Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Walking Safe: Child Pedestrian Safety

Courtesy of the Children's Safety Network

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Impact of Neighborhood Walkability on Walking Behavior

Photo courtesy of / Dan Burden 
Planners love to point out that people who live in walkable neighborhoods tend to walk more, but they're quick to admit that we don't entirely understand that relationship. A new paper from America Wallks seeks to address that by using survey data to answer some burning questions, namely things like:

  • How much more do people who live in pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods walk than people who live in neighborhoods that are not as conducive for walking? 
  • What about people who happen to live in walkable neighborhoods for whom “walkability” was not a decisive factor in choosing where to live? 
  • Do these people also walk more than others who live in less walkable neighborhoods?

To answer these questions, the survey queried respondents about both the type of walking they did in a typical week, including "utilitarian" (to get some place) and "health/relaxation" (exercise, walking a dog) walking. They were also asked several different types of questions intended to gauge the walkability of their neighborhoods. As the following table shows, people who live in neighborhoods they consider "walkable" are far more likely to walk more than 10 minutes per day than people who live in less walkable places.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This Year's Pedestrian-Friendly Confereces

Courtesy of the ever-helpful John Z. Wetmore, a list of conferences that may interest you this year: 


7-10  International Disaster Conference / National Evacuation Conference;  New Orleans, LA
12-16  Transportation Research Board (TRB);  Washington, DC
16-17  Transforming Transportation (EMBARQ);  Washington, DC
17-18  Oklahoma Bike Summit;  Tulsa, OK
20-24  World Of Concrete;  Las Vegas, NV
22-24  Conference of Mayors;  Washington, DC
22-25  National Sheriffs Association Winter Conference; Washington, DC
24  Iowa Bicycle Summit; Des Moines, IA
27-28  ASTM F13 Pedestrian/Walkway Safety and Footwear; Houston, TX
28-30  Nat'l Conf on Science, Policy and the Environment: Building Climate Solutions; Washington, DC


4-7  Winter Road Congress;  Andorra
6-7  Media That Matters; Washington, DC
8  New Jersey Bike & Walk Summit; New Brunswick, NJ
9-11  National Conference of Regions; Washington, DC
10-11  Good Jobs, Green Jobs;  Washington, DC
10-11  Colorado Bike Summit; Denver, CO
11  Maryland Bike Symposium; Annapolis, MD
12-13  International Winter Cycling Conference;  Winnipeg, Canada
13-15  New Partners For Smart Growth;  Denver, CO
16-19  Conference on Play; Clemson, SC
16-24  Safer Roads by Design: Across Six Continents;  Orlando, FL
21-25  ATSSA - American Traffic Safety Services Assn. Convention and Traffic Expo; San Antonio, TX
22  Alumni Day; Princeton, NJ
23-27  Partners for Public Lands; Albuquerque, NM


1-5  NACO - National Association of Counties Legislative Conference; Washington, DC
3-4  Transportation/ Land Use Planning and Air Quality (TLUPAQ) Conference; Charlotte, NC
3-4  Smart and Sustainable Campuses; Baltimore, MD
3-5  National Bike Summit;  Washington, DC
8-12  Congressional City Conference; Washington, DC
9-11  American Public Transportation Assn. Legislative Conference (APTA); Washington, DC
9-12  Active Living Research;  San Diego, CA
9-12  Institute Of Transportation Engineers (ITE);  Miami, FL
11-15  Aging in America;  San Diego, CA
14-16  North American Handmade Bicycle Show;  Charlotte, NC
19-21  Design-Build in Transportation;  San Jose, CA
19-22  Urban Affairs Association;  San Antonio, TX
21  Delaware Walk & Bike Summit; Newark, DE
25-26  National Recreation and Parks Association Legislative Forum;  Washington, DC
26-28  Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference; Fort Worth, TX
27-29  MT Bike Walk Summit; Billings, MT
30-4/5  Sustainable Trails Conference; Stonewall, WV

Monday, January 6, 2014

Parklets: Neighborhood Amenity or Waste of Parking Spaces?

LA's Spring Street parklets feature a variety of seating options, like these swing seats, as well as exercise bikes, tables, landscaping, and even a foosball table.
As more and more cities begin to question the value of flooding their urban areas with surface parking, new ideas for street space have begun to catch on. Parklets, made popular through events like Parking Day, transform on-street parking spaces into small public parks and represent a relatively cheap and easy way to increase park space in otherwise built-out neighborhoods.

San Francisco and New York have conducted limited evaluations of their parklets, and have found that they seem to increase pedestrian volumes while have a neutral to positive impact on local businesses. An Assessment of the Spring Street Parklets, a collaborative effort of the UCLA Complete Streets Initiative and Parklet Studies, includes a more detailed evaluation of two of Downtown Los Angeles' four new parklets. Using a combination of bicycle and pedestrian counts, activity mapping, and interviews with users and businesses owners, the report compares conditions in parklet neighborhoods before and after installation.

Volunteers mapped the location of parklet users at different times of day as part of the evaluation process.
The assessment results show increases in both bicycling and walking in the vicinity of the parklets after installation, though for both modes men are over-represented. In part this could be due to the continued perception of safety concerns for female walkers and bikers. At the same time, there was no noticeable change in parking occupancy in the parklet areas, suggesting that at least one common concern (the possibility of a parking shortage created by the removal of spaces for parklets) may not be as likely as many believe. Similarly, concerns about pet waste and panhandling in parklets were not supported by on-the-ground observations at the sites; instead, smoking was by far the most common "nuisance behavior" in the parklets.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

This Year, Resolve to Give Up Distracted Driving

Photo courtesy of ADS Logistics
With New Year's behind us, it's time for my annual plea for you to put giving up distracted driving at the top of your resolution list. Although we tend to think of distracted driving as involving texting or talking on the phone, any number of other behaviors can distract a driver from their main task (i.e. driving): eating, adjusting a radio, reading maps, even talking to other passengers. I've been working hard on eliminating the cell phone use from my drive over the past three years, but I admit that there are still other behaviors on this list I should be paying more attention to.

One of the key issues is that while most people seem to agree that distracted driving is a problem, their beliefs don't translate into behavior changes. According to one report by the AAA Foundation, "A percentage nearly identical (67.3%) to the proportion of drivers who disapprove of hand-held cell phone use admits to talking on the phone (of any kind) while  driving in the past 30 days ore than a third of licensed drivers (34.7%) admit to reading messages in the past 30 days (7.7% fairly often or regularly), and a quarter (25.8%) typed or sent them (5.5% fairly often or regularly)."

If you're reading this blog, I probably don't need to convince you that distracted driving is a big problem, but just in case, I've gathered some tidbits about the issue that should totally convince you (and maybe even your friends and family) to put down the phone...and hot dog, and hairbrush...

For pedestrian and bicyclist advocates
For young drivers
For people who think headsets are safe
For people who think it won't happen to them