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CENTERLINES MERGES WITH THE PBIC MESSENGER
-> The Project for Public Spaces and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) at the University of North Carolina are pleased to announce that CenterLines will merge with the PBIC Messenger e-newsletter to create the next generation of the PBIC Messenger. PBIC will begin distributing this free monthly e-newsletter in late May. CenterLines editor for over 10 years, Linda Tracy, will become the editor of the PBIC Messenger published by PBIC, beginning in May. See more details via PBIC: https://bit.ly/2y87VGG or PPS: https://bit.ly/3f4e8Ej

As a current CenterLines subscriber, instructions on how to continue receiving this newly merged publication will be coming to you via email in the next few days. However, if you would like to ensure you don't miss a beat, you can subscribe to the PBIC Messenger now: https://bit.ly/3bR6meQ. Please send news for future issues to Linda Tracy: linda@PBICMessenger.org

TRAFFIC AIR POLLUTION MAY BE 'KEY CONTRIBUTOR' TO COVID-19 DEATHS
-> The Guardian reported that high levels of air pollution may be "one of the most important contributors" to deaths from Covid-19, according to research published in Science of the Total Environment. (Assessing Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Levels as a Contributing Factor to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fatality: https://bit.ly/3aGHCog) The analysis shows that of the coronavirus deaths across 66 administrative regions in Italy, Spain, France and Germany, 78% of them occurred in just five regions, and these were the most polluted. The research examined levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced mostly by diesel vehicles, and weather conditions that can prevent dirty air from dispersing away from a city. A separate study published by Harvard University looked at fine particle pollution in the US and found that even small increases in levels in the years before the pandemic were associated with far higher Covid-19 death rates. (Exposure to Air Pollution and COVID-19 Mortality in the United States: A Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study: https://bit.ly/2yYd9Vl) Widespread lockdowns around the world have led to reduced vehicle traffic and air pollution. However, long-term exposure to dirty air before the pandemic may be more important than current levels of pollution. https://bit.ly/35gJ53F

THE PANDEMIC SHOWS WHAT CARS HAVE DONE TO CITIES
-> The Atlantic reported the pandemic the lockdown has shown us just how much room American cities devote to cars. When relatively few drivers ply an enormous street network, while pedestrians nervously avoid one another on the sidewalks, they are showing in vivid relief the spatial mismatch that exists in urban centers from coast to coast--but especially in New York. Why should the system that is moving so many more people be given so much less room? The status quo became untenable when a pandemic required six feet of social distancing between people--a distance wider than many cities' sidewalks. https://bit.ly/2yQOiCY

MILAN, ITALY PLANS POST LOCKDOWN CAR RESTRICTIONS
-> The Washington Post reported that Milan, Italy had been on track to become one of the most polluted cities in Europe. The shutdown caused the number of cars on the road to plummet, and the smog hanging over the city all but disappeared, allowing for a clear view of the Alps. Milan now hopes that it can keep emissions low as people go back to work. As part of the "Strade Aperte" plan announced this week, roughly 22 miles of streets in the nine-mile-long city will be transformed, with widened sidewalks and bike lanes taking up space once used by cars. To discourage driving, the city plans to lower speed limits and give bicyclists and walkers priority on selected streets. https://wapo.st/3f0OQqE

BERLIN, GERMANY: POP-UP BIKE LANES MEET COVID-19 CYCLING DEMAND
-> ABC News reported authorities in Berlin, Germany are setting up miles of pop-up bicycle lanes to meet demand for safe cycling and physical distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, angering some motorists over the conversion of parking to bike lanes. While these bike lanes would have been implemented in the long term, the outbreak appears to have encouraged the city's administration to slice through reams of bureaucratic red tape that would normally have delayed the process by years. https://abcn.ws/35jSVBB

OR DROPS USE OF 85TH PERCENTILE FOR SPEED LIMITS, ADOPTS NEW RULES
-> BikePortland.org reported on May 1st, traffic engineers in OR will no longer rely on an outdated and dangerous method for setting speed limits. Thanks to new rules adopted by the OR Transportation Commission last month (https://bit.ly/2WndcT1, https://bit.ly/2YfI5ez), the process for designating speeds has changed dramatically and now goes way beyond the traditional 85 percentile method, which said limits should be set at or under the speed at which 85% of drivers are currently driving.

