Weekly Walk Around the News 5/25/2012

Feet First’s look at pedestrian news for the week of May 25, 2012.

WEEKLY WALK AROUND THE NEWS

Posted by Helen Lundell

May 25, 2012

Local

A light rail station will soon be built in Northgate- an amazing opportunity for improving access to sustainable transit. However, it has come to light that Sound Transit is currently planning on spending around $40 million on a 900-stall parking garage that will make it more dangerous to bike and walk in the neighborhood. Use this link, provided by the Cascade Bicycle Club, to tell the Sound Transit Board to make the right choice.

On May 29th, Capitol Hill Housing’s 7th Annual Community Forum will be discussing how we can make Capitol Hill a model of sustainable development. The event is at 5pm at Broadway Performance Hall, click here to register. 

Many moms face a huge barrier to using public transit because of the requirement to fold up their stroller before getting on board. Although King County Metro has these requirements, it turns out that Sound Transit, who contracts with King County Metro, actually has strongly pro-stroller policies. So, we should be telling drivers to follow the Sound Transit, not the King County Metro rules.

The Mercer Corridor construction project on South Lake Union has been designated as a “Green Road Pilot Project,” indicating adherence to a set of “Green Road” best practices. The standards incorporated into this project include:

  • Improved pedestrian access, including 21 new curb bulbs and improvements to 32 sidewalk block faces and pedestrian crossings at 12 major intersections.
  • Improved transit access in the corridor.
  • Additional one mile of new bike lanes along Valley Street, Roy Street and 9th Avenue North.

National

The federal transportation bill is in the process of being finalized. Follow up with Transportation for America to learn more about the process, and find out what you can do to help ensure pedestrians are supported in the new bill.

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center will be holding a webinar on Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety tools and analysis on June 5th, 10am-11:30am PDT. Register here.

NPlan has released an information sheet explaining the connection between urban trails and building more active communities.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) announce a free webinar on raised median islands for pedestrians on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 10:00am — 11:30am PDT. Register here.

The National Complete Streets Coalition has announced that it will Incorporate an Official Program of Smart Growth America. “In an effort to ensure the continued growth and widespread support for Complete Streets policies, the National Complete Streets Coalition’s steering committee recently approved a proposal to incorporate the coalition as an official program of Coalition member.” Smart Growth America (SGA), the only organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring smart growth practices to more communities nationwide.”

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and Building America’s Future (BAF)  released a study “predicting that record numbers of Americans will turn to public transportation as a cost-cutting measure in the face of volatile gas prices. To meet this impending surge in demand, APTA and BAF are calling on Congress to pass a multi-year, fully funded surface transportation bill as the Senate and House begin Conference Committee negotiations.”

In the paper “Community Design and Policies for Free Range Children: Creating Environments That Support Routine Physical Activity,” the author makes 5 policy recommendations:

  1. Zoning and development policies to protect open space, contain sprawl, and focus investment toward thriving, mixed down- towns and village centers;
  2. Complete streets policies, which require roadways that are safe and functional for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users, as well as motor vehicles;
  3. A transportation- (not just recreation-) oriented trail network; 
  4. Creation of bicycle- and transit-friendly infrastructure and incentive policies; 
  5. Development of policy-based safe Routes to school interventions.

Safe Routes to School announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2012 James L. Oberstar Safe Routes to School Award. “The Award recognizes schools and communities that have improved the safety or increased the number of elementary and/or middle school students who walk and bicycle to school.” The application deadline is Thursday, June 28, 2012. Follow this link to learn more and download the application.

The Washington Post discussed America’s fading love affair with the car. Once upon a time it seemed crazy, and profoundly uncool not to have a car. Now, the younger generations just aren’t as fussed…

Atlantic Cities reports on research indicating that children who are driven around have a much less rich understanding of their environment, somewhat validating my own experiences of having no idea of how to get anywhere before walking it.

The Trust for Public Land has developed a “Park Score” rating park systems in the 40 largest US cities. The measure is based on three factors: 

  • Park access, which measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park (approximately ?-mile); 
  • Park size/acreage, which is based on a city’s median park size, and 
  • The percentage of total city area dedicated to parks; and Services and investment, which combines the number of playgrounds per 10,000 city residents and per capita park spending

Take a look at the rankings here. (spoiler: Seattle ranks #9, and San Franciso tops the charts).

Better Cities and Towns cautions against assuming that seeking greater density should always result in pushing for more high rises (which can compromise the openness and light on the ground).

The Trust for Public Land discusses the health benefits of not only exercising, but exercising in green space. 

 

International

Part of getting kids outside and being active is giving them access to exciting places to play. Flavorwire has put together snapshots of 15 of the most awesome plagrounds from around the world.

The Atlantic Cities reported on the disproportionate risk to seniors, children and the poor in road traffic accidents, as well as the tendency to place the burden of responsibility for accidents on pedestrians, even when they are completely within the law.

Departures has created a nice little slide show telling you a little bit about each of the World’s Top Walking cities— Hong Kong, New York, Boston, Budapest, Paris, Venice, Prague, Cape Town, Vienna, Tokyo, Marrakesh…

Support for a 20mph residential speed limit is growing in the UK, according to the Guardian.

 

 

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

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