EPA has school siting guidelines that include access to transit and biking, as well as walkability.
Connecting a school to a network of sidewalks, bike paths and other infrastructure encourages physical activity by making walking or biking safe and enjoyable. It is also important to provide walking and biking routes that do not bring children close to large roads, highways and other major pollution sources (for both health and safety concerns). Site size, location and design all play a role in determining whether walking or biking will be an option for students. Locations that provide access for students and staff via public transit will also reduce vehicle use as well as potentially promote increased physical activity in getting to the transit stops from both home and school.
More EPA Technical Assistance Opportunities
Through an EPA grant to the Project for Public Spaces under the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, Livability Solutions will be offering free technical assistance workshops to six to 12 communities around the country. This technical assistance will take the form of one- to two-day workshops utilizing livability tools such as a Community Image Survey (CIS) public engagement tool, a Walk Audit workshop, a Safe Routes to School workshop or a Design Mini-Charrette, among other community-focused analyses and exercises. Selected communities will also be linked to a network of other communities with similar goals and challenges. Each community team will be led by Livability Solutions coalition members.
The application deadline is Nov. 22, 2011. Visit the Livability Solutions technical assistance page for details and the application.
A webinar next week will cover four technical assistance programs under the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program program.
Streets for All Walkers and Wheelchair Users
Three weeks left for public comment on Accessibility Guidelines for Public Rights-of-Way. The US Access Board posted the proposed guidelines on its website these are available for public comment through November 23, 2011.
The guidelines will cover sidewalks, street crossings, medians and traffic islands, overpasses, underpasses and bridges, on-street parking, transit stops, toilet facilities, signs, and street furniture. They will apply to permanent as well as temporary facilities, such as temporary routes around work zones and portable toilets.
Issues related to particular disabilities and pedestrian safety are noted.
Wheelchair users usually have a lower eye height above the street than most adult pedestrians, and may be hidden from motorist view behind parked vehicles, plantings, or other visual obstacles. People may have vision, hearing, cognitive, or other considerations that must be considered within the public right-of-way.Please be aware that certain public comments will be allowed regarding the Access Board's Advance NPRM (notice of public rulemaking) for Shared Use Paths, announced on on March 28, 2011. Although comments were due June 27, 2011, these guidelines are in initial development stages. The proposed guidelines will consider differences between public right-of-way guidelines and recreational trail guidelines. More information is available in the FHWA's Pedestrian Forum newsletter.
Please note that a public hearing will be held in Washington, DC on Nov. 9 at the Access Board Meeting Room, 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800.
Template for Multi-Modal Street Networks
National Complete Streets Coalition
The coalition is recommending the Model Design Manual for Living Streets. Offered as a street-design template, the manual:
focuses on all users and all modes, seeking to achieve balanced street design that accommodates cars while ensuring that pedestrians, cyclists and transit users can travel safely and comfortably. This manual also incorporates features to make streets lively, beautiful, economically vibrant as well as environmentally sustainable.For more information about walkability best practices and places, visit the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center's walkinginfo.org website, which also houses information about the Walk-Friendly Communities Program. More walkability news and resources are available from America Walks and the Federal Highway Administration's pedestrian resources website.