Monday, January 30, 2012

UCLA Complete Streets Conference

Register here for the March 2 conference, featuring transpo gurus from across the country such as:

-          Reid Ewing, Professor, University of Utah
-          Regina Freer, Los Angeles City Planning Commission
-          Eran Ben-Joseph, author Rethinking a lot (forthcoming) Professor, MIT
-          Jackie Douglas, Executive Director, Livable Streets
-          Jose Luis Moscovich, Executive Director, San Francisco Transportation Authority

More about the conference from UCLA:

As the support behind the complete streets movement continues to evolve, exemplary on-the-ground projects are steadily growing in strength and in numbers.  What are recent accomplishments that have made appearances on the horizon of this movement, how have these efforts fared in their objectives to redefine and repurpose streets as public spaces?  What are promising new approaches and strategies for implementing complete and living streets in California and in the U.S.?  The second UCLA Complete Streets conference will present speakers from academia and practice to share observations and findings about recent accomplishments and explore new research and complete streets implementation examples.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This Week on Foot

The end of January is turning out to be just as busy as the beginning. First, there's the ongoing controversy about Distracted pedestrians? Accidents on rise for headphone-wearers. Of course, some (ahem, Streetsblog) have a message to those who blame the pedestrians for this phenomenon: Dear Media Lemmings: Headphones Don’t Kill People, Drivers Do. And they're more likely to do it if they're distracted, which is why Streetsblog also suggests we Dislike? Mercedes-Benz Wants to Put Facebook in Your Dashboard.

With all this distraction, it's not surprise that Bike-Ped Traffic, Funding, and Fatalities All Inch Upward, or that one Mother of 3 kids hit in crosswalk wants tougher texting laws. Don't we all? Well, maybe not in Virginia, where a Bill to see drivers to exercise due care defeated in VA House subcommittee . And then, even the Santa Barbara City Council split over curb extensions at dangerous intersection, so I guess things that seem obvious to those of us in the pedestrian advocacy world (like how when you're talking about Traffic in LA.: Most Vulnerable Angelinos at Risk) aren't so straightforward elsewhere.

It's a little shaky outside the U.S. also, like in Chennai, India where Pedestrians find themselves on edge in or in Jakarta where Pedestrian safety yet to see improvement. At least in New Delhi they've figured out that Pedestrians prefer jaywalking to using bridges, PWD to investigate .

But lest you get too depressed about the state of the pedestrian world, remember that L.A. County takes step to promote exercise, reduce obesity while a Council Considers Warning Surfaces For Pedestrian Plazas in New York, Cranford police get $6,000 federal grant for pedestrian safety in New Jersey, and Students' Dream for Seven Springs Middle Sidewalks About to Materialize. At least in some places Pedestrian safety a city priority, Wisconsin Rapids officials say--though maybe not in upstate New York, where Syracuse lawmakers reject new way to enforce sidewalk shoveling. Well, you can't win them all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Complete Streets Goes Global

Better Streets, Better Cities: A Guide to Street Design in Urban India, from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and the Environmental Planning Collaborative might be intended for India, but it provides a nice template for complete streets guides anywhere in the world.

The guide begins by explaining in general what makes a "complete street," introducing the concept of the shared zone where pedestrians, bikes, and slow-moving vehicles use the roadway together and the mobility zone for faster-moving transit and other vehicles. It also outlines six key principles of complete streets design: 
  • Safety
  • Mobility
  • Pedestrian Accessibility
  • Liveability
  • Sensitivity to Local Context
  • Creative Use of Space
The remainder of the guide is devoted to a detailed explanation of each street element (bike lanes, median refuges, bus rapid transit lanes), identifying the purpose, significance and challenges to each,  an extensive collection of street design templates, and a step-by-step outline explaining how to redesign a roadway to transform it into a "complete" street. The guide places particular importance on understanding how pedestrians and others use the street before creating a new design, a step seems to be often lost in our top-down, cookie-cutter approach to street design.

While some of the concepts laid out in the guide may not apply here in the US (e.g. in most cities street vending is not such an integral component of the landscape), it's worth taking a look at Better Streets, Better Cities if you're hoping to create a complete streets policy of your own.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Even More Ped Jobs

It might be rough out there in the job market, but at least it's a good time to be a pedestrian advocate...

Safe Routes to School National Partnership State Advocacy Organizers
Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is looking for six energetic and dynamic professionals (one per state) to work as state advocacy organizers in Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. Applications are due on Thursday, February 2nd, at 5:00 p.m. PT.

WalkDenver Program Intern

WalkDenver is seeking a bright, entrepreneurial, and self-motivated graduate student or a recent graduate to develop programs and membership for a new organization that seeks to promote quality, walk-friendly built environment that fosters healthy lifestyles and economic growth. This is a unique opportunity to become involved in a movement at the inception stage.

The ideal candidate will be a graduate student or recent graduate in urban design, planning or a related field who is passionate about walkability, active transportation and pedestrian-friendly built environment.

Pedestrian Safety Program Manager- PEDS Atlanta

The Pedestrian Safety Program Manager will educate transportation and law enforcement professionals, the media, and the general public about pedestrian safety problems and solutions by organizing and participating in meetings, workshops and media-generating events.

