The premise of Old Enough!, a Japanese reality show streaming on Netflix is simple. In 10-minute episodes a tiny kid sets off to complete the child’s first errand alone. (Well, “alone,” with the cameramen.)
Get your earbuds ready and go for a walk today and listen to
this podcast episode, First Errand on 99% Invisible, based upon the show.
It’s about everything we want for kids, for everyone on our streets – safety from drivers, and streets designed for human mobility.
Needless to say, the show couldn’t be set in the United States.
Parents who have allowed young kids independence to play alone have been arrested, or at the very least are labeled terrible parents. This paranoia about kids’ safety in general, and especially on our streets says a lot about our culture.
Only 10% of American kids walk to school, compared with over 80% of kids in Japan. Kids start walking to school in Japan at a very early age, because they CAN. Roads and street networks are designed for kids to walk. Drivers in Japan are taught to yield to pedestrians. Speed limits are low. Neighborhoods have small blocks with lots of intersections. And there is little or no street parking in neighborhoods.
Everyone should be able to safely, REALLY safely walk on American streets.
APCSC is proud to be a signatory on the letter sent to Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader McCarthy, and Minority Leader Schumer: “We write because America’s transportation system is in a crisis…”
“The point of transportation is to get people where they need to go, meaning we should prioritize infrastructure and transportation projects that connect people to jobs and services. Since the dawn of the modern highway era, we have used vehicle speed as a poor proxy for access to jobs and important services like healthcare, education, public services, and grocery stores. The way we build roads and design communities to achieve high vehicle speed often requires longer trips and makes shorter walking, bicycling, or transit trips unsafe, unpleasant, or impossible. New data can help to address decades of disinvestment which have disconnected communities and worsened economic outcomes.”
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to shift the political landscape, 293 elected officials and organizations from 45 states signed Transportation for America’s letter urging Congress to reform the federal transportation program in the upcoming reauthorization. Because rethinking transportation policy matters now more than ever.
When Transportation for America first wrote this letter advocating for groundbreaking changes in the upcoming federal transportation reauthorization, COVID-19 had yet to radically alter our everyday lives. But as the effects of the virus grew more and more dire, we’ve realized that establishing a new framework for U.S. transportation policy matters more now than ever.
We’re not alone: 293 elected officials and organizations from 45 states signed this letter, with many signatories joining as the coronavirus accelerated. While focused on reauthorization, adopting the reforms in this letter is necessary for Congress to guarantee that any future COVID-19 stimulus substantially improves American lives—not just pump more money into a broken highway program that fails to create new jobs.
“Private car trips will drop by 10% on average by 2030 to make up less than half of all city journeys, while public transport, walking and bicycle will all increase in popularity, the Mobility Futures study found.”
This is good news, but the automotive industry won’t give up without a fight. The result of steadily slumping sales of mid-size vehicles has led to the rise in manufacture and sales of huge vehicles (higher margin per vehicle). These larger vehicles, SUVs and trucks are responsible for the rise in death-by-automobile: 40 thousand deaths a year in the US last year. This figure is a pubic health crisis globally, but it’s been accepted since the 20s and 30s as a natural consequence of owning and driving vehicles, while blaming people walking and riding bikes for being inattentive, not wearing bright colored clothing, or the invention of “jaywalking”.
We can see change starting to happen but can do more as citizens – work with city leaders to help create better systems of mass transport, build more infrastructure for walking and bicycling, and offer other micro-mobility options. We can work to lower speed limits, calm traffic, create spaces for people instead of for cars, raise the cost and lower the availability of parking. THEN we’ll see the change we need to happen, hopefully within the next 10 years. Our lives depend upon it.
Green transport set to overtake cars in world’s major cities by 2030
by Sonia Elks Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 10 February 2020
Many authorities are looking to discourage private car journeys, while a boom in bike-sharing schemes and electric-powered small vehicles are giving residents new ways to get around.
“It’s a job for every mayor, for every city government to do something,” said Rolf Kullen, mobility director at research consultancy firm Kantar, which produced the study, based on surveys in 31 cities.
“Cities are beginning to understand that you do not build your city around a certain means of transport … You should build your city around the people.”