The new rule, which applies to all public roads except interstate freeways, adds many new factors into the decision-making process. When setting speeds, engineers will now have statutory guidance to consider dense urban contexts, presence of foot and bicycle traffic, demographics of road users, crash rate, public input, and other new factors. The adopted rule also introduces a fiftieth percentile rule along with new functional street classifications such as "urban mix," "urban core," and "suburban fringe" that allow engineers to further tune their analysis. It has also codified a list of recommend speeds for those new classifications. https://bit.ly/3cVKMG8

US CITIES DISABLE PED BEG BUTTONS, AUTOMATE WALK CYCLE DUE TO COVID-19
-> The Boston Globe reported Brookline and Cambridge, MA are posting signs around each of their communities advising people not to push pedestrian buttons at crosswalks in an effort to limit the number of surfaces residents must touch when walking around amid the coronavirus outbreak. Both municipalities say they are changing the way pedestrian signals work so that pressing the button is no longer needed to get the light to change. The lights will run on timed cycles that will automatically allow people to cross the street at regular intervals. https://bit.ly/3d0ZziG

NEW HIGHWAY CAPACITY MANUAL: A GUIDE FOR MULTIMODAL MOBILITY ANALYSIS
-> The Transportation Research Board released the Highway Capacity Manual, Sixth Edition: A Guide for Multimodal Mobility Analysis (HCM, https://bit.ly/2Yf2Tmd) This manual provides methods for quantifying highway capacity, and is a fundamental reference on concepts, performance measures, and analysis techniques for evaluating the multimodal operation of streets, highways, freeways, and off-street pathways. The Sixth Edition incorporates the latest research on highway capacity, quality of service, Active Traffic and Demand Management, and travel time reliability and improves the HCM's chapter outlines. The HCM considers four dimensions of transportation: 1) Quantity of travel, the magnitude of use of a transportation facility or service; 2) Quality of travel, users' perceptions of travel on a transportation facility or service with respect to their expectations; 3) Accessibility, the ease with which travelers can engage in desired activities; and 4) Capacity, the ability of a transportation facility or service to meet the quantity of travel demanded of it.

GAO REPORT: NHTSA, PED SAFETY & NEW CAR ASSESSMENT
-> Jalopnik reported pedestrians are dying on American roads in greater numbers every year, and government regulators aren't doing enough to stop it, according to a new report on pedestrian safety from the Government Accountability Office. (Pedestrian Safety: NHTSA Needs to Decide Whether to Include Pedestrian Safety Tests in Its New Car Assessment Program: https://bit.ly/2yOk2sp) Actions NHTSA could take--but doesn't--include crash testing for pedestrian safety and requiring automakers to design bumpers and hoods to absorb pedestrian impacts. Bumper and hood absorption might also be a moot point, however, as your average-sized human being won't be able to clear the grill of some of the largest trucks and SUVs on the road. https://bit.ly/2KHTv2F

SHOULD CITIES HELP SAVE E-SCOOTERS?
-> CityLab reported e-scooter operators like Bird, Lime, Jump, and Spin were confronting financial headwinds even before Covid-19 drastically reduced urban trips worldwide and have yanked their fleets off the street in may cities. Dockless micromobility's biggest uncertainty is no longer the extent to which cities will accommodate a new form factor, but whether shared scooters will still be available when we emerge from the current pandemic. The time has come for local officials to consider an idea that would have seemed anathema two months ago: Should they stop imposing fees on e-scooter operators and start subsidizing them? https://bit.ly/3cWyUDS

CALL FOR EMOTIONAL MESSAGING TO PROMOTE WALKING & CYCLING TO SCHOOL
-> A province-wide coalition of school programs that promotes walking and cycling to school in Ontario, Canada seeks good examples of emotion-rich messages that promote walking and cycling to school directed at students' parents that are not judgmental, fear based or otherwise heavy-handed. The coalition is looking for messages for parents who currently drive their children to school most of the time and might be described as being at the Pre-Contemplation and Contemplation stages of change (according to Stages of Change Theory.) Please include any evidence of effectiveness (e.g. through message pre-testing or program evaluation). Jay Kassirer at Tools of Change will compile answers and share the compilation with all who contribute to it: kassirer@cullbridge.com