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Sunday, December 21 2014 @ 01:07 AM UTC


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Biking Elsewhere-> According to a Nov. 8th BBC News article, "Childhood obesity has become a global epidemic, but it is not easy to treat. Now a scheme proven to help children shed pounds by asking them and their families to make numerous lifestyle changes has been adopted across Denmark.

"A Danish pediatrician claims his pilot project has made a significant breakthrough in the battle against childhood obesity. The scheme, in the town of Holbaek, has treated 1,900 patients and helped 70% of them to maintain normal weight by adjusting about 20 elements of their lifestyles. The way it tackles all aspects of the children's lives - and those of their families - sets it apart from traditional 'small steps' approaches to losing weight...
"At the beginning of the programme, children are admitted to hospital for 24 hours for extensive testing, including body scans to measure their body fat. They also answer a detailed questionnaire about their eating habits and behaviour patterns... The programme requires wholesale changes in lifestyle to defeat the body's natural resistance to losing fat, and each child has a personalised treatment plan which targets 15-20 daily habits [including bicycling or walking to school]..."


from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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Biking Elsewhere-> According to a Nov.17th CityLab article, "In China's rapidly changing urban landscape, the Chinese middle class may be bearing the greatest burden when it comes to the connection between the way their cities are being built and rates of obesity, a new study suggests.

"A paper recently published in the journal Preventive Medicine (Walking, Obesity and Urban Design in Chinese Neighborhoods: examines the connections between obesity, income, and the built environment in two of China's major cities, Shanghai and Hangzhou. The research team is headed up by Mariela Alfonzo, an assistant research professor at the NYU School of Engineering and a Fulbright scholar who has spent years developing measures of walkability in the United States and is now expanding that work to China.

"Alfonzo and her colleagues found that, as in other countries, there is a link between neighborhood designtheir walkabilityand levels of physical activity among residents. They also found, however, that the relationship between income, obesity, and physical activity is not a linear one in China. There, the poorest and the most affluent were both less likely to be obese than the middle class..."


from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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Poll: Support for Active Transportation Funding Is High Across Party Lines

Biking Elsewhereby Tanya Snyder, Streets Blog

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Biking Elsewhere-> According to an article in the November issue of Governing, "In a nation where few students still walk to school, how has Lakewood, Ohio, gone without school buses for so long? Lakewood doesn't have any school buses and it never has.

"There are a few reasons why Lakewood may be the nation's unofficial walk-to-school capital. Density, for one... the city of 52,000 has 9,000 residents per square mile.... As Lakewood grew, the city opted against setting up a school bus system, focusing instead on building schools to fit within the community. Most of the schools are multistory buildings on relatively small lots, making them easier to incorporate into residential neighborhoods. As the facilities aged over the years, officials chose to restore and upgrade the existing structures, rather than build sprawling new single-story campuses.
"In Lakewood, there's another benefit to having everyone walk: The city saves a fortune on school buses. When Lakewood does need to provide transportation for students -- for field trips, out-of-town games and so on -- it contracts with the nearby town of Olmsted Falls. But all told, the Lakewood school district spends about $500,000 a year on transportation, about $1 million less than comparable school districts..."


from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.
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A pedestrian bridge that's more than a bridge.

Biking Elsewhere"The design of this three-level pedestrian bridge is inspired by ancient Iranian architecture in which, bridge was not just a crossing path, linking 2 sides of a river or valley, but It was a place to stay, relax and enjoy beautiful views."
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Cycling Is Creating More Jobs in Europe Than Automakers Are in the U.S.

Biking ElsewhereBy Taylor Hill, Takepart

Want to lower greenhouse gas emissions, get fit, and create new jobs? Ride a bike.

That’s the finding of the first comprehensive study on Europe’s cycling industry , which details a cycling economy that employs more than 655,000 people in industries such as retail, manufacturing, infrastructure investment, and tourism.

On just two wheels, the industry is creating more jobs than Europe’s high-fashion footwear industry (388,000 jobs), its well-established steel sector (410,000), and the United States’ Big Three automobile companies (Ford , General Motors , and Chrysler ) combined (510,000).
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Stop Obsessing Over the Gas Tax and Change How We Fund Transpo

Biking Elsewhereby Tanya Snyder, Streets Blog

The Highway Trust Fund has more problems than just its 1950s-era name. Funded by the federal gas tax, the trust fund is becoming obsolete over time, as efficiency gains and declining miles-traveled sap its size. The Eno Center for Transportation says it’s time to rethink the entire system.

In a new report [PDF ], Eno compares the U.S. method of funding transportation to that of five peer countries. Ours is the only one that still pretends to rely on a “user-pay” system. (Yes, pretends: The last six years of constant last-ditch infusions from the general fund, totaling $65 billion, have exposed that particular myth.)

