Friday, June 29, 2012

This Week on Foot

The big news is bad news this week, as we learn the Complete Streets Provision Eliminated From Final Transpo Bill. Yet even without the support of the feds, cities across the country are still working to implement Complete Streets projects, like in  Reno where they're looking for Public Input on Sutro Complete Street Project. Elsewhere Asheville's Charlotte Street could see pedestrian-friendly improvements, a Pedestrian plaza plan discussed in Rowlette, Texas, Shrewsbury Walkability Study Examines Sidewalks, Safety and the Santa Monica Pedestrian Action Plan To Make Sidewalks More Friendly.

Yet the federal government has some companions, like the Bikers rally against city's vote on Complete Streets. It seems kind of odd, given The Grave Health Risks of Unwalkable Communities. Shouldn't we want more  On the Road Again besides just cars?

Here in LA we've got plenty on the road--and the sidewalks too, like the Lighthearted street art delights (and confuses) downtown L.A. visitors. And those sidewalks will be getting some improvements, since Alarcon has $500,000 for sidewalks in the Valley. Even better, after one advocate shot a video to raised awareness of the problem, the LADOT promises that a Signalized Crosswalk Coming for Sunset and Vista . Of course, it wouldn't hurt to do some road dieting along Sunset also, since we know that Narrow lanes equal safer streets. From safety to where? Discussing the future of safe streets at a CNU talk can answer that question, but you'll have to check out this story to learn Which American cities are the healthiest?

Elsewhere in the world, Pedestrian bridge collapses in Lahore, one killed, while Pedestrian struck, killed by Metrolink train in San Fernando, and  Road death toll rises for the first time in a decade with worrying increase in cyclist and pedestrian fatalities. Good thing Cops set up sting to keep pedestrians safe, but can they prevent Distracted driving, changing culture leading to clashes between cars and pedestrians?

Back here in California, the 'No parking' model doesn't sell in Santa Monica, and we wonder Will Los Angeles Say Goodbye to LOS? If it does, maybe they'll send Greetings From Walkable, Bikeable, Transit-Oriented Asbury Park, N.J., where they're doing more than just changing CEQA standards to promote active transportation.

Finally this week, we learn about how Research Suggests Denser Development Is Good for Single-Family Home Values and consider Aging: A Collective Response, while we also contemplate All change – the future of travel. Hopefully it won't be a Big box boondoggle because some people out there care about Keeping the village way of life (aka the walkable one). 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cool Ped Stuff #22: Energy-generating sidewalks

This new technology from PaveGen harnesses the energy created by footsteps to generate electricity for nearby infrastructure. It's fun to dance on, but will it solve our energy problems? At least one life-cycle analysis of the technology raises some concerns, noting that it doesn't necessarily generate enough power to offset what it costs to ship and produce. Still, the idea has promise...and gives a whole new meaning to the term "people-powered travel."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Webinars This Week

A Global Perspective: Lessons from International SRTS Programs
June 28 10:00 AM Pacific Time

First, Jacky Kennedy, Director of Canada Walks will introduce Canada's School Travel Planning Project. This program, originally tested in four provinces and disseminated to 120 schools in every part of Canada, created a detailed, step-by-step guide for building a comprehensive, community-based active school travel program.  

Next, Dr. Catherine O'Brien, who is working in partnership with the Canada Walks School Travel Planning Project, will discuss her fascinating research on "sustainable happiness." This concept links walking and biking to individual, community, and global well-being. It provides further compelling evidence of the benefits of walking and biking to school.

Finally, Gary Shipp, Schools, Children and Young People Co-Coordinator from Sustrans in the United Kingdom, will describe how his organization's approach is a community-centered one that builds on small steps to gradually change travel behavior. Sustrans' goal is to get the whole school community involved and motivated in the program so that sustainable and active travel becomes part of the culture of the community for future generations.

Acting on The Weight of the Nation
June 28 12:30 PM Pacific Time

The web forum will highlight the key themes of the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) report, Accelerating Progress on Obesity Prevention, and provide methods you can use to help grow the movement for a healthier nation by mobilizing individuals, organizations, companies, and place-based partnerships everywhere. The web forum will prepare you to host screenings, events, and actions that can:
  • Start new conversations in homes, neighborhoods, worksites, clinical settings, faith settings, and schools.
  • Deepen existing conversations and actions – particularly within the movement of place-based
  • Build a widespread constituency for targeted actions and environmental changes that support healthy living where we live, learn, work, play, worship, and vote.
HBO and the IOM, in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, launched The Weight of the Nation as a campaign to raise public awareness of the seriousness of the obesity epidemic. Over the course of three years, HBO worked with IOM and other researchers on the science and economics of obesity, talked to the country's leading experts on this issue, traveled nationwide to meet hundreds of Americans who are struggling with obesity, and examined the strategies that are being employed to create a healthier nation.

