Monday, May 31, 2010

SJ Bike Map Shows Deficiencies in Current Route System

In the Sunday Statesman yesterday there was a special insert "Rediscover the Mid-Valley: A Guide to Your Community." In it was this map of Salem bike routes.

Really, there is no better explanation for why we need to identify a set of low-traffic alternative routes. Our current bike route system is incomplete and tells new bicyclists to go where they are not comfortable or happy to ride. Perhaps most importantly, the marked routes are not a system for kids.

(Photo from Kidical Mass ride yesterday! You know you want more of this!)

Jeff Leach is doing a terrific job of updating our draft low-traffic alternatives. Look for a new update in the next week or two.

We look forward to feeding our proposed routes into the Transportation System Plan update process.

Salem can be so much better for bicycling! Let's make sure we have a system for everyone!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sun and Citybikes at B on B

It was a lovely morning for Breakfast on Bikes today! We even got some sun! One of the highlights was seeing more city bikes and cargo arrangements on the road.

Pat Fisher, who administers the Transportation Enhancement program for the Department of Transportation, which contributed a large chunk of over $1M in funding to the Union St. Railroad Bridge, brought her old-school bike with a flowery basket!

John brought his new xtracycle longtail! It's one of maybe 5 now in the city. Hopefully we'll see more cargo bikes this summer!

On the concrete pillars are diagrams of the "quiet zone" treatment for 12th & Chemeketa as well as quadrant maps for the mapping update with low-traffic routes. It was great to be able to show the quiet zone project right there on site and to invite people to mark up the quadrant maps with their own insider tips and routes! The crowd-sourcing is really bringing in some good routes.

We also saw several more examples of city bikes, including a Breezer with an internal hub and this lovely new Schwinn.

Compared to last summer, there is already a new diversity in looks and styles!

The handy boys from Santiam lubed chains, adjusted shifting, and helped out with quick inspections! For many, departures were noticeably quieter and smoother than arrivals. Thanks Troy & Cory! (Dan, too, but he came later.)

They also brought the new Burley Travoy.

Here's bikeportland's review. They called it an "amazingly well-designed product," and we all agreed. Even the gearheadiest and most jaded were impressed. It looks to be a real advance on cargo capacity and convenience!

The attachment to the bike is simple, and the wheels mean you can roll it in the grocery store, roll it to your bike, and roll out on your bike - no transfer or lifting necessary!

All in all it was a fine morning.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Make it a Fuel-Free Friday

This dragonfly has oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill on its wings and perches on marshgrass covered in oil. Ordinarily the background would be green.

The latest assessments suggest the spill is now the worst in United States history. Here are more photos. (Dragonfly Detail: AP/Gerald Herbert, May 18th)

To reduce our dependence on oil, think about making tomorrow a fuel-free day.

Don't forget about Breakfast on Bikes Friday morning.

And if you haven't done so already, make sure you register to win an iPad and other goodies at Cherriots FA$TLANE promotion!

If you can't do it Friday, think about making Saturday a fuel-free day.

Remember that Friends of Salem Saturday Market and Bicycle Transportation Alliance encourages you to walk or bike to the market. Pick up your Walk+Bike sticker at the FSSM booth and send Stephanie at the BTA a photo of yourself at the market. This is the last weekend for this!

You'll be entered to win a backpack from KEEN! For more information, see the BTAblog.

Here's the spill meter from PBS. You can slide the estimated leak rate depending on your confidence in published rates. If you've been following this, you'll notice they've updated the default estimate several times based on the latest information.

(Dying heron chick on oil coated mangrove: Detail from AP/Gerald Herbert, May 23))

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Breakfast on Bikes - Friday, May 28th

Breakfast on Bikes will be at 12th & Chemeketa on the Promenade just east of the railroad tracks on Friday, January 29th May 28th*, We'll have free coffee, pastries, and fruit for bicyclists between 7am and 9am.

