Photo by Chris Jordan

NCBW Newsroom - The National & International Scene

The National & International Scene | Regional and Local Actions | The Research Beat | Resources | Jobs, Grants & RFPs

VÉLO QUÉBEC RELEASES COMPREHENSIVE CYCLING IN QUEBEC REPORT
-> Vélo Québec released its 2015 edition of Cycling in Quebec (http://bit.ly/239bRuT), a comprehensive study on bicycle use that has been conducted every five years since 1995. New to this edition is the analysis of the economic benefits of cycling. Annual spending on tourism related cycling and the purchase of bicycles and gear comes to CAD$1.2 billion (US$930 million) which creates the equivalent of 10,000 jobs and generates CAD$150 million (US$116.7 million) in tax revenues for the provincial government and CAD$65 million (US$50.6 million) in federal tax. There are now 600,000 more cyclists in Quebec than in 1995. Of the total 4.2 million, 55% are male, 45% are female, and 1 million are youth. http://bit.ly/235QY3H. See infographics and review previous editions at http://bit.ly/1Q3CPSB.

USE SEC. 402 & 405 FUNDS TO IMPROVE PED & BIKE SAFETY
-> Safe Routes to School National Partnership offers a primer (http://bit.ly/239q0Zb) on two federal funding streams that can help address pedestrian and bicycle safety issues: the 402 and 405 grants administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA has just issued its new rules for how these programs work (http://1.usa.gov/1Q3S2mF), incorporating changes from the FAST Act. Between $2 and $25 million in Section 402 money, called the State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program, is available to every state to improve a range of safety issues, including bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Section 405 funds, called the National Priority Safety Programs, are Congressional set asides for states with safety issues that need special attention. The FAST Act added bicycle and pedestrian safety as one of those priorities, so now there is approximately $14 million available to split up among states where more than 15 percent of traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians.

Review your state’s most recent Highway Safety Plan (http://1.usa.gov/28DY9nS) to see how it addresses bicycle and pedestrian safety, and follow up with your State Highway Safety Office to learn about opportunities for public input into the 2017 Highway Safety Plan.

US BIKE ROUTES: 194 NEW MILES APPROVED IN 4 STATES
-> Adventure Cycling Association and AASHTO announced that AASHTO has approved 194 miles of new U.S. Bicycle Routes (USBRs) in four states. Connecticut and Massachusetts designated USBR 7, which follow the Western New England Greenway. Two new spur routes were also approved in Virginia (USBR 176) and Georgia (USBR 621), and Idaho realigned a small portion of USBR 10 through Sandpoint. The official U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) now encompasses 11,243 miles of routes in twenty-four states and the District of Columbia. See details and the National Corridor Map at http://bit.ly/1UONCP1.

MARCH VMT INCREASE TO RECORD HIGHS IN FIRST-QUARTER 2016
-> Traffic on U.S. roads continues to grow and set new volume records, as the Federal Highway Administration said this year's first-quarter volume was the highest ever to start a year. Its latest monthly "Traffic Volume Trends" (http://1.usa.gov/1sGc1gI) reports vehicle travel on all U.S. roads increased by 5 percent in March from a year earlier, to 273.4 billion vehicle miles. That put the January-March volume at 746 billion vehicle miles traveled, up 4.2 percent from the 2015 period. http://bit.ly/1PNBZcn

ITALY: 3-YEAR, US$107.6 MILLION CYCLE TOURISM MASTERPLAN
-> The Italian Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure introduced a new Cycle Tourism Masterplan to create a national infrastructure network for tourist cycle routes. The masterplan was presented alongside the results of a study on the economic impact of the incoming GRAB (Grande Raccordo Anulare delle Bici di Roma), a project now under construction to build a Great Ring Junction cycle route for bicycles around the city of Rome. According to the study’s results, more than 600,000 tourists are expected to travel on the cycle route in its first year, generating a 3 billon euro (US$3.3 billon) profit for local economies—five times more than the initial amount invested for the construction. The GRAB project is one of the four national cycle routes included in the Cycle Tourism Masterplan, which anticipates an investment of around 96 million euros (US$107.6 million) between 2016 and 2019. http://bit.ly/1UiO6x9

CITIES COMMIT TO VISION ZERO + SEATTLE RESULTS
-> At least 17 American cities have committed to Vision Zero (http://bit.ly/1UbDsv6) to eliminate traffic fatalities. In addition to ramping up education and enforcement, these efforts require road designers to rethink streets and intersections in ways that minimize risks to non-motorized users. This often means correcting issues resulting from a strict, decades-long focus on vehicle movement. Seattle launched its Vision Zero plan early in 2015 and immediately tackled Rainier Avenue South—a road carrying upwards of 28,000 vehicles and experiencing more than one crash per day, including two fatalities since 2011. The street’s $700,000 redesign features a four down to three lane road diet, a speed limit reduction from 30 to 25 mph, transit priority, and leading pedestrian signals. As a result, travel times, vehicle speeds, and the number of severe crashes have all decreased. The Seattle DOT has also worked closely with the Police Department on data-driven enforcement citywide and automated enforcement in 14 school zones, where traffic violations have dropped by 64 percent. Revenues go toward the city’s Safe Routes to School Program.

