Monday, February 28, 2011

Cool Ped Stuff # 12: Community Walking

I love this great program, sponsored by the City of Grand Haven, Michigan and various other local agencies, to encourage walking and physical activity. The brainchild of Mayor Roger Bergman and founding member Paul Bedient, Walkable Grand Haven encourages citizens to up their daily steps by taking advantage of the city's many trails, sidewalks and pathways. Participants register on the group's website, which allows them to track their mileage, set distance goals, and take part in various walking-related contests and promotions. Most recently the group has decided to walk around the world by March 31. So far they've made it to Newfoundland, Canada--good luck with the rest of the trek!

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Week on Foot

It's been a week of contrasts for pedestrians here in Southern California. First, the bad news. We started out the week learning that Metro Plans to Remove Adams Blvd. Sidewalks Near My Figueroa , replacing it with an unlikely-to-be-used pedestrian bridge. Then, Police investigate pedestrian death in Orange, a Pedestrian killed by commuter train in Watts, the list seems neverending...

But on the bright side, Council OKs $1M for school traffic safety in Glendale (nicely timed to coincide with the Glendale Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Report 2010 Released Today), and La Mesa offers Four workshops planned on getting kids walking.

Outside of the regiona a Minneapolis Pedestrian study paints complex picture of skyway foot traffic, Plans move forward for $1M Traverse City tunnel in Chicago, and
Wider lanes, pedestrian walkway; bike path all part of plan for new Goethals Bridge from S.I. in New York City.

Elsewhere in the world, pedestrians would surely love those types of infrastructure improvements--but would just settle for some better signal timing, as in Mysore, India, where Pedestrians need more time at zebra crossings.

Of course, pedestrian safety is about more than street design. Somtimes it takes behavioral changes also. Wayne State University in Michigan has focused on changing pedestrian behavior, but their Campaign to increase pedestrian safety sees mixed results . (Perhaps if they stopped blaming the pedestrians for crashes, and instead took a look at drivers in the area? Officials could probably learn something from one Bay Area Pedestrian Injured In Car Accident Speaks Out Distracted Drivers. 

And if you're feeling like starting your own pedestrian safety campaign, and you live in Clark County, Washington, now's your chance: Applicants sought for County bike-pedestrian group.

Or you could just focus on walking for fun (and the record books), like this Ventura man to walk 1,000 trails in 1,000 days.

Speaking of walking for fun, if anyone was plannig to attend this weekend's Walk San Diego community walk, it has been cancelled due to the pending deluge. I'll keep you posted when they reschedule.

March Walking Events

March 1, 2011 10:30 - noon
So Cal Safe Routes to School Regional Network - outreach meeting in Ventura County

Ventura County Air Pollution Control District offices
669 County Square Drive 2nd floor
All are welcome, RSVP by email here.

March 1, 11:00 am to 12:30 pm
FHWA Resources for Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Webinar

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, along with the Federal Highway Administration, will provide an overview of tools available to communities to enhance walking and bicycling in their local area. In this presentation, Dan Nabors, Senior Transportation Planner with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. and PBIC Director Charlie Zegeer will discuss Federal Highway Administration resources available to pedestrian and bicycle professionals. The Webinar will cover a range of available tools including the Resident’s Guide, the Pedestrian Road Safety Audit, How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan and several others. Libby Thomas, will present on BikeSafe, the Bicycle Countermeasure Selection System (BIKESAFE) intended to provide practitioners with the latest information available for improving the safety and mobility of those who bicycle.

To register, click here.

March 19
Downtown La Mesa Community Walk, Sponsored by Walk San Diego

8:30-9:00 am – Meet your fellow walkers; 9:00 am – 10:30am – Walk
Meet at the La Mesa Blvd Trolley Station at the corner of La Mesa Blvd and Spring St. A walk through this very walkable downtown village where we’ll stroll among the shops, and explore its surprisingly long history dating back to the late 1800’s. Three mile walk on flat terrain.

Suggested $5 donation for non-members. No reservations needed.
For further information, contact Dave Schumacher

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.