Monday, April 30, 2012

Are Bike and Pedestrian Committees Boys' Clubs?

Photo courtesy of

A new study from the Mineta Transportation Institute, An Examination of Women's Representation and Participation in Bicycle Advisory Committees in California, paints a disappointing picture of the role women play--or don't play--in the development of bicycle and pedestrian policy in our state. In a review of 42 government-formed bicycle and bicycle/pedestrian advisory committees throughout California, authors Hilary Nixon and Cathy DeLuca found that women made up only about 19 percent of members on all bicycle advisory committees and 24 percent of members on all bicycle/pedestrian committees. Further, women were the majority on only three committees.

This matters, because women's travel is different than men's. Women do more "trip-chaining" (linking a trip to work with a trip to school with a trip to the grocery store), take more shopping trips, and carry more associated baggage--and children--when they travel than men. Issues surrounding safety and security play a different role in the travel of women than men. Where a man might think nothing of walking down a dimly-lit street or an empty alley, a woman might change her route to avoid them--or choose not to walk at all. This isn't to say men never face danger on the street, but they're less likely to change their travel patterns because of it.

When women's voices aren't part of the dialogue about bicycle and pedestrian policy, the particular challenges that female cyclists and walkers face might never come up. This can lead to transportation systems that don't "work" for the women who rely on them.

In interviews with committee members, the authors attempted to understand the cause of the gender disparity on bike and pedestrian committees. Many of the interviewees cited the "male-dominated nature" of the committees as part of the problem. Not only did it discourage women from joining committees, it made them hesitant to voice their opinions or engage fully in policy discussions.

"When the other members of the committee laughed at bicyclists who were afraid of riding on [a certain road], in an area that terrifies me, I was sure I didn’t belong there."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

This Week on Foot

The big news this week comes from Walk Score, which answers the question How car-centric is your city? Public transit ranked by the site, with cities like New York and San Francisco scoring big, although LA finished a respectable 11th.

This week also brings much debate over urban form. It's the A second act for the walkable neighborhood as Walkable cities poised to eclipse suburbs, but at least one person argues that ‘Evil’ suburbs deserve more respect.

Some people who don't deserve more respect are drivers in Bangalore, where a new Survey finds Bangalore has India’s worst-behaved motorists. Looks like they are behaving that well in North Carolina either, where Pedestrian deaths on the rise in the Palmetto State. Maybe that's why Pedestrians need a head start at intersections, health chief says. And if that sounds confusing, the Traffic light for pedestrian safety explained in Las Vegas, a city not known for pedestrian safety.

Elsewhere in the country Interstate 17 pedestrian bridge needs flair, some say in Arizona, and in the Seattle area Highland Park Elementary gets $25,000 for child pedestrian safety, and there's a New Approach to Dallas Streets Moves Forward at City Hall.

Back in California, there's a new Report: Federal bike and pedestrian plan a success in Marin , while we learn Where the Sausalito sidewalk ends: A walkers’ paradise? Probably not, but at least Covina moves toward improving pedestrian safety at Metrolink Station. And it's a good thing they are, since it might help address the poor Urban Air Quality Could be Making Children Obese.

Speaking of kids, this week we learn Why Millennials will not buy these 8 products in the future (one of them is a car), and What street hockey can teach us about livable streets.

Finally, in a pedestrian advocacy move after my own heart, Volunteers trek beer From SODO to Green Lake to promote neighborhood walkability . LA Walks, interested in an Angeleno version?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Visualizing Pedestrian Crashes

A nice (or maybe not-so-nice) summary of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the US.

