Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Number Of Bikes Exceeds Cars In Copenhagen For First Time

The level of cycling may be slowly increasing in a few of Britain’s major cities, but we’re still lagging a long way behind some of our European neighbours, with Copenhagen now recording more bikes than cars in its city centre.
The city authorities have been measuring traffic entering the city centre, with 252,600 cars entering the area compared to 265,700 bikes, up by 35,080 since last year. This is the first time that there have been more bikes than cars in the city centre since the city started counting in 1970.

Read more the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Awful Pedestrian Shaming Campaign Gets the Smackdown It Deserves

Montgomery County, Maryland, used this ill-considered poster to blame pedestrians who are hit by cars. Photo: Montgomery County
Montgomery County, Maryland, thought this was a good public safety message. Photo: Montgomery County
This PSA from Montgomery County, Maryland, has got to be one of the all-time worst examples of pedestrian shaming. The young girl with tire treads across her face, it’s implied, was struck and killed by a driver because she was “wearing black.”
The message was the county’s response to two recent pedestrian fatalities. According to the county, police will be ticketing drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists who break laws. The victim-blaming posters combined with the everyone-gets-fined approach to enforcement tells us this “safety campaign” won’t make pedestrians any safer.
Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

City Council Approves Bike-Sharing Program In New Orleans

A bike-sharing program is expected to be rolling in New Orleans next fall.
The City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a deal with New York-based Social Bicycles, setting the stage for the company to begin working on sponsorships and other planning needed prior to the launch.
Under the terms of the five-year deal, Social Bicycles will provide 700 bicycles and 70 stations when the program launches in October and will add at least another 200 bicycles to the network by the end of the fourth year.
Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Well-Designed City Is A Healthy City

If you design a city to get people walking, then people will do more physical activity. A new global study has found that a well-designed neighborhood not only keeps people fit but can reduce obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
The correlation between walkability and public health has been made before, but this study, published in the Lancet, looked at 14 cities in 10 countries, all of which had a similar design, in order to determine whether or not the cities' layouts themselves were the reason for increased health, as opposed to different lifestyles in different countries. The physical activity of the 14,222 adult participants was measured over four to seven days using Fitbit-style accelerometers. The principal data point was the average number of minutes walked per day.
Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

How Driverless Cars Could Empower Pedestrians

Currently, most roads in the U.S. are designed around the needs of drivers, making them inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst for walkers and cyclists. With more vehicles on the roads, pedestrian fatalities are surging nationwide. You’ve already heard that autonomous vehicles stand to make streets much, much safer by putting a computer fully in charge of the split-second road-reactions that human drivers so routinely flub. They might also succeed in upending an age-old vehicular hierarchy: In a world where most cars are driving themselves, pedestrians could reign supreme.

That’s the premise of new research by Adam Millard-Ball, a professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He uses game theory to suggest that autonomous vehicles could benefit pedestrians by being more responsive to their behavior. “In most urban areas, pedestrians have many more rights than they actually assert,” says Millard-Ball—for example, they don’t always cross when they’ve got the light, fearing a collision. Once self-driving cars arrive en masse, walkers might be more even assertive than laws generally permit.

Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Has The Ideal Low-Cost Bike Lane Separator Finally Been Found?

For years, the City of Austin has been on a wonky but important quest for one of the holy grails of bike infrastructure: the perfect low-cost bike lane separator.
Every common bike lane protection option has drawbacks. Plastic posts collapse. Precast curbs are complicated to install. And lots of the other options aren't mountable by an ambulance or garbage truck.
Now, Austin thinks it might have found the grail. Or you might call it the Goldilocks of bike lane protection: not too flimsy, not too pricy.
It's a pre-cast concrete "button."
See pictures and read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Jim's Journeys: Traveling the TTA Highway

Greetings from the road!  

I was back out again last week and this time I rolled into the VDOT District Trainers meeting (see picture- I don’t think they know they were being photographed)

Sharon White in Lynchburg was also able to help me find some people to talk to at the city level! One of our goals is to provide more training and resources to people at the city level.  If you’ve received any of our materials, know of somebody who could use our help or just have questions feel free to give us a call!

I was also able to drop off gravel road construction guides to Public Works directors in Altavista and Farmville.  If you need any other training, books or resources don’t hesitate to call our office, we’ll be glad to help.

Just a reminder- if you have a training room and would like to host one of our classes, please give Robin Carpenter a call!  She’d be more than happy to work with you on setting something up.  Her number is 434-982-2897.

If you weren’t in when I stopped by but you got an arm full of books and brochures and would like to talk about your training needs feel free to drop me a line (my email is below). 

Watch for information about when I’ll be traveling to your location. Or contact me at to schedule a visit.

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.

