Monday, July 16, 2012

Upcoming Webinars

Here a web, there a web, everywhere a webinar...

July 17 - 11:00 AM PDT
What's Working in Collaboration for Health Promotion

When health advocates work together across local, state and national lines, they achieve change more effectively.  Online resources can help them come together — but with so many different resources out there, which are the most useful? Join and public health experts on July 17 for a free webinar to discuss current collaboration trends and success stories.

Register here.

July 17 - 10:00 AM PDT
Making Tough Choices Easier: How To Prioritize Pedestrian Infrastructure Needs
Safe Routes Coaching Action Network

How do you know which infrastructure improvements will have the greatest impact on walking and biking to school?  This webinar will help you learn how to prioritize projects at various schools within a community and how this has been applied in two communities.  First, you will be introduced to the guide on infrastructure project selection developed by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. Then planners and engineers from San Francisco and Miami will discuss two different approaches to prioritizing projects at multiple schools.  

Register here.

July 18 - 12:00 PM PDT
The Greener Side of Green Streets: Reducing Pavement Footprints
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
This webinar will explore how some cities are working to reduce the environmental footprint of their streets while also adding value for bicyclists and pedestrians. Attendees will learn about Portland's Green Street Projects which improve both storm water management and traffic calming through the use of semi-diverters, curb extensions, offset intersections and pervious pavements as components of neighborhood greenways and pocket parks. The session also includes information about Chicago's Sustainable Streets demonstration projects, which use recycled materials, pervious surfaces, reflective pavement coatings, street trees and other treatments to create sustainable streetscapes.

Register here.

July 24 12:00 PM PDT
TRB for Bike/Ped Professionals: Understanding and Engaging the Transportation Research Board
Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals

Attend this free webinar to find out what the Transportation Research Board does and how its work benefits bicycle and pedestrian professionals. TRB's focus is research; presenters will explain how TRB conducts and disseminates research, citing current outcomes from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committees. Learn how to engage with TRB through research needs statements, submitting a paper, the peer review process, and practice-ready papers and other TRB products.

Register here.

July 26 - 11:00 AM PDT
The Economic Benefits of Safe Routes to School
Safe Routes to School Partnership
In this webinar, expert speakers will discuss how bicycling and walking can boost local economies, how bicycling and walking saves communities money and specific research on the topic.

Register here.

July 30 - 10:00 AM PDT
SRTS Middle School Curriculum: Why it is Important and How to Make an Impact
Safe Routes Coaching Action Network
When most people think of SRTS programs, elementary school students come to mind. In this webinar, we will discuss why it is so important to reach out to middle school students, why it is often so challenging to get through to them, and three examples of programs designed to make an impact on these preteens.

Register here.

July 24 - 12:30 PM PDT
Using Health Impact Assessments to Connect Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety and Health
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

Health impact assessments are a valuable tool for estimating the health impact of various projects and policies. This webinar will explore what health impact assessments are and how they can be used to connect bicycle and pedestrian safety and health. Bethany Rogerson, senior associate for the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, will provide an overview of HIA programs and how they can add value to a decision-making process.

Register here.   


Saturday, July 14, 2012

This week on foot

This week we learn The Awful Truth About the Transpo Bill’s Bike/Ped Loophole, and how it may reduce the amount of funding for bike and pedestrian projects nationwide. Fortunately, we can always take things into our own hands with DIY speed bumps: Traffic control for neighborhoods that don't rely on federal funding...

And we need it, since this week there was a Pedestrian fatally struck by car in West Los Angeles and a Big-rig kills pedestrian on LA area freeway. Yet at the same time a new Plan Calls for Wider Wilshire, Skinnier Sidewalks. Is LA still not understanding the importance of walkability?

If so, LA isn't the only one: in the Bay Area we learn this week about The opportunity that Apple is missing to build a better neighborhood, while Inadequate transit, sprawl cut off workers from jobs across the country and there's a big MassDOT Mistake: How Not to Rebuild Main Street.

But elsewhere things are looking more promising. As pedestrian accidents mount, Ocean City looks for answers, Greensboro police emphasize pedestrian safety and Bronx teenagers campaign for pedestrian safety, win neighborhood ‘slow zone’ from city for Mount Eden. While New Jersey's

more here:
2010 law to reduce pedestrian injuries sees mixed results, at least New sidewalk improves safety for pedestrians along Route 31 in the Flemington/Raritan area, and North Van walkabouts teach residents how healthy living is planned.

Which is important, because Health expert says children need more unsupervised play time--but for that to happen they need safe streets to play on, unlike in Covina where a Pedestrian struck by Metrolink train identified as 14-year-old Glendora boy.

