Weekly Walk Around the News 6/22/2012

Feet First’s look at pedestrian news for the week of June 22, 2012.

WEEKLY WALK AROUND THE NEWS

Posted by Helen Lundell

June 22, 2012

Local

SDOT has received $14 million in TIGER (Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery) to help complete the Mercer Corridor. “Mercer West will transform a major east-west arterial bottleneck into an integrated system of freight, transit, pedestrian, bicycle and car improvements that connect to the regional transportation system.” If the picture is anything to go by, this is going to be a massive improvement. Construction starts in 2013.

Construction on the Linden Avenue North Project, which “will improve pedestrian and bicycle safety, complete the missing Interurban Trail link, improve drainage and redevelop the corridor as a Complete Street” started on June 18th. FYI- the Southbound traffic lane between North 135th and North 141st street will be closed. 

 

National

It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the House and the Senate will be able to pull together a Transportation Bill, and may now just be negotiating the terms of yet another extension.

Google is taking Street View to the next level- walking trails, with “Street View Trekker.” Judging by the comments on this article, and the few people I’ve spoken to, this might be a polarizing one.

Good Environment discusses the finding that people of higher socioeconomic status tend to be the ones living in the most walkable communities.

Similarly, a PerSquareMile blogger shows how you can spot a poorer area of town from above–look for areas without trees. These are worrying trends which demonstrate how we need to be constantly cognizant of equity issues when promoting walkability and community development.

Similarly–in the run up to it’s Pro Walk/Pro Bike conference, the Project for Public Spaces will be publishing interviews with “thought leaders and game changers in transportation, health, planning, and governing.” This first one is with Kate Kraft, a Senior Program Officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She says, that in creating walkable communities

 “we have to be very deliberate to make sure we aren’t creating pockets of elitism.  If you’re not deliberate about bringing in underserved communities, it won’t happen. Ongoing collaboration between planning and transportation must keep in mind community fairness and equity. Working in low-income urban communities, and bringing in bike/ped programs has to be a part of the economic development.”

Charles Marohn writes about the benefits of focusing on small scale, incremental, changes to the urban environment to bring growth to an area (e.g. narrowing roads, maintaining street markings, improving store fronts), in contrast to throwing millions of government dollars into a small number of huge, high risk projects (e.g. trolley buses).

Charles Marohn also reports (in Atlantic Cities this time) that “Americans Want More City Planning,” Having examined the American Planning Association’s survey results. they  found that people ranked the top 5 factors making up an ‘ideal community’ as:

  1. Locally owned businesses nearby
  2. Being able to stay in the same neighborhood while aging
  3. Availability of sidewalks
  4. Energy-efficient homes
  5. Availability of transit

..and that 79% want more community planning. (However, particpants were “asked if a community plan – defined as a ‘process that seeks to engage all members of a community to create more prosperous, convenient, equitable, healthy and attractive places for present and future generations’ – would benefit the community,” and I suspect it would be rather hard to say no to that…)

Dialogue for Health will be hosting a Webinar on how we can capitalize on the “Weight of the Nation” films to create change in our communities to reduce obesity. This includes, of course, improving the built environment to promote activity. Thursday, June 28th, at 12:30 PDT. Register here.

The EPA has released a guidebook aimed at older adults, explaining why community design matters, and how they can get involved in decision making about issues like accessibility of amenities and, of course, neighborhood walkability.

According to ChangeLab, building owners and managers often worry about opening up stairwells for employees to use (so that they can get some exercise instead of using the elevator), because they’re worried about liability issues associated with potential injuries. In response, ChangeLab has produced a two page leaflet on why it’s not risky, and how it’s good for business.

The AAPD has released a new report: “Equity in Transportation for People with Disabilities,” which found that, despite the fact that we have the Americans Disabilities Act, which stipulates a requirement for accessible public transportation, a disproportionate number of people feel they have inadequate transportation opportunities in comparison to the general population.

The International Urban Parks Confernece will be held in New York City in July from the 14th-17th. 

According ot Better Towns and Cities!, the top recommendation from the Institute of Medicine on “Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention” focused on the built environment: “Communities, organizations, community planners, and public health professionals should encourage physical activity by enhancing the physical and built environment, rethinking community design, and ensuring access to places for such activity.”

International

Here’s a really interesting historical perspective on urban density in Vancouver.

 

 

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

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