Register here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

This Week on Foot

I hate to start the week with a real downer, but when I read about self-righteous drivers saying Pedestrians, use a sidewalk in OC, I just wanted to remind them about how a Pregnant pedestrian dies; her child delivered but critical (and also did not survive) when drivers have the attitude that they "own" the road. And since we're already on this sad topic, I'll share the story of how a Pedestrian dies in South L.A. after being hit by two vehicles, and Reckless Riders Spur Backlash across the country.

But enough bad news. We've also learned recently that a Bill Would Require A Pedestrian Access Route Separate From Vehicular Route in Missouri, and that Vancouver pedestrians get set to 'scramble' even as Vancouver eyes more bikes, buses, pedestrians in future. And other cities are getting set to improve the pedestrian environment also: the Hampton Park cycling/pedestrian lane approved by Charleston City Council, while Evanston Considers Speed Cameras Among New Pedestrian Safety Measures, More trees, storefronts, pedestrian-friendly vibe could be future of Montgomery's Madison Avenue and Hillsdale aims to be more walkable for people of all ages.

As you Keep an eye out for pedestrians in crosswalks, remember that one of the 10 Things That Make a Home a Good Home is walkability. Walkability also makes good transit, which is why a Walkability survey will help guide light-rail growth in the Twin Cities. But when we're Measuring community sustainability: how do we know if we're on the right path?

And since we're asking questions What If the Housing Bust Wasn’t a Game-Changer? And Is La CaƱada Fat City? What's Making China Fat? We can answer some of those questions with this Analysis: Cities with more walkers, bike commuters are less obese. I guess we really should be Planning cities to beat obesity, and China's low-carbon city drive should pay attention to "sidewalk".

And if we need any advice on that subject, we can always talk to Neha Bhatt, D.C.'s pedestrian advocate, speaks on our walkability challenges.

Read more here:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pedestrian Research

The latest pedestrian research includes a few great pieces about kids and walking.

 Community Design and Policies for Free-Range Children: Creating Environments That Support Routine Physical Activity
Executive Summary: Growing concern over childhood obesity has prompted a focus on underlying epidemics of physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Regarding the former, there is increasing understanding that behavior change promotion alone has not increased population physical activity levels and that an ecological approach is necessary. Therefore, the public health profession has moved beyond traditional behavior change campaigns toward a growing focus on altering policies and the built environment to create settings that support increases in routine, not just exercise or leisure time, physical activity among children.

A survey of the literature suggests four broad factors that define settings where routine physical activity, especially active transportation, is more likely to occur:
  • a compact variety of land uses, with a mix of destinations in close proximity;
  • a comprehensive network of bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities;
  • inviting and functional site designs for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users;
  • safety and access for users of all ages, incomes, abilities and disabilities.
Although these principles are increasingly accepted as beneficial, not just to health but to a community’s economic, environmental, and social well-being, many contemporary ordinances and development practices undermine these outcomes. Therefore, five specific policy and intervention approaches are recommended to guide communities to these outcomes:
  1. zoning and development policies to protect open space, contain sprawl, and focus investment toward thriving, mixed downtowns and village centers;
  2. Complete Streets policies, which require roadways that are safe and functional for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users, as well as motor vehicles;
  3. a transportation- (not just recreation-) oriented trail network;
  4. creation of bicycle- and transit-friendly infrastructure and incentive policies;
  5. development of policy-based Safe Routes to School interventions.
This proposed intervention framework requires evaluation both of effectiveness in increasing childhood physical activity and of the most promising means of getting policies implemented.

Get Fit or Get Hit!
This research evaluates the role that fitness plays in childhood street crossing abilities. Previous studies show that increased physical activity and aerobic fitness during childhood are associated with superior brain health, and that children with higher aerobic fitness levels show improved academic achievement and cognitive abilities, coupled with larger brain structures and more efficient brain function.