News Roundup: July 15, 2013

 Guerrilla lanes installed by Reasonably Polite Seattleites, before SDOT removal and replacement.

Guerrilla lanes installed by Reasonably Polite Seattleites, before SDOT removal and replacement.

Why Cyclists Get Hit (Bike Delaware)

In one of the best, most concise posts on bike safety in recent memory, Drew Knox sums up the reasons drivers hit cyclists, often even when the cyclist is very visible. Relating the story of the Invisible Gorilla, he notes that people can easily miss things when they don't expect to see them. “When people devote their attention to a particular area or aspect of their visual world, they tend not to notice unexpected objects, even when those unexpected objects are salient, potentially important, and appear right where they are looking.” The major message here is two-fold: one, that additional attention-draining things like phones (hands-free or not) can further narrow the focus of drivers and make them less likely to notice a bicyclist nearby, and two, that our built environment and the culture of cycling that we build in our cities can increase safety by turning bicycles from unusual, unexpected objects into common, everyday, predictable road users.

Defining Clear Standards for Transit-Oriented Development (Transport Politic)

The ever-thorough Yonah Freemark tackles the subject of how we quantify the various qualities of TOD, looking at a new tool created by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). Similar to the LEED scoring system, these new TOD standards seek to standardize our evaluation of new developments around transit, and whether they're achieving their goals of increased transit ridership and reduced car use, safe pedestrian and bicycle access, mixture of uses, density, etc. It's a welcome new tool, and Freemark's application of the scoring system to existing proposals seems to provide some valuable feedback on where projects are likely to succeed or fail, and in what ways.

An Effort to Gather the Best New Urban Policy Innovations in One Place (Atlantic Cities)

NYU's Wagner School of Public Service and the Center for an Urban Future have teamed up to put together a list of some of the most promising urban innovations taking place in cities around the world. As one of the report's lead authors notes, many of these urban innovations are multi-faceted, dependent upon coordination between municipal departments and/or non-profits. "The policies pair immigrant assistance with economic development or senior services with zoning and housing policy. What's plain to see is that innovation must happen across silos, it cannot be confined to traditional policy areas or approaches." In related news, Microsoft is joining the smart cities movement in a pretty big way, with the launch of a new initiative called CityNext. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with.

SDOT makes guerrilla-installed protected bike lane permanent (Seattle Bike Blog)

In local news, the "Reasonably Polite Seattleites" are vindicated in their guerrilla installation of some simple pylons, turning a bike lane into a protected bike lane: the city removed them shortly after their installation in April, but just announced that they'd gone back and made the change permanent. This is a model for municipal responsiveness and much more than many cities get. For that I grant them a non-refundable, non-redeemable Good Guy SDOT award. Congrats, guys!