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E-news for May 8, 2012
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APBP E-news | May 8, 2012

There's a lot going on in APBP-land this month. Watch your inbox on Wednesday, May 10, for a bonus news bulletin that gives you the rundown on news just for members--scholarships, awards, elections, member news, and the scoop on APBP's newest workshop.

In this edition:

  • ProWalk/ProBike®: Early Registration Deadline
  • Spotlight on: Better Blocks, Chicago
  • News Briefs
  • Opportunities and Deadlines
  • Training
  • Resources and reports
  • Member News

ProWalk/ProBike®: Early Registration Deadline Looms. Register on or before May 16 to get the best possible rate for everyone's favorite conference. APBP members save $95 on conference fees. NCBW is putting together one of the best programs ever. We want to see you in Long Beach!

Spotlight on: Better Blocks, a program of Chicago's Active Transportation Alliance
Cathy Cibor, Alta Planning + Design | Based on an interview with Tony Giron, Community Liaison, Active Transportation Alliance

Q: In short, what is the Better Blocks program?
A: Better Blocks offers free workshops to residents of specific Chicago neighborhoods on changing the built environment around them. The workshops empower groups of residents to make changes happen by providing support and connecting them with the right tools and resources. Better Blocks serves lower income neighborhoods with predominantly African-American and Latino residents. These neighborhoods tend to be underserved by city services and have less park space, fewer opportunities for being active, and higher rates of motor vehicle crashes.

Q: What is a typical workshop like?
A: First, the community liaisons talk with residents about their neighborhood and their experiences getting around. How do they get around? Where are they going? What are the challenges they are facing? Then the group goes out together to do a walkability assessment of the neighborhood. Do cars speed? Are the sidewalks in good shape? Is there crime? The community liaisons are there as technical assistants, but the workshop really provides a community-based approach to planning.

Q: What happens next?
A: Community liaisons take what they heard from the residents back to their staff planners who come up with low-cost, easy solutions based on the neighborhood's specific issues. They then go back to the residents for another workshop, the "call-to-action” step, to present the recommendations and to give the residents tools and resources for getting the improvements made. In one community, five residents met with their local Alderman at a neighbor's house to discuss the improvements they wanted to see. The Alderman committed to making the changes happen and went directly to CDOT, with funding from the Aldermanic Menu Budget, to request the improvements.

Q: What are the typical problems Better Blocks is helping people solve?
A: Common problems include damaged or missing sidewalk segments, high vehicle speeds, and crime more than anything. The community liaisons talk with residents about investing in their neighborhoods to reduce crime, how if their neighborhood looks nice and people are out, then crime is less likely. The Better Blocks community liaisons are now looking into more formal training on crime prevention techniques to address this major issue. As an example, the North Lawndale neighborhood on the west side of Chicago had an alleyway that provided an important connection to a train station, but the connection wasn't pleasant for walking. The residents wanted to make it more walk friendly, and now the alleyway has lighting, speed bumps to slow cut-through traffic, and a more attractive, permeable surface.

Q: Tony, any final thoughts or advice?
A: We consider a successful workshop to be one where residents take what they learn and are able to make a change because of it. We try to address simple, winnable problems, so people can feel empowered by the process. We are just starting to see change from workshops a year ago. It's great to see that change.

Learn more about Better Blocks at

News Briefs

> House and Senate Conference on Transportation Bill: Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed another extension of the current federal transportation bill which, along with MAP21, now goes to a Congressional Conference Committee. In the next few days, APBP will again call on members in the U.S. to stand up for continued funding to make communities more walkable and bicycle-friendly. Watch for an e-mail alert later this week.

> The FHWA has announced a National Online Dialogue on Improving Transportation Performance, May 21 to June 22. Transportation professionals at all levels are invited to discuss experiences and strategies for improving the safety, condition, and mobility of U.S. highways and connecting road networks. Register here. FHWA wants participants to share both accomplishments and lessons learned from using performance management principles to improve roads and highways. Christopher Douwes, FHWA Trails and Enhancements Program Manager, suggests, "You might want to consider how transportation and recreation infrastructure can be complementary and how trails can be integrated into the transportation system.”

