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.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This week on foot

This week's rundown begins with a slap in the face for Ohio pedestrians, where BG police pass out tickets to pedestrians in construction zone. Some of the 70 people who received the $125 tickets claim there were not signs in place indicating that the sidewalk in question was closed. Of course I don't think pedestrians should be walking through construction zones, but that means that contractors and cities need to provide adequate "alternative routing" during construction. It is not enough--as I experienced this very morning on Victoria Ave at Telephone, if any Ventura officials are reading this-- to just slap up a "sidewalk closed" sign and leave it to pedestrians to figure out how to get past the construction (and Ventura, giving pedestrians the "choice" of walking through a gas station parking lot or walking in the vehicle travel lanes doesn't cut it).

And in a similar attempt to distract our attention from the real problem, the AA slams 'iPod zombie' pedestrians for walking while listening to their music devices. Ummm AA, how many "distracted pedestrians" have killed another person lately?
At least there's a little good news. In Georgia GDOT Gives DeKalb Pedestrians Green Light, and in Deleware and elsewhere New traffic signals make it safer for pedestrians. Even notoriously pedestrian unfriendly Beverly Hills searches for some Instant Karma: Beverly Hills Cops Nab Drivers Failing to Yield.

And in my favorite story of the week--maybe even the year-- an Anonymous donor gives funds for crosswalks to a city in New Jersey. I don't know who you are, but can you come live in my city?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Safe Routes to School News

I was inspired during today's Southern California Safe Routes to School network conference call by some of the interesting projects happening throughout the region  (if you'd like info on how to join in the monthly calls, contact the CA policy manager Jessica Meaney). Here's the scoop on what's happening with SRTS in:

Los Angeles
The City has received nearly $500,000 in funding to work with six schools in the west LA area on outreach and education to increase active transportation to school. The educational campaign has included public service announcements on spanish and english TV (starring kids from the target schools), lawn signs, educational brochures, billboards, radio spots, and ads on buses and at bus shelters. Along with the media blitz the schools have held assemblies, given out prizes like bikes and pedometers, and worked with parents to address perceived safety concerns. The results have been a 19 percent increase in kids walking to school. You can learn  more about the City's activities at the Watch the Road website.

A committee of dedicated parents in Glendale have been working for the last two years to improve safety around local school sites. Their first step was to address the hazardous conditions created by parents' poor driving habits. The committee created a valet system for the AM drop-off period, staffed by student, faculty, and parent volunteers (and the occasional school board member), then took a stab at the PM pick-up period by piloting a "no drive zone" around the school: parents who drove to pick up their kids were required to park several blocks away (a local grocery store generously let the parents use their parking lot), then walk to get their children.

Burbank has been focusing on bikes lately in its SRTS efforts, setting up a bike education program with assemblies on bike safety and special courses for parents and kids. The city has also set up a bike coop program, where kids learn to fix and maintain donated bikes--and then get to keep them for their own. Next year the City plans to set up a citywide committee to address SRTS on a bigger scale, taking a look at areas where pedestrian improvements could help get more kids walking.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Walking in Mexico

Every time I hit the pavement in Latin America, I'm reminded of its penchant for pedestrian contrasts. On one hand you have narrow, cracked sidewalks that trip up even the most able-bodied person out there, a complete dearth of street furniture, choking diesel fumes, and a general disregard for the rights of those on foot--not to mention a nearly complete lack of marked crossings.

But then one block over you have lovely landscaping, narrow streets, relatively wide sidewalks:

Pleasant plazas accessed by pedestrian-only streets, with lots of engaging public space:

Or even really cool things like parks built on top of parking lots:

And crossing guards at the main downtown intersections:

So I just can't ever decide if Mexico does pedestrian design worse or better than us in the U.S.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This Week on Boat

I'm off on the high seas this week, hopefully returning next week with some photos of walking conditions in Mexico...

 image courtest of matty!