Feds finally recommend actions to better protect people walking


The National Transportation Safety Board released recommendations focused on improving pedestrian safety in light of the alarming and continuing uptick in pedestrian deaths since 2009. The recommendations themselves are targeted at actions other federal agencies can take, but there are still some lessons to take away from the recommendations as a whole.

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Expect fewer delays

DC Washington construction ROW credit WABAAn open bicycle lane and clearly marked pedestrian walkway, such as this one in in D.C., are the exception, not the norm during construction projects. Keeping bicycle lanes free during short-term construction projects also help maintain the safety and efficiency of bicycle networks. Photo: Washington Area Bicycle Association

This post is the third in a series of case studies about Complete Streets people, places, and projects. Follow the full series over the next several weeks.

People on foot and bike are often pushed to the wayside during construction projects. New policies in Washington D.C. and Chicago could change that.

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Partnership in the News: Bike advocates win big in Bay Area

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In 2010 the East Bay Regional Park District received a $10.2 million TIGER II grant to fill the gaps in bike and pedestrian trails in Northern California and connect more than 200 miles of existing trial.

Greater San Francisco has some of the most congested roads and highways in the country and the population is expected to grow significantly over the next few decades – only adding to the problem. Providing residents  safe, alternative modes of transportation will be critical to reduce future traffic congestion.

Existing trails in the district often parallel major roads and are used extensively by commuters seeking alternatives to congested freeways. One section of the new trails will run adjacent to the region’s metro system, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and will connect some economically distressed neighborhoods. Often times these neighborhoods lack access to safe and affordable transportation. Protected bike lanes and sidewalks will provide residents in these areas with safe routes to get around town.

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Materials from the National Complete Streets Coalition's sessions at National Walking Summit 2013

Complete Streets partners breakfast
At the National Complete Streets Coalition’s partner breakfast, part of the 2013 Every Body Walk conference last week.

The National Complete Streets Coalition had a whirlwind week last week at the first-ever National Walking Summit in Washington, DC. More than 300 participants came together to discuss ways to support walking through policy, design, advocacy, funding, organizing and engagement in communities large and small. The conference had great energy and enthusiasm for Complete Streets and how this approach supports safe, inviting and convenient places to walk.

With the help of the DowntownDC BID, the Coalition welcomed 15 Partners and Steering Committee members to Washington at its Partners breakfast. After catching up with one another, the Partners heard from Ellen Jones, Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability for the Downtown BID, about how downtown DC will begin to accommodate more pedestrians as travel demand increases.

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Join the National Complete Streets Coalition at the 2013 National Walking Summit

Walking Summit
Complete Streets features make this street in Bellingham, WA safer and more accessible for pedestrians. Photo by Walkable Communities, via Flickr.

In early October, the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, will be at the National Walking Summit here in Washington, D.C., sharing information and skills for successful Complete Streets policy and implementation with the many other national and local leaders in attendance.

Walking is the most basic form of travel, an easy way to be physically active and a powerful tool for economic and social well-being of our communities. The Coalition works to improve safety and access to community destinations for people who travel by foot, as well as by wheelchair, bicycle, public transportation, or automobile.

On the Summit’s opening day, October 1, join our 4:00 PM session “Completing Our Streets: Policy and Advocacy Tools to Get You Moving.” Laura Searfoss, our Policy Associate, will open the session with the basics on Complete Streets policy: What makes a good Complete Streets policy? Who has one already? Why does any community even need one?

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Smart growth strategies for a public health problem in Louisville, KY

Over half of the residents of metropolitan Louisville, Kentucky, are considered seriously overweight, and obesity rates in the state have risen in recent years while reported outdoor physical activity has declined – despite public relations campaigns to promote biking and walking.

Now the city is trying a new approach to encourage its residents to get outside and get active. With help from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, Louisville is changing its streets and its infrastructure to make walking and biking more viable, attractive transportation options. Among the initiatives, Louisville recently built “the city’s first bicycle lane and ensured that the redevelopment of a low-income housing project included small ‘pocket’ parks, improved traffic patterns and wider and safer sidewalks.”

As an article in the New York Times explains, obesity is a serious health concern for the city but also poses a threat to Louisville’s economic viability:

[T]he foundation made its first grant when Jerry Abramson, then the mayor, had begun to worry that obesity was lowering Louisville’s attractiveness.

“For businesses, a healthy work force is more productive and less costly, so it became a competitiveness issue,” Mr. Abramson said. “Every city was offering tax incentives, every city was offering real estate deals but not every city had the weight problem we do.”

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