Showing posts with label Design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Design. Show all posts

Monday, April 20, 2015

Complete Streets are Complete for Everyone / Jan Moser

This new post from Strong Towns offers a helpful take on creating streets that are universally accessible. Written from the perspective of someone who both implements streets for people with disabilities and uses a wheelchair herself, the post from author Heidi Johnson-Wright highlights some of the key elements that make a street "work" for someone in a wheelchair (not to mention those of us who push strollers, etc.). Here are some

Build wide sidewalks
For me, the ideal accessible pedestrian path of travel is as wide as the sidewalks lining the great avenues of New York City. Plenty of room for walkers, wheelers, babies in strollers and then some. Lots of space for me to safely pass around slow walkers when I'm in a hurry.

Keep paving in travel ways smooth
...smooth concrete with narrow stress joints works for me. I also love wide, flat flagstones like the ones used throughout Barcelona. I dislike even the smoothest of pavers and despise brickwork. What looks like tiny seams to walkers means major up-and-down bumping for wheelers.

Avoid "cookie-cutter" curb ramps
...differences in terrain and limitations of space require different ramp designs in order to be compliant and safe. Level landings at top and bottom are essential...And please: TWO curb ramps per corner instead of a single diagonal ramp.

Keep sidewalks clear of obstructions, even temporary ones
Coordination between local public works, transit, utilities, and state DOT is essential to preventing obstructions caused by landscaping, light poles, street signs, signal boxes, bus shelters, bus benches, newspaper boxes, bike racks, etc. Just as bad are sidewalks suddenly blocked off with little or no warning...I mean many months of torn up or obstructed rights of way due to long-term construction projects which provide no alternative, accessible, safe pathway.

If you take a look at the street from last week's post, you'll see it follows the bulk of the these rules. The sidewalk could be wider, but paving along travel ways is smooth, two curb ramps are in place, and obstructions are pushed to the edge of the sidewalk in the "street furniture zone."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Complete Streets, Ecuador Style

I was browsing through some of my non-American transportation pictures when I came across this photo of an amazing street in Baños in Ecuador. Isn't it great?

But before I break down the details of what makes this street so awesome, a note on why I was looking at streets in Ecuador in the first place: So often when we point to examples of the best complete streets, we're showing places in affluent (read: white) neighborhoods in Europe or the US. At the same time, we're often working in neighborhoods that don't exactly share those demographics. It's worth noting that Copenhagen and San Francisco don't have the monopoly on walkability.

For the record, I'm just as guilty as the next planner of doing this-- thus my perusal of South American streetscapes. Which brings us back to the street above. First, let's look at land use: two stories of residential over street-level storefronts. This keeps the density relatively high while maintaining a "human scale:" the buildings are probably about 35 feet high and are proportionate to the width of the street. The variety of commercial uses on the ground floor serve residents in the neighborhood, making it easier to accomplish daily errands without driving.

About those commercial uses--notice how they're set up with outdoor displays, café seating, and windows to engage people walking down the street. You can see at a glance that this street would be interesting to explore. Importantly, those outdoor displays and café tables aren't blocking the sidewalk, and neither are the planters and benches on the other side of the travel way. I especially like how there are decorative tiles in the street furniture zone of the sidewalk, but not in the pedestrian pathway. Decorative paving looks great, but it can be tricky to navigate (e.g., try walking on cobblestones in heels).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Resources to Reduce Traffic Speeds in Your Neighborhood

Image courtesy of Health Resources in Action
Health Resources in Action recently created a new webpage of community Speed Reduction resources with plenty of ideas for neighborhoods hoping to slow down traffic on their street.

In addition to two brief fact sheets (Public Health Impact: Community Speed Reduction and Speed Reduction Fact Sheet: Opportunities to Improve Current Practice ), HRIA has put together a more lengthy technical report that provides a nice summary of the state of the practice and outlines key public health concerns related to speeding.

