Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Summer Internship with California WALKS

California WALKS is looking for intern(s) to work on legal policy issues, advocacy, youth mentoring and pedestrian safety projects.
Apply at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Street Smart" Walk Score

This week I've been playing around with Walk Score's new "Street Smart" version, which is currently in beta testing mode. Some of the key changes proposed with the new version:
  • Replacing "as the crow flies" distances with actual walking routes
  • Including block length and number of intersections in the walk score calculation
  • A clearer breakdown of how different amenities (nearby restaurants, banks, etc.) factor into the score
Despite the fact that my score dropped five points with the new version, I'm still pleased with the upgrade. I appreciate that Walk Score ditched the whole "as the crow flies" approach. This type of analysis is more complicated to do, but infinitely more meaningful, since most of us don't do our walking on wing. I also really like that block length and number of intersections are included in the score now. One of my biggest beefs with my neighborhood is the absurdly long blocks that constantly force me to either a) risk my life by racing across a six-lane road or b) walk well of my way to find a safer crossing. Combined with the lack of intersections (the steep hills and unfortunately-placed 101 make for some serious disconnects), running a simple errand or walking to the coffee shop can take twice as long as it would in a more walkable neighborhood.

The added transparency in Walk Score's calculations of amenity value is also helpful, although it emphasizes some oddities in the algorithm. Example: in my neighborhood Walk Score only picks up the small Jewish market down the street as a "grocery store," somehow missing the two major chains across the street. Also, does anyone really think The Tux Place deserves much recognition as a walkable shopping outlet?

Others have questioned the high value assigned to nearby coffee shops (Walk Score's creators are from Seattle after all) and books, not necessarily amenities that everyone enjoys walking to. Personally, I would advise wrapping those categories into shopping and restaurants, while creating a new category for "services" that covers pharmacies, hair and nail salons, yoga studios, optometrists, and post offices--all of which I walk to in my neighborhood.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week started out with tragedy when 25 hurt as taxi hits crowd outside San Diego nightclub, proving yet again that pedestrians are never safe, even when they're standing on the sidewalk.

Yet somehow that doesn't stop everyone from blaming them for crashes. This week we continue to see rants about The dangers of distracted pedestrians, studies showing how New Yorkers Diagnosed With Pedestrian Aggressiveness, and just general Sidewalk Rage.

Yet statistics show that it's clearly the distracted drivers that cause more problems, such as the Chicago Driver Who Killed Pedestrian Was Updating Facebook Status, Lawsuit Claims . Fortunately at least one government agency recognizes this, as the CHP in Orange County cracks down on drivers violating hands-free cellphone law.

With all the hubub, it's probably a good thing that places like New York City will finally collect crash data on cyclists, pedestrians. Perhaps better data will help us put the debate over pedestrian culpability to rest.

In the meantime, pedestrians are still having trouble--even when they try to stay out of the way of traffic. In Silver Spring construction shuts sidewalks, violating policy, while due to Unshoveled sidewalks: Syracuse flunks the 'walkability' test.

But it's not all bad news out there. This week we also learn about Projects to make Oakley roads more pedestrian-, driver-friendly, a Sidewalk Inventory Study Helps Resolve Safety, Walkability, And Development Issues For City Of Rancho Cucamonga, $22 million committed to complete big four pedestrian bridge, and how Pedestrians 'put first' in Edinburgh city centre plan. Even better, Pedestrian-involved collisions down 25 percent in San Francisco.
Maybe SF also got a Bumper crop of pedestrian safety vests?

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Un-Valentine to South Lake Tahoe

I spent last weekend in Lake Tahoe, and while the primary purpose of the trip was skiing, I took advantage of a non-ski day to visit the shopping center about a mile from house where we were staying. Although friends dropped me off at the center, as a self-respecting pedestrian advocate I insisted I could manage the walk back along highway 50, the only route connecting the center and the nearby residential neighborhoods.

