Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

From Franz Loewenherz, City of Bellevue Transportation Dept.

In 2016, road crashes resulted in 40,000 deaths and 4.6 million injuries in the United States. For young people under age 19, these collisions were the leading cause of death.

What if we could use technology to predict where vehicle collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists will occur, then take steps to prevent them? Would you want to help? Well, now you can.

This work is part of a multi-city, multi-organizational partnership called Video Analytics Towards Vision Zero. As indicated in this ITE Journal Article, this technology development partnership aims to use footage from traffic cameras across North America to “teach” computers how to recognize near-miss collisions. Data from these machine learning systems will allow transportation engineers to predict where crashes will occur and take proactive measures to prevent them.

The partnership invites public participation in the next project milestone – using crowdsourcing to analyze video and teach computers to identify a person in a wheelchair, on a bike or in a car, as well as patterns of movement in intersections. The more volunteers who take part, the better computers will learn to recognize near-miss collisions.

To participate visit: http://www.ite.org/visionzero/videoanalytics/

Here’s how it works: volunteers will view a short clip of a pre-recorded traffic scene, then label and track the movement of each person or vehicle within the screen. By doing so, the computer can begin to distinguish a person walking, biking, or using a wheelchair; a bus or car; then recognize patterns of near misses. Fair warning to potential volunteers – until you get accustomed to using the labeling tools, it may take you several minutes to complete the task – plan on at least five minutes or longer per task at the start. Once you master the image tracking tools, your speed will increase. You can submit just one task, or complete as many as you’d like. Volunteers are needed starting June 1.

For additional information on this partnership please contact Franz Loewenherz, project manager of the Video Analytics Towards Vision Zero Partnership, at +1-425-452-4077 or floewenherz@bellevuewa.gov.

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 3:05 PM | by admin | Add a Comment

The Bike Everywhere Challenge is a fun and free competition to encourage your friends and colleagues to experience firsthand the joys and benefits of riding a bike.

REGISTER. IT’S FREE: Visit the lovetoride website and register by filling in the required information. Make sure to check the box that reflects how often you’ve ridden a bike in the last 12 months and click “NEXT”.

RIDE FOR 10 MINUTES OR MORE: In May, if you ride a bike anywhere for at least 10 minutes between May 1 and May 31, 2017, you can log your trip to be eligible for great prizes.

RECRUIT FRIENDS & COLLEAGUES: Send invites out to your coworkers and friends to form a Bike Team. Teams consist of up to 8 people, but teams of 10 are permitted if two members on the team are considered “new riders,” or riders who have only ridden a few times in the past year.

  • After you complete your registration, choose to donate or skip to the “My Profile” tab to Join a Bike Everywhere Challenge Team. On your profile below your name, you can Join an Organization or Join a Team. Click “Join a Team” – you will arrive at a page where you can choose one of three options:
  1. Start Your Own Team – set up a team with coworkers or friends
  2. Join an Existing Team – choose from a list of existing teams
  3. Skip this step – ride solo as a lone wolf
  • Create a Team: If you choose to Start Your Own Team, you will need to enter some information about your team: (Team name, Team description, Team category, Organization association, Team region (County). Click “Create Team.” Be sure to market the team to your colleagues and friends – this year’s competition emphasizes encouraging more participation. Teams can consist of up to ten individuals if two of them are new riders. Otherwise the team maximum size is capped at eight.

WIN GREAT PRIZES: The aim is to earn the most points by riding and getting others on your team to ride during Bike Month (May 1 – 31). 2017 prizes will be posted to the Bike Everywhere Challenge webpage. Point scoring is as follows:

  • 1 mile = 1 point
  • 1 day = 20 points
  • 1 existing rider = 50 points
  • 1 new rider = 200 points

Happy Riding!

-Choose Your Way Bellevue Staffer Jacob

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 9:50 AM | by admin | Add a Comment

Counterintuitive, but true.

Click for video.

We’ve all been there, sitting in our cars stuck in a never-ending gridlock and we think to ourselves, if only there were more lanes we’d all be moving along! Road rage sets in, and no matter what poignant story NPR is piping through the radio waves, our stress levels rise and we arrive at our destination full of hatred for our fellow man. Or, perhaps you’re more calm and hold it in, but that anxiety goes somewhere; there is mounting evidence that our commute tension is hijacking our health and wellbeing. Either way, you’re not alone in thinking traffic here is the worst–It actually is! Second worst in the nation for evening rush hour congestion, and fourth worst for overall congestion, that is.