The industry has systematically blinded us since the 1920s, and many drivers and city leaders passionately defend the condition. Even though cars are literally killing us, it’s common to hear and read about drivers, business owners, delivery services, and emergency service providers arguing against proposed bike lanes and other infrastructure for micromobility (the ongoing fights in NYC about bike lanes reducing parking, and constant bashing of e-scooters), and complaints about insufficient parking. The onus is placed on the most vulnerable road users for their own safety, with programs aimed at walkers and bicyclists suggesting (or mandating) hi-viz gear, flags, eye contact, of course helmets for all bike riders, and staying within painted lines. Drivers are routinely absolved of responsibility by law enforcement and journalists in crashes involving people on bikes or walking, because the person wasn’t wearing a helmet or wasn’t in the bike lane or crosswalk (as if a helmet will prevent being hit by a car, or that paint magically protects bike riders and walkers – did you know that jaywalking is fake?). APCSC is thankful for Asbury Park city leaders who envision streets that prioritize people, not cars. This is a process that will take time as it has in cities all over the world, but Asbury Park is truly becoming a people-oriented city.
“This is the first in a series of four articles discussing car blindness. For cities around the world, more urgency is needed to enable sustainable, efficient, and healthy transport.”
Car blindness — Ignoring the true cost of cars
Alex Dyer Aug 24
Car blindness is the mindset of not seeing that cars themselves are a major, chronic problem. It is when one overlooks the heavy price tag of driving cars and is unable to see the precariousness of car dependency.
A symptom of car blindness is being convinced that by fixing one or two problems, cars will finally make sense.
Maybe by changing how they‘re powered will fix them? Or maybe making them a tiny bit less dangerous? Or making non-dangerous road users, like cyclists, more visible? Or adding another lane to a highway, or tunnel through a city?
NJDOT has money available for walking and biking projects, but small towns and municipalities find it very difficult to access the funds. NJDOT claims that there are not many projects in the pipeline — NOT TRUE.
“New Jersey has the second-highest amount of uncommitted federal transportation dollars in the nation, and it consistently ranks among the worst when it comes to spending a specific type of transportation funds — Transportation Alternatives, which is intended to fund trails, walking, and biking projects. ”
NJDOT has a responsibility to make the funds available for biking and walking projects in cities like Asbury Park.
Dozens are killed each year walking and biking in N.J. We have the cash to make roads safer. | Opinion
By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist
Sonia Szczesna and Liz Sewell
New Jersey has the second-highest amount of uncommitted federal transportation dollars in the nation, and it consistently ranks among the worst when it comes to spending a specific type of transportation funds — Transportation Alternatives, which is intended to fund trails, walking, and biking projects.
At the same time New Jersey has a backlog of transportation dollars to spend, it has an enormous bicycle and pedestrian safety problem. As of Dec. 9, 2019, at least 165 people have been killed this year while walking or bicycling on New Jersey’s roads. In 2018, New Jersey State Police reported that bicyclists and pedestrians comprised 34% of the state’s crash fatalities — the second deadliest year for walkers and bikers on record. The deadliest year was in 2017.
“Traveling at high speeds causes you to miss things, or to assign things more or less importance in your mental model of a place than they may really have. One of the best ways to deeply understand the place you live is, thus, to slow down. Way down.”
Take a walk or a leisurely bike ride for no particular reason, for exercise or for an errand. It’s a fantastic way to get to know people and neighborhoods in your city. Asbury Park is easily walkable in terms of distance to any destination, at only 1.4 m square.
Asbury Park Complete Streets Coalition hosts regular Community Bike Rides – slow ambles through various parts of the city, sometimes picking other riders up along the way. It’s a great way to get to know new people and other neighborhoods, to see things all around town that we may not have known about. We’ve talked to The Asbury Park Historical Assoc. about walking tours too. Our streets are becoming safer and more accommodating to people walking and people on bikes, so take a walk or a ride and explore a part of the city you may not have known!
See Your City Differently by Slowing Down
by Daniel Herriges
“One of the simplest ways to engage with your community is to physically get out in it. When you walk or bike, the slower pace allows you to notice details you’ve never seen before. Not only that, you will hear, smell and feel the environment in a way that’s impossible to experience from inside an automobile.
I’m always amazed how many total strangers speak to me when I’m walking or biking. They ask for directions, make surprising observations, or just say howdy. Cars create barriers between people. Active transportation eliminates them. When we’re not surrounded by glass and steel, people can see our faces and we become recognizably human. Sharing a smile, which happens a lot more often when you’re on foot or bike, reminds us of this fact.”
Walking tours in Montreal.
A group of friends from all over Asbury Park on a Community Ride in Spring 2018. Bikes, and even pedal surreys are all lit up!
