Friday, November 30, 2012

This Week on Foot

An easy way to keep cars out of pedestrian space? Build narrow streets like this one in Peru.

It's been a busy week for pedestrians outside the US. In India, advocates continue to fight for pedestrians rights, as the Plight of suffering pedestrians comes to the fore, and they point out that the landmark Tank bund continuous to be unsafe for pedestrians. There's also a Call to give pedestrians right of way  in New Zealand, and the First pedestrian subway in Salalah , while in Canada, a Pedestrian-only street pitched for Fredericton. The only dark note is the Pedestrian tunnel 'too expensive' for crash junction in the UK.

Closer to home, things aren't as rosy. San Pedro's Huge Ponte Vista Project is Now More Suburban. Then there's a Search underway for driver who killed pedestrian in Gardena, while the Pedestrian killed in Newport Beach identified. Fortunately, efforts are underway in parts of the country to prevent deaths like these. A Pilot program aims to improve pedestrian safety in Utah, Tufts looks to improve pedestrian safety, and there are Smart growth proposals along Route 9 in Boston. The Balt. Co. Council approval keeps path for cyclists and pedestrians clear and a Ceremony officially opens Oak Cliff’s Bishop Avenue ‘complete street’ in Texas.

Meanwhile, we wonder: is a Huge Pedestrian Bridge Coming to Indiana Dunes? And would it improve walkability? Because as we're reminded this week, Walkability increasingly drives developers and real estate market. If you want to know how to create that walkable environment, check out Jeff Speck’s Walkable City, Digested --or, if you Want a better city? Tear out the freeways, tear up the asphalt, says speaker . And they do want it in Georgia, where Residents want safety, walkability addressed in master plan for 15th Street corridor

Finally this week, we learn about the  The Best U.S. Cities For Public Transit: Portland, Chicago Outrank New York City. One key factor for good transit? Walkability...

The Latest and Greatest Pedestrian Research

Jacquelyn Martin / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Analysis of police collision files for pedestrian fatalities in London, 2006-10
This study analysed 197 police fatal files where a pedestrian was killed in London in the period 2006–2010, with the overall aim of providing a better understanding of how fatal pedestrian collisions in London could be prevented. The files were broadly representative of fatal pedestrian collisions in London over the period. The fatal files were coded into a database based on Haddon’s Matrix, which included items related to the environment, the pedestrian, vehicle(s) and their driver(s)/rider(s) in terms of pre-event, event and post-event. The project identified the factors or primary interventions, which if they had been in place may have prevented the collision occurring (primary prevention). Further, the project considered the causes of the injuries and where practical identified the secondary interventions, which if they had been in place may have reduced their severity. Several groups of fatalities were identified as being of special interest because of particular characteristics of the collisions. These groups generally accounted for a substantial proportion of the fatalities. In each case, the collisions within each group were analysed in terms of who was involved, the contributory factors, injuries and possible countermeasures.

Investigation of Pedestrian/Bicyclist Risk in Minnesota Roundabout Crossings
Many cities in the United States are installing roundabouts instead of traditional intersections, due to evidence that roundabouts dramatically reduce fatal and severe injury crashes compared to traditional signalized intersections. However, the impact on pedestrian safety is not clear. This project was developed to investigate pedestrian accessibility in Minnesota urban roundabouts, addressing complaints from pedestrians regarding difficulties in crossing and safety. The methodology followed in this ongoing research is typical of other observational studies. A sufficiently large number of observations on the interactions between pedestrians or bicycles (peds/bikes) and vehicles at two modern urban roundabouts in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul in Minnesota were collected and reduced. These observations have supported a two phased analysis. Phase 1 involved the extraction of general information describing the crossing event, such as who yielded, the location of the crossing, or the number of subjects involved. Phase 2 looked deeper into these factors by considering the conditions inside the roundabout before the vehicle proceeds to the crossing and meets with the ped/bike. The results presented, although containing no surprises, do highlight and categorize the existence of friction between pedestrians and drivers at roundabout crossings. Also the identification of factors affecting driver yield behavior and pedestrian wait time do offer good background for modeling such interactions.

