Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cool Ped Stuff #26 - Superheroes

Photo courtesy of Peatonito

If you've ever had to dash out into the street to get around a car parked across the sidewalk, you've probably wished for Superman strength so you could just pick that car up and toss it out of the way. If you lived in Mexico City, you might just get your wish. As reported in Atlantic Cities and elsewhere, Jorge Cáñez (aka Peatónito, or "Little Pedestrian" in Spanish) and his buddies regularly hit the streets in Lucha Libre attire, blocking cars, painting crosswalks, and generally fighting the dark forces that impinge on the city's walkability.

If you'd like to hear more about Peatónito and his exploits, you can check out his Facebook page here

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Curb Ramp Guidance from the Feds

Photo courtesy of the City of San Francisco

All cities know that their sidewalks need to comply with the the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but often they are less clear about how to address retrofits of existing sidewalks. Most existing sidewalks were built prior to adoption of ADA standards, and lack necessities like curb ramps. This new guidance from the FHWA clarifies when curb ramps should be installed as part of roadway repair projects. Here are some key excerpts:

Where must curb ramps be provided?Generally, curb ramps are needed wherever a sidewalk or other pedestrian walkway crosses a curb. Curb ramps must be located to ensure a person with a mobility disability can travel from a sidewalk on one side of the street, over or through any curbs or traffic islands, to the sidewalk on the other side of the street. However, the ADA does not require installation of ramps or curb ramps in the absence of a pedestrian walkway with a prepared surface for pedestrian use. Nor are curb ramps required in the absence of a curb, elevation, or other barrier between the street and the walkway.
When is resurfacing considered to be an alteration?Resurfacing is an alteration that triggers the requirement to add curb ramps if it involves work on a street or roadway spanning from one intersection to another, and includes overlays of additional material to the road surface, with or without milling. Examples include, but are not limited to the following treatments or their equivalents: addition of a new layer of asphalt, reconstruction, concrete pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction, open-graded surface course, micro-surfacing and thin lift overlays, cape seals, and in-place asphalt recycling.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Benefits of Landscaped Medians

Photo courtesy of www.landscapeonline.com

Medians--especially medians with trees--enhance the pedestrian environment by providing beauty, shade, and a refuge for people crossing busy streets. Yet car-oriented roadway design standards can sometimes conflict with pedestrian-friendly design goals, sacrificing pedestrian amenities in the name of "safety." This was the case in Washington state, where cities that wanted to create landscaped medians featuring trees were thwarted by Department of Transportation standards that forbid any fixed objects (like trees) in a roadway's "clear zone."

In order to allow a deviation from DOT standards in certain contexts, a series of studies were conducted to evaluate the impact of adding small trees to a road's median. The results, the entirety of which you can read in this report, show the adding small trees to a median doesn't significantly increase crash rates, crash severity, or injury crash rates.

From the study:
It appears that adding small trees to landscaped medians does not have a detrimental effect on safety. Installation of medians and access control as part of a more general increase in access control generally result in a decrease in midblock crashes, but an increase in crashes occurring at intersections where turning movements are allowed, in large part because turns are concentrated at those locations. These increases are a fraction of the midblock gains, resulting in improved safety overall. 
In other words, adding small trees to a median doesn't have an effect on roadway safety, but the median itself increases overall safety on the roadway--good news for both pedestrians and drivers. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

This Week on Foot

Photo courtesy of www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com

This week we're excited about the possibility of Legislation Would Mandate Complete Streets Nationwide, but until then cities across the country are working on implementing complete streets on their own, like in Alexandria where Complete Streets program targets needs of walkers, drivers, in Ann Arbor where Planning Group Highlights Pedestrian Issues, a new Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan Aims to Develop “Walkable City” in Raleighor, or in the Complete Streets column: Bike, walkability of Nekoosa an advantage for future economic growth. Just remember, when it comes to Complete Streets: Burden of Proof on Opponents.

Speaking of burdens, this Tulsa Sidewalk Stories video series focuses on the city's poor walkability. Hopefully it will tell us more about Protecting the pedestrian without have to resort to Rare Pedestrian Bridge Considered In West Boca Where Girl Was Killed. And while some may say Distracted Walking Sending Pedestrians To The ER, we know it's actually cars that are sending them there. Looking for more about Solving pedestrian problems in a car culture? Check out this story about 'Accident' Or 'Collision': Why Don't Drivers Get Jailed For Killing Pedestrians?

New York is one place doing a lot to address its car culture, as we see from these Eyes on the Street: New Pedestrian Spaces Pop in Financial District. And if you're Lost? New York Pedestrian Maps Are Coming.

Finally this week, in a Housing Market Study: Idahoans Demanding Walkable Urbanism, and 8 – 80 Cities' Gil Penalosa promotes 'walkability' as key to successful public transit. And it's not just public transit that could benefit. According to Jeff Speck to City Leaders: Walkability May Save Us From Just About Everything.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Congratulations, George!

In 2010 we hosted George Throop for a night as he completed the west coast portion of his (walking) journey from Washington State to Washington, D.C. After nearly three years and thousands of miles on foot, George made it to his destination last weekend! Along the way he inspired hundreds of people to think about physical activity and walk a little more in their daily lives. You can read more about his amazing accomplishment on his website Enjoy the Walk.