Weekly Walk Around the News 2/24/2012

Feet First’s look at pedestrian news for the week of February 24, 2012.

WEEKLY WALK AROUND THE NEWS

Posted by Helen Lundell

February 24, 2012

 

Local

This Monday, there will be a hearing for a bill that would require health outcomes to be incorporated into state transportation system policy goals. I am a big advocate for the “Health in All Policies,” movement, which pushes to get health on the agenda for policies that people don’t typically think of as being within the purview of public health planning (like transportation, housing, the economy), but that have very real health consequences. Take a look at Jane Moore’s Op Ed piece in the News Tribune for more information on why HB2370 is so important for Washington, and check out The San Diego Tribune for how transportation policy can influence health. The hearing on Monday is for an amendment to the bill only, but we will keep you informed on its progress. 

Feet First is a proud supporter of the State Route 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV project, which will result in much improved facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists. The bridge will be closing this weekend to allow work on this project to continue. From 11pm on Friday (Feb 24th) to 5am on Monday (Feb 27th) SR 520 (both directions) and all ramps between Montlake Boulevard and I-405, will be closed except for the eastbound entrance from 108th Avenue N.E. SR 520 will remain open between Montlake Boulevard and I-5.

This week, the East Ballard Community Association held a successful meeting to discuss the 14th Avenue NW Park Blvd project. Take a look at their resources page to see the exciting plans!

The neighborhood plan for Rainier Beach is complete, and they invite you to join them in planning the implementation of new goals for the area. They hope to turn Rainier Beach into a “Place for Everyone” for “Life Long Learning,” “Growing Food to Develop healthy Industry” and to make sure that “Rainer Beach is a Beautiful Safe Place.” The meeting will be held on Wednesday March 14th, 6:30-8:30 pm at South Shore K-8 School, 4800 South Henderson.

 

National

The fight against the House Transportation Bill continues, and the bill is gathering ever more negative press. Take a look at Transportation for America’s post describing the 10 reasons why the bill is so awful:

  • Ends three decades of dedicated federal funding for public transportation.
  • Cuts overall transportation funding for nearly every state and relies on risky and speculative funding sources.
  • Takes away local control, planning authority and resources.
  • Ends the “Safe Routes to School” program and other dedicated funding to make streets safer for walking and bicycling.
  • Eliminates the bridge repair program and offloads responsibility for thousands of deficient bridges to local governments.
  • Allows transportation money in a pollution-control fund to be used on new roadways for solo drivers.
  • Requires more bureaucracy at transit agencies.
  • Bets big on little-known “State Infrastructure Banks.”
  • Undermines basic safeguards to protect human health and the environment, and to give citizens a voice in the project review process.
  • Abandons any true “national” interest in transportation.

You can also keep up to date with crucial amendments on the bill using their amendment tracker.

Designing cities for speed eats up huge chunks of useful space, according to Better Towns and Cities.  The need for speed results in roads with wider curves, lanes, medians and shoulders. Well worth looking at their striking comparisons between aerial views of cities built for horses and carts, and those built to keep cars moving.

The theme of The Administration on Aging’s Older Americans month this year is “Never Too Old to Play.” The event will encourage older Americans to stay active and engaged in their communities. One award winning idea to keep people playful: “Grandparents for Safe Routes to School.” They took a great idea and made it better- encouraging older adults to walk elementary school children to school.

It looks like it may not be enough to design neighborhoods to promote physical activity, according to a paper published this month. In urban areas, there seems to be a trade off between improving physical activity and reducing air pollution exposure. See: Betts KS, 2012 Heart Disease Tradeoffs: The Built Environment, Air Pollution, and Activity. Environ Health Perspect 120(2): doi:10.1289/ehp.120-a77b.

A study published this week supports what the Rails to Trails Conservancy suspected: building new trails in urban areas does not increase crime and vandalism in the area (as people often think), but makes them safer and more valuable.

The Federal Highway Administration and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center will be holding a free webinar on Pedestrian Safety and Accessibility Considerations at Modern Roundabouts on. Wednesday, March 7, 2012 10am— 11:30am PST. Register here. 

 

International

Take a look at this awesome school bus from the Netherlands – pedal powered by children, steered by an adult, with a motor to get up steep hills (my husband wants to know what happens if one of them plays the tuba). Thanks to Co Exist.com for this. 

 

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

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