Monday, March 8, 2010

Transportation For America: Take Action

Transportation for America is heading to DC this week to advocate for Rep. Earl Blumenauer's Active Community Transportation Act (H.R. 4722). This bill would create a $2 billion competitive grant program to fund safe networks for biking and walking, and it needs your support.

You can find more information on the Active Community Transportation Act here, along with links to send a message to your representative asking them to co-sponsor the bill.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

This Week on Foot

Some weeks it sure seems hard to find any good news on the pedestrian front. Seems like I shouldn't have to scour through pages and pages of headlines about pedestrian deaths before I discover anything positive.

Take this story from the small Washington state town where my family is from, which describes a Day of tears: Driver gets prison for hitting, killing pedestrian (the tears must have made a difference for that driver, who only received a three-year sentence, as opposed to the Swedish Rapper Sentenced 15-to-Life for Killing Pedestrian here in LA).

Or there's this story from Long Beach, California, where LBFD rescues pedestrian pinned under Metro Blue Line in downtown Long Beach. Or the sad tale from Detroit, where a DDOT test-drive ends in a pedestrian's death.

All that mayhem makes the fact that Berkeley Police Focuses on Pedestrian Safety in March to Remember Zachary Cruz (a six-year-old killed on his way to an after-school program in Berkeley) seem almost cheerful.

But all is not completely bleak on the pedestrian front. In the UK Road safety group C76 triumphant as Kings Langley C76 route repairs commence. At least London pedestrians will have safer access along one major roadway soon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Today's Disheartening Quote

"When did it become the responsibility of the federal DOT to build sidewalks?" asked Missouri Senator Kit Bond during today's transportation appropriations hearing (full story here on Streetsblog).

How about: around when we realized how much treating the obesity epidemic, driven in part by our auto-centric society, costs us? Or, when we discovered how expensive it was to deal with the health and environmental impacts of relying only of vehicles to get around? When we saw how many pedestrians are killed or injured each year in traffic crashes? When we learned that poor walkability contributes to serious social and economic disadvantages for people who can't drive or can't afford a car?


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Safe Routes to School Travel Data Report

In its recently released report Safe Routes to School Travel Data: A Look at Baseline Results from Parent Surveys and Student Travel Tallies the National Center for Safe Routes to School summarizes two years of travel data from the national safe routes to school program. Some of the key findings:
  • Most children travel to school by car or school bus, although walking does make up a fairly significant portion of school trips (11 percent in the morning and 15 percent in the afternoon)
  • Walking peaks in fifth grade, when nearly a quarter of kids walk or bike to school, then drops when children enter middle school (possibly due to middle schools being further from home than elementary schools)
  • Distance is the biggest factor in parents' decision to allow their kids to walk to school, and makes a dramatic difference in walking rates. Over 40 percent of children who live less than a quarter-mile from school walk to school. However, the percentage of walkers drops to nine percent for children living between 1/2 and one mile from school--and to two percent or less for children who live more than a mile away from school.
  • Although distance was important, traffic speed, traffic volume, and intersection crossing safety were also major factors in whether or not parents allowed their children to walk to school. Weather also made a difference to parents, but not as much as has been shown in previous studies.

Based on this data, the National Center for Safe Routes to School suggests that in the short term safe routes to school programs focus efforts particularly on areas within a mile of schools, where many children already walk. Since safety concerns are a major reason that parents don't allow their children to walk to school, identifying strategies to lower traffic around schools, reduce traffic speeds, and provide children with safe crossings could have a strong influence on the number of kids who walk to school.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

WalkSanDiego 2010 Gala

San Diego pedestrian advocacy group WalkSanDiego has announced the date of its annual Gala and Golden Footprint Awards ceremony. The Gala, honoring Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom and other award winners to be announced, is a great opportunity to mingle with other pedestrian advocates and learn about some of the important pedestrian work happening in California's most southern county. You can get more details on the website or from the event flyer.