Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April Walking Events

April 6
LISC Webinar
Complete The Streets: Making Roads and Streets an Integral Component of Sustainable Communities

While we know that streets are the vital link between homes, jobs, amenities, and retail corridors, the challenge is often to create road patterns and streetscapes that ensure safe, attractive, pedestrian-friendly environments for neighborhood residents. Join this webcast to learn more about how communities can incorporate streets into community planning processes and develop transportation options that enhance quality of life. National experts and local practitioners will look at how to complete the streets - integrate citiziens into decisions, advocate for place-based government policies, design efffective streetscapes, and implement effective strategies. Discussion will include both transit and transportation and provide opportunities for interative participation.

11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Register to attend here.

April 10

April 13
Caltrans Webinar
Rethinking Infrastructure: How Do We Make Urban Arterials Safer and More Comfortable for Pedestrians?

Elizabeth Macdonald — University of California Transportation Center
Details here.
April 16
South Park-Burlingame Community Walk, Sponsored by WalkSanDiego

8:30-9:00 am – Meet your fellow walkers; 9:00 am – 10:30am – Walk
Meet at the corner of 30th Street and Juniper Street. Let’s explore this beautiful old neighborhood famous for its pink-concrete sidewalks. We’ll stroll through several neighborhoods areas with well-known historic homes that showcase a number of San Diego architects/architectural styles. Three mile walk on flat terrain.

Suggested $5 donation for non-members. No reservations needed.
For further information, contact Dave Schumacher
April 20-22
OTS Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Training

California WALKS and UCB SafeTREC will facilitate community pedestrian safety Toward Zero Deaths engagement training at the California Office of Traffic Safety's April 20-22 statewide seminar in San Diego. Learn how-tos for pedestrian count and travel prediction, Health Assessments, crash data GIS-mapping, new MUTCD signals/signs, SRTS, pedestrian law enforcement, federal Liveability funding and more. Limited scholarships are available--contact Jill Cooper, Associate Director, SafeTREC

Click here for flyer and to register.

Upcoming Conferences

Registration is now open for two upcoming pedestrian-friendly conferences:

Safe Routes to School 2011 - Minneapolis, MN
August 16-18
More info and registration here.

Congress for New Urbanism 19 - Growing Local
June 1-4
More info and registration here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Advocate for Safe Routes to School

Our favorite local Safe Routes to School advocate Jessica Meaney needs support for the Los Angeles Citywide Safe Routes to School proposal, which will be heard before the full city council this Friday.

From Ms. Meaney:
"The proposed Strategic City-Wide Safe Routes to School Plan funded by the Measure R local return pedestrian set-aside for $1.2M. LADOT staff is recommending using collision data to prioritize the city’s efforts and develop a meaningful approach to making communities in the city more walkable and bikable for kids and parents on their way to school (see staff proposal here). Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition and the Safe Routes to National Partnership are recommending that the City also use socio-economic data in the prioritization as we know that children and their families in low-income communities suffer a disproportionate burden of disease and injury.

A citywide strategic Safe Routes to School plan will allow the City to prioritize and methodically address making it safer for students to walk and/or bike to school, as well as ensure Safe Routes to School funds succeed in Los Angeles, leverage additional resources, and address and improve transportation policies."

Attend the hearing yourself, or sign on to the letters of support using the links here.

Overcoming opposition to narrow streets

Recently the Strong Towns Blog published an amazing post laying out the key arguments for narrower streets--and how to make them in a language public safety officials will understand. Here's an excerpt:

1. Public safety, including fire protection, is very important.

We acknowledge this is a critical issue. People want to and need to feel safe in their homes. We also acknowledge that we sometimes actually undervalue fire protection, at least until it is our house on fire. Providing a high-level of protection, including reducing response times, is a community priority.

2. As budgets are tightened, we are forced to make choices in how we provided local services.

Unfortunately, the state of our public budgets is forcing us to make some very difficult choices. And we can see, in communities across the country, that many are opting to reduce fire fighting capabilities, including force reductions and extending the life of equipment further than it should be. These are dangerous precedents to set in what are likely early rounds in a long, multi-year budget crisis.

3. If we stick with the current approach, we may have wide streets, but we won't be able to afford to maintain them, or even pay for the fire department to drive on them.

The amount we spend on our fire department is dwarfed by the amount we spend on maintaining our roads and streets -- or would be spending if we were actually maintaining them. This is the elephant in the room, the thing we never talk about. We have chosen to invest in a pattern of development that is prohibitively expensive to maintain, and it is crowding our the other parts of our budget.

Pretty great, huh? You can read the full post at the Strong Towns Blog here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This week on foot

The week has not been good for LA-area pedestrians. First we learned the horrible story of a Tustin woman dragged for blocks after being struck by motorist, then just yesterday an Elderly pedestrian stuck twice in fatal hit and run. In both cases the pedestrians in question were over 70, an age when risk for serious injury or death from pedestrian crashes is significantly higher than the risk for younger people. This is in part because older pedestrians just don't cross the street as quickly as their younger counterparts, so their exposure to vehicle traffic is greater, and in part because when they are hit their bodies are less able to easily recover.

Across the country things are pretty bleak as well. In New Jersey Kennedy Boulevard named fifth most dangerous road in New Jersey for pedestrians , in Florida a Bicyclist Arrested In Attack On 69-Year-Old Pedestrian who didn't get out of his way quickly enough, and in Texas Regional funding crunch pits pedestrians vs. vehicles. Closer to home, just as Momentum builds for pedestrian safety in San Francisco, Streetsblog reports that San Francisco Pedestrian Safety Efforts Mired in City Bureaucracy .

But take heart. Advocacy efforts continue across the world, like in Red Bank, New Jersey, where Advocates urge adoption of bicycle/pedestrian plan, and sometimes they even appear to be having some success, like in Missouri where Nixon to Announce Bicycle, Pedestrian Trail Projects in Ozarks, or Maryland where a new Laurel database monitors pedestrian, bike safety.

And there's more good news out there. A S. Ind. mayor wants to create 'bicycle boulevard', and in Jacksonville, Florida, a Workshop seeks to improve elder walkability, while locally in Ventura 4-H All Stars hope to add Ormond Beach walking path.   Even as far away as South Africa a Pedestrian bridge makes life easier. Let's hope this is sign that life is going to get easier for pedestrians everywhere.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Discovering the City, One Staircase at a Time

In the modern American city stairways have largely fallen out of use for public access, in part because of the challenges they pose to the disabled community and in part because most of us are, well, just too lazy to take the stairs. For some, however, public stairways offer a great excuse to walk through the city and experience street life in a neighborhood you might not otherwise visit.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Stairway Walks

At first I thought this was just an LA phenomenon, spearheaded by author Charles Fleming, who penned Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles after chronic back problems led him to seek relief through walking--which in turn sparked his curiosity about the city's nearly 400 stairways. He's walked up and down nearly 300 of them, and has been known to lead tours for the equally intrigued.

But Fleming isn't the only one. Health-related circumstances turned into a similar quest for one Seattle couple, who made it their goal to climb all 500 stairways in the city. (You can check out the cool Google Map they made here, so you can follow in their stairsteps). And then there's the runner they met along the way, who actually ran up all those stairs. And West Seattle residents Jake and Cathy with their blog Seattle Stairway Walks. And finally, the mother of all stair walking sites:, with maps to stair walks in dozens of cities across the world.

I'm sure for some stair climbers it's the physical challenge that draws them up the staircase, but for me stair walks highlight one of the great joys of pedestrian travel: they let you experience places that you'll just never see from the seat of a car--or even a bike. Well, unless you're a lot braver than me...