Why is speeding a problem?
Most advocates are aware that higher speeds lead to more severe injuries and fatalities, but the numbers bear repeating: the average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle is just 10 percent at an impact speed of 16 mph, but quickly reaches 50 percent at only 31 mph.
There are real costs associated with speeding crashes as well. According to the technical report, the cost of speeding-related crashes is estimated at over $40 billion per year, and a single fatality costs $6 million. Moreover, vulnerable (low-income, minority) communities disproportionately affected, as are young, old, disabled--people less likely to be able to recover from the financial challenges created by a speeding fatality.

What causes speeding?
The report points to three key factors. First, road design: roads that are designed to be "forgiving" to drivers (wide lanes, no on-street parking, no landscaping or street furniture to run into) provide cues that encourage drivers to speed, often without even realizing it. These physical features are far more important to driver than incidental features like, oh, speed limit signs. As the report puts it, "...a road that is designed to be driven at high speeds will be driven at high speeds, despite posted speed limits."

Land use may also play a role in speeding. The report highlighted one study that found that strip malls and big box retailers are major crash risk factors for bikes and pedestrians. On the other hand, commercial areas designed at a pedestrian scale lessen the risk of crashes.

Finally, the report cites a culture of speeding as a major part of the problem. More than 70 percent of drivers speed--despite the fact that most people say they disapprove of speeding. This is particularly true for speeding in residential areas, where nearly 90 percent of people "frown upon" speeding but almost half admit to speeding themselves.

What should we do about it?
Fortunately, there are many ways to combat the problem of speeding. Health Resources in Action recommends four key strategies:

  1. Design and retrofit road networks to ensure safe speeds for all road users (motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians), using techniques such as traffic calming or slow zones.
  2. Use automated technologies to enforce speed limits.
  3. Set speed limits for the safety of all road users.
  4. Improve data collection
They also provide six case studies of communities that are implementing these strategies. Over the next few days we'll review the findings from these studies to learn how you might apply them in your own neighborhood.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Driverless cars will save the world!

Photo courtesy of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles

Okay, I don't really think that.

But I do think they deserve more than a knee-jerk, negative reaction (see discussion here and here). Pedestrians (and planners, for that matter) tend to think of the car as their natural enemy, and it's true the car causes a lot of problems--for everyone, not just those who travel on foot. Does that mean we should reject any change in the technology that might continue to perpetuate an auto-centric world? Let's consider the costs of cars and private vehicle travel, and see what robo-cars might do to change them.

1. Public Health
According to CDC data about 30,000 Americans are killed in traffic crashes each year, at a cost of $41 billion. If that sounds discouraging, consider that over 90 percent of traffic deaths and injuries take place outside the US, killing 1.3 million people annually and injuring another 20 to 50 million. I probably don't have to tell you that pedestrians are disproportionately represented in those deaths and injuries, right?

Driverless cars might not eliminate this problem entirely (the laws of physics still apply if someone darts in front of a car), but they have the potential to seriously decrease deaths and injuries from crashes. Imagine no more distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, red-light running--or people cutting you off on the freeway. For me, this alone is reason enough to support further investigation into driverless technology.

There are other health consequences from driving, of course. Air pollution from vehicles contributes to high asthma and cancer rates, particularly in neighborhoods near freeways. Driverless cars may have a small impact on this by reducing congestion, but the real benefits from pollution reduction will come from other technologies. And by making it easier to drive, robo-cars might contribute to the ongoing obesity problem in our country (and elsewhere). We shouldn't ignore their potential to create a new kind of lazy (car-potato?), but I'm not convinced the obesity epidemic, with its myriad causes and solutions, is reason enough to reject robo-cars outright.

2. Congestion
Congestion costs Americans over $100 billion per year (not including associated health costs). As transportation experts have said for years, the best solution is well within our reach -- if only we could find the political will to implement it. Until then we hunt for the second-best options, and driverless cars are one of them. They would remove most of the delays caused by crashes, and allow vehicles to travel faster and more smoothly.