[See the Resources section for three case studies from the Vision Zero Network.]

NEW FORMS OF CAR-FREE SHOPPING STREETS
-> Retail is an ever-changing industry. To satisfy the evolving tastes and demands of consumers, retailers and retail developers are continually pursuing the latest and greatest shopping experiences. As residents and employers are moving back to walkable neighborhoods, walkability is emerging as a common theme in today’s leading retail shopping. Today, a variety of new forms of pedestrian-oriented shopping streets are emerging as a response. These streets, lanes, and alleys include shared and intermittent car-free streets, as well as both privately owned streets and streets with multiple property owners. Despite the fact that the majority of pedestrian malls failed, today’s new car-free retail streets are succeeding due to new circumstances and development programs. http://bit.ly/1PmaOQk

LIVABILITY CHALLENGES & TOOLS: PEOPLE W/ VISION/HEARING IMPAIRMENTS
-> For a person with diminished or no vision or hearing, the first steps to a livable community are literally safe steps. Being able to securely navigate sidewalks, cross streets and ride public transportation are keys to independence and mobility. AARP identifies some of the challenges people living with vision or hearing impairments tackle: http://bit.ly/239Oi5b. They also describe 6 tools and technologies communities can use to help meet the needs of people of all ages and abilities. http://bit.ly/1PTlxaJ

UNIVERSAL DESIGN W/O THE THREAT OF LEGAL ACTION
-> Despite a robust Complete Streets movement and a growing emphasis on accessible design, the surest path to ADA compliance in America is still through legal threat. A generation after the Americans with Disabilities Act, cities across the United States are still broadly inaccessible to many who live in them. Broken sidewalks and steep curbs endanger people who are blind or use wheelchairs. For all the think-tanking and good intentions, when it comes to universal design, the most effective urban planning tool appears to be the threat of legal action. But a close look at what’s happening in two communities investigated and forced to comply points to what city leaders nationwide should be thinking about before they are sued, and before the DOJ comes knocking. http://bit.ly/1PYPl5Q

VANCOUVER, BC: MAP & LIST OF DOORING CAUTION ZONES
-> Through citizen reports BikeMaps.org helps to make cycling safer by providing municipalities, the Province and other stakeholders with a supplementary database on cycling incidents. BikeMaps.org can also provide cyclists with the latest information on safety hot-spots. They compiled collision data from ICBC and BikeMaps.org to develop a map and a list of dooring caution zones in the City of Vancouver. Doorings were the most prevalent type of cycling collision reported through official reports. http://bit.ly/1NND0Ls

NEW SPRAWL TAX METHODOLOGY
-> CityLab reports Daniel Hertz of City Observatory has developed a more targeted approach to index the price of spread-out development, in time and money, for American workers. (Introducing The Sprawl Tax: http://bit.ly/1rpHMtf and Sprawl Tax: How the US Stacks Up Internationally: http://bit.ly/1U4rCTi) Combining the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S., he found, commuters pay more than $107 billion annually, which is about $1,400 per commuter, on average. Those are the dollar costs of the number of additional hours Americans spend traveling to and from work due to sprawling land-use patterns—which, by their methodology, ends up being around 3.9 billion extra hours total, or 50 hours per worker, per year. http://bit.ly/1YgPRh3

NEW PED AND BIKE DATA COLLECTING TECHNOLOGY
-> A new crop of data collecting technology — including bike-counter totems, GPS-enabled smartphone apps and cameras that use machine learning — is enhancing more time-consuming, less accurate ways of counting people riding bikes and walking. Tech startup CTY designed Numina (http://bit.ly/1tqvimy), a camera bike and pedestrian counter because there is not a lot of data that helps justifies complete streets infrastructure. The data counting hardware is essentially a camera mounted 15 feet up on a light pole capturing video. Software is programmed to recognize and count patterns such as a bicyclist or walker crossing the screen. Numina can also track behavior on a given piece of infrastructure — where a cyclist rides on a street, whether they choose the sidewalk over the bike lane, spots pedestrians avoid and more. Some of the most exciting data is coming from companies such as Strava (http://bit.ly/1WNyrcp) and MapMyRide (http://bit.ly/1XWTGcC), which track routes via GPS units and smartphone apps, provide actual behavior, and can provide demographic data about users. http://bit.ly/24x0Fr1

(See the Research section for related reports from two bike counting studies.)

Get a jump start on this news by subscribing to CenterLines.