Monday, June 11, 2012

The Importance of Personal Security

Image courtesy of clutch magazine

I write a lot on this blog about pedestrian safety, but usually my focus is on how road design, crossing treatments, sidewalks, and technology can make it safer for pedestrians to navigate public streets. But this recent Streetsblog Post about harassment in public spaces, along with stories like this one of a young man killed in random gang-related shooting, have reminded me of the other half of pedestrian safety: personal security.

We can build the most walkable streets in the country, but if people are worried about crime and harassment (unfortunately, those two words aren't always synonymous) no one is going to use them. In many ways, this is a harder problem to fix than the infrastructure one. Given enough money (and political will), building streets that are physically safe for pedestrians becomes a relatively simple exercise in engineering. When it comes to personal security, we're faced with complex social problems that don't have easy solutions.

That's doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

As pedestrian advocates, we need to recognize that part of our job--our first job, really--is to create spaces where people feel secure walking. Toward that end, we must partner with people who are working to address this issue (police departments, gang prevention advocates, women's groups and others who fight against street harassment). Otherwise we run the risk of designing beautifully walkable--but empty--streets.

Friday, June 8, 2012

This week on foot

This week we learn How Dogs Saved a Los Angeles Neighborhood, and that The Most Walkable Streets in San Francisco Aren’t Always the Ones You’d Think. We're told to Give the people what they want: A walkable city--or do they? Because also this week a 'Pedestrian place' decision postponed in Canada and Businesses Hope to Put Brakes on Proposed Pedestrian Plaza in New York due to concerns over (you guessed it) losing parking. At least outside the US they got the memo, as this week Bhutan introduces weekly 'pedestrian day'.  Although in Manila they don't seem to be quite as sympathetic, since they're telling citizens to Use footbridges and pedestrian lanes, or pay P200—MMDA

Meanwhile, the City's sidewalk situation is dire, public board tells Lansing City Council, and the Increasing road toll for elderly pedestrians provokes alarm. It shows why its so important to understand How walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods help seniors... and younger folks. Perhaps walkability have helped this situation where Pedestrian dies after being struck crossing Long Beach street, although some strongly believe that Distracted Pedestrians As Dangerous as Distracted Drivers

Elsewhere people we're wondering What is it with Canadian drivers and pedestrians? (And why can't Americans be the same way?), and Are the suburbs made for walking? Maybe An Atlas of Suburbanisms can help us figure it out. If not, we can always look to Brant Street in Burlington a Model for Walkable Streets for pointers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More great walking webinars

Health and Equity in Transportation: Promising Methods and Modes to Improve Health Outcomes
APHA will host a free webinar series on critical health and equity issues within the transportation sector. These three, 60-minute APHA webinars will explore the ties between public health and:
· Increased use of public transportation;
· Reduced injuries, particularly for children and young drivers;
· Reduced inequities from increased access to goods and services; and
· Other topics within transportation, such as updates on the federal surface transportation authorization.
We invite professionals in public health, transportation and other related sectors to participate in this new webinar series for 2012. Participants must register to join the webinar. NOTE: registration is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

1: What Public Transit means for Public Health
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
2-3 pm EDT
Explore how public transit may impact health, via increased physical activity, improved air quality and reduced risk of injuries from crashes. Hear about health impact assessments (HIAs) that estimated how increased spending on public transportation and sustainable modes of transportation can both benefit health and reduce social inequities. Introductory remarks by APHA Associate Executive Director Susan Polan, and presentations by Tracy Buck, MS, RD, Nashville Metro Public Health and Brian Cole, DrPH, UCLA School of Public Health.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Making Pizza (and Pedestrians) Safer

As I learned recently in this NPR story, Dominos pizza has taken a creative approach to improving the safety of its electric delivery scooters in the Netherlands. Concerned that the quiet vehicles might catch pedestrians unawares, with unfortunate results, the company added a quirky soundtrack to the motors. Annoying? Possibly, but at least they'll be hard for pedestrians to miss...

Friday, June 1, 2012

This Week on Foot

This we everyone is talking about the latest research from the Brookings Institution showing what's Now Coveted: A Walkable, Convenient Place. In reaction there's this Op Ed on Walkability confirms the obvious and points to transportation expenses, this post on The economic value of walkability and transit, and this one about Urban walkability: the new driver in real estate values.

Meanwhile, the L.A. City Council wants no part of sidewalk repair cost proposed as part of AB 2231. Improvements to Oxnard street will come at a cost, and it's not just the price of repairs--but how much to we pay in health costs when we don't maintain walkable environments? We Can't Rely on Doctors Alone to Make the U.S. Healthier...

...or safer, and even though one person wonders Do pedestrians have a death wish? In Our take: Pedestrian safety matters. But does it matter to everyone? That's not so clear in Washington, D.C., where the Fate of Bike-Ped Compromise Still Unknown as House Reconvenes, or in California where Napa to Pedestrians: Drop Dead, or at Least Fall Down.

Fortunately in the Moreno Valley: Pedestrian safety campaign begins, and they're working on Reducing the risk of pedestrian death in Vancouver, while a 'Pedestrian hybrid beacon' lights up in Metropark and  Re-thinking traffic control for pedestrians in New Zealand.

Back here in my neighborhood, a Man gets life sentences for running over Woodland Hills pedestrian in 2009 chase, while further away Summertime Pedestrian Mall Heats Up Business In Little Italy and even further away Dubai residents get the boot into pedestrian footbridges.

Were you wondering How many people bicycle and walk in Missouri? The first definitive data EVER from MoDOT is available this week. And finally, for all you conspiracy theorists out there, an Opinion: Complete Streets conspiracy theorists should offer proof.