Monday, October 28, 2013

Trick-or-Treat, Walking Feet

With only a few nights remaining to plot their most lucrative candy-gathering strategies, children across the country are hunkering down, maps and empty plastic pumpkins in hand, to figure out their ideal routes. Parents hoping to sneak their share of the haul (definitely none of those in my house) might direct them to Zillow's annual list of the Top 20 Cities for Trick or Treating. Using an index that draws from data on population density, home values, and of course Walk Scores, Zillow ranks not only cities, but neighborhoods within cities, by their treat potential. Both LA and San Diego made the list this year, though it's clear that home value trumped walk score for some of the top neighborhoods (do they even let people trick or treat in Bel Air?).

All the walking that happens on Halloween night makes it one of the most dangerous for pedestrians, especially children, so take care out there! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

This Week on Foot

This week we learn How One D.C. Suburb Set A Gold Standard For Commuting, and transformed itself into a vibrant, walkable (if expensive) example for the rest of the world. Perhaps this is why DC’s New Parents Aren’t Fleeing to the Burbs, although Yes, Baby Boomers Are Moving Back to Cities. No, Not All of Them..

Elsewhere in the country, Metuchen asks residents how they feel about bright orange pedestrian flags in New Jersey, but De Blasio hedges on pedestrian malls in New York, and Commission plans new paths to make Bennington more ‘walkable'.They're thinking about Pedestrian safety in Ann Arbor: Council members propose citizens advisory committee, and the Region may consider pedestrian scramble in Waterloo. Even Disney is getting into the walkability game, as Pedestrian bridges added to Downtown Disney makeover.

Outside the US, they're trying to Walk this way: pedestrian road safety must be stepped up worldwide. Fortunately, in Canada a Students’s union calling for action on pedestrian safety on campus, but in other countries there is an An urgent need of more pedestrian bridges on main roads that isn't being met.

Closer to home, here are some Notes from Seattle: A very complete street--we all know about the Many benefits from Complete Streets, right? Like in Maine, where Woodbine Recognized As Complete Streets Community--but maybe not in New York, where NYS Passes Complete Streets Law, Then Slashes Funding for Pedestrian and Bicycle least These Pedestrian Maps Are a Feat of Design, Data and Diligence.

Finally, we're reminded that Distracted Driving Is Claiming the Lives of More Pedestrians and Cyclists (at least in Oregon there are TriMet's 'talking buses': Listen to new pedestrian warning), and of The Infrastructure of Inequality. Maybe it's time we moved Beyond “Level of Service” — New Methods for Evaluating Streets and bring the focus back to other users besides cars.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Watch: "The Walking Revolution"

If you're looking for a more exciting way to spend your lunch hour, check out this 30-minute documentary from the Everybody Walk campaign. The Walking Revolution demonstrates how walking regularly can create amazing change in your life--and in your neighborhood. In their words:

Take 30 minutes to watch the film then, take a 30 minute walk. It will be the best hour of the day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

This Week on Foot

Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Sun

This week is full of high-tech solutions to pedestrian problems, as in Canada Victoria, Vancouver turn to cameras to monitor pedestrian movementToyota Making Car That Can Automatically Steer Away From Pedestrians, and in Japan the Transport ministry joins automakers to standardize pedestrian safety technology. But there are some concerns about some pedestrian technology, like the pedestrian countdown signals that some people say make Pedestrians race against clock.

Meanwhile, it's more low-tech crossings that are getting attention in other towns, like in Texas where a there's a Pedestrian crosswalk across Bagdad finally open, or the South Surrey crossings to get pedestrian-controlled traffic lights. Still, Pedestrian safety remains a concern despite push for crosswalk blinkers--and speaking of crossings, can you believe that the Lankershim Boulevard pedestrian bridge price tag tops $27 million

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Greatest Places in the Country

Photo courtesy of

Or at least, some of the greatest. The American Planning Association has released its 2013 list of Great Places in America, a mix of streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces that (in their words), "...offer better choices for where and how people work and live. They are enjoyable, safe, and desirable. They are places where people want to be — not only to visit, but to live and work every day." 

Grand Park (pictured above) is the only place in Southern California that made the cut this year, although there have been local designees in past years (the Hillcrest neighborhood in San Diego, Santa Monica Beach). 

You can take a look at the criteria for becoming an officially Great Place on the website. A brief glance at the guidelines for neighborhoods gives a you a sense of the just how much needs to come together to create a truly amazing space, from road design to runoff management to retailers--in other words, all those same little details that create walkability. (It also gives you a sense of how much us planners love our jargon, but that's another story.)

Not surprisingly for an award selected by an association of planners, the list of previously-nominated great places highlights the role that urban planning plays in creating, or more often preserving, beloved urban spaces. Turns out it takes an astonishing number of laws, guidelines, and crafty funding mechanisms to nurture the country's best places--few of which would be in place without the activists (pedestrian or otherwise) who agitate for those rules to be created...something to keep in mind the next time someone asks you to participate on a committee or send a letter to your senator.