Thursday, April 30, 2009

Public Transit Users 3X More Likely to be Healthy

Because they walk a few minutes per day: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090326134014.htm

According to the study, people who drove the most were the least likely to meet the recommended level of physical activity. "The idea of needing to go to the gym to get your daily dose of exercise is a misperception," says Frank, the J. Armand Bombardier Chairholder in Sustainable Transportation and a researcher at the UBC Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. "These short walks throughout our day are historically how we have gotten our activity. Unfortunately, we've engineered this activity out of our daily lives."

Also, see this report by the Robert Wood Johnson Federation: http://www.rwjf.org/pr/synthesis/reports_and_briefs/issue11.html

Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., contributing to more than 100,000 deaths annually and a growing burden of chronic disease. Traditionally, interventions to increase physical activity and combat obesity have targeted individual behavior change through education and promotion. There is increasing recognition by researchers and public health leaders, however, of the need to expand the focus of interventions to the environments and contexts in which poor nutrition and lack of activity occurs. This focus has spawned a relatively new body of research examining the role of the community “built environment” in promoting or discouraging physical activity.

Monday, April 20, 2009

YDN: Student Death Spurs Action on Street Safety

Coverage from the Yale Daily News: http://www.yaledailynews.com/articles/view/28884

One year ago Sunday, Mila Rainof MED ’08 was struck by a car as she crossed the busy intersection of York Street and South Frontage Road. Her death a day later, along with the death of 11-year-old Gabrielle Alexis Lee in a hit-and-run last June, cast a shadow over pedestrian safety on New Haven’s streets, leading to a public push to reduce traffic accident injuries across the city. While Rainof’s friends and family still mourn her death, they said they have been consoled by city and community efforts to improve traffic safety over the past year.

A month after the accident, local residents united with officials and individual organizations to form the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, meant to raise community awareness of traffic safety issues. Last October, the city launched the Street Smarts Campaign, which included an initiative funded by the Yale-New Haven Hospital to upgrade 12 intersections around Yale’s medical district, and shortly after, the city installed new crosswalks and pedestrian signposts in the area. The New Haven Police Department also arranged for two police units to patrol busy intersections throughout the city to slow down traffic.

Despite the array of initiatives to improve the safety of city streets, officials from the Safe Streets Coalition said they still see room for improvement and hope to avoid at all costs another unnecessary traffic fatality. Last week, Yale, along with the city’s Department of Transportation, Traffic and Parking, launched the Smart Street Web site to demonstrate how pedestrians, cyclists and drivers should act on city streets.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Speeding Driver Slams Into Car, Sending Six to Hospital in Downtown New Haven

Our sympathies go out to the victims of this horrible crash.

Police blocked off downtown streets at rush hour after an SUV driver fleeing the cops crashed into another car, sending six people to the hospital. The driver sped west on Crown Street. He crashed into a Hyundai driven by a Lombard Street man. A passenger was in the car, too. The SUV flipped over. The Hyundai (top photo) was totaled, landing on the sidewalk.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Portland Traffic Fatalities Drop to Lowest Level Since 1925

A very interesting discussion of the factors that might be behind the city's record-low injury rate. Is the national decline in vehicular traffic - even in New Haven - the real cause? 15 fatalities and 5 pedestrian deaths were recorded in Portland in 2008.

How much credit does mayor deserve for 2008's historic drop in Portland road deaths?, The Oregonian Blog, 4/2/09

Savvy politics. But one has to wonder if his staff bothered briefing him on this simple fact about modern commuting: People are driving less -- and, thus, dying less -- almost everywhere in the U.S.

Adams' statement on Portland's fatality numbers didn't mention any of those things. It didn't mention that TriMet ridership was up 2.3 percent. Last year's hand-count of bicycle commuters by PBOT found a 15 percent increase on city bridges and 32 percent at 60 intersections in 2008. Again, not mentioned.

The mayor reminded residents that he promised saving lives and reducing injuries would be his first priority when he took over as the Bureau of Transportation commissioner in 2005. For example, he said, after several "right hook" bicycle fatalities in 2007, where vehicles turned right and collided with bicycles, Adams said his office spearheaded the installation of green "bike boxes" at 14 dangerous intersections.

"Even one death or injury is too much," Adams said, "but our increased safety means
that fewer families had to cope with the terrible tragedy that traffic fatalities bring, and that our neighborhoods are becoming more livable."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April NHSS Coalition Newsletter Posted

Please see http://www.livablestreets.com/projects/new-haven-safe-streets-coalition/safe-streets-update-040109 for a complete update from the Safe Streets Coalition, including a list of upcoming events and coverage of statewide lobbying efforts.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

City Encourages Celebration of National Walk to Work Day: Friday 4/3

Mayor DeStefano Urges City Employees to Celebrate National Walk to Work Day, this Friday, April 3

Mayor DeStefano, the Health Department and the Transportation, Traffic and Parking Department will kick-off the Spring Street Smarts Campaign at a National Walk to Work event this Friday at 8 a.m. at the intersections of Court Street and Olive Street, and Court Street and State Street in Downtown. At this event, residents will have the opportunity to sign up for the City’s Street Smarts program, receive useful tips on becoming safer pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Also at this event, the City will unveil ten of the twenty new in-road pedestrian signs that will be installed throughout New Haven over the course of the next several weeks.

On National Walk to Work Day employees are encouraged to walk for all or part of their commute to work and to aim for a minimum 15 minute walk each way. If you take public transportation, try walking to a further stop before boarding, or getting off a stop early and walking the rest of the distance to work. If an employee’s commute is too long, they can make it a Walk to Lunch Day.

Walking for 30-60 minutes a day greatly reduces risks of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. By finding a way to make walking part of each day, experts say, you are giving yourself proven health benefits far beyond any promised by herbs, vitamins, or prescription drugs.

New Haven has the highest percentage of residents who walk to work of any large city in New England. In fact, less than half of all New Haveners take a single-occupant vehicle to work and Prevention Magazine ranks New Haven as a Top 20 "Best Walking City".

As always, employees are encouraged to practice Street Smarts. Street Smarts go beyond simply obeying the traffic regulations or driving below the speed limit. Street Smarts call for attentiveness at all times; patience with others and a willingness to share the road.

National Walk to Work Day is endorsed by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the American Podiatric Medical Association.

(text from city announcement)