Friday, June 29, 2012

This Week on Foot

The big news is bad news this week, as we learn the Complete Streets Provision Eliminated From Final Transpo Bill. Yet even without the support of the feds, cities across the country are still working to implement Complete Streets projects, like in  Reno where they're looking for Public Input on Sutro Complete Street Project. Elsewhere Asheville's Charlotte Street could see pedestrian-friendly improvements, a Pedestrian plaza plan discussed in Rowlette, Texas, Shrewsbury Walkability Study Examines Sidewalks, Safety and the Santa Monica Pedestrian Action Plan To Make Sidewalks More Friendly.

Yet the federal government has some companions, like the Bikers rally against city's vote on Complete Streets. It seems kind of odd, given The Grave Health Risks of Unwalkable Communities. Shouldn't we want more  On the Road Again besides just cars?

Here in LA we've got plenty on the road--and the sidewalks too, like the Lighthearted street art delights (and confuses) downtown L.A. visitors. And those sidewalks will be getting some improvements, since Alarcon has $500,000 for sidewalks in the Valley. Even better, after one advocate shot a video to raised awareness of the problem, the LADOT promises that a Signalized Crosswalk Coming for Sunset and Vista . Of course, it wouldn't hurt to do some road dieting along Sunset also, since we know that Narrow lanes equal safer streets. From safety to where? Discussing the future of safe streets at a CNU talk can answer that question, but you'll have to check out this story to learn Which American cities are the healthiest?

Elsewhere in the world, Pedestrian bridge collapses in Lahore, one killed, while Pedestrian struck, killed by Metrolink train in San Fernando, and  Road death toll rises for the first time in a decade with worrying increase in cyclist and pedestrian fatalities. Good thing Cops set up sting to keep pedestrians safe, but can they prevent Distracted driving, changing culture leading to clashes between cars and pedestrians?

Back here in California, the 'No parking' model doesn't sell in Santa Monica, and we wonder Will Los Angeles Say Goodbye to LOS? If it does, maybe they'll send Greetings From Walkable, Bikeable, Transit-Oriented Asbury Park, N.J., where they're doing more than just changing CEQA standards to promote active transportation.

Finally this week, we learn about how Research Suggests Denser Development Is Good for Single-Family Home Values and consider Aging: A Collective Response, while we also contemplate All change – the future of travel. Hopefully it won't be a Big box boondoggle because some people out there care about Keeping the village way of life (aka the walkable one). 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cool Ped Stuff #22: Energy-generating sidewalks

This new technology from PaveGen harnesses the energy created by footsteps to generate electricity for nearby infrastructure. It's fun to dance on, but will it solve our energy problems? At least one life-cycle analysis of the technology raises some concerns, noting that it doesn't necessarily generate enough power to offset what it costs to ship and produce. Still, the idea has promise...and gives a whole new meaning to the term "people-powered travel."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Webinars This Week

A Global Perspective: Lessons from International SRTS Programs
June 28 10:00 AM Pacific Time

First, Jacky Kennedy, Director of Canada Walks will introduce Canada's School Travel Planning Project. This program, originally tested in four provinces and disseminated to 120 schools in every part of Canada, created a detailed, step-by-step guide for building a comprehensive, community-based active school travel program.  

Next, Dr. Catherine O'Brien, who is working in partnership with the Canada Walks School Travel Planning Project, will discuss her fascinating research on "sustainable happiness." This concept links walking and biking to individual, community, and global well-being. It provides further compelling evidence of the benefits of walking and biking to school.

Finally, Gary Shipp, Schools, Children and Young People Co-Coordinator from Sustrans in the United Kingdom, will describe how his organization's approach is a community-centered one that builds on small steps to gradually change travel behavior. Sustrans' goal is to get the whole school community involved and motivated in the program so that sustainable and active travel becomes part of the culture of the community for future generations.

Acting on The Weight of the Nation
June 28 12:30 PM Pacific Time

The web forum will highlight the key themes of the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) report, Accelerating Progress on Obesity Prevention, and provide methods you can use to help grow the movement for a healthier nation by mobilizing individuals, organizations, companies, and place-based partnerships everywhere. The web forum will prepare you to host screenings, events, and actions that can:
  • Start new conversations in homes, neighborhoods, worksites, clinical settings, faith settings, and schools.
  • Deepen existing conversations and actions – particularly within the movement of place-based
  • Build a widespread constituency for targeted actions and environmental changes that support healthy living where we live, learn, work, play, worship, and vote.
HBO and the IOM, in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, launched The Weight of the Nation as a campaign to raise public awareness of the seriousness of the obesity epidemic. Over the course of three years, HBO worked with IOM and other researchers on the science and economics of obesity, talked to the country's leading experts on this issue, traveled nationwide to meet hundreds of Americans who are struggling with obesity, and examined the strategies that are being employed to create a healthier nation.