A Dozen Easy Principles for Public Sector Program Success

This post is adapted from a memo I prepared for my department’s management back in 2013. At the time, the Department of Environmental Services (DES)‘ new Director engaged the services of Denison Consulting to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. DES is Arlington County’s second largest department, with 15 Bureaus and nearly 1,000 full-time, part-time and contracted employees doing everything from transportation, development and streets, trash and recycling, facilities and water/utilities. Getting a handle on this sprawling group and moving it all in the right direction was the goal. A culture survey was given to all employees that Denison measured on four essential traits and twelve focus areas of organizations:
  1. Adaptability: (Creating Change, Customer Focus, Organizational Learning);
  2. Mission: (Strategic Direction & Intent, Goals & Objectives, Vision);
  3. Consistency: (Core Values, Agreement, Coordination and Integration); and
  4. Involvement: (Empowerment, Team Orientation, Capabilities Development).
These are all benchmarked for comparison to thousands of other companies and public agencies across the country. Each of the Department’s 15 Bureaus was benchmarked against each other. My Bureau, the Division of Transportation’s Commuter Services Bureau, stood out as an outlier of amazingly good results. It scored much higher than the other 14 Bureaus and against the other public sector state and local agencies DES was benchmarked against. Something good was happening here! Department management asked me to put together an explanation of why I thought this was so.
It was not a surprise to many that Commuter Services ranked so highly on the Denison Culture Survey. For years the Bureau has been locally and nationally recognized, as one of the most innovative and impactful units of it’s kind in North America. What follows is an adaptation of the explanation memo accounting for the success:*
A Dozen Easy Principles That Have Guided Our Commuter Services Team to Success
  1. Put the Customer FirstWe are public servants. We are here to serve. We may work for the government but we pride ourselves on not being bureaucratic and amazing our customers by going beyond their expectations.
Read the rest of the list here.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Love is in the Air:Deer Mating Puts Drivers on Alert

RICHMOND, Va. – Those playful deer and their wandering eyes mean motorists will need to be extra cautious over the next several weeks. As deer-mating season begins, the animals will become more active and are more likely to be seen on and around roadways.
In Virginia, drivers have a 1-in-94 chance of hitting a deer, according to recent insurance industry claims data for July 2015 through June 2016, ranking the state 13th in the nation for deer-vehicle collisions.
Mating season, taking place now through December, is the most likely time for deer collisions to occur. While you may see a deer at any time of day during this period, they tend to be on the move most at dusk and dawn when they are very difficult to see.

VDOT seeks to reduce deer-vehicle collisions through message boards, wildlife research

To help motorists avoid collisions with deer and other wildlife, reminders to remain alert will be posted on digital message boards along Interstate 64 on Afton Mountain. This area is known to have regular wildlife activity and seeshigher instances of deer collisions. The messages are running from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every other day through the end of November.
VDOT began this practice last year after the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), VDOT’s research division, evaluated strategies to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
Other research projects are also in the works. In Albemarle County, VTRC studied wildlife behavior near two unfenced underpasses on I-64 and found that while animals used those paths to get to the other side of the interstate, there was still a high degree of deer activity along the road and a high frequency of deer collisions in those locations.
Beginning at the Ivy exit near mile marker 114, eight-foot high fencing will be installed along the interstate leading up to one of those underpasses to help guide deer and other wildlife toward the underpasses and prevent them from attempting to cross the highway. This is expected to be complete by the end of November. Fencing will be installed at the second area near mile marker 110 at the Mechums River in early 2017. The full report detailing this strategy can be found online.
The project will be evaluated over time to determine whether it is successful in reducing collisions with wildlife.

What can you do to avoid hitting a deer?

Deer generally travel in groups. If you see one deer near or on the road, watch out for others nearby. They are also creatures of habit – once you see them in a certain spot, expect to see them again in that vicinity.
More driver tips:
  • Drive the speed limit or reduce your speed when you see deer-warning signs
  • Be on the lookout for deer at any time, but especially between dusk and dawn
  • Use bright headlights when possible and appropriate
  • Watch for animal eyes illuminated by headlights
  • Maintain control of your vehicle when you see a deer, to avoid veering into oncoming traffic or off the road
  • Always wear your seatbelt
If you hit a deer, contact law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred. If the animal is dead, you may keep the carcass after reporting the accident once an officer has seen the animal and provided a certificate of possession.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