And that was my first mistake.

I snapped some pictures so I could share the absurdity with you (and also publicly shame Lake Tahoe's transportation planners). Come along with my as I catalogue the UN-walkability of my journey.

Here's where things started:
So right away you see that there is neither a sidewalk, nor a decent shoulder in place on the road -- despite the fact that this is (again) the only road that pedestrians could travel to access the shopping center. So I guess we have to assume that everyone in this area has a car and can drive?? Also, note that vehicles here have four wide travel lanes--far more space than is necessary to keep up traffic flow in my opinion, as I have never seen congestion in this area even on a holiday weekend. Two travel lanes plus a two-way turn lane would be more than adequate, not to mention safer for everyone.

Undeterred, I continued my trek...until I reached this:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Upcoming Walking Events

February 15, 11-12 pm
Second webinar in the American Public Health Webinar Series:
What Healthy Communities Need from their Transportation Networks

This series explores the intersections between health and transportation, highlights innovative state and local programs that leverage opportunities in transportation that benefit health, and explains what the future may hold for the federal surface transportation authorization.

Register and get the full schedule here.

February 15, 2011: 2-3pm
SoCal Safe Routes to School Data Standards and Evaluation Working Group
Conference Call

Join in the kick off of this new working group. All welcome to join. Call (toll-free): 1-866-394-4146, 553816012# Mute option is *4, unmute is

Kindly RSVP by email here

February 16, 11:45 am - 1 pm

Complete Streets: State of the Practice Webinar
Offered by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals and WalkSanDiego
Location: WalkSanDiego, 740 13th Street, Suite 502, San Diego, CA 92101

More than 200 jurisdictions (state, region, county and city) have adopted Complete Streets policies, and the pace of passed policies is quickening. Join this APBP webinar to examine the current state of the practice for complete streets. Topics in this session will include:
  • How support for complete streets is strengthened as collaboration with public health, transit, and other partners increases
  • A comparison of existing policies and how they match up to guidelines from the National Complete Streets Coalition
  • Examples of best practice at the local and state level.
Registration required. Register by email here.

February 16, 11am-12pm
Southern California Safe Routes to School
Regional Network Monthly Meeting

Conference Call Number: (218) 862-1001
Access Code: 1009315#
*6 mute/unmute

February 22-24
Active Living Research Annual Conference
Hard Rock Hotel San Diego in downtown San Diego

The theme for the 2011 conference is Partnerships for Progress in Active Living: From Research to Action, which recognizes the importance of engaging experts from multiple disciplines to address critical public health issues, especially active living and obesity.

For more info and to register click here.

February 24, 2011: 9-10am
California SRTS State Network Monthly mtg

Call (toll-free): 1-866-394-4146, 553816012#
Mute option is *4, unmute is *4
February 26
Crest Canyon-Del Mar-San Dieguito Lagoon Community Walk
Sponsored by WalkSanDiego
8:30-9:00 am – Meet your fellow walkers; 9:00 am – 11:00am – Walk
Meet at northern entrance to Crest Canyon on Racetrack View Drive (Directions: from I-5, exit Via de la Valle, west on Via de la Valle, left at Jimmy Durante Blvd, go past Del Mar Fairgrounds, left on San Dieguito Rd, San Dieguito Rd becomes Racetrack View Drive)

This is a bit of a departure from our previous walks, and includes a beautiful short hike through little known Crest Canyon where we’ll see Torrey Pines and some native plants in bloom, a walk through some of Del Mar’s beautiful neighborhoods, and ending with a walk along San Dieguito Lagoon. Three walk options: 1-mile through Crest Canyon only; 2 ½ walk in canyon + Del Mar; full 4-mile round-trip walk. Gentle uphill through Crest Canyon, then mostly flat terrain and some downhill sections.

The walks are open to everyone; they are free to WalkSanDiego members, suggested $5 donation for non-members. No reservations needed.

For further information, contact Dave Schumacher