You'll also be able to imagine Salem's first bicycle traffic light, planned and approved by City Council as part of the rail "Quiet Zone" in downtown!

Please support our generous sponsors!
Cascade Baking Company
Coffee House Cafe
LifeSource Natural Foods
Salem Bicycle Club
Willamette University.

Mechanics from Santiam Bicycle will also be available for quick check derailleur adjustment, lube, and tire inflation!

And there's always bits of other swag!

Speaking of swag, don't forget to register your bike commutes with Cherriots FA$TLANE - you could win an iPad or other great prizes!

View Larger Map

*A friendly reader caught my cut-n-paste error! Thanks for the correction.

Monday, May 24, 2010

BTA Blog Profiles Norm Johnson, Bicycle Safety Education Volunteer

At the BTA-HQ blog there's a great profile of Salem bicyclist and amazing volunteer Norm Johnson.
Norm stands out because he has been volunteering for the BTA's Bike Safety Education program in Salem for ten years, and he volunteers EVERY DAY during Bike Safety Education season.
Go read it over there! Hooray for Norm and some deserved recognition!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

City Council, May 24th - The Budget and Sustainable Cities

Council offers a classic good news/bad news scenario on Monday. The good news is a substantial prospective partnership with the University of Oregon for some very interesting studies. The bad news is the budget.

The big thing on the Council agenda is the proposed budget. This is not my area of expertise, but I note that one of the line items proposes to cancel the transit pass for City employees. Perhaps others with an interest in the budget will identify other items that represent a retreat from sustainability, and an all-too-usual trade of the short- for the long-range

Needless to say, we think that's a bad idea. City employees should lead in reducing drive-alone trips, and this is inconsistent with the City's own goals for that reduction. More generally, it's inconsistent with the goal of being a "sustainable city."

Which brings us to that very goal, and the proposed collaboration with the University of Oregon Sustainable Cities Initiative.
The Sustainable Cities Year Initiative is a ‘partnership’ with one city in Oregon per year where a number of courses from across the University focus on assisting that city with their sustainability goals and projects. The Sustainable Cities Year faculty and students work with that city through a variety of studio projects and service learning programs to: 1) provide students with a real world project to investigate; 2) apply their training; and 3) provide real service and movement to a local city ready to transition to a more sustainable and accessible future.
Sounds great!

Earlier this year the City solicited the partnership. Here's the proposal. This past year Gresham participated, and it looks like some good things came out of the collaboration. It looks to bring valuable analysis and planning resources to the City at a very minimal cost.

Here is the agenda item with the finalized list of projects. Two of them look particularly interesting for transportation and bicycling.

One is a project to look at parks connectivity. It dovetails neatly with the Salem Greenway project we highlighted last month. It also looks to examine the approaches to the Union St. Railroad Bridge, which we have argued are unreasonably disconnected from the neighborhoods adjacent to the bridge and its parks.

The other project is to examine downtown traffic circulation, with a special emphasis on walking and bicycling. This looks to duplicate the proposed study that failed to garner a TGM grant last year. (The State gave the City grants to do a Safe Routes to Schools Plan and to update the Bicycle and Pedestrian chapters of the Transportation System Plan - so, you know, two out of three wasn't bad!)

We'd like the City more consistently to pursue sustainability and to make sure that it isn't pursuing Potemkin Projects. Investing in sustainable transportation should be high on the list. One act at City Council does this, another does not.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bridge to Work Day - Photos and Thoughts on SJ Column

Yesterday Carol McAlice Currie took issue with "Bridge to Work Day." If we can put words in her mouth, she seemed to be saying that it was just lipstick on a pig. And, you know, there's something to that. There are some disjunctions and inconsistencies.

At the same time, Councilor Clem wasn't just at the event for a photo-op. He took a long bike ride (pictured here just as he returned) and we're happy to report that there were some really good conversations about the way the bridge works and doesn't work.

