Weekly Walk Around the News 3/9/2012

Feet First’s look at pedestrian news for the week of March 9, 2012.

WEEKLY WALK AROUND THE NEWS

Posted by Helen Lundell

March 9, 2012

 

Local

Feet First’s very own Dave Ramsey (board member) has walked 500 miles across Spain! In this lovely article from Kirkland Patch, Dave explains his passion for walking and it’s origins in his trips to the UK, where people have a ‘right to roam’ along beautiful historical paths, even when they pass through private land. This made me rather homesick. Huge congratulations to Dave for this wonderful achievement! 

In the next year, the City of Seattle will be creating 7 miles of interconnected “greenways” – neighborhood streets made greater provision for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Thanks to Komo news for this happy news! 

If you want to learn more about greenways in Seattle, check out this event hosted by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

The Seattle Department of Transportation has reported on the impact of the “Road Diet” on Nickerson Street. Despite predictions from critics that rechannelization and the installation of two new marked cross walks would cause traffic chaos, the report concludes:

“The project improved traffic safety overall by dramatically reducing the percent of drivers traveling more than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. The percent of drivers traveling over the speed limit has been reduced by more than 60% and the percent of top-end speeders has been reduced by 90%. Traffic volume remains roughly the same as it was before the rechannelization. There is no evidence that the rechannelization has resulted in traffic diversions.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation blogged this week about “Festival Streets.”  These are streets that can be closed to traffic more easily for community events – they need only one permit for multiple closures per year. The designation is new, so there are only two festival streets so far: Feet First’s neighbor, Nord Alley, and S Roberto Maestas Festival Street (between 16th and 17th Avenue S).

Feet First has just released its latest policy paper, Street Trees and Sidewalks, discussing street design, maintenance, sidewalk buckling, and the pedestrian experience. Learn about Feet First’s stance on other pedestrian issues here.

This week Mayor McGinn released the 2012 Action Agenda for transportation in Seattle, which he claims has been guided by 5 principles:

  •  Keeping it Safe — using engineering, education, enforcement and evaluation to improve safety for all, and reduce fatalities and injuries

  • Focusing on the Basics — maintaining, protecting, preserving and enhancing our capital assets
  • Building Healthy Communities — supporting sustainability, livability and equitable growth
  • Supporting a Thriving Economy — keeping people and goods moving, and creating great places that attract businesses
  • Providing Great Service — helping people access transportation services and information.

A report mapping “Opportunity,” in King County has been released by the Kirwan Institute. In this report, opportunity is defined not only by education and employment, but commute time, proximity to park and open spaces, and neighborhood poverty.

 

National

Yesterday, the Senate started voting on the (finally) finalized Amendments to the MAP-21 transportation bill. These include the Cardin-Cochran Amendment, which Transportation for America has been heavily advocating, because it 

“provides local communities and metropolitan regions with access to the ‘Additional Activities’ pot of funding through a competitive grant program — funding that they can use for main street revitalizations, boulevard conversions, new bike facilities, or safety improvements to make streets safer for everyone. Large metro areas will receive some funds directly. “  

This article from Better Towns and Cities is worth reading on two counts. First, it introduces a term I hadn’t heard before: “STROAD”- an uphappy middle ground between a road (whose purpose is to get people between a and b quickly) and a street (which is a place where people want to be and to live). Apparently, if you find yourself in an area with a speed limit of between 30 and 55mph, you’re probably on a STROAD. Second, it features an amazing animation parodying a conversation between an engineer, claiming he’s making a street ‘safer’ by making it wider and cutting down trees on the roadside, and a street resident.

The American Public Health Association has released a new fact sheet on the connection between transportation and health.

The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals will be leading a webinar entitled “Best Practices for Maintenance Programs,” on why maintenance programs for pedestrian facilities are important, and how to make the case for maintenance at budget time among other topics. The webinar will be held on Wednesday,March 21, 12-1pm PDT, and you can register here.

 

International

Volvo’s new V40 wagon comes equipped with “Pedestrian Detection Technology” which will trigger a ‘pedestrian airbag’ if a collision is detected, according to msnbc.com. Clearly, this isn’t quite what we mean when we talk about improving pedestrian safety on our roads, but seems like a good idea.

A leftover from Valentines day, this Switchboard blogger claims that walkable, sustainable communities are also the most…romantic? He cites Prague, Rome, Venice and Paris….

 

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

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