West County Officials, Community Groups to Get 'Street Wise'
April 14, 2006
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A new partnership is conducting the first in a series of "traffic calming" workshops April 26 in San Pablo to stimulate dialogue in West Contra Costa County about creating communities that are more walkable, bikeable and accessible to people with disabilities.
"Traffic Calming for Pedestrians and Cyclists: The Physical Characteristics" will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 26 at La Strada Restaurant, 2215 Church Lane, San Pablo. The featured speakers are Michael Vecchio, a transportation specialist for the City of Walnut Creek, and Michelle DeRobertis, a senior transportation planner with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. The workshop is free and open to the public.
The new partnership is between the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) and the West Contra Costa Safe Communities Project is called Street WISE (Walking & biking Information and Strategy Exchange). Discussions last year between the three groups led CCHS to apply for a $55,000 program development grant for the project from the California Kids' Plates Fund.
"All three organizations have interest in promoting walkable and bikeable communities," said Nancy Baer, Manager of CCHS' Injury Prevention and Physical Activity Promotion Projects, who will staff Street WISE along with health educator Shannon Ladner-Beasley.
Street WISE is planned as a 20-month project that kicks off April 26 with the start of a quarterly workshop series. A total of five lunchtime workshops will be held featuring local and national field experts on the following topics: traffic calming for bicyclists and pedestrians; models for pedestrian and bicycle master planning; new and emerging codes and standards for walkability and bikeability; and successful approaches to working with residents. Some workshops will also include brief "walk audits," or live street observations to further illustrate session topics. The partnership also plans to develop a briefing paper and host an Elected Officials Forum. An electronic library of Smart Growth and walkability materials will also be collected and promoted.
"The idea is to make tools and best practices for pedestrian and bicycle planning and engineering more available to local governments in West County," said Baer. "We want to stimulate more dialogue between the community, elected leaders and planning professionals about emerging 'built environment' design principles - primarily as they apply to pedestrian and bicycle issues."
Accessibility for people with disabilities is closely related to the goal of walkability, Baer said, as communities are obliged to make spaces available to everyone per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Walkability also involves designing streets with a goal of preventing injuries and providing everyday opportunities for physical activity.
The California Kids' Plates Fund uses money from the purchase of vanity license plates with a heart, hand, plus sign or star to fund injury prevention projects statewide.
To register for the workshops or for more information about Street WISE or the West Contra Costa Safe Communities Project, contact Shannon Ladner-Beasley by email at sladner-beasley.@hsd.cccounty.us or phone at 925-313-6813.
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- Nancy Baer