California Car Accident Lawyer

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cool Ped Stuff #21: Walk with a Doc

Photo courtesy of

Created in 2005 by Dr. David Sabgir,  Walk with a Doc aims to "encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages, and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle in order to improve the health and well-being of the country." The idea is simple: each weekend people meet at a set location for a short walk with a local physician. Not only does it promote physical activity, it also provides an informal way for people to talk with a doctor about their medical concerns. Check out the list of locations to find out if there's a walk happening near you.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sing Your Heart Out for Your Feet

Join LA Walks this Saturday from 7pm to 11pm at Atwater Crossing for a fundraiser to support pedestrian advocacy in our fair city. More information and tickets available here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pedestrian-Friendly Research

Vehicle Speed Impacts of Occasional Hazard (Playground) Warning Signs
The main objective of this study was to estimate the speed impact of occasional hazard (playground) warning (OHPW) signs along residential streets. Three types of data were collected at each of three study sites approximately one month before and one week to one month after the installation of a pair of OHPW signs. Vehicle speed data were collected with a pneumatic tube device. Manual observations were recorded, and focused on the magnitude and location of the on-street parking and park and/or playground activities occurring at the study sites. Linear regression analysis was used to estimate the change in mean vehicle speed associated with the presence of the OHPW signs, while controlling for the effects due to activity levels on the streets and the playgrounds. At one site the OHPW sign had no discernible effect on mean vehicle speeds, while at the other two sites mean vehicle speeds decreased by 1.5 mph and 0.9 mph following installation of the OHPW signs.

Evaluation of Alternative Pedestrian Control Devices
A literature review, field study of Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) installations in Oregon, and a static survey on the sequencing of the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB)/High Intensity Activated Crosswalk Signal System (HAWK) were completed as part of this study.

The field study conducted in this project was designed to compare side and overhead-mounted beacons and RRFBs. The field study results indicated that the environment surrounding the crossing has an impact on compliance and that the presence of a median can increase compliance.

The PHB study verified that drivers are confused about what these devices are and how they operate. For the first deployment of a PHB in an area, a public education program is recommended during the early deployment of the PHB.

The study includes guidelines for installation for each of these devices. The major recommendation is that RRFBs be installed on medians when side-mounted devices are considered and at locations with posted speeds of 40 mph or less unless additional features such as stripping, signing, and advance warning RRFBs are used.

Effect of Changes to the Neighborhood Built Environment on Physical Activity in a Low-Income African American Neighborhood
The authors  examined how changes in the built environment affected residents’ physical activity levels in a low-income, primarily African American neighborhood in New Orleans. The researchers built a 6-block walking path and installed a school playground in an intervention neighborhood. They measured physical activity levels in this neighborhood and in 2 matched comparison neighborhoods by self-report, using door-to-door surveys, and by direct observations of neighborhood residents outside before (2006) and after (2008) the interventions.

Neighborhoods were comparable at baseline in demographic composition, choice of physical activity locations, and percentage of residents who participated in physical activity. Self-reported physical activity increased over time in most neighborhoods. The proportion of residents observed who were active increased significantly in the section of the intervention neighborhood with the path compared with comparison neighborhoods. Among residents who were observed engaging in physical activity, 41% were moderately to vigorously active in the section of the intervention neighborhood with the path compared with 24% and 38% in the comparison neighborhoods at the postintervention measurement. This analysis shows that changes to the built environment may increase neighborhood physical activity in low-income, African American neighborhoods.

**And if all those weren't enough, TRB has posted a whole trove of "practice-ready papers"

Saturday, April 14, 2012

This week on foot

It's been a dismal week for pedestrians in LA, where Pedestrian killed in East Hollywood; driver sought by police and a Pedestrian Hit by Car on Echo Park Avenue Has Died. That's why we're Seeking Pedestrian Advocates in L.A., Where People Actually Do Walk! Just not very safely...

Speaking of pedestrian safety, this week Pedestrian safety takes focus at community round table in Las Vegas, while Hundreds Of Magnets A Key To Pedestrian Safety Plan in Ridgewood, NJ. Meanwhile in Florida they're wondering, is Blanding Boulevard too dangerous for pedestrians? If it is, it's not the only dangerous street. Across the country Oregon Pedestrian Deaths Soar; Reminders Given, even as a Pedestrian mall project moves forward. I guess if you want to Think Pedestrian - and Save Lives  you need Hundreds Of Magnets A Key To Pedestrian Safety Plan.