> The long-awaited NTPP Report to Congress has been posted to the FHWA website; it summarizes Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program findings through fall 2010. If you didn't catch the NTPP webinar that APBP hosted on April 18, you missed a treat. Presenters from the pilot communities offered 90 minutes of details on program outcomes and lessons learned. We think it's so important that for a short time only, members can purchase the recording of this webinar for just $25 (enter promo code "May8Enews” when you check out).

> It's National Bike Month, and lots of people are celebrating. Visit the League of American Bicyclists to find events in your area, download resources, find commuter data and more; read the Bike League Blog for daily profiles from bicyclists across the nation on why they ride. Bike to School Day is May 9; CycloFemme, the International Day of Women's Bicycling is May 13th (also Mother's Day); Bike to Work Week is May 14-18; Bike to Work Day is May 18. Sign up for the National Bike Challenge, a new online initiative aiming to unite 50,000 bicyclists to ride 10 million miles this summer and demonstrate the collective power of bicyclists across the nation to build healthy communities and a healthy planet. Sign the People for Bikes pledge and learn more about three things you can do to experience better bicycling and bring more buddies to bicycling. Always wanted a quick tutorial to share about how to change a bicycle tire? Check this one out: 

> APBP figures prominently in the new 2011 Annual Report from the National Complete Streets Coalition. In the words of APBP Board member Philip Pugliese, "APBP … continue[s] to provide significant value through the workshop program.” APBP Board member Judi Wallace noted, "I agree and also think it noteworthy that the Complete Streets track at last fall's Professional Development Seminar was also mentioned several times in the report.”

Opportunities and Deadlines

May 11: Deadline for nominations for the Governors' Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Highway Safety Awards

May 25: Deadline to enter Saris' Bike Corral Photo contest; prize is a Saris bike corral. Details here:

June 15: Deadline for the next round of applications for the Walk Friendly Communities program. The program began accepting applications for this round on May 1. Interested communities are encouraged to visit to learn more about the program and review the community assessment tool.


May 16: APBP webinar "In-Street Bicycle Parking: What, When, Where and How Much?” 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. EDT; register here: ($50 for APBP members). Featuring Eric Anderson, lead author of Bicycle Parking Guidelines, 2nd Edition, plus case studies from Portland, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Register here.

May 22: CAN webinar "Lessons from the 2012 Oberstar SRTS Award Winners” 1:00 p.m. EDT; register here (free).

Resources and Reports

> In honor of National Bike Month, Operation Lifesaver is partnering with the League of American Bicyclists to share safety reminders for safe bicycling near train tracks. Last year, 773 people were killed or injured in the U.S. while illegally walking, bicycling, or playing on railroad tracks or property.

> The National Center for Safe Routes to School has prepared a new resource, Safety-based Prioritization of Schools for Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Projects: A Process for Transportation Professionals, that offers guidance to identify schools and specific locations that have the greatest need for pedestrian infrastructure improvements.

> Walk Score recently announced a new ranking of U.S. city transit systems based on residents' access to public transportation. New York, San Francisco, Boston and Washington D.C. are at the top of the list.

> A report released last month, "Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy,” demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade, and suggests that transportation preferences, especially among young people, are changing. Download the report here.

> Definitely worth a read: The blog, Where the Sidewalk Starts, posted this entry related to a new study from the Mineta Transportation Institute on women's participation in bicycle advisory committees in California: "Are Bike and Pedestrian Committees Boys Clubs?" (The MTI report is "An Examination of Women's Representation and Participation in Bicycle Advisory Committees in California.")

> TRB's Pedestrian Committee has designated "practice-ready papers” from the 2012 Annual Meeting ( This is a small subset of papers that the committee has deemed to be of most interest to practitioners looking to implement innovative ideas.

Send us your news!

Thanks to all who contributed, knowingly or unwittingly, to this bulletin: Cathy Cibor, Christopher Douwes, Kit Keller, Tony Hull, Jessica Roberts, Carol Steckbeck, Carolyn Szczepanski, John Wetmore, Gregg at Helmtops.


Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP)
PO Box 93 | Cedarburg, WI | 53012
262-375-6180 |