Back the Currie's criticisms, she observed that
As hundreds of single-occupant vehicles crawled east toward the Center Street bridge along Wallace Road NW, a whopping 40 people underwhelmed the pedestrian bridge, which reopened last week after a new paint job.

Yet West Salem's City Councilor Dan Clem still somehow declared the Bridge to Work Day a success and a solution to problems plaguing West Salem commuters.

Said Clem: "If people ask me what we're doing for congestion, I have an answer," he said, pointing to the small puddle of people participating in the event.

If this is his answer, the Polk County side of the city needs to ask different questions.
We will say that there was a significant number of people who used the bridge but who did not stop at the Bridge to Work Station (you can see we were at the lot below the bridge), so 40 understates its use. Not by enough to affect the outlines of her argument, it's true, but more than she thinks.

Still we agree with much in her arguments, and the City should listen. Much of what she says is formalized in the Rivercrossing Alternative Modes study. The City just needs to hear from people that these are important things to do!
But if officials really want to get people to make fewer trips on four wheels, they're going to have to address realities that tend to get overlooked....
1) "Instead of throwing more [money] at another attempt to expand the airport for a limited few," expand transit in West Salem.

2) Improve development patterns. "Requir[e] shopping, dining and banking to be built near where people live."

3) Work to reduce hostility to those on bikes. She says, "this is the city that approved taking out bike lanes in the Burley Hill neighborhood of West Salem."

4) Build and maintain sidewalks.

5) Add crosswalks and signals.
There isn't a single crosswalk on Glen Creek or Orchard Heights roads between the major intersections with Wallace and Doaks Ferry roads NW. With so few sidewalks on these older streets, zig-zagging is a necessity and yet there is not a safe place for kids or adults to cross on either major artery. You'd think there'd at least be one in front of Orchard Heights Park.

In the light of this criticism, what did Bridge to Work Day accomplish? Here's some substantive evidence!

Project Manager Todd Klocke got to explain the Eneloop to Councilor Clem. Clem then took the bike out for a long ride to inspect the bridges, as well as the approaches and connections to the bridge.

Klocke also shared the Eneloop with several members of the public. Everyone loved riding it! Wheeee! Was a universal response.

The bike was in such demand that Mike Jaffe, our Metropolitan Planning Organization Program Manager, absconded with the bike and took it for a ride without the helmet!

After Councilor Clem's long ride, he came back full of ideas about the connections to the bridge - both things that worked and things that didn't work. Here he talks with Julie Warncke, Transportation Planning Manager for the City.

We will all be able to draw on this knowledge from the field inspection in future conversations. Clem is also the Chair of SKATS Policy Committee, which governs the transportation planning arm of the Metropolitan Planning Organization. They are involved in funding the path to Glen Creek Road from the west bridgehead, and in the large intersection rebuild at Wallace and Glen Creek.

Want sidewalks and crosswalks? Let Councilor Clem know! The decision-makers were there, they saw the conditions - please write them and ask them to improve conditions for walkers and bicyclists, just like Currie says.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's Fuel-Free Friday - And National Bike to Work Day

It's Fuel-Free Friday! Can you weather the weather? We know it's not so great, but you know you feel good when you ride!

If you haven't done so already, make sure you register to win an iPad and other goodies at Cherriots FA$TLANE promotion!

It's also National Bike to Work Day. Because the weather doesn't always cooperate, the BTA holds its big Bike to Work event, the Bike Commute Challenge, in September, when the number of dry days is greater. And we did just do Bridge to Work Day. But you can never have too many reasons to ride to work!

In the event that you can't do it Friday, think about making Saturday a fuel-free day.

Remember that Friends of Salem Saturday Market and Bicycle Transportation Alliance encourages you to walk or bike to the market. Pick up your Walk+Bike sticker at the FSSM booth and send Stephanie at the BTA a photo of yourself at the market.

You'll be entered to win a backpack from KEEN! For more information, see the BTAblog.

