Friday, April 20, 2012

Bike Share: An Emerging Transit Option

Contributed By Whitney E. Gray

Transit is an ever-evolving industry as transportation agencies, human-service organizations and for-profit companies meet the mobility needs of people both with and without disabilities. Americans are living longer, working longer and often getting around without a car and the increasing number of transportation options is helping to make this possible.

Bike share programs are one of the more recent transportation options in development and in use across the country. In March 2012 planners, operators and other professionals from cities with bike share programs or interested in developing bike share programs gathered for a 2-day workshop, Bike Share in the United States: Lessons Learned and Emerging Best Practices for Integrating Public Transportation and Planning in Washington, D.C. Planners and staff from Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, Denver, Colo.’s B-cycle and Minneapolis, Minn.’s Nice Ride Minnesota shared best practices; representatives from cities - such as Portland, Ore.; San Francisco, Calif. and New York City, N.Y. - shared their plans to develop bike share programs.

With an expected trial launch in two months, New York City’s bike share program was developed after an extensive public involvement process. Kate Fillin-Yeh from the New York City Department of Transportation described the efforts to meet with each neighborhood in the bike share program’s area and listen to residents’ suggestions, concerns and other input regarding the program and stop locations. In addition to a poster used in discussions about the program, a copy of the map that was brought to each neighborhood meeting was shared by Fillin-Yeh. Residents could suggest new stops by using sticky-notes on this map or raise questions about currently planned stops. The map included a legend for who had suggested each stop location (e.g., Public via Web Portal, Community Board/Elected Official, Business Improvement District/Landowner/Other). Fillin-Yeh stressed the importance of these neighborhood meetings in creating a successful program that residents would support.

Some attendees shared that people with disabilities had become involved in their bike share planning processes. For instance, an Americans with Disabilities Act advocate in Denver, Colo. worked to help get adult tricycles as part of the bike share system. In Los Angeles County, Calif., which is developing a bike share program, an ADA coordinator attended their recent first meeting. Another participant suggested that electric bikes could be helpful for people who have knee problems, such as older adults.

As transit options expand, so do opportunities for people with disabilities to get involved with the planning process and other input opportunities. For more information on inclusive meetings, check out ESPA’s Including People with Disabilities in Coordinated Plans and Including People with Disabilities: Meeting and Etiquette Guide as well as the upcoming publication Effective Transportation Advisory Committees: Creating a Group that Reflects All Community Voices
NYC DOT Legend for Bikeshare Map
NYC DOT Map of Proposed Bikeshare Locations

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Introduces SaferBus App

Contributed by Rachel Beyerle
If you’re planning a bus trip, thinking of taking a motorcoach tour, or chartering a bus for your group, you can now “look before you book” by using the U.S. Department of  Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SaferBus app for the iPhone and iPad, available for free through Apple iTunes. This new app allows you to search by motorcoach company name or U.S. DOT number so that you can

  • Find information on the company’s operating authority and insurance status,
  • View the company’s safety record over the past 24 months, including driver fitness and fatigue data,
  • See if the company has a satisfactory safety rating, and
  • Report a complaint and connect to the FMCSA hotline number (888) DOT-SAFT (888) 368-7238.

Safety ratings are listed as percentiles with 0 (zero) being the best and 100 being the worst. For example, a value of 50% or less indicates that a company performed better than half of the other companies for the same safety factor. Travelers who do not have an iPhone or iPad can still check the safety status of a motorcoach operator by visiting the FMCSA website.

Overall, the SaferBus app is designed to help travelers make informed decisions before booking a trip and avoid companies that have been placed out of service or do not have operating authority.  According to Anne S. Ferro, FMCSA administrator, "By placing a bus company's safety record in the palm of your hand, SaferBus encourages riders to think safety first, supports our agency's commitment to make bus travel as safe as possible, and provides good bus companies a way to highlight their positive safety records."

For more information on the SaferBus app, visit the FMCSA website.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Transporting Students with Disabilities and Preschoolers Conference

Contributed by Judy Shanley

Members of the National Association for Pupil Transportation and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services convened to address the pressing issues affecting student transportation. The complexities of transporting students with significant medical and health needs, topics related to bullying, and methods and procedures pertinent to the safe and reliable transportation of students with disabilities to and from the school door were foremost on the minds of meeting attendees.

The conference stimulated thoughts of

  • How we can use the opportunities that students have to ride yellow school buses in early grades, as a foundation to help them learn about accessible transportation in later grades.
  • How school transportation professionals can work hand and hand with school academic professionals, including general and special educators, to integrate content about accessible transportation into curriculum.
  • A continuum of accessible transportation supports for students that represents a seamless cohesion across student transportation and adult transportation systems.
    The Transporting Students with Disabilities and Preschoolers Conference shows promise in the possibilities for collaboration.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Preview of New Communication and Meeting Etiquette Pocket Guide

    Cover Photo of Pocket Guide
    Cover Photo of Pocket Guide
    Contributed by Julia Kim

    ESPA Viewpoints is pleased to share a preview of Including People with Disabilities: Communication & Meeting Etiquette pocket guide, a new resource and publication which will be available in ESPA's Store this week. This pocket guide offers tips and considerations for engaging with people disabilities in meetings and conversations.