Eno argues that the Highway Trust Fund skews funding decisions by introducing petty conflicts ... “These challenges have historically overshadowed substantive arguments over policy and hindered the tying of federal funds to national goals or performance measures,” according to the report.
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Biking ElsewhereBY CHARLES MAROHN, Strong Towns

The accident occurred about 5:30 p.m. as the woman, her daughter and her niece came out of the library and attempted to cross directly across the street to the parking where their car was parked, Delaney, public information officer for the department, said.

They were hit in one of the westbound lanes as they attempted to cross near the front steps of the library, some distance away from the nearest crosswalk at the signalized intersection of State and Chestnut Streets.

Costa said there used to be a crosswalk there some years ago, marked by an orange traffic barrel. Even then, however, the association lobbied for something even more visible, she said.

The crosswalk was removed, however, and a hedge and chain fence were installed directly in front of the library to encourage those seeking walk across State Street to do so at the Chestnut Street intersection, Costa said.

Here’s what I am just fed up with:

* The engineering profession is so worried about liability if they vary from any highway design guideline, regardless of how ridiculous they are. Someone needs to sue these engineers for gross negligence and turn that entire liability equation around. It’s way past time.

* Professional engineers here and elsewhere use “forgiving design” principles in urban areas where they do not apply. They systematically forgive the mistakes of drivers who stray from their lane or go off the roadway by designing systems where these common mistakes are anticipated and compensated for. They systematically show indifference to the easily anticipated mistakes of non-drivers. A kid playing in their yard chases a stray ball out into the street and gets run down. To the engineer, this is a non-foreseeable, non-preventable accident. For everyone else, we understand that cities are more than cars – they include people doing all kinds of complex things – and forgiving the common mistakes of ALL people is what a humane, decent professional does.

* Professional engineers claim that they cannot alter human behavior with their street designs. A highway lane width is 13 feet just the same as your local street lane width. There is often no appreciable difference in the cross section of a highway and a local street except for the posted speed limit, which is up to the police to enforce. (I wrote about this years ago .) Despite this, the engineers in this situation – knowing there was an obvious problem – as well as many others in similar situations, put their brains to work to come up with all kinds of ways to attempt to alter human behavior, but only for those humans outside of their automobiles. For humans not in a car, we erect fences, hedges and other barriers to get them to go where we think best. Which is it, engineers? Are we behavioral scientists or not?

I’m fed up with people being killed because my profession contains a bunch of dogmatic idiots.
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Critique of the road professionals obsession with exposure in the Dangerous by Design Report

Biking ElsewhereB' Spokes: (Today's tangent in trying to call attention to Maryland's high pedestrian fatality rates from national organizations) Normalizing data is an interesting concept, how do you compare different groups with different characteristics? Especially when talking about road safety. It seems the road folks are obsessed with "exposure" and not the toll traffic fatalities has on the general population. Which to me would be like Baltimore saying since we have a lot of guns on the street (exposure) our gun violence is not that high considering the exposure. Or maybe a better analogy would be to say that since we have more people on the street so someone has a better chance of catching a stray bullet therefore our gun violence is not that bad.

Whether or not we have a gun violence problem is based on deaths per population and I'll assert traffic deaths should do the same and not per Vehicle Miles Traveled nor how many are out walking. More or less traffic is its own kind of problem, mixing that in with fatality rates just obnubilates the underlying problems and thus the solutions. People everywhere do the same things, basically go to work and shop. Traveling farther to do the same things does not improve safety nor the quality of life. So why do we accept this as a fair way to normalize fatality rates for comparisons?

Don't get me wrong, places that have a high pedestrian fatality rate with a low mode share are bad and should be highlighted but on the other extreme, are places with a high pedestrian fatality rate and a high mode share good? It comes down to what are we trying to point out, fatality rates or mode share? As I said, both have their issues and both have their solution sets (with some overlap) but why mix the two up?

A new report from the International Transport Forum finds that the United States had more road deaths per capita in 2012 than Canada, Australia, Japan, and all of the European nations that reported data.

Specifically, the US had 10.7 road deaths per 100,000 people. Canada and France both had 5.8. And the United Kingdom was down at 2.8. (The report explains that the per-person death rate is helpful for comparing deaths from various causes.)

But then it goes on to say that when the comparison is done by Vehicle Miles Traveled the US looks a lot better. Seriously? The fact that we drive a lot more than the rest of western civilization makes us better?