They're sweetening the deal this Saturday! Friends of Salem Saturday Market are offering a Family Bike Safety Class at 10am.
Hear about what kids and grown-ups can do, and should be aware of, to make biking together fun and safe.

Finally, the Deepwater Horizon spill continues. Here's the meter from PBS. You can slide the estimated leak rate depending on your confidence in published rates. If you've been following this, you'll notice they updated the default estimate to a significantly higher rate based on the latest information. Here's a collection of photojournalism from the spill. (Baggie with oil mixed in the seatwer: Detail from an image taken south of Freemason Island, Louisiana May 7th - REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Bicycling in this week's Salem Weekly

Two great pieces about bicycling in the new Salem Weekly!

In the print version of Desperately Seeking Salem, Emily Grosvenor writes about her husband's bike commute and the barriers both she and her husband still experience bicycling around Salem.
On his way to work, he Froggers his way through throngs of Portland commuters, local delivery trucks, pedestrians with strollers, and gangs of Northeast Salem's strangely territorial teenagers, none of whom are happy to share the roads or the crosswalks with him.

People who see Adam on his biking commute seem startled to even see someone biking. Worst of all, some just refuse to see him. Adam, for his part, has never once had the pleasure of tipping his hat at a single other biker on his commute.

Jay Shenai writes about Kidical Mass and a mini-profile of Kat Frankin. He also notes that the ride will need additional people to step up and help lead it in the fall and thereafter.
[A]s it continues to attract riders, will it last?

Kidical Mass Salem began as an obligation for Franken, 25, an AmeriCorps volunteer who works as a waste reduction educator for Marion County. She was tasked with developing a community action project as part of her year-long term of service, but rather than follow the traditional opportunities to network with major non-profits and prospective future employers, Franken instead chose to connect her project to her passion: bicycling....

As for the ride’s future, Franken’s AmeriCorps service ends in August, as will her project. Her future plans are uncertain. She hopes someone else will take on Kidical Mass Salem, but even if no one does, the important thing for her is that people keep biking.

“If it turns out they don’t need [Kidical Mass], then it doesn’t really need to continue,” she said.

“But maybe something else will come up, maybe somebody else might decide to organize something similar.”

After all, if her experience with Kidical Mass Salem has taught her one thing, it is this: Everyone should be empowered to make a difference.

“Why not me?” she asked. “Changing Salem comes from me.”

“It doesn’t have to be someone else.”
Go pick up a copy and read the pieces!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bridge to Work in the Paper Today!

Bridge to Work Day was great fun, and Dennis Thompson from the Statesman has a nice piece in today's paper. There's a sweet shot of City Councilor Dan Clem on the Eneloop bicycle! (We have more pix, but they are temporarily stuck on the camera! We'll post them later this week or next.) The coverage is especially nice to see considering the Election Day ink! The article leads with the great truth:
People strolling or biking across the rain-slicked Union Street Railroad Bridge on Tuesday morning were treated to blue skies, fresh air and a relaxing trip across the Willamette River.

A little farther up the river, cars clogged the Center Street Bridge as West Salem commuters jockeyed for position.

It was the contrast city and state officials hoped for when they declared Tuesday to be Bridge to Work Day for West Salem residents.
Later he quotes Clem:
City Councilor Dan Clem, who helped organize Bridge to Work Day, took the Eneloop on an extended spin through West Salem, across the bridge and into downtown.

"I rode up to Orchard Heights and zipped past all the cars waiting in traffic, waving at them," Clem said.

Clem helped organize and promote the event as a way to help relieve congestion on the Center Street Bridge.

"If people ask me what we're doing for congestion, I have an answer," he said. "I'd sure like to see you use the bridge as much as you can."

As many as 94,000 vehicles drive across the Marion and Center street bridges on an average weekday.
Walk or Bike as much as you can to avoid drive-alone trips. It's just that simple!

Thanks Councilor Clem!