Register here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

This Week on Foot

I hate to start the week with a real downer, but when I read about self-righteous drivers saying Pedestrians, use a sidewalk in OC, I just wanted to remind them about how a Pregnant pedestrian dies; her child delivered but critical (and also did not survive) when drivers have the attitude that they "own" the road. And since we're already on this sad topic, I'll share the story of how a Pedestrian dies in South L.A. after being hit by two vehicles, and Reckless Riders Spur Backlash across the country.

But enough bad news. We've also learned recently that a Bill Would Require A Pedestrian Access Route Separate From Vehicular Route in Missouri, and that Vancouver pedestrians get set to 'scramble' even as Vancouver eyes more bikes, buses, pedestrians in future. And other cities are getting set to improve the pedestrian environment also: the Hampton Park cycling/pedestrian lane approved by Charleston City Council, while Evanston Considers Speed Cameras Among New Pedestrian Safety Measures, More trees, storefronts, pedestrian-friendly vibe could be future of Montgomery's Madison Avenue and Hillsdale aims to be more walkable for people of all ages.

As you Keep an eye out for pedestrians in crosswalks, remember that one of the 10 Things That Make a Home a Good Home is walkability. Walkability also makes good transit, which is why a Walkability survey will help guide light-rail growth in the Twin Cities. But when we're Measuring community sustainability: how do we know if we're on the right path?

And since we're asking questions What If the Housing Bust Wasn’t a Game-Changer? And Is La CaƱada Fat City? What's Making China Fat? We can answer some of those questions with this Analysis: Cities with more walkers, bike commuters are less obese. I guess we really should be Planning cities to beat obesity, and China's low-carbon city drive should pay attention to "sidewalk".

And if we need any advice on that subject, we can always talk to Neha Bhatt, D.C.'s pedestrian advocate, speaks on our walkability challenges.

Read more here:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pedestrian Research

The latest pedestrian research includes a few great pieces about kids and walking.

 Community Design and Policies for Free-Range Children: Creating Environments That Support Routine Physical Activity
Executive Summary: Growing concern over childhood obesity has prompted a focus on underlying epidemics of physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Regarding the former, there is increasing understanding that behavior change promotion alone has not increased population physical activity levels and that an ecological approach is necessary. Therefore, the public health profession has moved beyond traditional behavior change campaigns toward a growing focus on altering policies and the built environment to create settings that support increases in routine, not just exercise or leisure time, physical activity among children.

A survey of the literature suggests four broad factors that define settings where routine physical activity, especially active transportation, is more likely to occur:
  • a compact variety of land uses, with a mix of destinations in close proximity;
  • a comprehensive network of bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities;
  • inviting and functional site designs for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users;
  • safety and access for users of all ages, incomes, abilities and disabilities.
Although these principles are increasingly accepted as beneficial, not just to health but to a community’s economic, environmental, and social well-being, many contemporary ordinances and development practices undermine these outcomes. Therefore, five specific policy and intervention approaches are recommended to guide communities to these outcomes:
  1. zoning and development policies to protect open space, contain sprawl, and focus investment toward thriving, mixed downtowns and village centers;
  2. Complete Streets policies, which require roadways that are safe and functional for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users, as well as motor vehicles;
  3. a transportation- (not just recreation-) oriented trail network;
  4. creation of bicycle- and transit-friendly infrastructure and incentive policies;
  5. development of policy-based Safe Routes to School interventions.
This proposed intervention framework requires evaluation both of effectiveness in increasing childhood physical activity and of the most promising means of getting policies implemented.

Get Fit or Get Hit!
This research evaluates the role that fitness plays in childhood street crossing abilities. Previous studies show that increased physical activity and aerobic fitness during childhood are associated with superior brain health, and that children with higher aerobic fitness levels show improved academic achievement and cognitive abilities, coupled with larger brain structures and more efficient brain function.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

LADOT Sees the Light

At long last LADOT has removed the reference to the outdated Herms crosswalk study from its website. Is it a sign of things to come at the LADOT? Let's hope so.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Importance of Personal Security

Image courtesy of clutch magazine

I write a lot on this blog about pedestrian safety, but usually my focus is on how road design, crossing treatments, sidewalks, and technology can make it safer for pedestrians to navigate public streets. But this recent Streetsblog Post about harassment in public spaces, along with stories like this one of a young man killed in random gang-related shooting, have reminded me of the other half of pedestrian safety: personal security.

We can build the most walkable streets in the country, but if people are worried about crime and harassment (unfortunately, those two words aren't always synonymous) no one is going to use them. In many ways, this is a harder problem to fix than the infrastructure one. Given enough money (and political will), building streets that are physically safe for pedestrians becomes a relatively simple exercise in engineering. When it comes to personal security, we're faced with complex social problems that don't have easy solutions.

