Your Active Transportation Update – Safe Streets and Roads for All – PA Department of Health WalkWorks

Source: PA WalkWorks | PA Downtown Center

Funding: “Our Town: Arts and Culture Opportunity

Are you using your network and working on collective vision in your community? Is everyone all-in? If you have been conscientious in “doing your homework” and bringing people along, including many sectors in steering committees and planning groups, perhaps you have been working with a cultural organization that would be interested in partnering to improve active transportation opportunities with a grant like the Our Town Creative Placemaking Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts?

This is a new project-based program intended to support activities that integrate arts, culture, and design into local efforts that strengthen communities. The projects are expected to advance local economic, physical, or social outcomes in communities. Applicants much include a municipality and a cultural organization. Awards range from $25,000 to $150,000, with 1:1 match requirement. How about creative painted bulbouts for traffic calming or lighting and murals to enliven a pedestrian walkway? An Arts Trail? An arts-infused ciclovia?

Equity Spotlight: Tour De Femmes Underway Now

The Tour de France just ended – for the men’s field. And the Tour de Femmes, an eight stage round for top women riders is underway now. There have been several rounds of races for women along the French Tour model over the past several decades, stretching back to the early 1980s, with the most recent taking place in 2014, but this is the first multi-stage one in 30 years. There are high hopes for this year’s reboot. It is seen as having the potential to revolutionize the world of women’s cycling. And just as the introduction of Title IX in the US meant a huge expansion of high level women’s athletics starting about 15 years later, similarly changes in infrastructure and transportation options in various countries could be opening up elite racing to a broader field of participants. Think of the way countries around the world have moved to address road safety and encourage and enable safe cycling for all in recent decades.

What might you make of this information? Consider watching and following the event as you did the men’s race. Demonstrate interest! Show that it matters!

You Can’t Win The Long Game If You Don’t Play

Active Transportation Planning needs to operate at all scales and across different modalities. Sometimes it’s a matter of building coalitions and offering events and education. Sometimes it’s doing walking audits and improving crosswalks and curb ramps. Other times it’s looking at the horizon and wondering just how far you could go under your own power (mostly). Along the lines of the latter, what does your regional trail vision look like?

For some inspiration, here’s a snippet about the proposed High Road in Western Massachusetts, featuring a through-hike opportunity on the scale of the Lake District, cross-England hike, or the Camino de Santiago in Spain. 

Of course PA has a significant section of the Appalachian Trail and we are constantly working to build on that, but just think of the potential beyond that! Other initiatives:

Are you near any existing or potential long term through hike or bike-packing routes? Do you need to envision one into existence?

Who Does AT Infrastructure Benefit? Everyone!

Last issue we discussed how AT is good for public health in sometimes surprising ways, helping people avoid becoming more seriously ill from COVID. It turns out that increasing the safety of road infrastructure for cyclists also has unexpected safety/public health benefits for drivers. Good bike infra is safer for drivers, too! Cities with good bike infrastructure also turn out to have significantly fewer dangerous car crashes. Drivers love to complain when new bike infra appears. It’s popular to rage against such changes. But change can be good, especially when lower speeds, more attentive driving, and reduced conflict points translate into fewer crashes.

AARP Smart Driver Program

Did you know that AARP offers a Smart Driver Course for older drivers? The 8-hour training can help people brush up on their skills, catch up on the latest updates to the motor vehicle code, and consider how both car technology and the condition/reflexes/acuity of our bodies change over time. Taking the course can even get you a discount on your auto-insurance (check with your provider to find out how much). The classes are available either on-line or in person in select locales. Once you have completed the 8-hour version, a renewal a few years later is a shorter brush-up course.

What’s in a Word? Cargo Bike/Bakfiets

What are those wild-looking bikes with the big boxes built in to the frame? Maybe you have started seeing them in pictures or even in-person lately? Bikes with boxes, unsurprisingly called box bikes, are one of the many designs of cargo bike available. Cargo bikes are just pedal cycles set up to accommodate cargo. They cut a very different image than the ultra efficient and aerodynamic design choices of a racing frame, but they are coming into their own.

There are many different ways of making bikes cargo-ready. Sometimes, one might just add racks, baskets, and/or panniers to their ride. Even a trailer or a child seat increases load capacity. Other times, for those getting serious about being able to replace a car under most circumstances, whether toting around multiple kids, pets, or gear, a box bike may be what’s needed. You may also run into the term in Dutch: bakfiets, which just means box bike. Bakfiets may have two wheels or three. The box might have a removable rain screen.

The other primary cargo bike typology is the longtail, which seem to be noticeably more popular in the States. Where the box bike extends the frame in front of the rider, the long tail moves the rear wheel back about one spoke length and provides a long deck and extended side platforms or panniers. Cargo bikes usually (though not always, especially for older models) feature pedal-assist from a battery. Depending on the particular design and specs, these bikes may be able to hold and haul hundreds of pounds in addition to the rider. In other words, you can move beyond passengers, to porting kayaks, other bikes, lumber, musical instruments, trees, furniture… you name it. That said, you may also see box bikes carrying nothing more than their rider. If that strikes you as odd, you may want to consider the phenomenal load we are dragging around when we drive a car with no passengers — it’s a complete living room set on wheels, unused most of the time!

Delivery companies are also getting into the game. There are hauling services that use cargo bikes in many cities now and even entities like FedEx are giving it a go.