(Photo: Kobbi R. Blair, Statesman Journal. Looking down Union Street towards the east, you can see the traffic lights at Front and High, and the cars stacked up on Commercial. Working on direct and intuitive connections down this straight shot of Union are one of the next steps for the bridge connectivity. Union at Commercial is especially tricky.)

Ride of Silence Tonight

The 2010 Ride of Silence is tonight, Wednesday, May 19th at 6pm. John Henry Maurice and Joanne Heilinger of the Salem Bicycle Club will lead the ride, which departs from the "red lot" downtown. Since 2003 "the mission of the world wide Ride of Silence is to honor bicyclists killed by motorists, promote sharing the road, and provide awareness of bicycling safety."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MWVBTA Works to Update Bike Maps and Identify Low-Traffic Alternatives

Maps and links updated July 20th.

You might remember the excitement over Google's announcement that it had added a bike layer to Google Maps. The excitement was somewhat shortlived when it became clear that there were all kinds of crazy data and route suggestions. Many of the worst bicycling streets in Salem showed dotted green lines as if they were good routes. On this detail you can see that Marion Street has a dotted green line. The Union Street Railroad Bridge is also missing. As it currently exists, the Google map layer isn't very useful.

The 2006 Salem-Keizer Bike Map is better in many ways, but it's still out of date. It doesn't show the Union Street Railroad Bridge, either. And it displays in graphic form the City's now out-dated philosophy of creating a bike route system primarily of bike lanes striped on busy roads.

With support from the City and from the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, the Mid-Willamette Valley Chapter of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, is working on updating the bike map. Our goals are two-fold: To update the map with new facilities, like the Union Street Railroad Bridge; and to identify a network of low-traffic streets that substantially parallels the network of bike lanes on busy roads. We want to find bike routes for everyone, not just skilled urban bicyclists who are used to being in traffic - where would you bike with your entire family?

We've got started with several draft maps, and we invite your comments and suggestions.

Here's the updated map in its entirety as of July 18th! (2.7MB pdf)

Here's a list of the draft maps in pdf form. The city is roughly divided up into quadrants
Legend, with color key
Keizer map
North Salem map
Northeast Salem map
South Salem map
Southeast Salem map
West Salem map
Here's a directory of the maps. If one of these links is dead, it's because we've posted an update, so check the directory for a more current version.

Drop comments and suggestions here. You can also email us screen captures or other marked up versions at salembikes [at] gmail [dot] com.

The work here will go to Google and into a revised 2010 Salem-Keizer Bike Map. It will also inform the Bike Element update to the Transportation System Plan.

Thanks to Jeff Leach for the expert mapping work!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bridge to Work Day - Walk or Bike to Work Tomorrow!

The Union St. Railroad Bridge is open! Don't forget to walk or bike to work tomorrow, especially if you live in West Salem!

Last Friday's Statesman Stephanie Knowlton wrote about the reopening of the Union St. Railroad Bridge. She quoted West Salem City Councilor Dan Clem on his Bridge to Work Day:
Clem...proposed the idea as a way to encourage residents to start using the bridge again to bike and walk to work.

The move could help reduce traffic on both bridges, improve residents' health and decrease Salem's travel carbon footprint. Average weekday traffic on the Marion and Center street bridges is as many as 94,000 vehicles with peak times during the morning and evening commute, according to the city. That figure could be cut by 20 percent if everyone biked or walked to work one day per week.

"It's all about making sure people know they have choices instead of being stuck in a car on a bridge," Clem said.

Tuesday's event will also include information on carpools and transit options as well as guided walks and rides to the Capital and the Salem Civic Center.

Residents already enjoy the bridge on nights and weekends, Clem said.

"Why not do it every day? And besides the view of the river is just incredible."
We couldn't agree more! Thanks Councilor Clem!

At Council: Planning Slights non-motorized Traffic

There's a short City Council session this evening. On the agenda is an appeal from the Planning Commission regarding a proposed apartment complex near Crossler Middle School. It shows some of the ways we systematically devalue walking and biking, and ensure that we don't have to accommodate them, instead pumping increasing numbers of drive-alone autos through our transportation system.

