SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
Efforts to shift school commutes away from single-rider trips to more sustainable modes of transportation, such as walking, bicycling, carpooling, and public transit are making a difference at 12 Sonoma County high schools.
“Since September 2017 the Safe Routes to School pilot program has seen measurable increases in active and alternative forms of transportation among students at participating high schools,” said Kelly Elder, Public Health Division manager at the Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS).
The two-year pilot program is coordinated by DHS and funded by the Caltrans’ Active Transportation Program, aims to increase physical activity among high school students and decrease greenhouse gas emissions related to vehicle trips.
The Department collaborated with the Center for Climate Protection to implement youth leadership trainings at 12 local high schools, while W-Trans, a traffic-engineering consultant, received funding to assess walking and biking infrastructure around the schools.
“Our team has gathered information on walking and bicycling to and from school, and we led walking audits in the spring to identify critical pedestrian and bike safety issues,” said Principal, W-Trans, Steve Weinberger.
Read more at https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/sonoma-county-high-schools-reduce-carbon-footprint-during-commute
Today’s report on those plans finds that regions have made progress in some areas, but not nearly enough to meet their goals:
1. Regions are not on track to meet their climate goals, not for 2020 or even for 2035.
2. Statewide, driving is increasing. The trend is going in the wrong direction — each of us is driving more, not less.
3. Not enough investment is going toward climate-friendly transportation — including walking, bicycling, and public transit — or affordable housing near jobs and transit.
4. Action is needed at every level of government — cities, counties, regions, and the state — to get on track.
“To reduce emissions, the most sustainable options need to be the most convenient,” said Ella Wise, State Policy Associate at ClimatePlan.
Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) released a new report finding that California regions are not on track to meet either their 2020 or 2035 climate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additional action from every level of government is required, including more investment in sustainable transportation and affordable homes near jobs and transit. The report can be downloaded here.
Each metropolitan region in the state has a plan, required by law, to reduce emissions by reducing the need to drive. However, the report finds that regions are failing to deliver on their plans. Part of regions’ failure is due to challenges beyond their control, such as limited state funding and local land use decisions. But regions continue to invest in highways, which results in more driving, not less.
Read more at https://www.climateplan.org/new_report_california_regions_falling_short_on_climate_driving_increases
Jake McKenzie and Teri Shore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
If we stay on track with city-centered growth and greenbelt protection, Sonoma County can usher in new era of thriving, affordable neighborhoods in cities and towns near jobs, schools and transit. If they stray, we could face a generation of scattered development on the urban edge and across the countryside that will cost us far more in public health, climate costs, congestion and loss of water and environmental quality, to say nothing of the natural beauty and the high quality of life that we love and enjoy in Sonoma County.
The tragic loss of homes in the October fires and the critical need for more affordable homes countywide is prompting a bold new look at how we revitalize our communities in Sonoma County. Greenbelt Alliance and our allies are looking forward, not backward, to meet the challenge of providing affordable homes to people who are vital to our communities and economy: teachers, doctors, restaurant cooks, winery and vineyard employees, young professionals and families and others. And we are convinced we can do this while ensuring the protection of our health and environment.
That is why we support investment in housing in our downtowns and existing neighborhoods to provide housing across the income spectrum while upholding environmental protections and longstanding growth policies. We reject recently published claims that we need to weaken environmental standards in order to recover and rebuild after last year’s fires.
To the contrary, our county has the chance to be on the cutting edge of creating a new generation of climate-friendly neighborhoods as we rebuild and invigorate new development.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/8599327-181/close-to-home-building-boldly
Martin Espinoza, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A bicycle commuter riding Tuesday along the Joe Rodota Trail was assaulted as he passed through a homeless camp on the popular bike and pedestrian path connecting Santa Rosa to Sebastopol.
Bill Petty, 42, was pedaling home when he said a group of eight to 10 people blocked his path. As he tried to walk his bike through the crowd, he said someone pulled on his shirt, an argument broke out and then a man punched him.
Petty said he suffered fractures just above his left eye and on his nose, which he had treated at the hospital.
“I didn’t even see the punch coming,” said Petty, a Roseland resident who for more than a year had been riding his bike every day to and from work on Auto Row on Corby Avenue.
He said he called out to the group as he approached on his bike but no one moved.
“They’re telling me that I should go around, I said, ‘I can’t go around because there’s tents on both sides of the trail,’” Petty said.
Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8337445-181/santa-rosa-bicycle-commuter-beaten
Angie Schmitt, STREETSBLOG USA
Almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed on American streets in 2016, an increase of nearly 50 percent since 2009.
The cause of the increase, however, has stumped some safety analysts. Groups like the Governors Highway Safety Association, for example, have advanced theories on “distracted walking,” without much evidence.
But a new study from a major group, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, points to real-world causes and practicable solutions. Using federal fatality and crash data, IIHS performed a regression analysis to examine “roadway, environmental, personal and vehicle factors” on pedestrian deaths between 2009 and 2016.
One of the key findings was that not only are crashes involving pedestrians increasing, they are becoming more deadly when they do occur. The share of pedestrian crashes that were fatal increased 29 percent during the study period. One culprit, according to the study, was SUV drivers.
Here’s what researchers found:
Read the article at https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/05/09/study-links-rise-of-suvs-to-the-pedestrian-safety-crisis/