Recently, when solicited for ideas on how to improve commutes in and around the Sound, one respondent said “Super simple. MORE LANES IDIOTS.” First of all, it’s ‘MORE LANES comma IDIOTS’, but that’s beside the point. Many researchers have taken the time to investigate this common and seemingly logical thought only to come up with the same answer: More lanes don’t mean less traffic. In fact, adding lanes almost always results in the same proportion of traffic as before. “As civil engineer and sustainability advocate Charles Marohn so eloquently put it, ‘Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants.’”

Click for image source.

What is “induced demand”?

Induced demand is the concept that demand is relative to supply. In terms of traffic, this means that by increasing road capacity (supply) there will be more cars taking those roads (increased demand). Essentially, as we add lanes more people decide to drive in those lanes. How could this be, you ask? Well, for a brief period widening a road may result in less traffic. But alas! This sweet, sweet commute is fleeting. As more drivers realize this route is now faster and easier, more drivers will take it. What is more, those that weren’t driving (either taking public transit or avoiding leisure trips altogether) are now likely to be incentivized to drive; it being so quick and easy and all. More roads can also attract more business and their associated road use. Essentially, you may be stuck in traffic whether the road has two lanes or six.

Image: Vox.com

So what are the facts?

In 2009 two economists compared data on new roads built and the total number of miles driven in 228 US cities between 1980 and 2000. What they found was a precise correlation.  According to Wired, “If a city had increased its road capacity by 10 percent between 1980 and 1990, then the amount of driving in that city went up by 10 percent. If the amount of roads in the same city then went up by 11 percent between 1990 and 2000, the total number of miles driven also went up by 11 percent. It’s like the two figures were moving in perfect lockstep, changing at the same exact rate”.

Of course, there are limits. If we were to build a highway 100 lanes across, drivers would have a hard time filling it up. Within reason, though, induced demand is a cold, hard fact, even when controlling for factors such as population growth and transit service. Forward-thinking departments of transportation across the nation are beginning to accept this fact, including CalTrans (California Department of Transportation) in the state perhaps most synonymous with gridlock frustrations, and reconsidering the allocation of precious transportation dollars.

The Lone Star State and the lone success story

I’m sure some readers out there are thinking to themselves, this so-called research is skewed! This article is biased! Where are the stats on Texas, where increased road capacity reduced traffic? Well, it’s true that in Texas an anomaly happened. The state decided to build more lanes and it did in fact reduce the average commute time by half, but experts say this won’t last in the long run.

What can we do?

Take lanes away. No, I’m not nuts. In fact, research has shown that the induced demand trend also works in reverse. When cities take away lanes, traffic will end up readjusting itself so that approximately the same ratio of cars to road exists. It’s been done internationally with great success in congested cities such as Paris and Seoul, where more drivers decided to go by foot or public transit rather than drive when road capacity was reduced. However, there are limits; taking away a massive thoroughfare and replacing it with a single lane road won’t exactly slim down with ease.

Is there hope for my commute?

So, are we doomed to live our lives in metal boxes on wheels, crawling along at a snail’s pace, with our hands glued to the steering wheel and our eyes narrowed at the car ahead? Well, that depends on if we can change our culture. America is arguably the most car-centric nation on earth, and proud of it. This means that until we collectively decide that driving isn’t the coolest, the best, the easiest, or the only way to get where we’re going, there will always be traffic no matter how many roads we build ourselves.

As always, Choose Your Way Bellevue is happy to dig into the details and plan that non-drive-alone commute for you!

The takeaway

Whether you become a diehard bus rider, aerodynamic-spandex-wearing biker, or a stay a steadfast driver we wish you luck in getting from A to B. We hope you’ll continue to look at issues from every angle, and of course, recognize the influence social, political, and economic factors have on each other. Traffic and transportation is a big issue that won’t be tackled with any one-size-fits-all solution.

Leave your comments below or email us with questions, comments, or fresh ideas. We’d love to hear about your commute experiences- the good, the bad, and the ugly!

 

-Choose Your Way Bellevue Staffer Paige

Monday, March 13th, 2017 4:05 PM | by Paige Anderson | Add a Comment

It’s easy to see the correlation between not exercising and looking silly on your hiking date or not flossing and emitting potent halitosis, but less obvious is the correlation between your daily commute and your health and wellbeing.

Before you go checking WebMD and discover that you need to amputate a limb, it’s important to remember that there are many variables to consider when evaluating your commute. Depending on how and how far you travel each day, your risks may be different. For example, traveling more than ten miles each direction is associated with high blood sugar; commute distance is also related to blood pressure and body mass index. Not to mention the prolonged exposure to air pollution and the risk of lung diseases, heart attack, and stroke.

