Monday, March 14, 2011

Cool Ped Stuff #13: Humor

For anyone else having a tough time getting moving on the first Monday after daylight savings time began, some pedestrian-oriented hilarity to kick-start your morning. First from the folks at Neatorama:

And if that doesn't get you going, try this from the always satirical Colbert Report.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

WalkSanDiego Events This Week

FREE Webinar:'Understanding the Highway Safety Manual'
Offered by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals

740 13th Street Suite 502, San Diego, CA 92101 US

Date: Wednesday, March 16th
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Registration required, email here.

Luncheon Series: “Health Equity by Design: Reducing community health disparities through healthy design policies and projects, a case study in City Heights”

Kathleen Ferrier, WalkSanDiego
Sakara Tear, City Heights CDC
Norali Martinez, Proyecto de Casas Saludables

Date: March 18, 2011
Time: 12:00-1:00 P.M.

Location: 193 Horton Plaza,
1st level, (Next to Victoria’s Secret)

Suggested Lunch Donation: $5.00 if RSVP is by March 15th, $7.00 at the door
Please RSVP: Cynthia Offenhauer

Friday, March 11, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week the city of Glendale here in the LA region has been making a lot of effort to improve safety for pedestrians. Not only did Police crack down on drivers who refuse to stop for pedestrians, there was a Crack-down hits distracted drivers. And Glendale wasn't the only place working on the distracted driving issue. Here in Ventura the CHP warns of dangers of inattentive driving. Let's hope other cities in the area follow their example (the cracking down, that is, not the distracted driving).

But some cities prefer to focus their attention on the pedestrians, not the drivers, who cause safety problems. While I understand the motivation, I don't like enforcement efforts that imply the roadway is only a place for vehicles. One other reason these sorts of enforcement efforts aren't a good idea? A new study shows that Preventing jaywalking costly for cities.
But it isn't vehicles that are causing all the problems this week. In New York, 6 Out of 6 Local Pedestrians Agree: The PPW Bike Lane Stinks, while across the world in Australia Pedestrians call for cycle ban . While they're often grouped together, it's important to remember that pedestrians and bikes have very different safety and infrastructure needs.

Of course, so do pedestrians and vehicles--and sometimes improving things for one of those modes can have some scary effects for the other, as in the State DOT “Improvements” Imperil Pedestrians in Florida. Happily, here in California we're spending our money on more pedestrian-oriented improvements, like the Money coming to Imperial Beach aimed at more walkable streets, or the San Francisco Task Force Begins Meeting to Develop Pedestrian Action Plan.

And it's a good thing, too, because the week continues to bring pedestrian deaths far and wide. Here in the Southern California region there was a Person struck, killed by Amtrak train near Union Station, and
CHP officials arrest woman for fatal hit and run . Deaths like these are tragic, and continue to haunt surviving family members for years, like this LA Man seeks justice for twin brother killed by car in 1959.
Meanwhile, new studies continue to improve our understanding of the dangers that pedestrians face. One, out of Israel, shows that Elderly drivers more hazardous for pedestrians. In Canada, however, they're more worried about those pedestrian countdown timers encouraging drivers to speed through almost-red lights, and suggest that Pedestrian Timers Not Suitable for Red Light Camera Intersections. You know it's tough out there when even supposed pedestrian safety improvements have unintended consequences on pedestrian safety...

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Smorgasbord of Technical Studies

For all the transpo geeks out there (admit it, statistics make you drool), a rundown of the latest in pedestrian design and research:

Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practices
A 300-page tome that outlines everything you ever wanted to know about designing pedestrian signals for folks who are blind or have low vision. This guide clearly describes the many different types of accessible signals (e.g. tonal signals, messages, vibrotactile), explains design considerations, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each, and (this I find especially helpful) explains how a blind or sight-impaired person would actually use the accessible signal in their everyday travel.

Best Practices in Traffic Operations and Safety: Phase II: Zig-zag Pavement Markings
After touring the world in search of effective safety measures not found in the US, highway officials came back with a dozen or so promising ideas to test out. One of these, installing "zig-zag" pavement markings on roadways with significant bicycle and pedestrian traffic, is intended to raise motorist awareness of vulnerable users, reduce roadway speeds, and decrease pedestrian and bicycle crashes. This study tests out the technology at two Virginia locations where the multi-use Washington and Old Dominion trail crosses a major roadway. The study showed that the markings were associated with lower driver speeds and a higher tendencies for drivers to yield to other users, although the unfamiliar markings did cause some confusion among roadway users, who weren't entirely sure of their intent.

Friday, March 4, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week begins with a series of bizarre pedestrian injuries. First there was the 5-year-old hit by CHP vehicle, injured on Mt. Pinos, then in the Oakland area Teens in car knocked Ferndale pedestrian down “for fun,” police say.

And the discouraging news continues, as Raise the Hammer points out, with a Dundurn Plaza Walkability Fail and a Main Street Walkability Fail. But those weren't the only fails this week. New York City Drops Plan for 34th St. Pedestrian Plaza, while further north in New York folks battle Syracuse in winter: Forget 'walkability'. Even cities with less snow have the troubles, as Walkable Dallas-Fort Worth says downtown Dallas' tunnels crippled city center.

And just when we think it can't get worse, an Amtrak train fatally strikes pedestrian in Oakland (I should point out, this wasn't the only train death this week--but I didn't want to get you too depressed).

But take heart fellow walkers. Planners, engineers, and policy-makers everywhere are doing their best to combat these problems. For instance, a Pedestrian warning system now operating at Metra station in Chicago might help with some of those train issues, and in Portland TriMet Puts "Pedestrian Warning System" on Buses to deal with the other transit mode. And if things are slippery in Syracuse, at least in Buffalo Sidewalk snow policy on clearing is tightened .

And that's not all. Twin Cities Streets for People share with us a video describing the Pedestrianization of Mercaderes Street, in Arequipa, Peru , and Springfield Weighs Options To Improve Pedestrian Safety On National Avenue At MSU (although that Pedestrian crossing sparks discussion). Perhaps best of all, in San Diego Billions proposed for bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly streets (and Streetsblog takes SCAG to task for not doing as well as SANDAG with the ped/bike funding).

Still, dangers remain. New technologies like in-vehicle Facebook and Twitter take distracted driving to a whole new level, prompting one NY Times columnist to wonder Have You Driven a Smartphone Lately?

But sometimes, technology can make the pedestrian experience even more interesting (if expensive), as in a new gizmo that lets you  Point, click, buy: The device that allows pedestrians to buy from a shop window without stepping into the store. Just look both ways if you want to buy something from that store across the street.