However, let's be clear: driverless cars would not solve the fundamental problem of congestion (namely, lots of people trying to get the same place at the same time on the same route). They have the potential to ease congestion by improving roadway efficiency, but they won't eliminate it entirely.

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.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Upcoming ITE Webinars

CSS: Case Study Successes in Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares
Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Eastern

Credits: 1.5 PDH/Approved AICP Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for this activity

Instructor:  James M. Daisa, P.E., Associate Principal, Ove Arup & Partners, San Francisco, CA, USA; Brian Bochner, P.E., PTOE, Senior Research Engineer, Texas Transportation Institute, College Station, TX, USA and Beverly Storey, Associate Research Scientist, Texas Transportation Institute, College Station, TX, USA
This Web briefing provides background and examples of collaborative planning, community and thoroughfare design, design issue resolution, innovative financing,  value capture through redevelopment and public/private partnerships. It will provide two examples of the use of the Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) approach to develop a vision, objectives and design for an urban thoroughfare in areas targeted for redevelopment.

Site Fee: $50 non-refundable fee. Register online here.

CSS: Designing Safety and Security Into Walkable Urban Thoroughfares
Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m. Eastern

Credits: 1.5 PDH/Approved AICP Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for this activity
Instructor: James M. Daisa, P.E., Associate Principal, Ove Arup & Partners, San Francisco, CA, USA; Brian Bochner, P.E., PTOE, Senior Research Engineer, Texas Transportation Institute, College Station, TX, USA; and Beverly Storey, Associate Research Scientist, Texas Transportation Institute, College Station, TX, USA
This Web briefing presents a wide range of design approaches and features that help designers incorporate transportation safety into the design of walkable urban thoroughfares. This includes both roadway and urban design. The briefing will cover primary causes of safety issues and the basic approaches to increasing safety, design features that can increase safety in a multimodal, walkable urban environment and safety benefits and personal security aspects.

Site Fee: $50 non-refundable fee. Register online here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Improving Pedestrian Design

A couple resources for planners and engineers hoping to improve roadway design to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists:

First, from the Journal of the American Planning Association, Designing for the Safety of Pedestrians, Cyclists, and Motorists in Urban Environments. In this article, the authors probe at one of the underlying premises that leads to today's emphasis on "vehicle-oriented" roadway design: wide roads are safe roads. Opening with this disturbing quote, "...every effort should be made to use as high a design speed as practical in the interests of safety," from the 2004 AASHTO "green book" (one of the primary guides for American roadway design), the article proceeds to debunk the theory that vehicle crashes are the result of random error and thus roads should be designed to be as forgiving (read: fast) as possible. Obviously such an attitude presents some concerns for vulnerable road users like pedestrians, who are much more likely to be killed or injured on high-speed roads than those where supposedly "dangerous" speed treatments are in place.

While the JAPA article explains why the old theories of roadway design should be thrown out, that doesn't solve the problem of what to do with all the high-speed, pedestrian-unfriendly roadways that have already been built. Enter Caltrans, and its newest complete streets resource, Complete Intersections: a Guide to Reconstructing Intersections and Interchanges for Bicycles and Pedestrians. In it, Caltrans walks through (sorry, the ped puns are hard to avoid) appropriate treatments for each type of intersection, including three- and four-leg intersections, as well as more unique situations like mid block crossings and roundabouts. I particularly appreciate the "Guiding Principles" that Caltrans lays out for intersection design. So often in the past these appear to have been missing from the engineering thought process. Hopefully the new guidance from Caltrans marks a change for the better:
  • Observe (watch how the intersection is currently used)
  • Pedestrians and bicyclists will be there (people will walk, regardless of whether or not an engineer thinks walking is unsafe at a particular location)
  • Maintain and improve (instead of removing pedestrian facilities)
  • Tee it up (to 90 degrees, which forces motorists to make slower turns at intersections)
  • One decision at a time (don't force people to worry about too many things at once)
  • Slow it down
  • Shorten crossings
  • Improve visibility
  • Clarify the right-of-way (because not everyone has memorized the vehicle code like some of us have)
  • Keep it direct (pedestrians won't walk out of their way to get somewhere)
  • Light at night
  • Access for all (including young and old pedestrians, and people with disabilities)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Smorgasbord of Technical Studies

