Friday, December 25, 2009

Make your comments before December 31

We wanted to make sure everyone was aware of an opportunity to comment on the Healthy People 2020 objectives. These objectives are issued every 10 years by the US Department of Health and Human Services. They are extremely wide-ranging, but there are several objectives that pertain to Safe Routes to School and bicycle and pedestrian issues.

Comments are due on objectives by December 31, 2009 – but it’s extremely informal and easy to comment. Most people are just submitting a sentence or two on the objectives they are interested in.

To comment, go to and either browse the topic areas or search by topic. To comment, click on a section header of interest, and then scroll through the objectives to find ones that you are interested in. When you click on the objective you can see other comments that have been submitted, and then click on “Submit Objective Comment” to add your own comments.

Please consider commenting on these sections:
Environmental Health section, objectives 9, 19, and 25·
Injury and Violence Prevention objectives 6, 7, 24 and 25·
Physical Activity and Fitness objectives 10 and 11

Happy holidays to all!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

...a lack of sidewalks shows a lack of respect for human dignity

Enrique Penaloso transformed Bogota Columbia by prioritizing people -- and creating a transportation plan that was meant to serve people. He focused his priorities on asking, "How will people travel in this city?" Not -- "How will cars travel through this city?" His comments below are quite remarkable. I hope you find them useful for your work.

Urban Democracy and Quality of Life Mayor Enrique Penalosa served the City of Bogata, Columbia from 1998 - 2001. During his tenure, he'd bought public lands, created pedestrian and bike ways, and created the "Transmillenium" bus system, building on Curitiba, Brazil's noted success. Penalosa's remarks about creating high quality urban environments were passionate and democratic. In doing so, he established an ethical rudder for the conference. Effective urban environments have space and access for all.

"Why can't we stop making 'dumb decisions' and step up the dual challenges of development and sustainability?" he asked. Ironically, as cities get richer their transport systems get worse. Wealthy citizens buy cars, highways are built that destroy urban cultures, and quality of life deteriorates. Thus developing countries have a huge advantage: "They can see that the highest quality cities have moved past cars!"

In Zurich and Amsterdam, mass transit systems are mature. In these cities, 40% of people travel by bike, irrespective of income. In Los Angeles and Houston, cars rule and the quality of life suffers. Mature cities are lowering auto use through policies on congestion pricing and stiff registration fees.

"Shouldn't the public interest prevail? Transportation corridors ought to be for the people first. And the people need sidewalks, bus and bike lanes, not massive arterials for the rich in their cars, only to be gridlocked in traffic." Penalosa believes that a lack of sidewalks shows a lack of respect for human dignity. "The quality of life in any city can be measured by the width of the sidewalks. All great cities have great sidewalks. Think of Paris, Buenos Aires, and New York!"
The 20th century will go down in history as a disastrous era in urban planning. American cities that myopically feature low densities keep looking to add more freeways and lanes of traffic.

"Increasing roads is like putting out a fire with gasoline! It's totally irrational." And the higher the density, the more opportunities for walking and biking and highly efficient, frequent, mass transit. "And if you must build new highways," Penalosa noted, "at least leave a few lanes for high-capacity buses."

"In safe and highly democratic urban environments," Penalosa remarked, "a $30 bicycle is just as prestigious as a $30,000 car. A good city is where people want to be out of their house, and not in a mall. The city becomes a playground, safe for kids and adults. It is where people are happy, not where there are happy cars!"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Save Lives -- Support Complete Streets

Poorly designed roads like the one below cause hundreds of pedestrian deaths every month.

The Complete Streets Act would change the landscape and save lives.

Tell your lawmakers to support safer streets TODAY.

It's unfathomable, really. 400 people are killed in America every single month, just crossing the street, walking from A to B, or riding their bike through town.That's like two school-buses filled with kids disappearing every single week.The worst part is that many of these deaths are preventable. We need to start building roads in a way that works for everyone who uses them - motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and those with limited mobility.

Tell your lawmakers to get behind safer streets TODAY.

With the help of activists like you over the last month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is now making pedestrian safety a priority, but if legislators on Capitol Hill don't join the effort, we won't see the change we need to save lives. There's a proposal in Congress that would make safer streets the standard - it's called the Complete Streets Act - but it won't go anywhere until more representatives and senators signal their support. Too many in Congress have yet to take a stand on this life-or-death issue - it's time to demand safer streets from our leaders in Washington.

Tell your lawmakers to get vocal in support of the Complete Streets Act of 2009.
One-third of Americans either can't drive or choose not to. Yet, most communities around the country are laced with roads that are inhospitable, at best, to people traveling by foot. Children, older Americans, and minorities are especially at risk. The desperate need for safe, "complete streets" in our communities is abundantly clear. Please don't miss this opportunity to help stop these preventable deaths. Thank you for your continued support.

Ilana PreussNational Outreach Director
Transportation for America