysian Valley bikers and walkers in the dark.
And elsewhere,  Honest John Risks His Life to Verify New Ford Focus Pedestrian Safety System 
Hopefully technologies like these will make things safe at the The world's biggest, busiest pedestrian crossing?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let Congress know that you support Complete Streets

The National Complete Streets Coalition is gathering support for H.R. 1780, the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 5 by Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH).  It directs state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to write and adopt Complete Streets policies. H.R. 1780 supports the work of over 200 Complete Streets policies at the local, MPO and state level by ensuring a comprehensive approach across jurisdictions for safe streets for all, regardless of age, ability, or chosen mode of travel.

You can use this easy online tool to send a message to your representatives showing your support for HR 1780. It only takes a minute, I promise!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dangerous by Design 2011

The transportation world is buzzing about Transportation for America's newly-released update to Dangerous by Design, which ranks the country's large metro areas according to their "pedestrian danger index." Florida tops the list, with Orlando in first place, followed by Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami. Although Riverside comes in at number five, Southern California is happily underrepresented in the top 10...but don't go throwing away your personal pedestrian flags quite yet. Los Angeles is still ranked number 27, followed closely by San Diego.

The Transportation for America explains, the many dangers pedestrians face on our roadways work against efforts to improve American health by encouraging physical activity. As the report so morbidly puts it, "Americans get to pick their poison: less exercise and poor health, or walking on roads where more than 47,000 people have died in the last ten years." You can read the full report on the Transportation for America site here.
And if you're looking for some solutions to all the pedestrian problems the Dangerous by Design brings up, WalkSanDiego offers an antidote: Safe For All: 2011 Street Design Benchmark Study for the San Diego Region.

Monday, May 23, 2011

European Crossing Laws

A few months ago I posted about my experience walking in Munich, and my amazement at how drivers always stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the street. Turns out there's a strong legal incentive for that behavior in Germany, as well as in many other countries throughout Europe. With thanks to the folks on the America Walks listserve, here is a brief description of how pedestrian crossing laws in several European countries:

"At pedestrian crossings, vehicles other than railway vehicles must allow pedestrians and wheelchair users who visibly want to cross to use the crossing."(Highway Code 26) 

"Motor vehicle operators must yield to pedestrians and wheelchair users who are crossing at a zebra crossing or who appear to be about to do so."(Article 49, paragraph 2 of the Traffic Rules (RVV))

"Every motorist is obligated to yield, stopping if necessary, to a pedestrian regularly engaged in crossing a street or clearly manifesting the intention to do so ...." (This language was added in 2010, part of decree 2010-1390, Article 17)

Friday, May 20, 2011

This week on foot

This week we open with an important question: Can This Creepy Graphic Keep Drivers From Killing Pedestrians?

Speaking of creepy, did you know that in India Fergusson College road is 'dread zone' for pedestrians ? Or that Pedestrians risk lives on Nigdi to Dapodi ? Scary stuff, though probably not as scary as this 'Lucky escape' after pedestrian trapped under car

On a less terrifying note, in Ottawa a Series of projects aim to improve pedestrian safety ...but elsewhere in the country Pedestrian power has yet to exert itself at Vancouver City Hall.

Pedestrians are showing their power in other places though, like in Alaska where Fairbanks transportation planners seek input from pedestrians, bicyclists . Or in Maryland where a Maryland woman sentenced for fatally striking pedestrian. 

Meanwhile, officials offer up this important Health Tip: Remind Children and Teens of Pedestrian Safety. And do you know what else is healthy? Eating. So lucky for all of us that in New York there's Food Coming to Chelsea Plaza . While you're there you can expand your mind (as well as your belly) by checking out the City Fix's latest Research Recap, May 16: Walkable Streets, Urban Development Technologies, Car-to-Car Communications.


Big Parade This Weekend

Angelenos, it's time again for the Big Parade! For those of you unfamiliar with the event, the Big Parade is a two-day community walk founded by stairway enthusiastic Dan Koeppel. This year's route takes walkers through Los Angeles, beginning downtown at the Angel's Flight Stairway and ending at the Hollywood Sign above Beachwood Canyon. (Day one ends/Day two begins at the Music Box Stairs in Silverlake.)

There will also be a prologue walk on Friday, May 20, led by Bob Inman, covering the stairways between Eagle Rock and downtown.

Get a detailed schedule, with routes, timetables, and info about movie night on the website.
Photo courtesy the appropriately-named Alyssa Walker

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge

I'd like to encourage all the bikers out there to join Clif Bar's second annual 2 Mile Challenge. Participants join an organization's "team" and log their bike miles, earning points for their team. At the end of the competition in October, the organizations earn grants based on their team members' mileage. Even though the challenge part of this event focuses on biking, two of the beneficiaries (the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership) work on pedestrian issues as well--so if you're a pedaler as well as a ped, pick your favorite advocacy organization and start riding.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pedestrian Research Rundown

Hmm, perhaps that wasn't the best choice of titles for a pedestrian blog. At any rate, here's a summary of some of the latest in pedestrian research, for the academically (or not-so-academically) inclined:

Cost-Driven Injury Prevention: Creating an Innovative Plan to Save Lives With Limited Resources
Pedestrian injury costs $20 billion annually. Countermeasures such as blinking crosswalks can be expensive, but expectedly vital to injury prevention efforts. In this study, the researchers aimed to create a new framework of cost-driven surveillance using a detailed analysis of hospital costs and their relationship to location of pedestrian injury. Targeting identified “high cost areas” with effective countermeasures could save lives and be most cost-effective.

