Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Prius Stops Creeping Up on You

Toyota announced today that it will begin offering an engine-like sound system in newest Prius hybrids to help assuage concerns that the quiet vehicles pose greater risks to pedestrians than their noisier counterparts (a recent study showed hybrids were twice as likely as non-hybrids to be involved in pedestrian crashes at low speeds). The system is voluntary and (as of now) only offered in Japan, but Toyota is considering expanding the option to other countries/vehicle models.

Nice to know that pedestrians might soon face one less danger on the roads.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A new fix for local sidewalks

You may recall the hullaballoo that ensued earlier this year when the City of Los Angeles considered discontinuing its longstanding practice of paying for sidewalk repairs. Even though state law places the burden of sidewalk maintenance on adjacent property owners, LA took over responsibility in the early 70s after it received a hunk of federal funding for sidewalks. Now that the funding has run out, the City is looking to slither out of the sidewalk repair business.

Not only does this irritate property owners, who have gotten used to the City taking charge (however slowly) of sidewalk fixes, it raises issues related to accessibility under the Americans with Disabilites Act. The federal courts have ruled that ADA regulations, which stipulate equal access to the mobility-impaired, require local jurisdictions to maintain their sidewalks in good repair.

And how will cash-strapped cities like LA afford to do this? Donald Shoup (of The High Cost of Free Parking fame) offers one suggestion in the most recent issue of Access: point-of-sale sidewalk repairs.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This week on foot

This week brings more news about HAWK lights to help reduce pedestrian deaths in metro Phoenix. The High-Intensity Activated Crosswalks have been installed at a number of ped=heavy locations throughout the city to help improve pedestrian safety at midblock crossings.

Not so ped-friendly is the a Wall in White Flint endangers pedestrians. The wall forces pedestrians to travel far out of their way to access a bus stop, and creates some visibility issues for motorists.

Los Angeles seems to be doing just as poorly in providing good pedestrian access to transit stops, as one LA blogger discovered when Blogger Walk Scores Metro Rail Stops, Finds L.A. has Long Way to Go in Walkability

In San Francisco, pedestrians are taking matters into their own hands. Walk San Francisco was part of a group Appeal filed against downtown mall for failing to adequately evaluate the impact that designing the mall without regard to walkability would have on the environment. 

And across the world, EMBARQ is taking a look at the impact that another mode of transportation is having on pedestrians. Are India’s Auto-Rickshaws Safe for Pedestrians and Cyclists? Maybe not, but they sure aren't as bad as other types of motor vehicles...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Walk Score Gets Even More Awesome

This week your friendly neighborhood walkability evaluator Walk Score launched some great new features to help you evaluate where you live (or where you might want to live). The new Transit Score ranks a location based on transit availability, considering stop locations, frequency, and type of service. So far the service is only available in a few dozen cities, but will hopefully expand as more transit date becomes available from local agencies.

Walk Score has also integrated info from Google Maps to help you evaluate your commute options with the new Commute Report tool, which lists travel times between locations by foot, bike, car, and transit (where available). There's even a handy elevation map for those of us who like to know just what kind of walk/bike commute we're getting ourselves into.

The Commute Report also uses Center for Neighborhood Technology's Housing + Transportation Affordability Index to estimate combined housing and transportation costs for your location, which is important because transportation costs can put a serious dent in the affordability of neighborhood. Not that anyone was thinking Woodland Hills was affordable, but it was discouraging to see that on average transportation costs in my area are 11 percent higher than the average for the region.

You can get more details from the Walk Score Blog.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

NYC Releases Ped Report

The NY Times and NYC Streetsblog are buzzing over a report released Aug 16 by the NY DOT. The The New York City Pedestrian Safety Study & Action Plan evaluated crash data from about 7,000 severe and fatal pedestrian crashes to better understand the facors that impede pedestrian safety in the city--and help to address them. The report includes some pretty interesting/depressing info about the impact of pedestrian fatalities on the city (e.g. pedestrian crashes are the number 2 killer of children in NYC and pedestrian crashes cost the city $1.38 million per year). Some more key findings:
  • Pedestrians are 10 times more likely to die than a motor vehicle occupant in the event of a crash.
  • Pedestrians accounted for 52% of traffic fatalities from 2005-2009.  
  • Driver inattention was cited in nearly 36% of crashes resulting in pedestrians killed or seriously injured.  
  • 27% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved driver failure to yield.
  • 80% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve male drivers.
  • 79% of crashes that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve private vehicles, not taxis, trucks and buses.
Happily in all this negativity there was at least one encouraging statistic:
  • Traffic fatalities in 2009 were down by 35% from 2001. 
 Way to go Janette Sadik-Khan. Now will you move to LA?
Read the full report here