That's doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

As pedestrian advocates, we need to recognize that part of our job--our first job, really--is to create spaces where people feel secure walking. Toward that end, we must partner with people who are working to address this issue (police departments, gang prevention advocates, women's groups and others who fight against street harassment). Otherwise we run the risk of designing beautifully walkable--but empty--streets.

Friday, June 8, 2012

This week on foot

This week we learn How Dogs Saved a Los Angeles Neighborhood, and that The Most Walkable Streets in San Francisco Aren’t Always the Ones You’d Think. We're told to Give the people what they want: A walkable city--or do they? Because also this week a 'Pedestrian place' decision postponed in Canada and Businesses Hope to Put Brakes on Proposed Pedestrian Plaza in New York due to concerns over (you guessed it) losing parking. At least outside the US they got the memo, as this week Bhutan introduces weekly 'pedestrian day'.  Although in Manila they don't seem to be quite as sympathetic, since they're telling citizens to Use footbridges and pedestrian lanes, or pay P200—MMDA

Meanwhile, the City's sidewalk situation is dire, public board tells Lansing City Council, and the Increasing road toll for elderly pedestrians provokes alarm. It shows why its so important to understand How walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods help seniors... and younger folks. Perhaps walkability have helped this situation where Pedestrian dies after being struck crossing Long Beach street, although some strongly believe that Distracted Pedestrians As Dangerous as Distracted Drivers

Elsewhere people we're wondering What is it with Canadian drivers and pedestrians? (And why can't Americans be the same way?), and Are the suburbs made for walking? Maybe An Atlas of Suburbanisms can help us figure it out. If not, we can always look to Brant Street in Burlington a Model for Walkable Streets for pointers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More great walking webinars

Health and Equity in Transportation: Promising Methods and Modes to Improve Health Outcomes
APHA will host a free webinar series on critical health and equity issues within the transportation sector. These three, 60-minute APHA webinars will explore the ties between public health and:
· Increased use of public transportation;
· Reduced injuries, particularly for children and young drivers;
· Reduced inequities from increased access to goods and services; and
· Other topics within transportation, such as updates on the federal surface transportation authorization.
We invite professionals in public health, transportation and other related sectors to participate in this new webinar series for 2012. Participants must register to join the webinar. NOTE: registration is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

1: What Public Transit means for Public Health
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
2-3 pm EDT
Explore how public transit may impact health, via increased physical activity, improved air quality and reduced risk of injuries from crashes. Hear about health impact assessments (HIAs) that estimated how increased spending on public transportation and sustainable modes of transportation can both benefit health and reduce social inequities. Introductory remarks by APHA Associate Executive Director Susan Polan, and presentations by Tracy Buck, MS, RD, Nashville Metro Public Health and Brian Cole, DrPH, UCLA School of Public Health.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Making Pizza (and Pedestrians) Safer

As I learned recently in this NPR story, Dominos pizza has taken a creative approach to improving the safety of its electric delivery scooters in the Netherlands. Concerned that the quiet vehicles might catch pedestrians unawares, with unfortunate results, the company added a quirky soundtrack to the motors. Annoying? Possibly, but at least they'll be hard for pedestrians to miss...

Friday, June 1, 2012

This Week on Foot

This we everyone is talking about the latest research from the Brookings Institution showing what's Now Coveted: A Walkable, Convenient Place. In reaction there's this Op Ed on Walkability confirms the obvious and points to transportation expenses, this post on The economic value of walkability and transit, and this one about Urban walkability: the new driver in real estate values.

Meanwhile, the L.A. City Council wants no part of sidewalk repair cost proposed as part of AB 2231. Improvements to Oxnard street will come at a cost, and it's not just the price of repairs--but how much to we pay in health costs when we don't maintain walkable environments? We Can't Rely on Doctors Alone to Make the U.S. Healthier...

...or safer, and even though one person wonders Do pedestrians have a death wish? In Our take: Pedestrian safety matters. But does it matter to everyone? That's not so clear in Washington, D.C., where the Fate of Bike-Ped Compromise Still Unknown as House Reconvenes, or in California where Napa to Pedestrians: Drop Dead, or at Least Fall Down.

Fortunately in the Moreno Valley: Pedestrian safety campaign begins, and they're working on Reducing the risk of pedestrian death in Vancouver, while a 'Pedestrian hybrid beacon' lights up in Metropark and  Re-thinking traffic control for pedestrians in New Zealand.

Back here in my neighborhood, a Man gets life sentences for running over Woodland Hills pedestrian in 2009 chase, while further away Summertime Pedestrian Mall Heats Up Business In Little Italy and even further away Dubai residents get the boot into pedestrian footbridges.

Were you wondering How many people bicycle and walk in Missouri? The first definitive data EVER from MoDOT is available this week. And finally, for all you conspiracy theorists out there, an Opinion: Complete Streets conspiracy theorists should offer proof.