Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week has been full of more buzzing about the recent study of the bike-ped relationship. As multiple sources point out, according to the Study: Pedestrians safer with more bikes on the street and
Local Data Confirm: NYC Bike-on-Ped Injuries Declined as Cycling Rates Rose . So, I guess it's no surprise that the Bike-Pedestrian Safety Study Draws Jabs.

Meanwhile in New York, A New Look Is Coming to Times Square: Minimalism, and  Audible Pedestrian Signals Debut At 25 NYC Intersections!

But it's not just New Yorkers thinking about pedestrian infrastructure. In Pennsylvania a Group wants to make Kennett Square more "walkable", and there's a Pedestrian bridge finished over Maine Turnpike.

Of course, here in LA it's the vehicle infrastructure people care about, as Protesters to Demand Their 'Apron' Parking Spots Back. Given the dangers pedestrians face here, like the Pedestrian struck by car and badly injured in El Monte or the Pedestrian Struck on PCH in Pacific Palisades, it's a shame cars are getting all the attention.

But in other parts of the country, pedestrians are getting their due, like in Oregon where a Report highlights bike, pedestrian activity in region, Baltimore where Pedestrian, bike safety issues are focus of efforts, and Philadelphia where AARP and the Mayor's Commission on Aging Partner to Make Philadelphia Streets More Walkable for the City's 50+ Population.

Unfortunately, similar efforts in Florida may not have been enough, as Traffic deaths drop in Florida, but pedestrian deaths climb. But across the ocean in Abu Dhabi Pedestrian deaths drop by a third, so at least there's some positive news out there--and speaking of positive stories, if you're looking for one, check out how this Pedestrian hit by train tells story of recovery.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cool Ped Stuff # 18: Elmer the Safety Elephant

Elmer the Safety Elephant’s Poem Look all ways
Before you cross the street.
Use your eyes and ears
Before you use your feet.

Courtesy of our friends to the north, Canada's Elmer the Safety Elephant teaches kids how to remain safe in all sorts of circumstances--including when walking to school, which is particularly important because coming up on October 5 is International Walk to School Day. I'll post some info about local activities, but check out the website if you'd like to see what your local school is up to next week.

Friday, September 23, 2011

More Walk Friendly Communities

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) has announced another set of Walk Friendly communities that are working to improve a wide range of conditions related to walking, including safety, mobility, access, and comfort. They include:

Gold Level
Chicago, IL
Minneapolis, MN
San Francisco, CA

Silver Level                                      
Alexandria, VA
Philadelphia, PA
Santa Monica, CA

Bronze Level                                     
Cary, NC
Corvallis, OR
Davidson, NC
Lee’s Summit, MO    

“We were very pleased to have a great mix of designated communities this round,” said Carl Sundstrom, WFC program manager. “Through the application process, communities share their best practices and, in turn, we’re able to share this information to all of the communities who apply through the technical assistance we provide.”

You can read more about the program and all the Walk Friendly communities on the Walk Friendly Communities website. Think your community deserves to be on this list? Applications open for the next round in November.

Oh, and of course I have to mention that to date, my hometown of Seattle, Washington, has been the only Platinum-level Walk Friendly Community awarded. Kudos to the Emerald City!        

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This Week on Foot

Just as we've been discussing the relationship between bikes and pedestrians, this week a Study looks at pedestrians hospitalized after bicycle crashes in New York State, and shows that the numbers are higher than previously suspected. But in Chicago, it's trains not bikes that are the problem and Suburban train crossings prove most deadly. And of course, here at home it's the vehicles, like the Angry driver allegedly runs down pedestrian in Redondo Beach.
At least in some places they're thinking about pedestrian safety and walkability, like in Lompoc where Safe walking routes focus of health summit, St. Louis where there's a Pedestrian 'lid' over highway on track for Arch improvements, or even outside the US where Pedestrian-friendly model roads mooted, a Pedestrian Safety Blitz Deemed a Success, and  Uruguay Street pedestrian nightlife area opens in Beirut.

Back in the US Ann Arbor police begin ticketing motorists who don't stop for pedestrians, but in Pittsburgh DU Police may begin ticketing negligent pedestrians. Fortunately elsewhere in Pennsylvania they're taking a brighter stance on walking, like in one small town where Tredyffrin sidewalk ordinance aims for a walkable community.

Speaking of small towns, this week the NRDC brings us news of How a small community is becoming greener - with help from some important friends. And in a slightly bigger community, Putnam Avenue Closed For New Pedestrian Plaza in New York...but Pedestrian Plazas Remain Magnet for Homeless at Night, Despite Outreach  , which some folks aren't too happy about.

In North Carolina it's distracted pedestrians they aren't happy about, as the N.C. DOT to pedestrians: don’t text and walk, and in Glendale one person doesn't seem happy about any pedestrians, as we learn in A note to Saint Pedestrian.

Finally, on a lighter note, one take on Pedestrian Art examines how ordinary objects on the street can make walking a little more interesting.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

War or Peace? Exploring the Relationship between Bikes and Peds

A recent question from a reader got me thinking once again about our friends on two wheels. I'll say up front that while I like and appreciate bikes--I have even been known to occasionally ride the one I own--I've always found it odd that they are inevitably grouped together with pedestrians. Given their widely differing demographics, trip lengths and purposes, and infrastructure needs, lumping cyclists with pedestrians strikes me as akin to calling submarines and spacecraft the same because both require users to travel with their own oxygen.

Nonetheless, it seems impossible for transportation policymakers to separate the two, and although there are some extraordinary partnerships between the modes (e.g. the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center), just as often we hear of intense conflicts as cyclists and pedestrians jostle for urban space. Are we really at war, as so many news articles claim? Let's examine the issues.

My observation is that when pedestrians complain about cyclists, they're most often grousing about illegal or inconsiderate behaviors: riding on sidewalks (where prohibited), riding too fast or in the wrong direction, or generally riding in ways that make pedestrians feel unsafe. (To be fair, cyclists could say the same about pedestrians).

While there are always going to be people who behave badly no matter what the circumstances,  a combination of enforcement and educational campaigns can help address these problems. This is an area where a partnership between cyclists and pedestrians can be particularly effective, as the two groups could work together to develop formal Codes of Conduct for both walkers and riders, lobbying for increased or clearer signage on shared paths, or create informational websites, signs, or brochures to help the public understand the expectations for all users.