Monday, October 7, 2013

Cool Ped Stuff #27: Walk [Your City]

You might remember last year's story about the graduate student in Raleigh who tried to promote walkability in his city by posting his own wayfinding signs in strategic locations. The City balked at the idea at first, arguing it violated sign regulations, but eventually recognized the importance of the idea and adopted the sign program as its own.

Following its success at home, WalkRaleigh used Kickstarter to fund Walk [Your City], a website that allows anyone to create wayfinding signs for their own neighborhood. I tried it out myself and created the sign above--the whole process was super easy and took me about five minutes to complete. Once you've made your signs, you can order them through the site for for about $25 each (including shipping, materials for mounting the sign, and associated web-based directions). 

Friday, October 4, 2013

This Week on Foot

Photo courtesy of Atlantic Cities

(Maybe that should be "This Last Four Months on Foot, but bear with me here).

Fall hasn't hit us here in Southern California so much, but nonetheless Fall weather is walking season, making October 'Pedestrian Safety Month--and just in time, as a Pedestrian fatally struck in Torrance is identified. Pedestrian Safety Efforts Should Be Aimed at Drivers

Meanwhile, we're wondering if it's The Beginning of the End for Level of Service? And while we're asking questions, Can Victoria wait 243 years for more bike lanes and pedestrian paths? And, How does Perth rate in the walkability stakes? One place that doesn't rate so high is Pakistan, where Extortion prevents Saddar from turning into pedestrian zone. And we think we have it bad here in the US...

Actually, there's a lot of positive new around the country this week. There's a Pedestrian & Bike Trail Proposed Linking Little Rock And Hot Springs, in Texas Dallas’ long-in-the-works Complete Streets manual is, at last, complete, and the City Of Dickinson Looks To Fix Pedestrian Problems. We've also learned How One Person Sparked a Complete Streets Movement in Cranford, and that 400 Missouri State Students To Help Assess Walkability Throughout Springfield.

Of course, the week wouldn't be complete without some more sobering news, like how a Walking tour of East Innes, Long streets reveals problems for pedestrians, or Montgomery County still a ways from ‘walkable,’ pedestrian safety data shows--but overall Americans are recognizing the importance of walkability, like in New York where Two-Thirds of New York City Voters Say They Want Better Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure.

On the other hand, Americans View Walking as Good for Health But Many Aren't Walking Enough to Realize Health Benefits, and 40 percent of Americans believe their neighborhoods are not walkable. Fortunately, there's A New Walking Movement to Get America Back on Its FeetA new way to think about ‘walkability’ in the Valley, and we're even Learning from Las Vegas.

And on a final, lighter, note: this week we found out it's not just American people who love to walk--it's popular in the animal kingdom too, like with this Pedestrian pig hogs the spotlight.

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

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.