Here’s what’s been shooting around the ped/bike blogs this week.
Inequality in pedestrian death victims from Streetsblog Capitol Hill: The elderly, people of color and men are more likely to be killed by cars while walking than other segments of our population, reported by the CDC.
Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure increased economic growth from America Bikes: New York City has been implementing new pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure and found, among other benefits, that local businesses grew around the new facilities. Where the protected bike lane was present, business sales increased by 49% compared to 3% in the borough as a whole. Businesses around a Brooklyn pedestrian plaza saw 172% growth relative to 18% in the borough as a whole.
Comment on regional transportation policy priorities from WalkBikeJersey: The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission has released its annual transportation priorities, including a clickable map to make it easier to see what’s planned for our area. You can send them comments via the map or via email. It’s also interesting to see how much they plan to spend on projects. there’s a lot of zeros in those numbers, so let’s make sure that some of those millions go to bicycle and pedestrian improvements, as required by our state, county and municipal Complete Streets policies.
Maurice Hawk Elementary School Principal Denise Mengani, Assistant Principal Patricia Buell and the Hawk led students, their parents and WWBPA trustees for the Walk to Hawk event on October 18th, part of the International Walk to School month festivities.
We had a beautiful sunny day for the walk. About 45 students and their parents went on the walk, which started at the West Windsor municipal center and ended at Maurice Hawk Elementary School. WWBPA trustee Stacey Karp gave each child an “I walked to school today” sticker and everyone helped make sure all the students arrived safely at school.
We want to extend our thanks to the West Windsor police officers who stopped traffic at several crossings so that the group could stay together. Ms. Mengani allowed us to address the parents to we could share some of the improvements WWBPA has advocated for around town, as well as promote our upcoming events.
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The Association of American State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recently published a letter to the US Department of Transportation recommending weakening the federal requirement for adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities to roadway projects. This recommendation is understandable, given the fierce fight for resources in today’s tight budget climate, but extremely short-sighted.
Some background: the Highway Trust Fund, established in the 1950s to finance the interstate highway system, has suffered from starvation due to flat fuel taxes (since 1997), reduced buying power of those taxes through inflation, and fewer miles driven since 2007 (i.e. reduced demand for gas) due to the economy, more fuel-efficient cars and higher gas prices. Intended as a way for motorists to pay for highways, it has been bailed out by general taxes to the tune of $8 billion in 2008, $7 billion in 2009, $19.5 billion in 2010, and is projected to be insolvent again by the end of fiscal year 2012.
However, the percentage of federal roadway money spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities is minuscule (about 2% in FY 2010), and a sustained commitment is necessary to build our transportation network to offer a true choice of modes – walking, biking, transit and/or driving. It’s a win-win in any case: better walking and biking facilities are usually incidental to the cost of building roads or bridges, they’re healthier for the participants, plus they reduce congestion and pollution for everyone.
Consider this picture, which I took while walking the 1.5 miles from the commuter train station near Frederick, MD to pick up my car at the dealer (don’t ask). This bridge, MD 85 under I-270, appeared to be recently constructed and had a number of nice features, such as the stone work shown, and should have been built with room to walk, but wasn’t.
Please use this link to express your opinion of whether bicycle and pedestrian facilities should be required, or just considered.
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May is National Bike Month, and start it with a deep stretch: Nancy Sheehan, a cyclist and yoga instructor, will be teaching two free yoga classes aimed at cyclists at the Cranbury library, 23 N. Main St. in Cranbury, on May 5 and June 2.
Yoga can build a cyclist’s strength and endurance and introduce flexibility to chronically tight muscles.
Classes begin at 7 p.m. and will end at 8:30 p.m. The WWBPA will be there both evenings. We’ll talk about skills and etiquette for streets and trails, including the do’s and don’ts that promote peaceful coexistence with other users, on May 5 and fun places to ride, including some cool events, on June 2. But most of the evening will be devoted to stretching, so dress appropriately. Bring a yoga mat if you have one.
No pre-registration is necessary.
Not sure what to expect? Here’s a video we found that shows some stretching techniques for cyclists.
This is an interesting essay about a doctor’s dilemma persuading an elderly patient to stop driving. The relevance is that such strategies (and in only a few states, laws) can only be effective if there are alternatives such as public transportation (including resources provided through local senior centers and other groups) as well as pedestrian infrastructure.
Saving The Planet… And Ourselves Is As Easy As Riding A Bike
Two thirds of America’s energy needs are tied up in transportation. How we get around shapes our communities, our health, and our future.
Americans dream big, but those dreams have gotten out of hand. The results: expanding waistlines, sprawling communities, vehicles so large and thirsty that wars are fought to keep them running, oil disasters, and an energy plan that heats everything up to maintain a way of life. Beyond the blame, America needs real solutions: lean, clean, game-changing answers that put people on the road to health and energy independence.
Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet follows pioneering transportation leader Birk’s 20-year crusade to integrate bicycling into daily life. With just a table scrap of funding, Birk led a revolution that grew Portland, Oregon into a city where bicycling is a significant part of their transportation system. Birk then hit the road, helping make communities across the nation healthier, safer and more livable. While many books bemoan the pain of the world’s problems, Joyride offers hope and a blueprint for changing our world for the better.
Birk lives in Portland, OR, with her two children, ages 11 and 8. Bicycling is her main means of transportation, and a winning strategy for maintaining her family’s health, safety, budget, and community connection.
Book sales will support non-profit organizations working to creating a healthier, more sustainable world.
Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet
By Mia Birk
With Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie
Cadence Press www.miabirk.com
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Researchers at the University of Buffalo report that a morning walk to school could reduce the amount of stress children feel later in the day. Heart rate and blood pressure levels remain lower, which can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease later in life.
The researchers note, “Cardiovascular reactivity — including changes in heart rate and blood pressure due to stress — is associated with the beginnings of cardiovascular disease in children, and atherosclerosis — the dangerous build-up of cholesterol, calcium, fat and other substances in artery walls — in adults.”
Think kids don’t get stressed? Remember how you felt taking a test, speaking in front of classmates and just trying to fit in.
The researchers go on: ” Because it’s not known how long the protective effect of a bout of exercise lasts, parents and educators should promote active play time throughout the day. If it only lasts a couple of hours, then it would be most beneficial if a child walked or biked to school, then had recess during school, as well as a break at lunch, so they had opportunities for physical activity throughout the day. This would put them in a constantly protective state against stressors that they’re incurring during the school day.”
Other studies suggest that being fitter helps make kids smarter.
The Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHWA) has published its Summer 2010 newsletter, including links to the 15-year status report on walking and bicycling, resources for Safe Routes to Schools programs for law enforcement officers, grants for livable communities, and web-based courses about designing for pedestrian safety.
“Livability means being able to take your kids to school, go to work, see a doctor, drop by the grocery or Post Office, go out to dinner and a movie, and play with your kids at the park—all without having to get into your car.” -USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood
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NJ Wild: Carolyn Edelmann blogs about nature, especially along the D&R Canal and towpath.
Pedal Around: a chronicle of living car-free since Sept. 15, 2009 and his current adventure of bicycling cross-country. Love how he signs off with: PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane. Share the road.
Streets Blog: The national blog network for sustainable transport, smart growth, and livable streets.
Suburban Bike Mama: Without a car for a few days, this city girl remembered her strong pedestrian roots and vowed to never “need” a car again.
Here are two easy ways women can keep from adding pounds: brisk walking and biking. An article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “Bicycle Riding, Walking, and Weight Gain in Premenopausal Women,” reports that even modest amounts of exercise can be effective. A summary of the findings is in Business Week, June 28, 2010, “A Little Biking May Help Premenopausal Women Stay Slim.” The study found that biking is particularly effective for overweight or obese women. (Sorry, but that casual stroll around the neighborhood at a pace of less than three miles an hour doesn’t have that weight-control effect.)
Let’s Move is a new federal initiative, promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama, to combat childhood obesity by promoting healthy foods and increased physical activity. Walking and bicycling to and from school or around the neighborhood, along sidewalks and marked paths, are fun and easy ways to start.
“The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake,” said Mrs. Obama. “This isn’t the kind of problem that can be solved overnight, but with everyone working together, it can be solved. So, let’s move.”
According to a May 11, 2010 White House press release, federal agencies are acting to translate recommendations to actions. The Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency will promote walking and biking to school. Want some local help doing that? Turn to the WWBPA!
Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.
Moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (such as running, hopping, skipping, jump- ing rope, swimming, dancing, and bicycling) should comprise most of the 60 or more minutes a day Vigorous-intensity physical activity should be included at least 3 days a week.
Muscle-strengthening physical activity (such as playing on playground equipment, climbing trees, playing tug-of-war, lifting weights, or working with resistance bands) should be included at least 3 days of the week.
Bone-strengthening physical activity (such as running, jumping rope, basketball, tennis, and hop- scotch) should be included at least 3 days of the week.
Young people should be encouraged to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety. For more information, see Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
A study by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene finds that 83% of those who walk or bike at least ten blocks each month describe their health as good, very good, or excellent. The positive relationship between better health and regular exercise holds true across all income levels.
The study also includes a list of safety tips as well as recommendations on how to make physical activity a part of your daily routine. Exercising for just 10 minutes at a time can have positive benefits.