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Monday, December 19, 2011

Walking to "outpace" the grim reaper

Vitals On MSNBC.COM is reporting that Australian researchers have found that older folks who walked at a pace of 3 mph or faster tended to stay alive over a given period of time, versus folks who walked at a slower pace. Thus, 3 mph is considered the pace at which one outruns the grim reaper. Interestingly, 3 mph is a typical pedestrian walking speed at which transportation planning is done. Having communities in which it's feasible to walk to work, school, and various other destinations makes it that much easier to be and stay active for all people. And staying active makes it that much easier to have that 3+ mph pace even as one ages, not to mention maintaining one's independence.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Knoxville Fifth Annual Tour de Lights

The Knoxville Regional Transportation Organization is having the fifth annual Tour de Lights holiday ride tonight, December 15, 2011. This fun ride starts and ends at Market Square downtown, and travels at a leisurely 8 mph or so through several local neighborhoods, for a distance of a few miles. Riders are encouraged to decorate their bikes for the holiday season. In the past, there have been between 200-400 or so participants. Being one of several large group rides put on each year, the Tour de Lights is nevertheless unique in being the ride that takes place at night. It provides a great way to showcase cycling to the community, and to show people that it can easily be done.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SRTS Network in Tennessee Terminates

Over the past two years, Safe Routes to School Network in Tennessee has been funded through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That contract ended December 14th, 2011. For that reason, the Tennessee crew has decided to join forces with the Tennessee Obesity Task Force (TOT). They are very excited about the potential to continue to advance the work the network has begun through the shared experiences and resources of the Tennessee Obesity Task Force. In the near future, The Safe Routes to School Network will have a direct link from the TOT website , and an email address through TOT. Until then the state SRTS network’s temporary email address is . The National Partnership’s website will continue and updates for the state of Tennessee can still be found there.

Click on these links for more information (Fact Sheet) about the network, best practices, and its final report

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Better Medicine - 10 Reasons to Keep Fit as You Age

Better Medicine lists 10 Reasons to Keep Fit as You Age. They are
  1. Increasing bone density and limiting osteoporosis
  2. Helping one stay independent
  3. Increasing metabolism
  4. Reducing the risk of falls
  5. Making one more flexible
  6. Gives one a reason to be more sociable
  7. Improves one's mood,
  8. and finally helps one's body.
  9. (#8-#10 are benefits to one's lungs and heart, and the prevention and control of diabetes.)
Now, as they report, much physical activity has been engineered out of the everyday lives of people. It's gotten to a point where for many folks, activity has to be specifically scheduled into one's day. The last item that the article lists, namely parking further away from one's destination and walking, is a good idea. But wouldn't it be much more productive and fun if physical activity could be part of everyday life itself? Having an extensive complete streets network, where people may readily walk or bike to work and to run chores doing the same would go a long way toward achieving such.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

John Daugherty Case Closure

The Oak Ridge (link below) and Knoxville newspapers recently reported the outcome of the case regarding the tragic death of bicyclist John Daugherty in 2009. The three foot law played a critical role in the determination of charges against the motor vehicle's driver who killed John as he rode on the shoulder of the roadway. The driver entered a "no contest" guilty plea t0 criminal negligent homicide. He was sentenced to two years of probation with diversion and 200 hours of community service.

Bike Walk Tennessee board directors Mark Hicks and Jonell Johnson remained involved with the prosecuting Roane County District Attorney General Russell Johnson regarding the use of the three foot law in this case. They also expressed the concern of the bicycling community that similar previous incidences did not result in any criminal charges. Hopefully, this unfortunate case raises awareness of the consequences of distracted, inattentive driving behavior that results in injury or death.

The expanded “Due Care” law enacted July 1,2011 increases the penalties for distracted driving that results in injury or death of a person(s). Bike Walk Tennessee drafted the law and secured House and Senate legislative sponsors who shepherded the law through the General Assembly. Bike Walk Tennessee remains committed to creating legislation and promoting enforcement of laws that protects bicyclists and pedestrians who are using the public right of way.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Proposed Federal mandatory sidepath law

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) is reporting that S. 1813, the Senate draft transportation authorization bill, contains a mandatory sidepath law that would require cyclists to ride on sidepaths on federal land. The LAB article has much more information on why such is a terrible idea. But if you have non-cycling friends who are wondering why such proposals actually do not promote safety, here are a few reasons. First, the vast majority of car-bike crashes take place at intersections. Riding on a sidepath is dangerous for the same reasons sidewalk riding tends to be dangerous. Behavior at intersections is complicated by the presence of a sidepath. Car drivers do not typically look for same direction cyclists passing from the right, when making a right turn (right-hook conflict). Cyclists are also less visible to oncoming traffic, which may be planning to make a left (left-hook conflict). Second, many sidepaths are maintained well below the standards of main roads. Debris tends to accumulate, and cracks and potholes tend to accumulate to a larger degree before remedial action is undertaken. Finally, travel at higher speeds (say anything above 10 mph) is difficult to do safely when riding on even a well-maintained sidepath since there tends to be insufficient room to maneuver. None of these facts are obvious to a non-cyclist. The proposal seeks to get cyclists "out of the way" of car traffic, even traffic traveling at a modest 30 mph. In practice, passing cyclists is something that drivers routinely accomplish within a minute or two at most.

Nashville MPO Delays Award Announcement

Due to questions raised in the November BPAC review of the $2.5 Million that Nashville MPO is awarding for Bike/Ped projects, the MPO staff has requested additional information from applicants and TDOT regarding the grant process.  Considering the tight timeframe, the MPO has decided to push back the awards until January.  Our MPO Executive Board meets January 18th, which means they would likely make the award announcements that day or the next.