For all the transpo geeks out there (admit it, statistics make you drool), a rundown of the latest in pedestrian design and research:

Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practices
A 300-page tome that outlines everything you ever wanted to know about designing pedestrian signals for folks who are blind or have low vision. This guide clearly describes the many different types of accessible signals (e.g. tonal signals, messages, vibrotactile), explains design considerations, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each, and (this I find especially helpful) explains how a blind or sight-impaired person would actually use the accessible signal in their everyday travel.

Best Practices in Traffic Operations and Safety: Phase II: Zig-zag Pavement Markings
After touring the world in search of effective safety measures not found in the US, highway officials came back with a dozen or so promising ideas to test out. One of these, installing "zig-zag" pavement markings on roadways with significant bicycle and pedestrian traffic, is intended to raise motorist awareness of vulnerable users, reduce roadway speeds, and decrease pedestrian and bicycle crashes. This study tests out the technology at two Virginia locations where the multi-use Washington and Old Dominion trail crosses a major roadway. The study showed that the markings were associated with lower driver speeds and a higher tendencies for drivers to yield to other users, although the unfamiliar markings did cause some confusion among roadway users, who weren't entirely sure of their intent.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Worldwide Walking: Munich

So does Munich really deserve the moniker of most walkable in the world?

Like Vienna, Munich is rife with pedestrian zones:
Pedestrian-only plazas:
And toucan crossings:
But like I said in my last post, I'm not as impressed by the walkability of cities that developed when the only real form of transportation was walking. Not to say they aren't great--just that it's a lot harder to create a walkable city after the fact, and cities that manage to do so deserve extra credit.

So while I appreciated everything that Munich had to offer in the way of walkability, I wasn't quite ready to call it the best in the world...until I discovered this:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Worldwide Walking: Vienna

Freshly back from two weeks in some of the world's most walkable cities, I'd like to share some observations and pictures about walkability done right.

First, Vienna. As you can see in this shot of the center of town, pedestrian zones abound throughout the city--but that isn't necessarily saying much in a city that developed pre-automobile. Does it represent forward, pedestrian-oriented thinking on the part of city leadership, or just a lack of funding to "modernize" the city? To answer that question, we need to look outside the city center:
This is one of the main arterials that rings the central part of the city. As you can see, there's quite a bit of pavement devoted to travel here--but unlike what you might find here in LA, most of is not given over to vehicles. In fact, when you add in the wide sidewalk and bike path on the opposite side of the street (not visible here), the majority of right-of-way is granted to non-motorized modes. I think this says a lot about the value placed on walking and biking in Vienna.

Finally, from the same location, one last note on crosswalk design. Here you can see a midblock crossing stretching across the frontage road. While I'm impressed by the attention to pedestrian safety (even though this is a narrow, low-volume road, engineers have still added extra safety measures including signs and an advance stop bar), what I like the most is the placement of the crossing.
See that low wall to the left? That's an entrance to the subway system. Even though it's located only about 100 feet from the main intersection, Vienna officials put a midblock crossing right at the entrance because they understood that pedestrians wouldn't walk 100 feet out of their way to cross at the intersection. I suspect that you would never see a similar set-up here in the US, because roadway designers would much rather make a pedestrian walk out of her way to cross a street than to deal with the challenges of midblock crossings. And if they did "jaywalk" and take the most direct route? Well in downtown LA that would be a $200 ticket...

Tomorrow: does Munich deserve to be called one of the world's most walkable cities?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Guiding Bellevue Towards Walkability

I was scouring the internet recently in search of well-written ordinances for buffering and screening (what, you don't spend all day hunting down esoteric bits of code language for your job?), when I came across the two great sets of design guidelines created by the City of Bellevue, Washington.