Housing, and infrastructure for walking and biking are interrelated. APCSC believes that Asbury Park is working effectively on both.
“…access could improve even more as the city builds on its ambitious Minneapolis 2040 plan, a comprehensive effort to curb the influence of single-family zoning and add more housing density…protected infrastructure matters too. If people don’t feel safe on their bikes, they’re not going to take them.”
What Cities Are Getting Wrong About Public Transportation
ANDREW SMALL JAN 17, 2019
Cities could get more people walking, biking, and riding transit, according to a new report, if they just know where to look for improvement.
Despite the tireless efforts of transit planners, bike-lane boosters, and other actors in the mobility arena, the mode-share percentages don’t seem to budge much in the any given growing city as they add more people, despite massive investments in transit infrastructure.
Do you drive and feel like people who walk and ride bikes are taking over your city – and you’re losing your privilege? How do you feel about walking in your city? Are you riding a bike for recreation or daily for transportation? Maybe you drive a car when you need to, but also walk and ride a bike whenever you can? Let’s take a look at it…
The Pedestrian Strikes Back
Officials in several countries are getting the message: Cities are about people, not cars. Read about it:
By Richard Conniff Contributing Opinion Writer Dec. 15, 2018
In many of the major cities of the world, it has begun to dawn even on public officials that walking is a highly efficient means of transit, as well as one of the great underrated pleasures in life. A few major cities have even tentatively begun to take back their streets for pedestrians.
Denver, for instance, is proposing a plan to invest $1.2 billion in sidewalks, and, at far greater cost, bring frequent public transit within a quarter-mile of most of its residents. In Europe, where clean, safe, punctual public transit is already widely available, Oslo plans to ban all cars from its city center beginning next year. Madrid is banning cars owned by nonresidents, and is also redesigning 24 major downtown avenues to take them back for pedestrians. Paris has banned vehicles from a road along the Seine, and plans to rebuild it for bicycle and pedestrian use.
Yes, car owners are furious. That’s because they have mistaken their century-long domination over pedestrians for a right rather than a privilege. The truth is that cities are not doing nearly enough to restore streets for pedestrian use, and it’s the pedestrians who should be furious.
We all know that physical activity is necessary for health. But what about when physical activity is hampered by infrastructure that prevents people from getting around due to a disability, age, or injury? Cities are finding great ways to make it possible for everyone to get around for daily activities. “The Physical Activity Community Strategies and Resources website has ideas about building environments that make activity possible when it comes to accessing schools, stores, and public transportation. The goal is to make it easier for people on bicycles, in wheelchairs, or walking to safely and seamlessly get to where they need to go, all while improving their health.”
MOBILITY FOR ALL
December 11, 2018 by Micah Ling
Mobility as a way of life
According to the CDC’s Community Strategies, to increase and maintain necessary physical activity, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends “environmental approaches that combine one or more interventions to improve pedestrian or bicycle transportation systems (active-friendly routes) with one or more land use and community design interventions (everyday destinations).” In other words, complete networks that allow people to be active and safely go about their daily lives can improve the health of most Americans. We already have significant data that shows the annual individual medical cost of inactivity ($622) is more than 2 ½ times the annual cost per user of bike and pedestrian trails ($235). There are endless benefits to getting physical activity via transportation. When it comes to new infrastructure, wider spaces and attention to detail allow for more inclusive facilities, and overall, healthier communities.
We may tend to feel like we own the roads when we’re driving cars. This is called windshield bias. When we’re walking or on bikes we feel vulnerable. This can be a huge deterrent to walking and biking, and it’s killing us. Asbury Park is working on making streets safe for people walking and on bicycles, and calming traffic with infrastructure to #slowthecars, and help make us healthier and build a healthier city.
The road to good health is paved with walking, biking, and transit
By Ethan Goffman –
Driving is often a miserable experience that leaves people isolated and physically deprived
Yet, on average, Americans commute 50 minutes daily and 90 percent of the time by car, says writer Kirsten Dirksen in the Huffington Post.
Much of this suffering is due to the ways we built up our places during a time in our history when bicycling and walking became afterthoughts.
We forgot that bicycling and walking are great for your health. Transit, in turn, encourages walking and biking. And properly designed neighborhoods encourage walking, biking, and transit.
The shape of cities and transit networks thus shapes our health. So say a plethora of studies and real-life examples from around the world, which collectively constitute overwhelming evidence for the public-health benefits of smart planning and transportation options.