Smiles are contagious
by Sophia Pink
“Even if I change one persons outlook on the day ahead…”
I’m not even sure you need poster-board and a sharpie to help bring smiles to your community. A simple wave, saying ‘hello’, or friendly eye contact is all that is needed sometimes.
What has a stranger done to put a smile your face?
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of writers previously published here or any of the organizations, committees, commissions or other affiliation the authors may belong to, unless so stated.
Thank you, support for all things MyWHaT is appreciated.
Oh, why not…
And…the heart turns to mush.
Reminder: Before commenting, please read the comments policy. If you feel you need to rant against the world while raising enumerable tangential issues to personally attack individuals or organizations, consider creating your own blog and tracking back to MyWHaT. If it is of value, you will attract readers. Or, send me a message with all the rants you wish; I’m a connoisseur of ranting. Otherwise, please contribute to a healthy, friendly discussion in the comments section below.
PSA series to be unveiled at Green Drinks
The first MyWHaT/Stonehut Studios Collaboration!
This is PSA#1 of two public service announcements in support of inclusive systems and the practice of complete streets. This 30 second piece and the one minute follow-up will be unveiled Thursday night at the InsideOut Gallery, a MyWHaT underwriter. Come celebrate and connect. I would love to meet some readers I’ve yet to meet.
Thursday, October 18th
5-7 pm at InsideOut Gallery
$1.00 off beer and wine 20% off mixed drinks
The PSA’s to be shown were created in coordination with the Connected Communities | Complete Streets work taking place in the community through the leadership of TART Trails, LIAA, and the Grand Vision Transportation Network.
Thank you Aaron Dennis (right), I think this is the beginning of a beautiful connection. Sorry for the early mornings.
And, if I may, Aaron’s first feature-length documentary The People and The Olive will be screened this Sunday, October 21 at the Milliken Auditorium in conjunction with the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference. The latter runs from Friday to Sunday. Neither of them should be missed, details through the links.
Reminder: Please read the comments policy if you haven’t done so already. If you feel you need to rant against the world and raise numerous tangential issues while personally attacking individuals or organizations, consider creating your own blog and tracking back to MyWHaT. If it is of value, you will attract readers. Or, send me a message with all the rants you wish. Otherwise, healthy, friendly discussion is fully encouraged.
UPDATE 8:41AM: Headline change
Yesterday, I noticed @MDOT_Traverse posted some multimodal advice:
Reminded me–there’s a Youtube video for the walk and text in all of us.
The consideration of those around you is always the issue, regardless of who you are and what mode you are in. Of course, there is only one mode in the driving, walking, and biking (LMB) mix that threatens people’s safety daily and kills to the tune of over 1.3 million globally per year (WHO).
Of course, why worry about deaths across the globe when you can worry about
your own a star of Glee.
Have a very nice Wednesday–texting, tweeting, or whatever it is you’re doing.
What say you? Is texting while walking dangerous?
Go people, go!
Traverse City’s dog park has been going, as one observer called it, “bonzai!” since it opened last month. We knew the dogs would love it–they love pretty much anything–but the people have really been enjoying it.
I was there two weeks ago and counted 14 dogs and about 30 people. Others have observed similar numbers. After that, I started calling it the off-leash people park.
As the Record Eagle opined: “It’s hard to tell who likes Traverse City’s new dog park more — the dogs or their owners.”
It is about the people.
As expected with concentrations of people, the connections have started to take place. I’ve heard of at least two people finding work connections, have seen old friends reunited, and it is almost impossible to visit the park and not talk to a stranger. Great stuff!
As one of the volunteers working on the park, I’m curious in people’s first impressions and the connections made. Whether you’ve been to the park or not, please provide some feedback here:
To close, another playful 18 seconds at the unofficially named Wags West dog park.
A reader asks:
“Hey, my kids want to know if those cross-walk buttons do anything. So, do they?”
No, not really. The buttons are there to give you something to do while people with real purpose, and thus in a proper transportation machine with an engine and a big-gulp between their legs, are allowed to go about their day as un-encumbered as possible. There is no value in continuing to push the button other than to feel like you are doing something.
Longer, less snarky, response:
Most, if not all, of the pedestrian signals in Traverse City simply alert the computer that a person un-encumbered by a car is waiting to cross the street and instead of remaining “red” through the next light cycle will show the little green guy for an allotted time. I’m not aware of any “placebo buttons” found in other cities. The time of the cycle is generally calculated by a walking speed of 3.5 ft per second (lowered from the previous 4 ft/second). There is some discussion among wonks that a more universal, and slower, speed of 3 ft second needs to be instituted more regularly. This would accommodate older people who average 3 ft/sec or lower.