Turns out Bellevue had some pretty forward thinkers who, back in the early 1980s, decided that it would be a good idea to stop devoting so much space and energy to the car. They adopted a whole new code to guide development in their central business district, and eventually created some lovely design guidelines to help implement it.

The two that I found particularly interesting from a pedestrian perspective were the guidelines for Building/Sidewalk Relationships and Pedestrian Corridors and Major Open Space. The first devotes about 25 pages to delineating the precise relationship between the sidewalk and building frontage for each of a half-dozen street types. It might seem like a lot of attention to pay to a slim slice of the downtown space, but creating a dynamic interaction between the sidewalk and adjacent buildings actually accomplishes a number of important goals--which the document handily identifies-- such as creating a pedestrian environment with activity, enclosure and protection (important in the rainy northwest).

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Trouble in the Valley Continues

We've heard a lot in the last few weeks about the crashes that killed pedestrians Conor Lynch and Emely Aleman, but today I'd like to talk about another recent crash in the Valley that hasn't received quite as much attention. (Apparently--cue frustration and gnashing of teeth--it takes a child or two dying before people really start to take note of the challenges pedestrians face on the streets out there.)

Earlier this month Julia* was hit by a car while crossing the street at Ventura Blvd and Etiwanda Avenue with the signal and in the crosswalk. The crash sent her to the hospital for weeks, and although, unlike Lynch and Aleman, Julia survived her crash, she's facing a painful recovery (not to mention some painful battles with her insurance provider).

Some might be tempted to dismiss this incident, arguing (with a hint of fatalism) that there's not much that can be done about drivers who flagrantly break the law and run a red light. Perhaps. But let's take a closer look at that intersection, shall we?

Here's a picture of the northeast corner of the intersection, looking south across Ventura Boulevard.

For strarters, notice the crosswalk striping: two measly white lines. This may be considered the "standard" for crosswalk striping, but it's hardly going to get the attention of drivers zipping down Ventura Boulevard at 45 or 50 mph. And there's not even a median refuge to help pedestrians as they navigate seven lanes of traffic. I would argue that an intersection with this kind of traffic volume/speed requires a more extensive crossing treatment. Please, at least give the poor pedestrians a stop bar behind the crosswalk!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Designing for Pedestrian Safety

Want to learn more about how to design roads to keep pedestrians safe?

For those in the LA area, Metro invites you to participate in a 2-day Designing for Pedestrian Safety Workshop funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The workshop will include a walking field trip to a problem area to help participants understand and identify obstacles to walking. All workshop sessions will cover the same content and will be held at:

Metro Headquarters, One Gateway Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
8:30am – 4:30pm.

Dates include:

Monday, November 15 & Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Wednesday, November 17 & Thursday, November 18, 2010
Monday, December 13 & Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Wednesday, December 15 & Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, January 10 &Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Wednesday, January 12 & Thursday, January 13, 2011

To register for the workshop, please email Metro and include your name, organization, department, job title, phone number, and email/mailing address. Or contact Adela Felix at (213) 922-4333 or Julie Leung at (213) 922-4373.

Also, don't forget about the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center's ongoing webinar series on designing for pedestrian safety. There are still a few webinars left in the eight-part series, and you can always watch previous sessions online. For more information and to register click here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Worldwide Walking: Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala

I won't pretend that Latin America doesn't get a lot wrong when it comes to its pedestrian environment, but one thing I do appreciate about the region is its abundance of mixed-use streets. Unlike the here in the US, where we've spent decades working hard to ensure that pedestrians stay in their proper place (preferably, within a car) and vehicles have the road to themselves, pedestrians still have a valid place on many South and Central American streets. When done correctly (i.e., with an eye towards ensuring pedestrian safety), this can lead to a lively, jubiliant street atmosphere. I'll start with one of my all-time favorite pictures of pedestrians taking the street for themselves:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Worldwide Walking: Brazil and El Salvador

