Friday Article Roundup – 4/12/13

Philly, Pittsburgh lauded for rails to trails successes: The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recently recognized the Philadelphia-area agencies that collaborated to create the Circuit, the ever-expanding network of pedestrian and bicycle trails in the region. The article focuses on the Schuylkill River Trail, and the Grays Ferry Crescent addition in particular. This new portion of the trail was created from former brownfields along the Schuylkill in South Philly.  The trail provides local residents with a new connection to nature and recreational space.

Complete Streets in Chicago: The city’s new Complete Streets Design Guidelines puts people first in their model for planning complete streets.  Though a final draft of the guidelines has not yet been released, you can take a look at the current document (all 138 pages) or just read about it in this article from The Atlantic Cities.

Drivers turning left pose a threat to pedestrians: Where drivers turning left have a green arrow, signals are usually timed to give pedestrians a safe window to cross the street.  However, at intersections with permissive left turns (a circular green light), drivers must wait for through traffic moving in the opposite direction to pass before making a left turn. A study by two researchers from Oregon found that these left-turning drivers often fail to check the crosswalk before turning and thus pose a threat to pedestrians. In Europe, dedicated turning phases are more common and have been demonstrated to reduce pedestrian fatalities, but green arrows slow down traffic by adding an more phases to the signal.  Unfortunately, traffic engineers mainly prioritize the movement of vehicle traffic when making decisions about intersection signal timing.

A Walking Revolution: The Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking is about more than just making a personal pledge to walk; it’s the beginning of a national walking movement being advanced by over 100 of the nation’s advocacy groups.  One article calls this movement a “walking revolution,” since there is now a strong contingent of people and organizations striving to improve the built environment for walking.

The FHA’s 2009 National Household Survey shows that people do walk – when it’s convenient: “Americans walk in surprisingly large numbers to work (35 percent), shops (40 percent) and school or church (46 percent) when these places are a mile or less from home.” However, according to a recent survey, only “[s]ix in ten Americans report taking a walk in the past week,” even though walking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise. In October, Every Body Walk! and their collaborators will host a Walking Summit in Washington, D.C. to launch the movement.

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