Recently, MDOT and the County Road Commission have begun using countdown signals around town. These are a welcome improvement as they reduce the anxiety of previous lights that flashed green to go and then started the strobe warning light for the rest of the cycle. These flashing “don’t walk” signals often send pedestrians back to their starting point or cause them to finish the crossing in a nervous jog. Note to people on foot: You have the right to cross the street at your own pace, lights be damned! People in cars can wait an extra second.
Other than downtown and around schools, pedestrian signals in Traverse City do require a button to be pushed to actuate the light. To continue answering the original question, pushing the signal does not typically alter the sequence of the main traffic signal. It simply ensures that the pedestrian light will turn-on and that a walk phase will be used, which might lengthen the entire cycle at the intersection.
As a community becomes more walk focused, new pedestrian lights may include “leading pedestrian intervals” that when actuated give the people crossing on foot a green light several seconds before the people in cars at the same intersection. This not only helps the driver be more aware of people crossing the street, it improves the appeal of walking in otherwise uncomfortable situations.
A local example where a leading pedestrian interval might have a huge dividend is at Division St. and Grandview Parkway. This is an intersection with a lot of conflict points and, as a result, a lot of stressed out people. Crossing Grandview from south to north would be greatly improved with a leading pedestrian interval light.
For more about the leading pedestrian interval light or delayed vehicle green, the following StreetFilms Video is recommended.
Do pedestrian signals do anything? Yes, some things. For one, in many places, as a person on foot they may not give you a priority light cycle, but they do give you a light cycle…and, that is certainly faster than never.
Have any other questions? Send them in.
- A History of Pedestrian Signal Walking Speed Assumptions (PDF)
- Timed Crosswalks too Fast for the Elderly (US News)
- All About Pedestrian and Traffic Signals (Alexandria.gov)
- Leading Pedestrian Intervals (PedSafe)
- Many Crosswalk Signal Buttons Don’t Do Anything Anymore (todayifoundout.com)
UPDATED: 11AM to add a note of caution.
The results from the MyWHaT straw-poll are in!
In response to the question concerning the Division St./parkland ballot initiative – “if the election was today, how would you vote?”– MyWHaT readers pass the initiative 65% to 35%.*
Myself? I’m prepared to err on the side of yes. There are concerns about process, shortsightedness, narrow scope, lack of political will to declare a shared vision with teeth, pandering, alienation of key constituents, a lack of trust…faith…fortitude…abilities, and that it will unleash an army of zombies upon the city. Still, as of today, I’d vote yes.
In a future post, I may elaborate on some of these concerns, but for now, I’m content understanding that a majority–regardless of mode choice, simply want better access and improved quality of life throughout the community–Division St. included
[8-24, 10:30AM: Video removed by request]
* An online poll, on a niche blog, comes with a very large burlap bag of salt. Beer induced estimates put the accuracy for the greater community at a ± 10% to ± 30%. Meaning, at this moment, the ballot has a fifty-fifty chance of passing.
The science experiment
“You can not be too cautious when dealing with a rubber turtle.”
- 94% of drivers show no obvious response to rubber creatures placed on the side of the road.
- 6% lead us to believe that they are assholes, or at least have major issues concerning rubber turtles, snakes, or spiders.
Personally, I flinched when the turtle even got buzzed.
Have a weekend!
Commendable and obvious goal, when put in the right perspective. Good work MDOT.
How does it happen? Education, enforcement, and good design are critical. Not just on highways, but on all of our streets. Focusing on safety for all modes. The goal everywhere should mimic the City of Chicago, which has embraced the zero deaths objective (Atlantic Cities) as well, clearly stating:
Eliminate all pedestrian, bicycle, and overall traffic crash fatalities within 10 years.
Unfortunately, locally our enforcement is all too forgiving. It is widely known that in the City 10-15-mph over the speed limit is not likely to be ticketed. Speed, put bluntly, kills and keeps people from expressing their right to public rights of way.
In today’s Record Eagle the area’s first speed camera is introduced. It is a feedback radar sign that displays the driver’s speed as they pass, but if they are over 15-mph over the speed limit it will snap a photo of the driver. Only over 15-mph–thank god safety comes first! (Note: the photos will not be used for anything anyway).
The leader in zero death policy is Sweden’s Vision Zero Initiative.
Have a weekend–stay alive.