Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not intended to be ironic, but...

A bit of trivia from our travel route: the 1958 Oregon State Dept. of Transportation promotional slogan was "Oregon freeways...a symbol of 2nd century progress." Take off the "Oregon" and I think that pretty much sums it up.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ten Reasons I'm Thankful for Walkability

1. Even my most expensive pair of shoes is cheaper than new tires.
2. There are no one-way sidewalks.
3. Unlike at the gym, if the person next to you grunts or wears too much perfume, you can walk away.
4. It's better at reducing healthcare costs than Congress.
5. No one celebrates International Drive to School Day.
6. A lot of people in the street = block party. A lot of cars in the street = roadblock.
7. You can't get a ticket for walking too fast.
8. Building a sidewalk next to your community doesn't increase asthma rates.
9. Bumping into someone you know while driving isn't a pleasant surprise.
10. You don't burn off Thanksgiving dinner by going for an after-meal drive.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great LA Walk This Weekend

Angelenos, don't forget about this Saturday's Great Los Angeles Walk 2011. Meet other walking enthusiasts, check out some of LA's fabulous neighborhoods, including Downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Los Feliz, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, and enjoy the afterparty at Locanda del Lago restaurant in Santa Monica. If 19 miles sounds too intimidating, you can find the full route on the Walk's website and just pick your favorite segment to complete.

The Habits of the Western Jay(walker)

Our family is spending the next few weeks on an ambitious road trip from LA to the Pacific Northwest, which leaves little time for blogging, but much time to observe the pedestrian environments and walking habits in cities along the west coast. Aside from vast differences in walkability between a city like LA and one like San Francisco, I've been particularly struck by differences in jaywalking habits from place to place.

Based on my strictly unscientific observations, there is a distinct correlation between the walkability of a city and the tendency of its citizens to cross the street against traffic signals, midblock, and in other officially unsanctioned ways. The pedestrian advocate side of me is enthusiastic about this, but the driving-in-an-unfamiliar-city side finds it disconcerting that when my signal is green a pedestrian might still dart out in front of me.

Proponents of the "shared space" concept, and its close cousin the woonerf, suggest that one solution to this problem is to ditch the traffic signals altogether and reintroduce the idea of the street as common space for all users. The thought is that removing signage and signals would force roadway users to rely on eye contact and social interaction to navigate streets, thus improving roadway safety by eliminating "mindless" driving.

There are several successful examples of this idea out there (e.g. New Zealand, the UK), and just on this trip I've noticed shared space used informally in small towns like Ferndale, CA. But what about in the heart of a big city like Portland or San Francisco? Is it courting disaster to open up major streets to a vehicle/cyclist/transit/pedestrian free-for-all, or is it just returning the streets to a happier time when they belonged to everyone and people paid attention to the environment around them when they traveled?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This Week on Foot

This week the Two-Year Transpo Bill Moves on to Full Senate Without Bike/Ped Protections, which sounds discouraging--but according to our friends at Streetsblog there are Nine Reasons For Bike/Ped Advocates to Take Heart: The Senate Edition.

Unfortunately, here in California there aren't so many reasons to take heart. There was a Pedestrian killed outside Camarillo, and there was an Arrest in Santa Ana toddler pedestrian death.

Elsewhere in the country a Fatal hit-and-run raises safety concerns in Dallas and an Ann Arbor pedestrian safety ordinance repeal proposed in response to concerns from councilmembers. On top of it all, The Pedestrian Loses the Way when it comes to bikes and sidewalks, at least in the opinion of one NY Times columnist. I guess it's more than just the Time Change Hazardous To Pedestrians.

Fortunately,  UNLV seeks scientific way to curb pedestrian death and a New bicycle, pedestrian committee launches in Baltimore County. Meanwhile, Pedestrians called to action in Ottawa and they're Making city streets safer for pedestrians in Philadelphia.

Oh, and in these tough economic times want One way to save money? Walk!