At least two years experience working with external partners, such as government agencies, the media and neighborhood associations. Experience managing special events or workshops required. Experience working collaboratively and managing multiple projects simultaneously required. Experience maintaining websites and fluency with social media desirable. Experience with advocacy and community level interventions desirable.

Send cover letter and resume here
Applications will be accepted until February 6, 2012.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Retrofitting the Suburbs to Increase Walking

This study by Marlon G. Boarnet, Kenneth Joh, Walter Siembab, William Fulton, and Mai Thi Nguyen examined travel patterns in eight neighborhoods in Los Angeles' South Bay region, comparing trends in "pedestrian-oriented centers" and "auto-oriented corridors" in an attempt to better understand what influences walking in suburban communities. The results have interesting policy implications for those of us who'd like to promote walkability in our neighborhoods.

Not surprisingly, people who live in pedestrian-oriented centers with "inwardly focused" street geometries walk more than those who live along auto-oriented corridors. The research showed that the number of businesses per acre is most strongly correlated with pedestrian trips, suggesting that "the key is not simply sales but a large number and variety of businesses in a relatively small area."

This led to a related question: can the residents and employees in pedestrian centers support the centers on their own, without "importing" outside customers? Interestingly, the answer was no. In the authors' words, "...pedestrian-oriented centers require a concentration of business activity larger than the local residents can support...people must drive from outside of the neighborhood to support the commercial activity that in turn encourages local residents to walk more."

What does all of this mean for those of us trying to create walkability? The authors offer several policy recommendations:
  • suburban regions should focus both on fostering pedestrian centers and on knitting those centers together with transportation networks
  • planners should promote the development of pedestrian centers by offering incentives such as density bonuses or the elimination of parking requirements
  • transit services should be tailored to the suburbs, such as shuttles between neighborhoods or even neighborhood electric vehicles
While recognizing that turning suburbs into walking meccas will be challenging, this research provides planners, advocates, and policy-makers some realistic suggestions for addressing what is sure to be a key challenge of planning in the next few decades.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Conferences

If you're wondering how to spend your organization's training funding this year, here is perhaps the most comprehensive list of transportation- and planning-related conferences out there. Special thanks to John Westmore for creating this list...and the Perils for Pedestrians segments.

January16-17  Australian Cycling Conference; Adelaide, Australia
18-20 Nat'l Conf on Science, Policy and the Environment: Environment and Security; Washington, DC
18-20 U.S. Conference of Mayors, Winter Meeting; Washington, DC
18-20 National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD); Arlington, VA
22-26 Transportation Research Board; Washington, DC
23-25  Municipalika - Making Cities Work; Channai, India
23-27 World of Concrete; Las Vegas, NV
26-27 EMBARQ -- Transforming Transportation; Washington, DC
27-28 Iowa Bike Summit; Des Moines, IA
30-31  ASTM F13 Pedestrian/Walkway Safety and Footwear; Atlanta, GA

February1-2  Smart Cities; Amsterdam, Netherlands
1-3  Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference; San Antonio, TX
2-4 New Partners For Smart Growth; San Diego, CA
6-7 The Future of Cities; London, UK
6-7  Colorado  Bike Summit; Denver, CO
7-9 National Evacuation Conference; New Orleans, LA
8 Intermodes; Brussels, Belgium
8-10  Sustainable Communities Conference; Ottawa, ON, Canada
10-11 Media That Matters, AU; Washington, DC
12-16 ATSSA - American Traffic Safety Services Assn. Convention and Traffic Expo; Tampa, FL
16-19 American Assn. of School Administrators, National Conference on Education; Houston, TX
21-24 Public Health Preparedness Summit; Anaheim, CA
22-24  National Walking and Cycling Conference; Hastings, New Zealand
24-28 Association of American Geographers; New York, NY
25 Alumni Day; Princeton, NJ
26-29  Conference on Play; Clemson, SC
26-29 AASHTO Washington Legislative Briefing; Washington, DC
27-3/1  Building Sustainable Communities; Kelowna, BC, Canada
28-3/1  HSR - High Speed Rail Summit; Washington, DC

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This Week on Foot

The first two weeks of 2012 are off to a busy start, with everyone trying to get into the walkability game. Microsoft awarded patent for dynamic walking directions that keep you safe, a Virginia County Government Augments Its Walkability Efforts, and there's A walk-up window in Georgetown for pedestrians to take advantage of.

And it's not just Americans interested in walkability. Dubai Mall launches pedestrian link project, while in Europe folks are wondering is neighborhood walkability a key element for Belgian adolescents? If it is, then Belgium should definitely pay attention to What Neighborhoods Need to Succeed at Walkability.

Of course, if they're wondering what hurts successful walkability, they could check out some of The Design Tragedies That Pass for Road “Improvements” It kind of makes you wonder Is this pedestrian safety or just pedestrian removal?
If you want to know what actually is pedestrian safety, you could check out this Interview with Walk Score CEO Josh Herst, or maybe learn How to Boost Biking and Walking in Your Town: Lessons From Minneapolis or take a peek at The variety of pedestrian bridges over Lake Shore Drive.

