Friday, June 17, 2011

Walking in Rochester, NY for our environment and health

 

Walking, old as the hills, is a great way to get around. It is the one thing besides eating apple pie and playing cards that humans are especially good at. But sometimes, in our effort to accommodate our vehicular traffic, our very own communities can be difficult to walk around. Drivers predominately are watching other drivers and not pedestrians. Drivers get gadget distraction. Pedestrians sometimes don’t pay attention to signal lights.

While mostly citizens want to do the right thing and obey traffic laws, from what I learned at a recent webinar at www.walkinginfo.org , there are a few who need ‘reminding’ of our laws that protect the safety of pedestrians. Considering the health and environmental benefits of walking, where you get some exercise and don’t contribute more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, it’s a good way to get around your community. Yes, walking can help us adapt to Climate Change:

DOT Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse “The Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse is designed as a one-stop source of information on transportation and climate change issues. It includes information on greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, analytic methods and tools, GHG reduction strategies, potential impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure, and approaches for integrating climate change considerations into transportation decision making.” –from U.S. Department of Transportation

There are a lot of things that can be done to improve the safety of walking along our streets and with the rising gas prices, and the benefits for a calmer, more livable communities, why not try them out?

Some ideas include increasing enforcement presents to let drivers know the enforcement community is watching out for pedestrians. But intimidation by the police is not the only (and usually not the best) way to make our communities safer to walk through. Neighborhoods can do a lot by just taking an interesting in this issue. Yards signs, asking speeders politely not to speed through your neighborhoods work.

Better still, so drivers don’t get too used to the signs (habituating), some neighborhoods use stickers for their waste bins so they only appear when you set your waste bins out. Educational programs to inform drivers of pedestrian issues are important for both drivers and walkers. Also, engaging the media to remind the pubic of the laws already in our communities would go far in increasing pedestrian safety. I especially like the idea of those ‘count-down’ street lights that give both driver and pedestrians a clear visual queue that walkers have the right away and how long they have.

If a pedestrian has to run across the street to make it to the other side, then it’s not enough time.

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