But even as people in San Francisco are complaining that Rare pedestrian deaths exploited by bicycle foes  , and they're wondering How Walkable is Washington? the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center Announces Latest Round of Walk Friendly Communities. Why does this stuff matter? Well for one, Where You Live Could Make Your Kids Fat. And if that doesn't convince you, here's A Data-Driven Case for Walkability.

Friday, April 13, 2012

CicLAvia This Weekend

Don't forget the latest installment of CicLAvia this Sunday. Get the route and all the details here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Become a Leader is a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that provides free communication, promotion and assistance to registered Leaders working in the childhood obesity movement,  especially in communities at highest risk for obesity. Some of the tools offered to Leaders include:
  • A weekly insider alert newsletter
  • Ability to organize supporters in your community and 70,000 nationally
  • Access to the Map of the Movement, showing other activists in your area
  • Blogger outreach analysis and webinar hosting
 Leaders are professionals or volunteers who are actively working to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. They must be focused on changing policies and environments, and organizing others/contributing to organizing efforts. Leaders should be working on one of's six issue areas:
  • Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
  • Expand community access to high quality food
  • Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
  • Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
  • Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
  • Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
If this describes you, register as a Leader here for free.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How We Walk

This week Slate Magazine features a four-part series on walking by Traffic/How We Drive author Tom Vanderbilt. It's full of interesting details about the science of walking (e.g. people walking up escalators instinctively sway--even when the escalator is broken) and insights into why Americans don't walk more:

" an America enraptured by the cultural prosthesis that is the automobile, walking has become a lost mode, perceived as not a legitimate way to travel but a necessary adjunct to one’s car journey, a hobby, or something that people without cars—those pitiable “vulnerable road users,” as they are called with charitable condescension—do. To decry these facts—to examine, as I will in this series, how Americans might start walking more again— may seem like a hopelessly retrograde, romantic exercise: nostalgia for Thoreau’s woodland ambles. But the need is urgent. The decline of walking has become a full-blown public health nightmare."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Extreme Walks: Greek Edition

From the always-creative Greeks, a new advocacy video that has been making the rounds. Enjoy!

Friday, April 6, 2012

This Week on Foot

As usual, the pedestrian world has been active in the past two weeks. First, the bad news: here in LA,
Red-light scofflaws will catch a break as the City turns off its red-light cameras. And that's not the only challenge pedestrians have been facing. A Phone booth blocks pedestrians from busy Brooklyn intersection, a Metrolink train kills pedestrian in Ventura County, and SI Crosswalks in Need of Improvement.  Yes, all over the country Pedestrians Yield For Cars, Hope They Don’t Get Hit. It would appear Few US cities prepared for aging baby boomers--or even their younger pedestrian counterparts.

But pedestrians, don't despair. Plenty of people are Speaking up for pedestrians. In one city Street markings placed for pedestrians safety, Rapid City's New signs aim to make pedestrian crossings safer, and Chamblee uses streetscape project to make city more pedestrian friendly. The 2012 Florida Legislature Helps Bicyclists and Pedestrians and Artists bring life to empty storefronts.There's even some help from Technology: Making a safer path for pedestrians.And at the national level, From Minnesota to Mississippi, America Tells Congress to Preserve Bike-Ped Funding, like in thisGuest commentary: Transportation bill must keep local communities in mind. Sure, It's hard to make Harford bike and pedestrian friendly, but Adopting a corner a simple way to keep street safer. And don't forget How Walkable Streets Can Reduce Crime

It's been a week of police stings, as Police ticket pedestrians, drivers in North Hollywood crosswalk sting and Jaywalking, speeding targeted by police in pedestrian-safety mission. Of course, one mayor took a more creative approach to pedestrian safety: this Texting lane just for laughs, but issue serious. And speaking of serious issues, you can learn about S.F. bicyclist involved in fatal collision discusses incident online. It shows just how important it is to create Complete Streets: Designing Roadways for the Benefit of All--cyclists and pedestrians.