What you won't want to do is follow the lead of Tuscon, where Tucson pedestrian deaths/injuries nearly double. Parts of Florida aren't much better, like The Acreage scores worst in Florida for 'walkability,' company finds. Even in Japan they have some problems, at least according to the Pedestrian, cyclist criticize policy of allowing bicycles on Tokyo sidewalks.
Fortunately there's hope out there. When you're walking through Chicago and wondering Are Chicago’s pedestrian safety campaign posters too depressing? you can just think to yourself, "Maybe we just need to build a few more 'Pocket Neighborhoods' For Sustainable Suburbs...."

January Walking Events

A few webinars and walks to keep you busy this month:

January 14, 9 am PST
WalkSanDiego La Jolla Community Walk

This will be the first of several walks this year to discover the rich history of La Jolla, visiting both the commercial district and some of the beautiful and historic neighborhoods. The walks are open to everyone; they are free to WalkSanDiego members, with a suggested $5 donation for non-members. No reservations needed. For further information, contact Dave Schumacher

January 18, 12 pm -1 pm PST
Emerging Technologies for Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning

Through a series of short presentations, this webinar will survey several applications with the potential to help engineers and planners improve conditions for bicycling and walking. The examples covered in this session will offer an overview of a range of situations where technological advances can aid professionals in their work to develop plans and programs. More information and registration here.

January 20, 12 pm- 1 pm PST
Visioning San Diego Lunch Forum

Dr. Tracy Delaney will provide and report on the accomplishments of the CPPW program, which is locally called Healthy Works. Its purpose is to improve the health and well being of local residents by making broad-based systems and environmental changes. She will also present information on a Community Transportation Grant that was recently awarded to the County by the Centers for Disease Control. The grant provides an additional $3 million for health related programs in San Diego County to help create healthier communities and halt spiraling health care costs for preventable chronic diseases.

Location: Downtown Information Center, 193 Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
Tickets: $5.00 in advance, $7.00 at the door
RSVP here by January 17, 2012

January 31, 10 am -11 am PST
Pump Down the Volume: SRTS and Traffic Reduction 

In this sixty minute webinar, we will take a brief look at the problem of traffic congestion as it relates to SRTS and then focus on two SRTS programs that have had success in reducing congestion and measuring traffic reductions. This webinar is part of the Safe Routes to School Coaching Action Network Webinar Series, developed by America Walks and the National Center for Safe Routes to School. More information and registration here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Freaking out about Walking Drunk

You may have caught the recent Freakonomics broadcast on the perils of walking drunk, a story that's been causing controversy ever since it appeared in the opening chapters of Super-Freakonomics. The quick summary, for those in the dark, is that the Freakonomics authors did some number-crunching and determined that walking drunk is eight times more likely to get you killed than driving drunk.

According to co-author and economist Steven Levitt, "Truly, if you're faced exactly with two choices, walking drunk or driving drunk, you absolutely should drive drunk."

Shockingly, this statement upset some people. But is it true?

We know that in terms of deaths per trip, pedestrians are over-represented when compared to drivers or vehicle passengers. However, even though our Freakonomics friends threw out some assumptions about total miles walked in the US, we don't have great data on overall exposure to walking dangers (e.g. how do you count all those crashes that happen in parking lots?). Thus, contrary to what Levitt and company suggest, it's hard to actually know how dangerous walking is on a per-mile basis.

On the other hand, it's true that walking isn't always safe--particularly if you're walking home after a night at the bars. Nighttime walking, especially on weekends, is highly associated with pedestrian fatalities.  Of course, this is the case whether you're stumbling drunk or stone-cold sober (although it's worth noting that about a third of pedestrian fatalities involve drinking), but I suppose the publicity for your book is better if you focus on perils for tipsy pedestrians...

...which brings us back to Levitt's argument that you should drive, rather than walk, drunk. It could be true that driving is the "correct" choice if you're only considering your personal safety. However, as anyone who's taken Economics 101 could  point out (and has, if you read the comments on the Freakonomics page), there are significant external costs associated with both drunk driving and driving in general. Factor those in, and walking becomes much more appealing from an economic standpoint--but not safer for the pedestrian. Advocates, planners, and traffic engineers: that's your job.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pedestrian Jobs Available

If you're looking to start the new year with a new job, there are a couple of great opportunities for expert pedestrians available.

First, here in Los Angeles the LADOT is seeking at least two full-time consultants to develop a Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan will include the development of a Phase 1 ranked list of schools and recommendations for infrastructure and non­infrastructure safety countermeasures for implementation. Consultants will build networks and partnerships to deliver a feasible strategic plan based on data driven recommendations that has a broad base of support.
More information and application materials are available here.

On the other coast, Bike Walk Connecticut is seeking an Executive Director. The Executive Director is responsible for managing the overall affairs of Bike Walk Connecticut including the implementation of board-approved projects, programs, policies and procedures in fulfillment of its mission and strategic plan. More information is available on the Bike Walk Connecticut website here.