16 Cities Join T4America’s Smart Cities Collaborative

Transportation for America (T4A) and Sidewalk Labs announced today the sixteen members of a new T4A Smart Cities Collaborative to explore how technology can improve urban mobility, creating a tangible new opportunity for the scores of ambitious cities that did not win or weren’t eligible for USDOT’s Smart City Challenge. Over the coming year, the collaborative will bring together these cities to tackle the challenges related to implementing smart city policies and projects — sharing best practices and technical assistance, and piloting new programs.
Nearly 60 cities applied to be a part of the collaborative, which will hold its first meeting in Minneapolis on Nov. 9-10, 2016.
“We’re in the midst of the most transformational shift in urban transportation since the start of the interstate era more than 50 years ago. And just like that era, cities have enormous potential to help or harm their residents with the decisions they make,” said James Corless, Director of T4America. “It’s incredibly encouraging to see this long list of cities proactively shaping the future to ensure that this monumental shift in transportation doesn’t shape their cities without their input and produce a new generation of transportation haves and have-nots.”
“We have spent the past several months speaking directly with cities across the country, and what we’ve heard is mobility is a major issue across the board. Cities know that technology offers ways to improve mobility, but exactly how to realize its potential isn’t obvious,” said Sidewalk Labs Chief Policy Officer Rohit T. Aggarwala. “Cities understand that they need to work together, but the question has always been how best to band these municipalities in partnership. This collaborative will be an unprecedented step in unifying these urban areas and accelerate solutions that provide affordable, efficient ways to get around.”
Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

'Tis The Season For Leaf Removal To Prevent Flooding

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and property owners both play an important role in preventing drainage problems, which can cause dangerous flooding on roads, as well as premature roadway deterioration.

Now that fall is here, so are the leaves and the big job of removing them. As they start to fall, leaves drift into ditches and culverts, clogging drain pipes. Here’s what property owners can do to help maintain good drainage:
  • Keep debris such as leaves and grass clippings out of open channels, ditches, driveway pipes or any other location that could block the free flow of stormwater runoff.
  • Prevent the discharge of pollutants, including pet waste and fertilizers, into the drainage system.
  • Maintain all drainage facilities on private property when there is no VDOT, county or city right of way.
  • Respect your neighbor’s property— leaves or debris can drift from one property to another, causing drainage problems for neighbors.
VDOT works to keep ditches, culverts, drains and other drainage systems located on state-owned right of ways and easements maintained and clear of debris. VDOT also responds to flooding or standing water, but only when it affects a state-maintained road or state-owned right of way. In addition, the agency replaces damaged or deficient storm sewer pipes and culverts, and conducts inspections on stormwater facilities.

If problems continue after taking these steps, call VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623). VDOT will research inquiries and determine who has responsibility over the area of concern. See Drainage on Virginia’s Roads for more information. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Governor Unveils Toll Relief For Norfolk And Portsmouth Residents

PORTSMOUTH – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Norfolk and Portsmouth residents will soon receive help paying tolls through the Elizabeth River Tunnels. Toll Relief, the first program of its kind in the nation, will provide meaningful financial relief to qualified Norfolk and Portsmouth residents who travel the Elizabeth River Tunnels.

“Since the beginning of my administration, we have made toll relief a top priority for the Norfolk and Portsmouth regions, since there is no free alternative for users of the Elizabeth River Tunnels,” said Governor McAuliffe, speaking at today’s announcement. “Following my actions to cut tolls in half at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels and eliminate them on the MLK Freeway Extension, today’s launch of Toll Relief is another big step in easing the burden of tolls throughout the region. We will continue to take smart, innovative approaches in solving the Commonwealth’s transportation challenges to ensure our citizens and businesses can thrive and prosper in the new Virginia economy.”

Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC), operators of the Elizabeth River Tunnels, has agreed to pay $500,000 a year for 10 years to help offset the cost of tolls on those users most financially stressed.

“Last year, I directed Deputy Secretary of Transportation Grindly Johnson to lead this effort and work with local stakeholders to develop a toll relief program that provides much-needed financial assistance to those individuals who need it the most,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. “I am pleased that we now have a plan in place to do just that. I also would like to thank Elizabeth River Crossings for partnering with the Commonwealth on the creation of this critical program.”

The enrollment period for Toll Relief begins December 1, 2016 and will run through February 15, 2017. Toll relief benefits will begin March 1, 2017.

To qualify for Toll Relief, participants must:
  • Reside in Norfolk or Portsmouth
  • Earn $30,000 or less per year
  • Have or obtain a Virginia E-ZPass transponder and registered account
  • Record eight trips or more during a calendar month through the Downtown or Midtown tunnels
Once a qualified participant’s Virginia E-ZPass transponder has recorded eight trips or more through the Downtown or Midtown tunnels during a calendar month, a $0.75 per trip refund will be credited to his or her Virginia E-ZPass account.

Toll Relief is a 10-year program. The first year of the program will serve as a pilot. Data collected will help determine if adjustments to implementation are needed.

For more information on Toll Relief, visit