Weekly Walk Around the News 11/18/2011

Feet First’s look at pedestrian news for the week of November 18, 2011.

WEEKLY WALK AROUND THE NEWS

Posted by Helen Lundell

November 18, 2011

 

Local

Walking in Seattle calls you fight back after the loss of Proposition 1, by signing a petition to make jaywalking legal unless it obstructs traffic.

The Seattle Department of Transportation will be opening the new “Ship Canal Trail,” between 11th Avenue West and West Emerson Street, at 11am on Saturday November 19th. You are invited to join the fun at the grassy area south of and below W Emerson Street Bridge, where the bridge intersects with 16th Avenue W.

In the Seattle Times this week, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and David Fleming argued that traffic-related crashes should be treated as a major public health issue, since they are the leading cause of death and serious injury in Seattle. They propose tackling crashes with the four ‘e’s: education, enforcement, environment and empathy, and invite you to share your ideas on addressing the issue by participating in two more Road Safety Summit meetings — 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Northgate Community Center and 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, at the Southwest Community Center. Submit comments online at www.seattle.gov/roadsafety.

The Seattle times reported on parents’ dissatisfaction with Seattle Public School’s new transportation plan. 80 yellow school buses have been taken off the road with the aim of saving $4 million – resulting in a sparser, lower quality service. While some parents are upset at late running services, local government spokespeople acknowledge the issues, but regard the cuts in service as an inevitable result of today’s economy.

 

National

The American Public Health Assocation expressed concern about the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s draft transportation bill

(MAP-21), which was voted out of committee with a successful bipartisan vote last week. They argued that while the bill includes Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails Program, they will be receiving reduced funding and expensive activities that do not appear to promote the mission of the programs (including road oriented investments) will now be eligible for the funds.

Smart Growth America reported that Congress did not include funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Housing and Communities Program, whose goal is: “…to better connect housing to jobs, the office will work to coordinate federal housing and transportation investments with local land use decisions in order to reduce transportation costs for families, improve housing affordability, save energy, and increase access to housing and employment opportunities. By ensuring that housing is located near job centers and affordable, accessible transportation, we will nurture healthier, more inclusive communities which provide opportunities for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to live, work, and learn together….”Feet First, as well as Smart Growth America, is disappointed at the decision of Congress.The San Francisco Department of public health has completed a health impact assessment of a program that would charge $3 during am/pm rush hours to travel into or out of a congested area. This money would be directed back into transportation, including pedestrian and bicycle paths. They found that the health economic costs of the current transportation system may be as great as $1.12 billion per year and that, if implemented, this program could go some way to offsetting the future damage caused by ‘normal’ transportation policies. Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health has released its “Model Design Manual for Living Streets,” a toolkit for designing streets that promote active living. The resource is freely available, and can be downloaded from their website.Two counties in West Virginia have come together and purchased 16.7 miles of former rail line to convert into a recreational trail – the “Meadow River Rail-Trail.” Costs for the project, which typically come to around $100,000 per mile of redevelopment, are being covered a federal stimulus grant, a Recreational Trails Program grant and local matching.The BBC reported on the growing length of Americans’ commute, and it’s psychological impact.A study has investigated the features of the built environment that are most strongly associated with an increase physical activity. They found that characteristics of the sidewalk infrastructure, street crossings and traffic speeds, and land use are more strongly associated with walking for travel, while factors that measure aesthetics are typically less strongly associated with walking for travel. A new synthesis of research by Active Living Research makes recommendations to policy makers based on their (not entirely unsurprising) findings that racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income people:

  • are more likely to live in neighborhoods with fewer and lower-quality sidewalks, and fewer aesthetic amenities like scenery that make walking safer, easier and more appealing;
  • tend to live in neighborhoods with fewer parks and other recreation resources; and
  • experience more danger from crime and traffic than others do, and face more barriers from neighborhood physical and social disorder.

International

A commentator for “Healthy Policies” noted that health has recently become a prominent topic in the international “Occupy” movement, with “Healthcare for the 99%” marching in New York” in October. However, she urged that messages highlighting the social determinants of health (including the built environment and transportation systems) should not get lost in the fray.

 

If you come across any interesting pedestrian news or stories, please send a link to info@feetfirst.org.

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