Layer Object Recognition System for Pedestrian Sensing
There is a significant need to develop innovative technologies to detect pedestrians or other vulnerable road users at designated crossing locations and midblock/unexpected areas and to determine potential collisions with pedestrians. An in-vehicle pedestrian sensing system was developed to address this specific problem. The research team used stereo vision cameras and developed three key innovations, namely, the detection and recognition of multiple roadway objects; the use of multiple cues (depth, motion, shape, and appearance) to detect, track, and classify pedestrians; and the use of contextual information to reject a majority of the typical false positives that plague vision-based pedestrian detection systems. This report describes the approach and tabulates representative results of experiments conducted on multiple video sequences captured over the course of the project. The conclusion derived from these results is that the developed system is state of the art when compared to the best approaches published in literature. The false positive rates are still higher than desired for the system to be ready for commercialization. This report also provides steps that can be taken to improve the performance in this regard. A real-time system was developed and demonstrated in a test vehicle.

Active Traffic Management (ATM) applications, such as variable speed limits, queue warning systems, and dynamic ramp metering, have been shown to offer mobility and safety benefits. Yet because they differ from conventional capacity investments in terms of cost, service life, and operating requirements, how to incorporate them into the planning process is not clear. To facilitate such incorporation, this study developed guidelines for considering ATM deployments. The guidelines consist of four sets. The first set identifies required infrastructure and operational conditions, such as sensor placement and queuing behavior, to apply a particular ATM technique at a given site. The second set presents sketch planning analysis methods to estimate the operational and safety benefits of applying the particular technique at the site; these may be refined with the third set concerning a more detailed (and accurate) simulation analysis. The fourth set concerns continued monitoring of an ATM deployment at a given site. Also provided is a framework for incorporating ATM concepts into the regional planning process. The framework is illustrated with a hypothetical case study of variable speed limits implemented on I-66 in Virginia. Although Virginia metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and the Virginia Department of Transportation already consider operational initiatives to some degree within the planning process, a key finding of this study is that there are several ways to strengthen the inclusion of operational initiatives. These include (1) using the guidelines developed in this study; (2) linking ATM initiatives to the MPO’s Congestion Management Process; (3) facilitating the computation of operational-related performance measures such as total vehicle- hours of delay; and (4) emphasizing, when applicable, the safety and environmental aspects of ATM. The rationale for such aspects is not to promote ATM as being more effective than other types of investments but rather to compare ATM objectively with these other types of investments. For example, Appendix A illustrates how to compute a benefit-cost ratio where costs include capital and operations expenditures for the ATM and where benefits include monetized values of vehicle-hours of delay plus crash costs. In this manner, the benefit-cost ratio for an ATM project may be compared to the benefit-cost ratio for other operational or capacity projects.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Upcoming Webinars

Photo courtesy of Complete Streets
November 20
Road Diets and Pedestrian Safety
11:00 AM to 12:30 PM PST
Road diets, or the reallocation of road space through reduction in the number of regular traffic lanes, are of interest to communities that may be seeking to reduce traffic speeds, reduce crashes, improve accessibility for pedestrians and bicyclists, or achieve a number of other benefits. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has included road diets as one of the nine proven countermeasures it is promoting nationally ( This webinar will present information about the safety benefits of road diets, particularly to pedestrians, and highlight examples of road diet implementation in the United States.
November 29
Bold New Steps: Data and Resources to Propel Local Walking Programs and Solutions
11:00 AM to 12:30 PM PST

Tom Schmid-Senior Evaluation Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Physical Activity and Health Branch
Laura MacNeil, Planner II, Sam Schwartz Engineering
Scott Bricker, Executive Director, America Walks

The panel presentations will include:
• Overview by the CDC on the trends of walking and why walking is a critical intervention to good public health
• Overview of the new Steps to a Walkable Community guide and on-line technical resources to support citizens, planners and engineers in improving walking
• Overview of technical and support services provided by America Walks to further advance this work.

December 4
Fresh Ideas from the 2012 Oberstar SRTS Award Program — Surprising Partners and Program Approaches
10:00-11:00 AM PST
Kathryn Garvey, President, Safe Routes Chagrin, Chagrin Falls, OH
Nancy Pullen-Seufert, Associate Director, National Center for Safe Routes to School

As the importance of drawing upon community assets to sustain SRTS programs continues to grow, thinking beyond the "usual suspects" as partners is more important than ever. In this sixty minute program, we will highlight partner ideas from four outstanding programs that provide wonderful examples of building strong ties with other community organizations.