The researchers conducted an analysis of billing records of 694 auto versus pedestrian victims treated in San Francisco in 2004. Ninety percent of victims resided in San Francisco, and of 11 city districts, three districts accounted for almost 50% of the total cost.The total cost of injury was $9.8 million, 76 percent of which was publicly funded. Thirty-one percent of victims were admitted, and cost of their care accounted for 76% of the total cost.

Conclusions: These findings provide a roadmap to target costly hot spots for preventive countermeasures. In a climate of limited resources, this kind of roadmap highlights the areas that could most benefit from countermeasures from both an injury prevention and cost-containment standpoint. Cost-driven surveillance is useful in city strategic planning for cost-effective and life-saving pedestrian injury prevention.

Evaluation of Lane Reduction "Road Diet" Measures on Crashes
While potential crash-related benefits are cited by road diet advocates, there has been limited research concerning such benefits. This brief from the the FHWA summarizes a recent reanalysis of studies in Washington, California, and Iowa to compile crash data and gain a better understanding of the impact that road diets can have on crash rates.

Monday, May 9, 2011

America Walks Wants Your Opinion

America Walks has created a survey to help gather better information about walking habits throughout the country. The survey is open until June 3--but why not do it now? Here are all the details from America Walks:

Help America Walks and its partner organizations learn more about who walks, and why we walk. This survey will take only 5 minutes to complete and results are anonymous.

The National Walking Survey will help walking advocates understand what motivates avid walkers and what prevents others from walking more. The difference between those who are "avid walkers" and the more "reluctant walkers" is not well studied. How effective is encouragement from relatives, health professionals, employers, others? What can we learn about the messages that actually get someone afoot and those that don't? When someone has a choice of walking or not, is a dog or human companion the motivator to take the trip on foot? How crucial are factors like destinations within walking distance, pleasant and safe surroundings? Or is the difference between those who walk more and less a matter of available time or other demographics? The National Walking Survey is a start in answering these crucial questions. Take the survey; share the National Walking Survey!

When the data is analyzed, America Walks will publish what we've learned so all walking advocates can be more targeted in their work to promote walking in America.

Friday, May 6, 2011

This Week on Foot

It's been quite the positive week here in the world of walking, with lots of new projects and plans to address some of our most challenging pedestrian problems. Starting here in the Southern California region, a New Livable Streets Group Rises in Alhambra, in ENCINITAS: Pedestrian rail tunnel plans OK'd and nearby a New fence beautifies Chollas Creek, enhances walkability.

Meanwhile in Santa Monica they're trying to address pedestrian Safety at farmers market: Heavy-duty nets to protect pedestrians at Santa Monica Farmers Market, and Construction to Begin on Pedestrian-Friendly Alley in Hollywood.

Further north, a Bay Area Plan Would Turn Fisherman's Wharf Into a Pedestrian's Paradise, and in San Jose the New Bethel Island Bridge Wider, More Pedestrian Friendly, while in Sacramento Congresswoman Matsui Introduces Safe and Complete Streets Legislation .

Elsewhere in the country, South Portland wants pedestrian freeway crossing in urban renewal plan (good timing, since this week the Oregon Senate OKs pedestrian safety bill but first debates the Beatles and pork chops). And Oregon isn't the only place thinking about pedestrian design. AARP Vermont commits $30,000 to fund community design work, and in the DC area Operation Safe Streets cracks down on county drivers. (And a good thing they are, because we're reminded this week of the constant danger pedestrians face by the sad story of a 6-year-old girl killed in South L.A. hit-and-run; driver sought ). Overall, it's clear that US Mayors Want More Bicycle and Pedestrian Investments, as does everyone else in the country.

And it's not just the US that's contemplating ped problems this week. In Australia a Safety message goes out to pedestrians, while in the UK a New system blamed as two pedestrians hit within days--making it all the more important that The Libertarian School of Street Design Takes London. Finally, as we learn from this piece in the India Journal: Jaywalking, It's a Menace...Seriously. Hmm. Guess they didn't get the memo yet in India that streets are for people, not just cars...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jane's Walk This Weekend

Jane's Walk is a series of free neighborhood walking tours that helps put people in touch with their environment and with each other, by bridging social and geographic gaps and creating a space for cities to discover themselves. Unfortunately, Los Angeles is not hosting a walk this year--but if you live in one of these apparently-much-more-awesome cities, you too can invoke the spirit of Jane Jacob while getting to know your city better on foot.

Click on the name of the city for more info:

Anchorage, AK
Austin, TX
Baton Rouge, LA
Brunswick, ME
Boston, MA
Chattanooga, TN
Heber Valley, UT
Houston, TX
Jackson, MS
Kansas City, MO
Mesa, AZ
New York City, NY
New Orleans, LA
Oakland, CAOrange, NJPhiladelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Francisco, CA
Santa Fe, NM
Scranton, PA
Tempe, AZ
Waterbury, CT

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS)

Data geeks can get their fix from this cool new tool from our friends at that "other" transportation school up north, UC Berkeley. Researchers at the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) have developed TIMS to provide data and mapping analysis tools and information for traffic safety related research, policy and planning.

You can find and map info on crash rates, causes, victims, and more using data complied from state and federal crash databases. Much of the data is California-centric, but you can get some info on crashes elsewhere in the US.

Users must register for a free account to access the system, available online here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cool Ped Stuff #14: Green (Tree) Crossings

China might have the fastest-growing market for cars, but that also makes it the fastest-growing market for pedestrian advocacy. Enter this awesome crosswalk design/advocacy campaign: