Friday, November 5, 2010

This Week on Foot

This week began with another tragic, high-profile pedestrian crash involving school children. Intersection safety scrutinized after NoHo crosswalk death (and serious injury to a second child). In response, the City will "discuss the area's history of accidents." How comforting.

Perhaps LA will take advice from Springfield, MO, where children are being bussed across a busy street because the Williams Elementary Pedestrian Bridge To Be Torn Down. But let's hope not.

A better solution would be to look to places like Perth, Australia, where the Inner city speed limit may be cut to improve pedestrian safety.

And it isn't just Perth that's looking for real solutions to its pedestrian problems. In Austin, TX a Walkability audit could affect future landscape, and in Denver Bicyclists and Pedestrians to be Counted in 6 Coloardo Communities.

Stuff like this is important, particularly as the time change makes evening walking less safe. As the Austrian Committee for Traffic Safety warns us, Twilight especially dangerous for pedestrians.

And if you don't buy into any of this walkability stuff? Maybe you'd be interested in A rant over yet another crosswalk scramble

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WalkSanDiego Seeks Executive Director

I really can't say enough about the great work that WalkSanDiego does; conducting workshops and walk audits that help identify pedestrian improvements for local communities, training the planning and engineering community about walkability prinicples, leading walks through some of San Diego's most interesting neighborhoods, the list goes on and on. Over the past decade WSD has grown from a small, volunteer-only organization to a robust nonprofit with several paid staff and a $650,000 annual budget.

WSD is currently seeking qualified candidates for its executive director position. You can learn more about the job and how to apply on the WSD webpage here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Case of the Mysterious Pocket Park

When I first moved to my neighborhood, I would often pass this cactus garden on Topanga Boulevard and marvel at the creativity of the people who chose such a unique landscaping scheme for their yard. Were they industry people who had a bunch of leftover props from a Western shoot and didn't know what to do with them? Cactus lovers with a lot of spare time on their hands? Then, not too long ago, a strange thing happened.

The yard started growing.

First it moved to the median separating the parking on Topanga from the road.
Then in crept to the other side of the street and took over the bus stop.
Soon it made it all the way down the road to an adjacent parkway.

Monday, November 1, 2010

City of Los Angeles Revises Parkway Rules

Okay, let's start with the basics. A parkway is that little strip of grass, trees, or (depending on your neighbors' level of motivation) dirt and weeds between the edge of the road bed and the sidewalk. Although the parkway is technically within the public right-of-way, the adjacent property owner is responsible for its design and maintenance.

Parkways are an important part of the pedestrian landscape for two reasons. First, they provide space for streets trees and other plantings that make the pedestrian environment more comfortable and interesting for walking. Second, they act as a buffer between the sidewalk and the traveled roadway, which increases pedestrian safety.

In practice some homeowners get pretty creative with their parkways, but until last week the only things homeowners were technically allowed to plant without a permit were street trees and lawns. Yawn. With the release of Los Angeles' new Residential Parkway Landscaping Guidelines, homeowners can now plant a variety of "drought-tolerant turf substitute plants," including grasses, a handful of flowers, and even beach strawberries.

Friday, October 29, 2010

This Week on Foot

The big pedestrian story this week in Los Angeles is that of 3 youths held in Eastside school bus crash that killed a pedestrian and injured numerous students--but sadly Ventura County is holding its own with pedestrian mishaps, where Boy, 11, hit by car, critically injured in Oxnard and Pedestrian identified in apparent T.O. hit-and-run death.

All these crashes got SoapBox LA thinking about The Politics of Crosswalks , while across the internet Infrastructurists ponders The Rise of the Walkable City.

Perhaps the real fix for the (lack of) pedestrian safety is self-driving vehicles. Not to be outdone by Google's recent efforts, in China 4 vans travel 8,000 miles without drivers and with few incidents (they weren't quite able to handle Moscow's traffic jams, which doesn't bode well for LA).

Meanwhile, one US court rules four-year-old cyclist can be sued after colliding with pedestrian, while another Judge blocks Venice boardwalk permit system, agreeing with the argument that the system violates free speech rights. But it's pedestrian rights that folks in India are worred about, where sidewalk Encroachments spell doom on roads.

With all the battling over who gets to use the public space, is it any wonder that in New York a Pedestrian-Only Ramp Proposed For Ferry Terminal?

Finally, as the holiday weekend nears, transportation authorities across the country are warning folks of the pedestrian safety risks associated with trick-or-treating. The Tennessee Highway Patrol notes that Halloween most dangerous day of year for pedestrian injuries, deaths among young children  and the Ohio DOT points out that  Pedestrian-Vehicle Crashes Double Before Halloween.

Here in California things are relatively safer, as the Number of Californians Hit by Cars Jumps 25% On Halloween, but if you ask me that's still a pretty scary statistic. If you're hunting for the safest spots for candy gathering, you might start with the top-ranked neighborhoods on Zillows Trick or Treating Index (see yesterday's post). But no matter what you get up to on foot this weekend, be careful. Remember, It's always a walk on the wild side for pedestrians.