Weekly Walk Around the News 6/1/2012

Feet First’s look at pedestrian news for the week of June 1, 2012.

WEEKLY WALK AROUND THE NEWS

Posted by Helen Lundell

June 1, 2012

Local

I wrote last week about Sound Transit’s shocking plans to develop a $40 million parking lot at the Northgate transit center— the site of a forthcoming light rail station. Join us on Monday, June 4th at the Northgate Station Open House to boost the chorus telling Sound Transit to spend the money on improving access for those travelling by foot, bike or transit.

Seattle Department of Transportation is getting ready for the school holidays– and making our routes to school safer. This summer, walking routes will be improved at Dearborn Park, Highland Park, Hawthorne and Wedgewood Elementary schools. 

Feet First has been doing its part at Dearborn too— helping set up the school’s new “Walking School Bus.”  The school has been running four Walking School Bus Routes every Wednesday since April led by the Principal, teachers and parent volunteers. The program has successfully led to a full quarter of the student body commuting to school on foot. 

An exhibit featuring the “gutsy experiment” that is GasWorks park (which captures everything I adore about embracing the majesty of industry), is on until June 24th (9-5 Monday to Friday) at AIA Seattle– “EXPERIMENTING IN PUBLIC SPACE: New Technologies & Making in Seattle’s Landscape Architecture.”

A Brookings Institution Study found that the walkability of an area can serve as indicator of its inhabitants’ socio-economic status. In comparison to previous decades, when large lot sizes only accessible by car were the must-have property, people are now willing to pay for walkability. As an example, they mention note that, in 1996, suburban Redmond had the same house prices as walkable Capitol Hill. Now, prices in Capitol Hill are 50% higher than those in Redmond (New York Times).

 

National

Although most of the House-Senate conference on the Federal Transportation Bill is happening behind closed doors, Transportation for America believes that an important amendment is under attack: The “Cardin Cochran” amendment, which would give local communities more control over making their streets safer. They recommend contacting your Senators to preserve the amendment

Changelab Solutions described how government incentives for the private sector can change community health by motivating the private sector to fight for the cause. Their report offers a menu of incentives, and how to use them, including subsidies, tax credits, zoning incentives, density bonuses, waivers, reocognition, publicity…

A recent study found that “Smart Growth” street plans– interconnected and with shorter travel distances for walkers, actually also reduce traffic congestion (spoiler: traffic is not funneled down a smaller number of arterial roads).

You can now watch HBO’s “The Weight of the Nation” for free online on their website. The documentary discusses a variety of causes of the nation’s obesity problems, including the influence of the built environment and transportation systems.

At the CDC’s “Weight of the Nation” conference, the Institute of Medicine released a new report recommending decisive action on:

  • Integrating physical activity into people’s lives;
  • Increasing access to healthy food and beverage options;
  • Transforming marketing and messages about nutrition and activity;
  • Making schools a gateway to healthy weights; and
  • Galvanizing employers and health care professionals to support healthy lifestyles.

Making life easy for pedestrians is a crucial element of these goals.

Take a look at this program call “Boltage” whose mission is to encourage kids to walk or bike to school (through incentives and recognition).

There will be $70 Million in New Funding to Improve the Health of Small Communities through the competitive Community Transformation Grant offered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal of the grant is to reduce the rate of chronic diseases and to make improvements to the built environment in order to promote healthier lifestyles. Applications are due by July 31, 2012.

The American Public Health Association will be holding a series of webinars on Health and Equity in Transportation:

  • “What Public Transit Means for Public Health,” June 13, 2012, 11am-12 PDT
  • “What Role Injury Prevention Plays in Transportation,” July 11, 2012, 11am-12 PDT
  • “What Health Impact Assessments Can Do for Health Inequities,” August 22, 2012, 11am-12 PDT 

Safe Routes to School is holding a webinar highlighting strategies used successfully by two communities to slow traffic speeds around their schools. June 14th 10am-11am PDT.

The National Highway Traffic Administration has created a curriculum to teach children pedestrian safety. The curriculum is available to download for free. 

 

 

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

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