Decisionmakers in the Los Angeles region seem to understand that, as this week SCAG adopted a RTP/SCS touted far and wide for its commitment to alternative transportation. “This Plan Will Make Air Pollution a Relic of Our History”  some claim. Time will tell if that's true, but at least SCAG seems to be a little more forward-thinking than leaders in Imperial Beach, where  Pedestrian Scale Lighting With Solar Panels Shot Down by City Council

Finally this week we learn How Local Transportation Decisions Can Put Public Health Front and Center, and are reminded that A Picture Worth 1,000 Arguments for More Walkable Streets.

Let's argue for more walkable streets, shall we?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lessons from SCAG's Complete Streets Training

Last week SCAG offered a full day of training on implementing Complete Streets, courtesy of its Compass Blueprint Toolbox Tuesdays program. Here are a few of the key lessons and resources from the training. You can download copies of the training materials here.

Incorporate all users into street designs
AB 1358 (the California Complete Streets Act) requires jurisdictions to incorporate complete streets into the Circulation Element of their General Plans as they are updated, but does not provide specifics as to how this should be accomplished. The training identified four steps to implementing Complete Streets:

1.       Adopt a general Complete Streets policy
2.       Identify a project/coordination team that can implement new regulations
3.       Develop pilot programs to create and refine detailed Complete Streets design criteria
4.       Review criteria and amend based on results of pilot programs

Complete streets should accommodate all roadway users, including vehicles, transit, bikes, and pedestrians, paying particular attention to those with reduced mobility (e.g. people in wheelchairs) and vulnerable users (bikes and peds). Complete streets should also incorporate stormwater best management practices like bioswales where possible.  

Complete streets generally do cost more to plan, and require more coordination between local agencies (planning, engineering/public works, fire) and the public. For example, a project like the Allision Avenue Streetscape Plan would cost as much as $150,000 to design and another $1.3 million to construct for about 3,000 ft of roadway.
Dallas Complete Streets Manual
San Ysidro Community Plan Update
Allison Avenue Streetscape Plan (La Mesa, CA)
Ocean Park Boulevard (Santa Monica, CA)
Mission Avenue (Oceanside, CA)

Design streets based on function, not “classification
In the past streets have been constructed according to a one-size-fits-all hierarchy (e.g. major arterials, collector streets, local streets) using generic street design standards that were applied to all roadways regardless of purpose. These standard designs, which remain in place in many jurisdictions, lead to over-engineered streets with wide travel lanes and inadequate facilities for non-motorized users. They also fail to take into consideration the purpose and neighborhood context of a particular roadway, ignoring the fact that some roads are, to use a term from the training, “destination roadways,” and not roads intended to move as many people as rapidly as possible.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's National Walking Day

photo courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune

The American Heart Association has declared today National Walking Day, and is encouraging everyone who's able to walk to work. Since I think my 90-mile commute would be a little challenging on foot, I'm planning a daytime walk around my office. You can read about one intrepid San Diego walker's efforts to make it to and from her job in one piece here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Leaving No Stone Unturned: Tips and Tricks for Funding Your SRTS Program

Another great webinar from SRTS and America Walks:
Tuesday, April 24 10:00 AM PDT

One of the greatest challenges that Safe Routes to School organizers face is obtaining funding for their programs. Whether it is for small incentives for the students, healthy snacks for walk or bike to school days, flyers and advertisements for events, or eventually hiring a staff member, finding funding is an important part growing your program. Unfortunately, it can often seem like a daunting task.

In this sixty minute webinar, we will help make fundraising for your SRTS program less intimidating by providing tips and tricks on where to find funding an how to go about obtaining it. First, Scott Bricker, Executive Director of America Walks will provide an overview of the issues surrounding fundraising and advice on how to hash out your goals and objectives. Next, Ian Thomas, Executive Director of the PedNet Coalition, will go into an in-depth discussion of what type of budget your program may need, potential sources of funds, and tips for successfully raising money from those sources. Finally, Kathy Smith, a Program Officer from the Partners for Health Foundation, will provide a Foundation's perspective on grant applicants and provide tips on how you can "look" ready for funding.

Register here.