Image thanks to: www.erwinwurm.at

Image thanks to: erwinwurm.at

Even depression, anxiety, and social isolation are greater risks for those driving to and from work alone. Psychologists have found that mental health issues are a result of not just earth-shattering events, but also minor emotional experiences can manifest into negative psychological expression up to ten years later.

 

 

It has also been found that a commute of more than 45 minutes is correlated with lower sleep quality and more exhaustion than those with shorter commutes. Issues stemming from of lack of sleep are myriad, including an effect on attention, long-term memory, impulse behavior, lower immunity, and other problems.

However, not all hope is lost. If you a part of a carpool, vanpool or vanshare, that social time is thought to be having a positive effect on your health and wellbeing in the long term.

He takes the bus. Image thanks to: rollingstone.com

He takes the bus. Image thanks to: rollingstone.com

If you choose to ride your bike to work you’ll not only save money, but you’ll reap the health benefits of a regular exercise regime and reduce negative impacts on the environment.

Taking the bus can also be a cost-effective and stress-free way to commute. All that time you’d be focused on the road you could be reading, dozing, or maintaining a celebrity-sized social media presence. Busing also has positive health benefits, because even though you may walk just a few hundred yards to the nearest stop, that adds up over the week. In fact, even standing and balancing on the bus is considered a core workout (goodbye belly, hello abs!).

Don’t forget that combining modes may be your best bet for your commute.

If you’d like help planning your new commute don’t hesitate to get in touch!

-Choose Your Way Bellevue Staffer Paige 

Thursday, October 6th, 2016 11:11 PM | by Paige Anderson | Comments Off on Commute Consequences

With so many transit resources available it can be hard to know where to begin! Especially for those with specific needs it can be especially challenging to find information. Below are some basics to get started; and remember King County Metro, Sound Transit, and Choose Your Way Bellevue are always available to assist you.

ST Accesibility_455

Image thanks to Sound Transit

For those with disabilities: All regular Metro and Sound Transit services are designed to be as inclusive as possible, and service animals are always welcomed aboard. All Sound Transit services and facilities are 100% Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and all light rail facilities feature level-boarding platforms for easy roll-on access.

Those with specific needs that preclude them from using the regular service may choose to utilize Metro’s Access Transportation which takes riders anywhere served by bus, streetcar or light rail. For those who meet ADA eligibility requirements, Metro’s Paratransit services may also be utilized. To qualify for such services users much verify their eligibility. Call (206) 263 3113 to speak with someone about your eligibility, or click here. metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/accessible/pdf/AccessRideGuide.pdf

Image thanks to King County Metro

Image thanks to King County Metro

Reduced Fare: To receive a reduced fare ORCA Lift card (good for both Sound Transit and Metro), riders must verify their income by visiting one of the enrollment locations (list here: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/programs-projects/orca-lift/enrollment-locations.html) or by bringing the appropriate paperwork to an ORCA To Go event. Be aware though that the hours of operation for enrollment locations are not standardized. Once received, the ORCA Lift card is valid for two years, regardless of an increase in income, and may be used on Metro, Kitsap, and Sound Transit buses, Sound Transit light rail and Sounder trains, King County Water Taxi, and the Seattle Streetcar. To check your eligibility call (206) 553-3000 or (800) 756-5437 or click here.

Senior/Disabled and Youth ORCA cards can reduce fare costs as well. To find out about eligibility requirements click here. Adult and Youth cards are available by mail; other cards are available in person and require proof of eligibility. For more information about obtaining ORCA cards click here.

Non-English Resources: We recognize the current and growing need for resources in additional languages. At the bottom of both Metro and Sound Transit webpages, a language preference may be selected for viewing online resources. For help planning trips or other information Metro’s Customer Service line can be reached at (206) 553 3000. By pressing “1” for an interpreter, callers may discuss their inquiry in over 200 languages. The City of Bellevue’s number for language assistance is (425) 452 6800.

No matter how you utilize your transit options, transit agencies always welcome your feedback, particularly if there is a way for these agencies to better serve those with specific needs. You can contact Sound Transit, King County Metro, or Choose Your Way Bellevue.

Editor’s Note: All information compiled from Sound Transit and King County Metro. For specific questions please email info@cywb.org or Sound Transit and King County Metro.

-Choose Your Way Bellevue Staffer Paige 

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 9:57 PM | by Paige Anderson | Comments Off on Access: Metro and Sound Transit are here to help!

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