The Trust for America's Health just released a report today noting that Tennessee is the second most obese state in the nation, tied with Alabama (with 31.6% of adults obese). Only Mississippi tops us with 33.8% obesity. Obesity rates here have increased for the past three years. Colorado is leanest at 19.1% obesity.
Needless to say, it's well known that obesity causes a myriad of health problems. There is good news though, in that people are now actively trying to do something about it. Even though exercise is not a weight-loss panacea, it is still healthier to be active than inactive.
If sufficient resources were made available to improve conditions throughout the state to make biking/walking to work, school, running errands, and so forth a realistic option for the majority of the population, imagine the improved health of the state, not to mention the savings in health-care costs! There may even be a net savings in time, when one factors in the time spent parking, and time that otherwise would be needed to go to the gym to get an equivalent level of fitness.
Vancouver adds a separated Bike Line and see a TEN fold increase in cycling verses the previous design that has cyclists riding the more common style that put cyclists IN motorized traffic. The separated lane goes a LONG way to eliminate cars and trucks parking or weaving into the bike lane and requires about the same space as running two "in traffic" lanes on either side of the road.
Want to read more? Click here.
Below are a few images depicting rumbles applied just to be doing something.
The first two are SR 274, Old Railroad Bed Road north or Coldwater Creek, TN. The first shows the curves and hills. The second shows rumbles applied next to a guardrail. This goes on for over a mile.
The third image shows rumbles on US 31 North of Chapel Hill, TN. All these are fairly recent. I don't think they are the latest bike friendly version but they do start at and follow the white line. The older version had the rumbles in the middle of and wandering all over the shoulder. So some progress but should these be done at all? They certainly do not fit the AASHTO guidelines.
But to keep things in perspective, Check out the last image, taken yesterday near Athens, GA. This is the standard in our neighboring states. Last photo courtesy of Bob Schofield, http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=RrzKj&page_id=125735&v=KN
After reading today how the proposed I-475 second Knoxville by-pass has been cancelled, one can't but help wonder about the economics or lack thereof involved. For those not familiar with the now cancelled project, back in the 1990s (talk about time passing quickly!) there were three proposals for a new interstate going from west Knox county past Oak Ridge to north Knox County. The idea was that the main interstate through town (I-40/I-75) was getting too crowded, and that through traffic should bypass Knoxville. One can read about the details at knoxnews.com. Anyway, the price tag for the project now runs around $1 Billion, money which we might not have. Part of the reason why the project was cancelled was that it was felt it wouldn't really relieve I-40/I-75 traffic based on new projections.
Doing some rough number crunching, I find it interesting how if hypothetically we spent $1 billion on sidewalks and bike lanes here in Knox County we would probably have a cycling and walking paradise. Here's the math - divide 1 billion into $500,000/mi for completed streets, and we'll have 2000mi of completed streets. We might not have that many streets in the entire county. Now, imagine if Knoxville/Knox County were truly a cycling and walking paradise. Would we still have the congestion along I-40/I-75?
The largest and most diverse conference on bicycle promotion in history is now taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark. With speakers from New York City's Janette Sadik Kahn to India's Vandana Shiva, the conference is packed with ideas and inspiration from 5 continents. If you're interested to hear what the plenary speakers at Velo-City Global have to say, you can follow the conference live at Community Powered Cycling.
It is good to see that the Federal Highway Administration has released "The National Biking and Walking Study: a 15-year Status Report." This study, by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, discusses trends and outcomes in bicycling and walking since 1994. I think the news is pretty good.
First and foremost, Americans are hitting the sidewalks and streets on foot and by pedal in record numbers. From 1990 to 2009, the number of trips taken on foot more than doubled from 18 billion to 42.5 billion. Similarly, the number of bike trips increased from 1.7 billion to 4 billion. The link to the complete study is here http://drusilla.hsrc.unc.edu/cms/downloads/15-year_report.pdf and I highly recommend sharing it with others. This is rich proof of the trend toward more active living and the need for investment in safer multi-modal transportation facilities.
On a second and less pleasant note in our region's Regional Transportation Planning meeting this week a TDOT planner discussed how much less is going to be available for highway improvements and bike/ped facilities in the coming year and following.
Dear folks at Bike/Walk Tennessee,
. .We are two artists who have sold all our belongings to explore the US by bicycle. We are currently in Nashville and are doing a presentation at Nashville Bicycle Lounge on the 26th. We're hoping you can help promote it.
. . Russ was an active bicycle advocate in Long Beach, CA. Along our journeys we've been visiting different bicycle communities to see what other parts of the country are doing. We've been to cities with vibrant communities like Austin, Portland and Eugene to cities that are just developing like Fort Worth, Denton, Shreveport and Jackson, MS. It has offered us an interesting perspective in what it takes for cities to be bike friendly.
. . Anyway, we hope you can attend and if not, please spread the word!
As Bike Walk Tennessee reviews future campaigns to improve bicycling safety, public service announcements (PSA) on the Community Access Channel is one easy way to reach the public. Several good videos are available, why not air them all across the State. That was our idea! The Bicycle Coalition of Maine thought it was a good idea.
They have produced two bicycle safety PSAs that will air on Maine television stations during the spring and summer. The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety provided about $16,000 for production costs and purchase of airtime.
One ad educates motorists about the Maine law requiring them to give at least three feet of clearance when passing cyclists. The other ad stresses the importance of cyclists wearing bicycle helmets. The PSAs appear on WCSH6 throughout the month of May. In addition to the purchased airtime, the station donated airtime valued at $4,200 for additional spots on WCSH6 and WLBZ2 in Bangor later in the summer.
