Thursday, October 21, 2010

This Week on Foot

This week began with sad news as 2 teenagers' lives intersect with tragic results in Sherman Oaks. The death of 16-year-old Conor Lynch during a cross country practice led the LA Times to note that Cross-country runners face risk on L.A. streets. True. And so do the rest of us, like the Pedestrian hit by car in Bellflower hospitalized

And it's not just cars that are a problem. In Washington state Bikes, pedestrians clash on campus at Whitman College. Even parking lots can be dangerous, like this one in Richmond where a Pedestrian hit by car, pinned in parking lot mishap.

Fortunately, people around the world are working to address these dangers. In Palm Springs, Pedestrians to have easier time crossing streets due to the installation of some new, decorative crosswalks, while in San Francisco the Glen Park plans leave out cars, put focus on pedestrians
New York Officials eye more pedestrian-friendly city in order to keep residents happy (and stop them from leaving town). Even El Paso Project Promises To Bring Different Downtown Concept

Our friends in India continue to be successful in their efforts to improve pedestrian safety in that country. In Bangalore, Pedestrian-operated lights soon at 30 junctions. Meanwhile, in Canada Worsley students focus on walkability, and get to hang out with Colombia's pedestrian extraordinaire, Gil Penalosa.
And if you've been wondering where to do your Halloween-night walking, Zillow has released its second annual list of best places for trick-or-treating. In case you were wondering, LA ranks 14th, right behind San Diego.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Want to Avoid Dementia in Later Life? Take a Walk.

A longitudinal study of older adults (average age 78) released this month in the journal Neurology shows that walking at least 72 blocks a week, or six to nine miles, leads to greater volumes of grey matter--and less memory loss--over time. About 40 percent of study participants developed some form of dementia over the course of the study, but those who had more grey matter because of walking reduced their risk of cognitive impairment by two-fold.

So at least now we have some evidence that creating pedestrian-friendly environments is important for public health.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Will a Walkable Neighborhood Make Me Skinny?

Well, it's hard to say...but it will definitely make me skinny. That's because I live in a walkable neighborhood and I value walking. It's that last part that is the key to low Body Mass Index (BMI), according to this recently published study from the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Living in a walkable community isn't enough. You also have to want to walk.

First, some background. It's clearly established that there is a relationship between walkable communities and walking. A pedestrian-friendly neighborhood has more pedestrians, plain and simple. What's less clear is why exactly this is so. Is there more walking in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods because people who already like to walk a lot move into them? Or does walkable community design cause erstwhile couch potatoes to get up and move? A growing body of evidence suggests it's the former of these two possibilites that explain the high walking rates in pedestrian-friendly communities, and this study adds to that evidence.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This week on foot

People have been buzzing this week about how it appears Americans' love of suburban living is disappearing, and being replaced with a preference for homes in denser, walkable areas. Ecohome notices that Baby Boomers, Gen Y, and the Recession Shift Long-Held Housing Tastes and Trends, while the Wall Street Journal explains How SoHo Can Save the Suburbs.

Of course, for this trend to really take off we'll need to to better than Ontario, which this week brought us a remarkable Wilson Street Redevelopment Walkability Fail, and the greater Washington, D.C. area, where You're free to mow down pedestrians in Prince William. Even Hawaii's efforts to clear the sidewalk for pedestrians are a little questionable. Perhaps the Sidewalk tent ban approved by the Honolulu city council will make things easier for walkers, but what about the homeless people who use the sidewalks as living space?

At least Tennessee is heading the right direction, as Environment And Conservation Announces Walk With Me Tennessee Initiative. And in California one group took pedestrian justice into their own hands when Man who hit Marysville pedestrian followed by witnesses.

Meanwhile, in Bangalore folks are wondering, Will pedestrians get more time to cross roads? (Answer: maybe.)

Finally, Road Warrior reminds Pedestrians: Just push the ‘walk’ button once, because all those extra pushes won't make the signal change any faster. But as one commentor points out, sometimes they sure are satisfying.

Monday, October 11, 2010

CicLAvia Reviews

With apologies for my shameful lack of promotion for this event, a few recaps of Sunday's transformation of seven miles of downtown LA streets into a bike/ped paradise:

LA Times
For a few surreal hours Sunday, the car was stripped of its crown in Los Angeles and pavement was turned into playground.

Streetsblog LA
CicLAvia touched hundreds of thousands of people, even if it were just that they heard laughing on their streets instead of cars honking their horns.
While a majority of participants used the chance to cycle between East Hollywood and Boyle Heights via a variety of neighborhoods like downtown and MacArthur Park, others used it to dance, have a game of dodgeball or tennis, do yoga, make art, or go for a run.
Curbed LA
People were talking, waving, and smiling at each other. Families, hippies, hipsters, artists, activists, old people, kids, all sorts of religious people in their headgear....
I might have made it to the epic event, if it wasn't such an epic journey to LA proper from the Valley, but I've heard nothing by rave reviews and am hoping that this sparks some interest in a similar event in other places in the city (like, I don't know, Woodland Hills?).