Your Active Transportation Update – Working Things Out

Source: PA WalkWorks

Convening Around Active Transportation Now and In Future

We’re excited for this first ever Statewide Active Transportation Summit coming up this weekend in Lancaster. We have a great line-up of speakers and topics and the setting is very apropos, with so much Complete Streets, Vision Zero, and Bicycle-Friendly activity in the city and on the Franklin & Marshall campus.

If you are not able to join us this year, keep it in mind for future. We aren’t yet sure what this might look like going forward. Word has it that the Statewide Greenways & Trails Summit which is held every other year will serendipitously have the theme of Active Transportation when it takes place in Scranton in September of 2023. We are marking our calendars now for that and then we may aim to do a reprise of this all-AT-all-the-time summit in 2024. If that’s how it does work out, where do you think we should aim to gather? If we want to be transit-friendly, which locations would make the most sense?

This Saturday’s event is a collaboration between the PDC and Bicycle South Central PA. Who else should be involved for the next time around?

Funding Rounds Both Imminent or Distant – Prepare Now!

We included two different funding opportunities in the last newsletter because though only recently announced, applications are soon due for both the USDOT Thriving Communities technical support and the PA-focused Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities Program. In contrast, the last of the three webinars about Safe Routes to School (links to recording and slides as yet still pending, but to be posted on the PDC website soon) focused largely on the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program that will likely not be formally announced for many months. Similarly, WalkWorks is always conducting business mindful of the reality that we expect to be releasing our own Funding Opportunity Announcement in the early part of next year, with those applications due in late spring. Sometimes, the timing seems too late; other times almost too early.

But if you are in the business of seeking grant funding, you need to have an anticipatory strategy and not just always be reacting to the newest announcement. You want to peruse the lists and tables of funding options out there and then start checking off any aspects of preparation that you may be able to do in advance. Maybe you need to get yourself a Unique Entity ID to replace your former DUNS number. Maybe you need to find a suitable (and eligible) program partner for a project, if you are not qualified to apply for a given grant program. Maybe there is political support that needs to be rallied from elected officials. Is a resolution or a commitment of match money required? That should all be in the works months (or more) in advance. Think about it — this is the time of year when municipalities are finalizing their budgets for the coming year. If you come in asking for matching funds in February and it’s not something that is either already in the budget (due to your and others’ forethought) or within the range of allowable general funds expenditures _and_ looked upon favorably enough to be granted access to them, your match request is likely to be up a creek. Do you know always and for certain what grants will come up or which ones you are likely to be awarded? No! But you need to be planning and prepared for action when the opportunities arise.

Equity Spotlight: E-Bikes Can Unlock Well-Being for Seniors

Studies are showing that older cyclists in particular get benefits from e-bikes. While pedal-assist bikes continue to be viewed skeptically, their advantages are more and more evident. People often express concern or judgment that riding an e-bike is “cheating.” But research is starting to reveal that they can do a better job than regular bikes helping seniors maintain recommended levels of physical activity and improving brain function. Bikes help seniors not just with getting active, but also with getting outdoors, which in turn has its own significant benefits for physical and mental well-being.

We need to get in the habit of thinking of e-bikes as potential mobility aids and also considering how they can adapt to support varying levels of physical ability. E-trikes, for example, can be great tools for seniors who may have some balance issues. And trikes are even one of the earliest versions of a cargo bike, allowing ample space for cargo or extra passengers.

Climate: Emissions from Driving Commutes Exceed Building Operations

What do buildings have to do with transportation? Buildings may not move, but the people who occupy them do! And it turns out that the emissions associated with the commutes of workers in office buildings can easily exceed the impact of the emissions from operation of the building they work in.

With early versions of LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, it was entirely possible to design and build a high-scoring green building out in the middle of nowhere. For people clued in to the climate impacts of land-use patterns, it was a baffling situation. How could a structure that increases VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) and does not tie in to walkable areas or transit systems, really be green? The terms of the rating system have shifted in recent years to reflect this reality. Those buildings aren’t going up in isolation. They are part of a transportation system which is either part of the problem (more and more private vehicle traffic) or part of the solution (human-based transportation). We have the stats and the results are clear! Transportation Demand Management (TDM) for the win! Let’s design those green buildings for full-life-cycle sustainability.

Webinar on Safe Routes to School Projects in Rural Colorado

We completed our third Safe Routes to School in PA webinar last week and mentioned another upcoming educational opportunity from the Safe Routes Partnership:

On Wednesday, November 30th from 11 am to noon Mountain, please consider signing up to attend a webinar entitled “Small Town, Big Impact: Exploring Safe Routes Projects in a Rural Community.”

Safe Routes to School is not just a big city or suburb thing. Small towns and rural communities can successfully implement Safe Routes to School infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects too. Join this webinar to hear an inspiring Safe Routes story from Center, Colorado. Learn how this small, rural town got their active transportation projects funded through persistence, partnership, and a whole lot of patience!

Featured Speakers:

  • Kori Johnson, Program & Engagement Manager, Safe Routes Partnership
  • Katrina Ruggles, Counselor, Center Consolidated Schools
  • Brian Lujan, Town Manager, Town of Center
  • David Mehaffie, Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer/Public Works Director, Town of Center

This webinar is part of a series of free webinars provided by the Colorado Department of Transportation and presented by the Safe Routes Partnership.

What’s in a Word? Leading Pedestrian Interval

Some terms are more jargon-y than others. Leading Pedestrian Interval, or LPI, is definitely in that category. It can be thought of as a Delayed Green (for vehicles). The idea is that at intersections with pedestrian signals, rather than having the walk signal and the green light for cars go on simultaneously for travel in the same direction, it can be safer to give pedestrians a head start to enter the crosswalk. This can put them in a more prominent location where turning drivers are more likely to see them. It can also mean that the pedestrian is already at speed and the car just getting started when they are most likely to interact. Reacting promptly an appropriately to LPIs can take some getting used to and drivers who are accustomed to watching the cross lights and then going as soon as they switch to red may find they have entered the intersection prematurely!

According to NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials:

  • “LPIs increase the visibility of crossing pedestrians and give them priority within the intersection.
  • “LPIs have been shown to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions as much as 60% at treated intersections.
  • “LPIs typically require adjustments to existing signal timing that are relatively low cost compared to other countermeasures.
  • “LPIs are critical at intersections where heavy right or left turning volumes create consistent conflicts and safety concerns between vehicles and pedestrians.”

LPIs are listed in the Countermeasures That Work. Put them to work in your community!