Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pedestrians of the Future

This great find from the blog Paleo-Future provides a fascinating look at what people at the turn of the 20th century predicted (or maybe just hoped) would happen over the next 100 years in the fields of energy, education, linguistics, transportation, and many others. It's good for a laugh, although some of the guesses are remarkable prescient. A preview of the pedestrian-related predictions:

There will be no street cars in our large cities
Transit advocates might cringe at this one, but the point was to place noisy, high-speed vehicle traffic above- or below-ground, separating it from the pedestrian-oriented streets at ground-level. It's an idea that's been floated before, notably by Da Vinci in the late 1400s.

Automobiles will be cheaper than horses
True...until you factor in the external costs of cars and private vehicle travel, including the costs of all those pedestrian injuries and deaths.

And my personal favorite:

Everyone will walk ten miles
"A man or a woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling." Health advocates, rejoice.

Friday, May 27, 2011

This week on foot

In honor of our trip to the Pacific Northwest this week, I'll start out with some news from around the region. First,  King County and Renton Partner for Improved Sidewalks, Walkability in West Hill Neighborhood . Elsewhere in the area, Seattle to build at $10M bicycle-pedestrian overpass.

Meanwhile, Transportation for America's Dangerous by Design update is the top story around the country. A sampling of coverage from across the nation: Minority Pedestrians Disproportionately Killed in California Accidents, Report: Detroit Among Most Dangerous for Pedestrians  , and Dangerous Crossings: a low ranking for pedestrian safety gets some attention. And in case you were wondering about pedestrian statistics outside the US, Toronto has one of Canada's highest rate of car collisions with bikes, pedestrians 

But all the attention pedestrians are getting hasn't changed everyone's attitude. For instance, Here's the Chinatown Intersection Where NIMBYs Killed a Pedestrian Overhaul in New York, and in Canada a manager insists Bus-pedestrian collision isn't a sign of a larger problem.

Maybe that's true in Canada, but in Maryland Few places to cross safely has pedestrians taking risks, and across the ocean in Wales, a Pontypridd Family Fears Pedestrian Crossing is a "Death Trap" . In Armenia pedestrians are taking matters into their own hands, with a Let Everyone Use Pedestrian Crossings Flash Mob to be Held in Yerevan, while As America Ages, a Push to Make Streets Safer. 
Even in Tennessee a Green Hills mom wants drivers to stop for crosswalk. One strategy she shouldn't try are the Little. Yellow. Dangerous. "Children at Play Signs" imperil our kids

In Los Angeles, there are other perils:  Thieves leave Elysian Valley bikers and walkers in the dark.
And elsewhere,  Honest John Risks His Life to Verify New Ford Focus Pedestrian Safety System 
Hopefully technologies like these will make things safe at the The world's biggest, busiest pedestrian crossing?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let Congress know that you support Complete Streets

The National Complete Streets Coalition is gathering support for H.R. 1780, the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 5 by Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH).  It directs state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to write and adopt Complete Streets policies. H.R. 1780 supports the work of over 200 Complete Streets policies at the local, MPO and state level by ensuring a comprehensive approach across jurisdictions for safe streets for all, regardless of age, ability, or chosen mode of travel.

You can use this easy online tool to send a message to your representatives showing your support for HR 1780. It only takes a minute, I promise!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dangerous by Design 2011

The transportation world is buzzing about Transportation for America's newly-released update to Dangerous by Design, which ranks the country's large metro areas according to their "pedestrian danger index." Florida tops the list, with Orlando in first place, followed by Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami. Although Riverside comes in at number five, Southern California is happily underrepresented in the top 10...but don't go throwing away your personal pedestrian flags quite yet. Los Angeles is still ranked number 27, followed closely by San Diego.

The Transportation for America explains, the many dangers pedestrians face on our roadways work against efforts to improve American health by encouraging physical activity. As the report so morbidly puts it, "Americans get to pick their poison: less exercise and poor health, or walking on roads where more than 47,000 people have died in the last ten years." You can read the full report on the Transportation for America site here.
And if you're looking for some solutions to all the pedestrian problems the Dangerous by Design brings up, WalkSanDiego offers an antidote: Safe For All: 2011 Street Design Benchmark Study for the San Diego Region.

Monday, May 23, 2011

European Crossing Laws

A few months ago I posted about my experience walking in Munich, and my amazement at how drivers always stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the street. Turns out there's a strong legal incentive for that behavior in Germany, as well as in many other countries throughout Europe. With thanks to the folks on the America Walks listserve, here is a brief description of how pedestrian crossing laws in several European countries:

"At pedestrian crossings, vehicles other than railway vehicles must allow pedestrians and wheelchair users who visibly want to cross to use the crossing."(Highway Code 26) 

"Motor vehicle operators must yield to pedestrians and wheelchair users who are crossing at a zebra crossing or who appear to be about to do so."(Article 49, paragraph 2 of the Traffic Rules (RVV))

"Every motorist is obligated to yield, stopping if necessary, to a pedestrian regularly engaged in crossing a street or clearly manifesting the intention to do so ...." (This language was added in 2010, part of decree 2010-1390, Article 17)