Monday, January 30, 2012

UCLA Complete Streets Conference

Register here for the March 2 conference, featuring transpo gurus from across the country such as:

-          Reid Ewing, Professor, University of Utah
-          Regina Freer, Los Angeles City Planning Commission
-          Eran Ben-Joseph, author Rethinking a lot (forthcoming) Professor, MIT
-          Jackie Douglas, Executive Director, Livable Streets
-          Jose Luis Moscovich, Executive Director, San Francisco Transportation Authority

More about the conference from UCLA:

As the support behind the complete streets movement continues to evolve, exemplary on-the-ground projects are steadily growing in strength and in numbers.  What are recent accomplishments that have made appearances on the horizon of this movement, how have these efforts fared in their objectives to redefine and repurpose streets as public spaces?  What are promising new approaches and strategies for implementing complete and living streets in California and in the U.S.?  The second UCLA Complete Streets conference will present speakers from academia and practice to share observations and findings about recent accomplishments and explore new research and complete streets implementation examples.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This Week on Foot

The end of January is turning out to be just as busy as the beginning. First, there's the ongoing controversy about Distracted pedestrians? Accidents on rise for headphone-wearers. Of course, some (ahem, Streetsblog) have a message to those who blame the pedestrians for this phenomenon: Dear Media Lemmings: Headphones Don’t Kill People, Drivers Do. And they're more likely to do it if they're distracted, which is why Streetsblog also suggests we Dislike? Mercedes-Benz Wants to Put Facebook in Your Dashboard.

With all this distraction, it's not surprise that Bike-Ped Traffic, Funding, and Fatalities All Inch Upward, or that one Mother of 3 kids hit in crosswalk wants tougher texting laws. Don't we all? Well, maybe not in Virginia, where a Bill to see drivers to exercise due care defeated in VA House subcommittee . And then, even the Santa Barbara City Council split over curb extensions at dangerous intersection, so I guess things that seem obvious to those of us in the pedestrian advocacy world (like how when you're talking about Traffic in LA.: Most Vulnerable Angelinos at Risk) aren't so straightforward elsewhere.

It's a little shaky outside the U.S. also, like in Chennai, India where Pedestrians find themselves on edge in or in Jakarta where Pedestrian safety yet to see improvement. At least in New Delhi they've figured out that Pedestrians prefer jaywalking to using bridges, PWD to investigate .

But lest you get too depressed about the state of the pedestrian world, remember that L.A. County takes step to promote exercise, reduce obesity while a Council Considers Warning Surfaces For Pedestrian Plazas in New York, Cranford police get $6,000 federal grant for pedestrian safety in New Jersey, and Students' Dream for Seven Springs Middle Sidewalks About to Materialize. At least in some places Pedestrian safety a city priority, Wisconsin Rapids officials say--though maybe not in upstate New York, where Syracuse lawmakers reject new way to enforce sidewalk shoveling. Well, you can't win them all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Complete Streets Goes Global

Better Streets, Better Cities: A Guide to Street Design in Urban India, from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and the Environmental Planning Collaborative might be intended for India, but it provides a nice template for complete streets guides anywhere in the world.

The guide begins by explaining in general what makes a "complete street," introducing the concept of the shared zone where pedestrians, bikes, and slow-moving vehicles use the roadway together and the mobility zone for faster-moving transit and other vehicles. It also outlines six key principles of complete streets design: 
  • Safety
  • Mobility
  • Pedestrian Accessibility
  • Liveability
  • Sensitivity to Local Context
  • Creative Use of Space
The remainder of the guide is devoted to a detailed explanation of each street element (bike lanes, median refuges, bus rapid transit lanes), identifying the purpose, significance and challenges to each,  an extensive collection of street design templates, and a step-by-step outline explaining how to redesign a roadway to transform it into a "complete" street. The guide places particular importance on understanding how pedestrians and others use the street before creating a new design, a step seems to be often lost in our top-down, cookie-cutter approach to street design.

While some of the concepts laid out in the guide may not apply here in the US (e.g. in most cities street vending is not such an integral component of the landscape), it's worth taking a look at Better Streets, Better Cities if you're hoping to create a complete streets policy of your own.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Even More Ped Jobs

It might be rough out there in the job market, but at least it's a good time to be a pedestrian advocate...

Safe Routes to School National Partnership State Advocacy Organizers
Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is looking for six energetic and dynamic professionals (one per state) to work as state advocacy organizers in Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. Applications are due on Thursday, February 2nd, at 5:00 p.m. PT.

WalkDenver Program Intern

WalkDenver is seeking a bright, entrepreneurial, and self-motivated graduate student or a recent graduate to develop programs and membership for a new organization that seeks to promote quality, walk-friendly built environment that fosters healthy lifestyles and economic growth. This is a unique opportunity to become involved in a movement at the inception stage.

The ideal candidate will be a graduate student or recent graduate in urban design, planning or a related field who is passionate about walkability, active transportation and pedestrian-friendly built environment.

Pedestrian Safety Program Manager- PEDS Atlanta

The Pedestrian Safety Program Manager will educate transportation and law enforcement professionals, the media, and the general public about pedestrian safety problems and solutions by organizing and participating in meetings, workshops and media-generating events.

At least two years experience working with external partners, such as government agencies, the media and neighborhood associations. Experience managing special events or workshops required. Experience working collaboratively and managing multiple projects simultaneously required. Experience maintaining websites and fluency with social media desirable. Experience with advocacy and community level interventions desirable.

Send cover letter and resume here
Applications will be accepted until February 6, 2012.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Retrofitting the Suburbs to Increase Walking

This study by Marlon G. Boarnet, Kenneth Joh, Walter Siembab, William Fulton, and Mai Thi Nguyen examined travel patterns in eight neighborhoods in Los Angeles' South Bay region, comparing trends in "pedestrian-oriented centers" and "auto-oriented corridors" in an attempt to better understand what influences walking in suburban communities. The results have interesting policy implications for those of us who'd like to promote walkability in our neighborhoods.

Not surprisingly, people who live in pedestrian-oriented centers with "inwardly focused" street geometries walk more than those who live along auto-oriented corridors. The research showed that the number of businesses per acre is most strongly correlated with pedestrian trips, suggesting that "the key is not simply sales but a large number and variety of businesses in a relatively small area."

This led to a related question: can the residents and employees in pedestrian centers support the centers on their own, without "importing" outside customers? Interestingly, the answer was no. In the authors' words, "...pedestrian-oriented centers require a concentration of business activity larger than the local residents can support...people must drive from outside of the neighborhood to support the commercial activity that in turn encourages local residents to walk more."

What does all of this mean for those of us trying to create walkability? The authors offer several policy recommendations:
  • suburban regions should focus both on fostering pedestrian centers and on knitting those centers together with transportation networks
  • planners should promote the development of pedestrian centers by offering incentives such as density bonuses or the elimination of parking requirements
  • transit services should be tailored to the suburbs, such as shuttles between neighborhoods or even neighborhood electric vehicles
While recognizing that turning suburbs into walking meccas will be challenging, this research provides planners, advocates, and policy-makers some realistic suggestions for addressing what is sure to be a key challenge of planning in the next few decades.