Weekly Walk Around the News

 

Posted by Kerry Dirk

 

 

Local

Governor Inslee recently appointed Lynn Peterson as Secretary of Transportation.  Peterson is known for her support of transit over highway expansion and has been the Sustainable Communities and Transportation Advisor to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber for nearly three years.

 

A few findings from Commute Seattle’s 2012 Modesplit Survey have been released. The survey reveals that two-thirds of Downtown Seattle commuters are walking, biking, and riding transit to work. Only 34% drive alone.  Results from the full study will be released in the coming weeks.

 

The proposed $10 billion transportation package by House Democrats was released on Wednesday. In addition to an increase in the state gas tax by 10 cents over five years, a $25 sales fee would be added to bicycles worth $500 or more. Other projects include widening Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie pass and reducing Interstate 5 congestion around Lewis-McChord.

 

The number of traffic fatalities in Washington increased 5% last year, the first increase since 2004 to 2005.  One explanation is that more people are driving as the economy improves, in addition to more distracted drivers. Further, more people are walking and biking in urban areas, leading to an increase in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths.

 

The Crosscut Design Review board unveiled its suggestions for a better map depicting the route from the airport to downtown via the light rail.

 

Last week, Linden Avenue North reopened to two-way vehicle traffic.  Crews recently finished the majority of the sidewalks, pedestrian railing, and paving. The next couple of months will bring landscaping, new sidewalk and artwork installation, and signal changes at N 130th and N 145th streets.

 

The Ship Canal transit bridge is back on the mayor’s agenda, even though the City Council turned down a similar request last year.  However, a new federal law offers grants for local transit lines.  A transit, bike, and pedestrian bridge over the Ship Canal at Fremont would take pressure off of existing crossings.

 

Mayor McGinn’s State of the City address focused on urban sustainability, developing better neighborhoods, and a plan to expand Seattle’s rail transit network. For instance, he urged City Council to move forward with planning for high capacity transit on Eastlake to connect Downtown to the U District.

 

pedestrian was hit and critically injured in Shoreline by a white work van on Tuesday in a hit-and-run accident. Witnesses reported that there were two men in the van, one with a goatee.

 

 

National 

 

Are pedestrian deaths just a necessary evil in a car-driven society? Although Common Law tradition has a clear provision for right of access, in very few cases is killing a pedestrian considered a crime. David Nelson introduces what he calls the “accident axiom,” a belief that such accidents are unavoidable and a consequence of a motorized society.

 

Washington, DC recently announced its plan to become “the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city” in the United States. The new plan, Sustainable DC, includes goals such as reducing the city’s obesity rate by half, doubling natural spaces within a ten-minute walk of all residents, and increasing commuting by transit, walking, and bicycling.

 

Despite the myth that public transit increases the number of criminals in an area, research over time has found that new stations seldom result in more crime. Instead, criminals are more likely to commit crimes in areas close to home. Since the worst crime hotspots are actually several blocks from stations, planners are encouraged to increase the number of lighted paths around stations.

 

Orlando, often ranked the most dangerous metro area for pedestrians in the nation, recently started a program called Best Foot Forward. Eight months into the program, improvements have included changing the yield rate from one in eleven to one in three on roads at 35 miles an hour or less.

 

Two new webinars are occurring soon.  “Promoting Cycling and Walking for Sustainable and Healthy Cities: Lessons from Europe and North America” will take place on Wednesday, February 27 from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm PST.  Registration is also open for a webinar entitled“Building the Walking Movement – New Strategies and Coalitions.” This webinar will take place Tuesday, March 19, from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm PST.

 

Walk Score has compiled a list of walkable travel ideas inspired by the Oscars.  Destinations include Paris, Philadelphia, Austin, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

 

 

International

 

The Mourne International Walking Festival in Northern Ireland will take place at the end of June. Walks are suited to all levels of fitness, with routes between 10km and 40km in both the lowlands and the mountains.

 

Fare-free transit may be spreading in Europe. Tallinn, Estonia is now the largest city to offer fare-free public transit anywhere in the world. Tallinn, along with Hasselt, Belgium and Aubagne, France, are in the process of forming the Free Public Transport European Network to spread the idea of free transit.

 

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

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