A good streetscape doesn't just provide a pleasant place for a pedestrian to walk, it also helps contribute to a community's identity. It's one thing to walk down a nice street, it's another to walk down a nice street that also tells you something about the people who use it every day. Take these sidewalk treatments from Rio de Jainero. The patterns are so iconic that you don't need anything else to tell you what neighborhood you're in:

Then there's the small town of La Palma in El Salvador, made famous when the artist Ferrnando Llort made it his hub. Now there are dozens of factories in the village devoted to his style of art, which has spilled out onto the city's streets.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Worldwide Walking: Tokyo

Inspired by a recent webinar from the PBIC on pedestrian safety lessons from around the world, I wanted to share my own walking images from afar. This week I'll innundate you with some of my favorites from Asia, Europe, and (of course) Latin America, starting with my visit to Japan in 2008.

You might already have heard of their amazing bullet trains, but it turns out Tokyo outdoes us in just about all things transportation (and don't get me started on disaster preparedness). Some of my favorite pedestrian-friendly features were this series of pocket parks. What was surprising about them wasn't their diminutive size (given that space is at a premium in the city), but how much they could pack into a small space. Makes you think about what we might be able to do with the right-of-way if we cut down our oversized roadways.

Monday, August 16, 2010

6 principles for safer walking

I'm such a list person, so naturally I was excited when I found this list from a recent webinar  presented by Charlie Zegeer, director of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.  In one succinct slide, he sums up the best ways to create safe pedestrian streets:
  • Keep it simple
  • Shorten crossing distances
  • Carefully select crossing locations and marked crosswalks
  • Create visible crossings
  • Proper traffic control (signs, signals, guards)
  • Slow down traffic speeds
I've read my share of tomes on improving pedestrian safety, but sometimes short and sweet is easier to digest. Like a cookie.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Award-winning Walkability

Waiting an extra hour for my presentation at last week's Ventura County Board of Supervisor's hearing was pretty horrid on my nerves, but at least the delay was caused by something interesting: the 2010 Climate Change Action Awards.

An especially happy distraction was Naval Base Ventura County's award for the new Catalina Heights military housing project in Camarillo. Formerly described as "bomb shelter chic," the newly remodeled complex includes about 30 single family homes and 230 townhouses. Shopping, restaurants, the local elementary school and a community center with preschool and daycare services are incorporated into the community design so residents can meet many of their daily needs by walking instead of biking.

As this picture (courtesy of the Ventura County Star) shows, the development has many key walkable design elements: sidewalks, on-street parking, a landscaped parkway, front doors (not garages) oriented towards the street...if only Ventura Blvd could be so lovely. It almost makes me want to join the Navy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This week on foot

New Jersey, where a New Law Says Stop, Not Yield, for Pedestrians, continues to be in the pedestrian safety spotlight this week. The goal of the law, which requires drivers to stop completely once a pedestrian enters a crosswalk or face a $200 fine and 15 days of community service, is to eliminate ambiguities about driver behavior and Protect Pedestrians in crosswalks.

The Pacific Coast Highway could certainly use some of that protection, where this week Authorities seek witnesses to Malibu crash that killed pedestrian. The crash was the second pedestrian fatality in Malibu in the past month.

At the New York auto show this week Volvo revealed one potential solution to pedestrian safety: New Volvo S60 brakes automatically if it detects pedestrians. The vehicle is just one of a growing number of cars that are taking pedestrian safety out of the hands of drivers--a trend that I would like to see a lot more of (and not only because I have a running bet with my husband over whether or not we'll see cars that drive themselves entirely in our lifetime).

Of course, there are other options for improving pedestrian safety, as we learned in this nice Streetsblog feature about Making Streets for Walking: Dan Burden on Reforming Design Standards (e.g. if we want people to drive slowly then we need to--I know, this sounds crazy!--design roads that make it uncomfortable to speed). The piece focuses on the new street design publication recently released by the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Congress for New Urbanism: Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach .

Now if they could only do the same thing for parking lots like this one in Hattiesburg where there was a Pedestrian hit in Wal-Mart parking lot...