This obsession with exposure even got into Smart Growth America's report Dangerous By Design. Where their Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is modified by pedestrians walking to work mode share. Like a 2% mode share means that pedestrians can be killed at twice the rate to rank the same with a place with a 1% mode share, that is wrong! That's that's taking a 2% change and making it a 200% change. How about normalizing on those who drive to work? More cars (less people walking), more dangerous right? (This would avoid the wild fluctuations where walking is is up to 5 times that of Florida so fatality rates are ranked 5 times better than what they are IMHO.) So the question is, should "exposure" be based on cars that kill or people who walk? (the latter sounds too much like victim blaming to me. Are they really trying to say, "The more people who are out walking naturally the more that are going to get killed." This is the exact opposite of the safety in numbers concept, granted the jury is still out if this is a proven concept but still we cannot assert the opposite across different population characteristics.) Besides Dangerous by Design's methodology makes the New York metro area's high pedestrian fatality rate one of the safest metro areas to walk, this does not feel right to me. The way I would tentatively do the Pedestrian Danger Index by the change in the population that drives, New York's ranking would improve a few notches over a pure pedestrian fatality rate but it still would be high on the list. And for the converse, the Nashville, TN metro area their ranking would be worse by a few notches because so many drive to "justify" their pedestrian fatality rate.

The Dangerous by Design Report takes normalized fatality rates and normalizes them again. So we are normalizing normalized traffic fatalities, something about that just screams of trying to make something bad sound not that bad,

Back to New York Metro area, sure a lot of people in Manhattan walk but think about the Bronx and New York's Vision Zero. I really don't think New York metro deserves a ranking of 48 (with 51 being the least dangerous metro area for pedestrians.)

The biggest problem with using the primary mode of transportation to work it fails to capture the size of the population that is out there waking. Take kids for example which are not in the mode share numbers, to ball park the error, kids make up ~14% of the population. So adding that to those adults that walk would change the range from 1 - 5 (% of adults that walk) to 15 - 20% (of the population that walks), an increase of a third not the 500% that they are using in their math. And that's just one segment of the population that they fail to capture.

Comparisons of the walking share to work is fine, as it is an indicator of how walkable one place is compared to another but using it to determine the size of that population and its "exposure, well that's just wrong, Seriously deaths per population per another population number is supposed to be a meaningful number?

My next point is I looked up the time of day pedestrians were killed here in Maryland and topping the list is what I would call bar closing times, next was lunch time. Neither has anything to do with how people get to work so why are we normalizing on that? In fact Pedestrian fatalities during normal commute times were near the bottom of the list. "the per-person death rate is helpful for comparing deaths from various causes" Life is life everywhere and the rate in which pedestrians die is indicative how safe the streets really are for pedestrians and making bad places look better based on an unproven concept of "exposure" is wrong.

I was biking through Towson during lunch time and there where hoards of people out walking. I am willing to bet over 90% of those drove to work. That is to say how many walking around work centers is not always determined by peoples principle mode on how they got to work in the first place.

My rework of their tables based on pedestrian death rates follows. IMHO excluding this information is wrong. If they want to add tables based on other normalized data fine but I think their math is way off in their current thinking. (Side note: I can understand fatalities per vehicle miles traveled to justify freeways as they eliminated a known danger, intersections. So apply vehicles miles traveled in this instance proves (or disproves) the safety advantages of freeways. But outside of this context diluting fatality rates for a given population with vehicle miles traveled rewards sprawl and penalizes compact development. Exposure (vehicle miles traveled to name one) should not be the universally accepted way to compare diverse populations unless it is part of what we want to test or show. IMHO What the Dangerous by Design Report does is prove that pedestrian "exposure" by those who walk is not a valid way to compare diverse populations )
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Biking Elsewhere-> According to a Nov.18th City Clock Magazine article, "If urban car ownership levels in the U.S. were the same as Paris, American consumers would have over $450 billion to spend annually on other things. Thats enough to pay for a state of the art city-wide light-rail transit network in 100 cities. All in just one year. In the U.S., car ownership levels are at 809 vehicles per 1,000 people but generally range between 650 and 750 in urban areas. In Paris, its 450, Copenhagen 225, and Hong Kong 73. Of all the G20 countries, the U.S. is way out in front when it comes to car ownership... Going car free can add $7,000 a year to your discretionary spending...

"Of the more than $9,000 spent annually per person on car ownership, $7,095 leaves the local economy according to AAA... So where does all of that car money go if its not leaving the city? One study found that pedestrians and cyclists spend more than drivers through more frequent (but smaller) purchases (Examining Consumer Behavior and Travel Choices:"

from CenterLines, the e-newsletter of the National Center for Bicycling & Walking.

B' Spokes: Talk to any politician and they love tourism as it brings money into the local economy. So what's the opposite of tourism? I will assert the over use of cars as it's mostly money that leaves the local economy. But then I hear counter arguments that not many bike, Well we don't get many tourists either, let alone tourists that are here year round. - Think about it.
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