Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Equal Footing Summit - September 16, 2010

Not only does it have a clever name, it's free! What's not to love?

2010 Equal Footing Summit

Equal Footing is a new project of America Walks. They will launch their campaign with a FREE SUMMIT on September 16 in Chattanooga, TN in order to achieve concrete outcomes such as:
  • Raise the profile of walking to an issue of national importance.
  • Build unity and energy so that we can speak with one voice for transforming walking and walkability in America.
  • Raise America Walks' capacity to lead the national walking movement.

 Go to http://www.americawalks.org/equal-footing for more details.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

DOT Webinar on Transportation and Greenhouse Gas Reduction

The folks over at the US DOT transportation and climate change clearinghouse are holding a webinar on June 16 from 1 to 2:30 pm (that's eastern time) to discuss findings from their recently released report Transportation's Role in Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The report isn't for the fainthearted--Volume I is a hefty 605 pages-- but it does have some telling info on the federal government's expectations for the future of transportation and fossil fuels.

According to the report, the most effective strategies for reducing GHGs from transportation are fuel taxes (ha, tell that to the politicians). Implementing a carbon cap and trade program is also expected to have a significant effect, along with (drum roll please) targeting urban growth in dense, walkable communities. Glad the feds are starting to pay attention to the power of the pedestrian.

Less effective would be a fee imposed on people for vehicle miles traveled. Note the implication of this finding: Americans might be willing to change the type of fuel they put in their vehicles or buy more fuel-efficient cars in order to pay lower gas taxes, but they aren't going to stop driving. Well, you can't win them all...

If this brief post hasn't satisfied your inner transpo geek, you can register for a full hour and a half of webinar fun here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

This week on foot

As the summer sun heats up this week, so does the controversy over New Jersey's new pedestrian law that requires motorists to come to a complete stop when peds are in the crosswalk. A Long Beach Island businessman seeks repeal of N.J. pedestrian law, but Spot checks show motorists frequently ignore new crosswalk law at New Jersey shore.

Undeterred by the tepid acceptance of ped friendly laws in New Jersey, Streetsblog New York reports on a new law that is making its way through the NY state legislature. Hayley and Diego’s Law Clears State Assembly this week, and if passed it will make "careless driving" (i.e. running over vulnerable road users) a punishable offence.

It looks like Minnesota could use a similar law, where Kid Hit by Car at Pedestrian Crosswalk, but Police Don't Ticket Driver.

Of course, conflicts with vehicles aren't the only danger for walkers. In New York City, Pedestrians, Bicyclists Spar for Space in NYC's New No-Car Zones. Part of the City's efforts to reduce congestion, improve the environment, and encourage the use of alternative transportation, the zones have also had the unintended consequence of making travel difficult for bike messengers and other cyclists. Hopefully the hundreds of miles of new bike lanes proposed for the city will help alleviate the problem.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pedestrian Advocacy in the Developing World

And now, after cleverly peaking your interest in pedestrian advocacy through this series of posts (part 1, part 2, part 3), I can finally crow about my own research on the subject. Truly motivated readers can check out the full article in the latest issue of Transportation: Theory and Application, but for the rest here's a quick summary:

Last year, after scouring the internet for every ped advocacy group I could find, I spent some time reading the websites and surveying the leaders of seven pedestrian advocacy organizations in low- and middle-income countries (thank goodness Google translate does Bulgarian). Some of the interesting findings:
  • Not surprisingly, pedestrian advocacy is a relatively new phenomenon in the developing world; most groups were only formed in the last five years.
  • Safety is the top concern for most groups, but issues of social justice/equity, health, and traffic congestion are also important
  • Most groups are funded entirely by private donations, unlike those in the US and Europe that supplement private funding with government monies, corporate grants, and even consulting fees
  • Technology plays a big role in the groups' outreach efforts; many have blogs, websites, email lists, and online forums. While a great (and cheap) source way to promote walking, these sources might not reach the poorest walkers, who likely don't have computer access.
  • Many group members serve as technical "experts" on government transportation projects. On one hand, this a great way for the groups to make their voices heard. On the other, that local governments don't have any internal pedestrian experts does suggest that walking isn't the government's top priority...
If you'd like to learn more about these groups or their work you can check out their websites on the Pedesrian Advocacy page.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Enjoying the Walk Through Texas

A few months ago I introduced you to intrepid walker George Throop, who is walking across the country in an effort to inspire Americans to walk at least 20 minutes each day. When we left him George was just starting his trek through Los Angeles. Since then, he's made it through the rest of California, Arizona, and part of Texas, where he's paused for a summer hiatus in order to avoid serious desert walking in serious heat (smart call, George). Here's a few of his observations from the trek, but you can follow the whole journey on his website here.

Interestingly, riding a bicycle on I-10 is legal, but walking is prohibited. This poses a significant challenge for anyone wishing to walk across America via the southern route. Though I'm for walking on city or frontage roads as much as possible, occasionally the freeway is the best option, despite the dangers. Arizona Highway Patrol booted me from I-10 just a few miles short of Benson. They told me I could continue on the freeway till Benson, but that from there, I'd have to find another way. I did find alternatives through the rest of the state. I walked some miles on I-10 once I reached New Mexico.

From El Paso, I'll be heading back into NM, to Alamogordo and then across on Hwy 82. This will take me through some mountains-- so it's better that I'm doing this now and not in the winter.

The desert part of the walk has been challenging-- especially given that it's now heating up considerably. That said-- I'm happy it hasn't reached 100 degrees yet. (93 in El Paso tomorrow.) I've loved it though-- what a fantastic first-time-in-the-SW-desert experience it's been!