Without drilling into other issues, it is notable for the scant thought given to non-motorized traffic.

The traffic analysis conducted by an outside firm (apparently when school was not in session) counted no pedestrians and one bicycle in the vicinity. None of the relevant agencies showed interest in making it possible for students to walk and bike to school - the auto or bus was the prevailing default.

"Short trips without driving" are far from easy here. The staff report concludes, however, that the "streets provide a network for pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles." With the lack of sidewalks and bicycle facilities in the area, and with auto traffic clearly prioritized, it is difficult to understand how the existing streets "provide a [functional] network."

This is why creating a Safe Routes to Schools Plan, updating the Transportation System Plan, folding these into the Comprehensive Plan, and ensuring they are interpreted and implemented with care is important.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

MWVBTA Meeting Tuesday, May 18th

What's that big bang you hear...a volcano's anniversary? No, it's a new bike boom!

Help leverage the increasing popularity of bicycling!

The May meeting of the Mid-Willamette Valley chapter of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance will be Tuesday, the 18th, from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Sassy Onion.

Agenda topics will include:

For Discussion:
Safe Routes To School update
TE & bike/ped grant applications
Update on Energy Grant projects
Google and bike route mapping project
Cherriots Fastlane campaign
National Night Out, Aug 3
New NE Salem elementary school design

Reports and Updates:
Bridge to Work Day
Walk + Bike to Farmer's Markets
Railroad Quiet Zone - Mill & 12th Street, Chemeketa & 12th Street
Bicycle Safety Education classes
SBC bike education ride project
Breakfast on Bikes

Other stuff as time permits.

If you are a member of the BTA, are interested in the BTA, or would just like to make Salem a better place to bike, please join us!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Union RR Bridge Opens on a Lovely Day

It was a great day for bicycling! This evening I saw several bicyclists on quiet streets where I haven't seen bicyclists before. This seemed like a very good sign!

After a long winter, and just in time for a beautiful weekend, the Historic Union St. Railroad Bridge is open.

The early evening sun lit up the river and bridge. A steady stream of walkers and bikers were out on it, including City Manager Linda Norris! The Bridge puts a smile on everyone's face.

Never noticed the plaques before, and I can't remember whether they are new and placed only after the new paint or if they were old and I just didn't notice them. They gleamed in the sun.

Small posters were up for the Passport Day on the 15th and Bridge to Work on the 18th. Hopefully everyone will see them and throng to each event!

Out in front of Clockworks six bikes were locked up! Later there seemed to be a few more. There was a good crowd, and we can only hope they are so overwhelmed with bikes the City has to put in more bike parking! Venti's, too, had a nice cluster of bikes.

Earlier in the day volunteers led a Bike Safety Education Community Ride. Looks like the kids had fun...the adults too!

Just a great day for bikes!

It's Fuel-Free Friday!

How are you getting to work today? It's beautiful out!

Register to win an iPad and other goodies at Cherriots FA$TLANE promotion!

And if you can't do it today, think about making tomorrow a fuel-free day.

Remember that Friends of Salem Saturday Market and Bicycle Transportation Alliance encourages you to walk or bike to the market. Pick up your Walk+Bike sticker at the FSSM booth and send Stephanie at the BTA a photo of yourself at the market.

You'll be entered to win a backpack from KEEN! For more information, see the BTAblog.

The Deepwater Horizon spill continues. Here's a handy meter from PBS. You can slide the estimated leak rate depending on your confidence in published rates.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Salem-Keizer School District Proposes "Green" Building

In today's Statesman Mackenzie Ryan writes about the Salem-Keizer School District's consideration of a LEED-certified school. It would be located on a field whose owners are asking for annexation into the City.

Fortunately, commenters are already on top of one of the missing pieces: Transportation and location.