The concept is to create an environment where drivers know that bikes belong on the roads and at the same time ensure that cyclists follow basic safety rules.
Bicycling and walking are forms or low impact transportation and enjoyable types of exercise and recreation. They provide alternatives to motorized travel, provided that facilities and programs are in place to encourage and safely accommodate a diverse public.
Land use and transportation planning is key to establishing quality multi-modal service and to affording choices in transportation to community members. Thorough planning enables a community to become proactive rather than reactive in addressing concerns about bicyclist access, mobility, safety, and aesthetics. In the end, this can save time, money, and lives. Nationwide, communities are realizing they cannot build their way out of congestion. They must look to other solutions, such as transit, carpooling and bicycling. A healthy transportation system provides safe, convenient choices. Improving bicycling conditions provides alternatives for the increasing numbers of citizens who can’t afford, don’t want to or are physically unable to drive motor vehicles. The 5E’s to becoming Bicycle Friendly
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission was started in 1967 to promote traffic safety through educational campaigns, law enforcement support and roadway engineering solutions. The Commission is a small state agency with 19 employees and a yearly budget of $15 million. Most of the funding is provided by the United States Department of Transportation through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This funding is largely dispensed in the form of grants to law enforcement, other state and local government agencies, and non-profits who partner with the Commission to promote traffic safety through education, enforcement, and engineering solutions.
The goal of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission is to prevent fatal and serious injury collisions on Washington roadways. To achieve this goal, the Commission conducts and supports impaired driving programs such as the Drive Hammered-Get Nailed campaign, occupant protection programs such as Click It or Ticket, speed reduction programs, and pedestrian, bicycle, and motorcycle programs.
Other public safety campaigns that the Traffic Safety Commission supports include:
Promoting booster seat and child car seat use; Combating distracted driving; Working with local communities to provide safety improvements on roadways with high crash rates; Increasing the knowledge of Intermediate Drivers' License (IDL) rules for teen drivers and their parents; Reducing speeding in school and playground zones; Improving training accessibility for commissioned law enforcement. More on this on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/texttalkticket
On May 24th 2010, the Mayor and Alderman voted 5-0 to approved the first step in creating an attractive and safe US Hwy 72.Instead of an 84-foot slab of asphalt the Town of Collierville’s proposed design for the widening of US Hwy 72 includes landscape medians, bicycle lanes and completed sidewalks. This design is safer than the TDOT design, will improve the aesthetics of the Town of Collierville, continue to foster Collierville’s small town community feel and has the ability to transform that area of town.
Bike Walk Tennessee (BWT) was notified of the road widening construction project by their friends at TDOT. BWT posted the Town’s proposed design on its website and formed an informal coalition with the Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club (MHBC) and Livable Memphis to push for this project.
Letters from BWT, MHBC and Mark M. Hicks supporting the project were included in the public record when the motion was made on May 24th. Also, in the week prior to the vote the Mayor and Alderman received numerous emails supporting the project. The supporting emails were the result of asking 1,300 area bicyclists to write the email. MHBC’s email address book supplied the names.
The vote on May 24th was a key vote as they authorized $ 42k to be spent on the project and it was the first official vote on the project. Several business owners had objected to the landscape medians as it would restrict left hand turns into their business. Reducing left hand turns makes roadways safer for motorcyclists, walkers, runners, bicyclists and motorists.
Back from Johnson City commission meeting and they voted unanimously in favor of agreeing with the rail road for sale of the property. There is a little tidying up on the sale contract language but for all intents and purposes WE HAVE A TRAIL!!!
It’s a great day. Since the Depot is a trail head for the Tweetsie I’m sure I will be working closely in its development. There is a lot of excitement and energy from the public and harnessing it will be next. The rail road has up to two years to salvage tracks and they’ve agreed to level it and clear all debris before leaving. An engineering design/study is next and we have to come up with a management plan. Lots to do but at least it is happening.
This bears witness to how Bike WalkTN’s support of a campaign (even regionally) can have a great effect.
Good news- I spoke with TDOS today and the revised driver's license manuals with the 'Share the Road' section are currently at the print shop. They should be printed and released in approx. 2 to three months. A test question is being prepared to be added after the new comprehensive manual is released.
Also- TDOS operates a motor vehicle network displayed on big-screens in the regional driver service stations. The network features safety messages targeted towards drivers and, as of April, they now have a '3 foot rule' spot AND a Share the Road spot playing on the network! Unfortunately these can only be viewed at the driver service stations so there's no link for me to forward to you, but I was able to view it at the station over on Hart Lane near my house. Very cool!
Our TDEC Council on Greenways and Trails http://tn.gov/environment/boards/gt/has been awarded the 2010 National Recreational Trails Outstanding State Recreational Advisory Committee award by the Coalition for Recreational Trails and the American Recreation Coalition. As chair of its Development Committee it is good to know that Tennessee has again moved forward in our hopes of making the state a healthier place to live. By promoting safe venues for biking and walking, increased attention in transportation planning to bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and a more active lifestyle in Tennessee the Council works with local and state leaders and planners and with non-profits to educate, fund bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and encourage advocacy on the state and local level. Click here to view application.
Being connected with the council gives Bike Walk Tennessee close associative contacts with legislators, local and regional governmental leaders and groups, major players such as TDOT, TVA, and Corps of Engineers. This network allows us to spread the word about our goals and and provide informative materials to the public. It’s a good day for Tennessee.
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