2012 Oberstar SRTS Award recipient program leader Kathryn Garvey with the Chagrin Falls SRTS Program will provide specific examples of unique local partners that have been pivotal to their achievements, including a local historical society and a community theater. Nancy Pullen-Seufert with the National Center for Safe Routes to School will offer additional innovative ideas from three SRTS programs that received special recognition as part of this year's Oberstar Award selection process.

Friday, November 16, 2012

This Week on Foot

Photo courtesy of

This week we're reminded that for For Pedestrians, Cities Have Become the Wilderness--and The Pedestrian Is a Fragile Species in that wilderness. But some places are taking measures to save the pedestrian from extinction. There are Pedestrian crosswalk, other safety measures on the table for stretch of Ann Arbor-Saline Road where woman died, and a Panel looks to boost pedestrian safety one year after death of 8-year-old Max Wipfli in Wisconsin.

And that's not all. There's a Bike-pedestrian trail plan coming together for Shawano, NLR’s Park Hill to hold ‘walkability workshop’ in Arkansas, the City plans to build sidewalks in older neighborhoods in Las Vegas, and a Breakthrough for Norfolk pedestrian crossing campaigners. Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians can take the high road to safety in Pittsburgh, and a New Fort Myers Beach committee tackles pedestrian safety. Heck, It’s now Pedestrian Sunday! in Bhutan. Bhutan!

Of course, there's always a dingy lining to the silver cloud--particularly outside the US this week. In India Bhikaji Cama Place a symbol of ‘utter disdain for public property’: Accessibility audit is necessary! And in Namibia: Pedestrians Should Change Mindset according to this article-- and admit roads are for cars, not people. It makes you wonder, Should Pedestrians be Forced onto Roads? Maybe not, but they should at least have sidewalks for their own--perhaps this is why Pedestrians, drivers plead for bicyclists to stay off sidewalks.

Of course, bikes on sidewalks aren't nearly as dangerous as SUVs that blow through crosswalks, like in the case of the North Hollywood pedestrian fatally struck crossing street is ID'd

It's situations like this that lead us to wonder Can a re-imagined and walkable downtown save America? (or at least keep it safe?) And if so, Is City Council About to Trade Away Philadelphia’s Walkability Advantage? Maybe Philadelphia needs to be reminded that ‘You have to become the anti-strip mall’ to provide good walkability, and of the Links studied between walkability of neighborhoods and obesity.

Finally this week, we learned that in Prescott, Arizona, a DIY crosswalk provider got the recognition he deserved as the City designates downtown pedestrian walkway as 'Sam Steiger Crosswalk'

Oh--one more thing: Submit Your Questions for Ray LaHood to answer about walkability and pedestrian issues.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Where the Sidewalk Starts Heads South

If blogging has been a bit sparse over the past few weeks, it's for good reason: our household is leaving the wilds of Los Angeles and heading to that raucous border town San Diego. I might not have been writing about pedestrian issues much lately, but they have certainly been my mind as we contemplate where to live in our new town.

WalkScore has played an important role in our housing search, and has been telling to test its algorithms out against what we see on the ground. As a reference point, our Woodland Hills home has a walkscore of 78: we don't have sidewalks, closely-spaced crosswalks, or many street trees--but we do have an abundance of commercial and civic sites within walking distance. With three grocery stores, banks, a library, drugstores, a pet store, restaurants, a hardware store, and more within a half-mile of our front door, we could conceivably ditch our car for much of our everyday errands.

On the other hand, as my husband points out, "I don't need to be able to walk to the optometrist, I just want a cool pub nearby." You may remember that he's not the only one who thinks this way. Earlier this year Scott Doyon released his map of "pub sheds" in Decatur, Georgia, his take on measuring walkability by proximity to beer.

It might sound silly at first, but it's actually a valid point. Pubs, like cafes, squares, and parks, function as important "third places" where people in the neighborhood can gather, meet one another, chat about local issues, and generally do the things that build community. While it's nice to be able to get your milk and pick up some doorknobs without getting in your car, running errands on foot doesn't necessarily help to build relationships that lead people to invest in, and feel connected to, their community.

Given this, we're willing to accept living in a neighborhood that has a lower walkscore--as long as we can walk to a wine bar. Fingers are crossed...