Elsewhere in the world there's Another Sydney pedestrian run over, and they're worried about Big box social engineering in Calgary. In India we're reminded that Walking and cycling saves us lakhs per day and in Manila Realtor envisions a bolder Makati with better walkability.

Perhaps they can look to Oregon, where a New pedestrian and bicycle bridge across Interstate 5 opens Saturday in Southwest Portland. You never know. A Pedestrian bridge could be an 'iconic structure'.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pedestrian Mall: Friend or Foe?

Scott Donyon has a problem with pedestrian malls. As he writes on the Better! Cities & Towns blog:

The idea seemed solid. Give multiple downtown blocks over to pedestrians and, in the process, take on the new suburban malls with a compelling destination to draw crowds back downtown. Only, in most cases, it didn’t really work out that way.
Here’s why: The problem — at least the most visible one — was that we had relinquished our streets to the automobile, relegating all other users to second or third class status. We had taken the complexity of the public realm and dumbed it down into a single-use car sewer. Cars good, walking bad.
So how did we try to fix that? By doing the exact same thing, except in reverse. This time it was cars bad, walking good, which presents a similar set of problems because community doesn’t thrive in the all-or-nothing extremes of complexity reduction. Instead, the workable solutions tend to be the ones found in the messy middle ground, where culture and commerce intersect and competing interests are confronted and reconciled.

I agree that all-or-nothing approaches rarely work, but I don't believe the problem with pedestrian malls is eliminating vehicles per se. As this study from earlier in the year explains, walkable centers generally don't have a sufficient market within their pedestrian shed (the distance people will walk to get to the center) to support their businesses. Instead, they need to "import" customers from surrounding locations via transit, biking, or driving--modes that accommodate longer trips. A sustainable pedestrian mall will allow for these trips, even if it doesn't direct them straight through its core.

That's one reason that Estes Park is so ideally suited for a pedestrian-mall-type road closure: the parking lots that ring main street allow outsiders to drive to the downtown perimeter and park, then leave their vehicles behind and browse on foot. (And why is window-shopping on foot better than driving through a main street? It encourages impulse buys: you're much more likely to pause for an ice cream cone if you don't have to search for parking first.)

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Destination without a Destination Street

We're back from a week in Estes Park, Colorado, and it turns out that it's true: you can take the girl out of the planning department, but you can't take the planner out of the girl. All week, every time we drove or walked down the city's main street (above), I felt an uncontrollable urge to call up the local town council and beg them to do a walk audit. As you can see above, while the city has made some effort to improve walkability by adding bulb-outs at key intersections and decorating the on-street parking with bricks, there's still a busy, four-lane road cutting through what is nominally the prime tourist street of a town with a tourism-based economy.

What's particularly absurd about this, is that the layout of the surrounding streets and parking have actually been designed to encourage drivers to either 1) bypass downtown Estes Park entirely by using a parallel side-street or 2) park in one of the many lots surrounding main street and walk into downtown. If the idea is to make Estes Park's main drag a "destination" for pedestrians to leisurely stroll along, window shopping and purchasing the occasional ice cream cone, why destroy the street's walkability by clinging blindly to the idea that vehicles must retain their dominance in the streetscape?

In fact, why even keep the street open to vehicles at all?

As I mentioned, the main street is surrounding by parking lots and paralleled by a bypass road for through traffic. There's really no reason I can see to keep main street open to vehicle traffic to all. At a minimum, imagine what the road might look like if it followed the model of Central City, Colorado:

Note the narrow, woonerf-style street that clearly tells pedestrians, "this is your space, we just let the cars borrow it now and then." Downtown Estes Park has a slew of great features for pedestrians (a riverwalk with pocket parks, human-scale buildings, street trees), but until the city gives up on the idea that all streets must prioritize vehicles, it's never going to be the great destination that it should be.

Monday, July 2, 2012

LA Walks Community Meeting

Join Los Angeles Walks for a Community Meeting on July 10

Los Angeles Walks wants your feedback on expanding our current campaigns. Come by and let them know what you think would make walking in L.A. safer, easier, more convenient and more fun! Snacks and drinks provided.

July 10, 2012, 6:30-8:30pm
Downbeat Cafe (downstairs)
1202 North Alvarado St. (Just north of Sunset)
Los Angeles, CA 90026

  •    6:30 pm meet & greet
  •    6:45 pm introduction to los angeles walks
  •    7:00 pm dialog about 'how do you walk in la?'
  •    8:15 pm wrap up and next steps
More info at the LA Walks website here.