One person writes that
The benefits to society by having a green building will be lost unless they build the campus in a location and in a manner that eliminates cars and traffic congestion. The greenest schools are those where the kids walk to school.
Another person writes
Having seen how many parents line up to drop kids off for school every day and how few students I see walking to school, I wonder how much of a problem the lack of sidewalks would actually be. My street is near several schools and only part of it has sidewalks and that does not seem to be a problem.
Another person asks about renting an existing building since reuse is generally better than new construction, no matter how green.

The proposed site is on the very edge of the urban growth boundary and is poorly served by sidewalks, bike lanes, and low-traffic roads comfortable for walking and biking. Public Works' comments on the proposed annexation say that "at the time of development, street improvements may be required," but on the surface there doesn't appear to be strategic thinking about how to get kids safely to and from the site.

As Walker has pointed out over at LoveSalem, LEED covers construction, but not on-going operations. This kind of Green is a nice start, but it's only part of the sustainability equation. Moreover, as the First Lady points out, active transportation should be a part of livable and healthy communities. Green thinking and healthy thinking together point in the same directions!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Michelle Obama's Report on Childhood Obesity Highlights Bicycling

This week the First Lady released her report on childhood obesity. Awkwardly titled the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President, SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY WITHIN A GENERATION, it nonetheless represents coordinated thinking on the systemic patterns that contribute to obesity - all the ways we make things difficult.

As you would imagine, walking and biking play a significant role. Without drilling into analysis, here are some salient excerpts.

First, the pie chart on how kids get to school. According to an article in the New York Times last fall, "In 1969, 41 percent of children either walked or biked to school; by 2001, only 13 percent still did." In 2009 things are no different.

Much of the report is focused on using active transportation for short trips, whether for kids, caretakers, or entire families.

Programs like Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS), funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), have proven an effective way to get students safely walking and biking to school. Serving students in grades K-8, the SRTS program supports capital investments, such as building sidewalks, crosswalks, creating better community designs, and providing other supports for active transport. Nearly 6,500 schools are participating in the federal SRTS program, which has provided $612 million for this purpose since 2005. SRTS helped and continues to help increase the number of students walking to school322 and decrease those being driven to school. A study of SRTS sites in California showed a 38% increase in students walking to school. (Page 80)

A complete network of safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities would allow children to take more trips through active transportation and get more physical activity. New Federal aid construction projects should accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians by incorporating “Complete Streets” principles. As improvement projects for existing facilities are undertaken, transportation infrastructure should be retrofitted, where feasible, to support and encourage bicycle and pedestrian use. State and local money can also be leveraged to support safe facilities for children to walk or bike to places like parks, playgrounds, transit, and community centers. The reauthorization could adopt Complete Streets principles that would include routine accommodation of walkers and bicyclists for new construction, to influence retrofitting of existing communities, and to support public transportation. In addition, it could enhance authority for recreational areas on public lands. (Page 81)

The report also focuses on land use and development patterns that help or hinder active transportation.

Communities could also develop zoning requirements that create safe, non-motorized routes such as sidewalks, pedestrian malls, and bicycle paths between all neighborhoods and supermarkets, grocery stores, or other retailers who sell healthy food. (Page 54)

Yet, a series of research studies suggests that attributes of our current built environment, such as low density development and sprawl, have had a negative impact on health outcomes, contributing to obesity and related health problems.313 Several of these studies have found that areas with greater sprawl tend to have higher rates of adult obesity. The combination of greater distances between destinations as development sprawls outward from city centers and the lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure contributes to eliminating walking and biking as options and to increased driving. One-fifth of all automobile trips in urban areas are one mile or less, and over two-fifths of these trips are under three miles,314 distances easily walked or biked if the proper infrastructure were available. Low-income communities in particular often have a higher number of busy through streets, poor cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, and few high-quality parks and playgrounds—all elements which seem to deter physical activity. (Page 78)