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26
MAR
0
In Helsinki’s city center, more than a third of trips are made by walking and ten percent are by biking. That’s a testimony to the city’s great pedestrian and bike network. It’s also a result of Helsinki’s City Bikes program that launched in 2016 and attracted a groundswell of bike users through sheer convenience. 
 
As a recipient of the 2019 Jennings Randolph International Fellowship, I travelled to Finland to learn first-hand about Helsinki’s mobility system and bring that experience back to my community in Shoreline, WA. To get the full user experience, I took a bike ride with Oskari Kaupinmäki, Helsinki Bicycle Traffic Project Coordinator.
 
Oskari Kaupinmäki, Helsinki Bicycle Traffic Project Coordinator, is helping to make cycling in the city safe, fun, and direct.
 
From the City Centre, we biked the Baana (Finnish slang for ‘rail’), an approximately one-mile pedestrian and bike trail built from an old converted railway corridor in 2012. By 2016, 350,000 people were using the Baana annually. That’s more than half of Helsinki’s population! It was pretty empty when Oskari and I biked it mid-morning, but during morning and evening commutes it can be overcrowded with four cyclists biking abreast (two in each direction). Creating more elbow room is a problem that Oskari is interested in solving. “But, how can you make more space within Baana’s confined walls?”, I asked. Some of his solutions include re-adjusting the space allocated to the walking trail and the cycle track, which currently is about a 50/50 split, to provide more negotiation room for bikes; paving over the cobble shoulder, changing vertical light poles to overhead catenary lights, and jackhammering out some of the canted rockery walls at underpasses and replacing them with space efficient vertical walls. 
 
The Baana trail was built from an old converted railway corridor to connect the City Centre to the Western Harbor.
 
As we cruised along the Baana, Oskari pointed out some of its bonus features...staircases with runnels to assist rolling bikes and strollers up and down, City Bike stations, painted murals on underpass walls to help brighten and brand the trail, and a digital bike counter that added two more rides to its daily total as we swooshed pass.
 
Staircases have runnels to assist rolling bikes and strollers up and down.
 
Brightly painted art mural on the Baana’s underpasses delight people walking and biking by.
 
As we approach the end of Baana, I see the Western Harbor's big ships looming in the distance. Here, the Baana’s linear nature completely dissolves into open urban plaza with some sports courts and playgrounds along its edges. The Baana’s terminus offers many connections to surrounding city streets, but it takes a careful eye to follow the small paving markings with a bike logo stamped on them to stay on the right path. Oskari agrees that the end of the Baana needs better wayfinding and shares his bigger philosophy, “There are always ways to make a pedestrian and bike path better. But, when a project is done, it is best to apply those lessons learned to the next project and come back later to make tweaks to the initial project.” Considering how ambitious Helsinki is about expanding its low-stress, high-comfort bike network, it is best to keep moving and keep improving. 
 
Wayfinding pavers at the Baana’s terminus near Western Harbor.
 
Stay tuned for my next blog where we continue my ride with Oskari on the city streets of Helsinki.
 
Ride on!
 
by Nora Daley-Peng, ASLA, AICP, LEED AP+, Senior Transportation Planner, City of Shoreline, WA
 
2019 Jennings Randolph International Fellow, Finland
 

27
FEB
0

I had the pleasure and honor to be one of the 2013 recipients of the Jennings Randolph fellowships and traveled to Australia for my study tour, which was to learn how Australian public works professionals reach out to their communities. Understanding their governmental structure was one of my first steps before visiting Australia. In part of my research, I found out that the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) was the organization responsible for all state roads in New South Wales, which included the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. This organization seemed very similar to our state Departments of Transportation.

One of my interests was finding out more about the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and their communication methods for maintaining their bridge. Back in 2012, the RMS had to shut down the bridge for 24 hours to do maintenance. It was the first time in 80 years since the road surface was stripped back to the original concrete deck. This shutdown affected 155,000 vehicles per day, so the RMS had an extensive public relations and media coverage plan to capture a potential audience of nearly 42 million people.

Press releases, media coverage, radio announcements, door knockers, mailers, postcards, variable message signs, digital and social media coverage, flyers, stakeholder meetings, presentations, etc. were included in the communications plan. It was amazing to see the planning that took place for communicating this maintenance activity, and to consider all the people or entities that were potentially affected, such as businesses, sporting events, residents, tourists, etc.

I was the Public Works Director for the City of Palm Bay in Florida at the time of this study tour. When I came back to Florida, one of the first things that came up was the need to shut down a collector roadway that had around 6,500 vehicles per day due to a roadway realignment project going on in the City. Part of the construction required the contractor to shut down the collector roadway for nearly three weeks in order to connect the realigned road with the existing road. The City had never experienced shutting down a collector roadway like this, so I was able to share the story I learned from the Sydney Harbour Bridge shutdown and apply what I learned to our project (at a much smaller scale, of course). We reached out to the community via reverse 911 calls, press releases, variable message signs, electronic media, social media and mailers. The public information plan we had was so effective that we did not receive any complaints.

Overall, traveling outside the United States has always given me new appreciations for other cultures in the world. I highly encourage you all to get that passport and travel; you will learn to appreciate what you have and what others do in other parts of the world. This trip left a lasting impression in my life and I will be forever grateful for the amazing opportunity it afforded me!

by Elia Twigg, PE, CONSOR Engineers, etwigg@consoreng.com

2013 Jennings Randolph International Fellow, Australia


27
FEB
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Due to the generosity of the Chicago Metro Chapter, I received financial assistance and attended my first APWA PWX conference in September 2019. In addition, as I was selected as a Jennings Randolph International Fellow in 2018, to complete the final requirement of the fellowship, I shared a presentation of my study tour at the national conference.

One of my conference commitments included attending the International Affairs Committee to introduce myself and share some highlights of my study tour to Sweden.  During this meeting, I met Joanne Zhang, 2017 JR fellow, who had traveled to Australia to learn about creativity and innovation, and Nora Daley-Peng, 2019 JR Fellow, who visited Finland to understand their non-motorized travel options.  We immediately formed a special bond as women in a technical field who shared the common link of not only receiving the fellowship award but also our curiosity for life and public works in other countries around the world.  For the remainder of the conference we participated in many activities and sessions together, like three “woman-eers”.

From left to right: Nora Daley-Peng, Helena Sullivan, and Joanne Zhang

 

Accepting my award from APWA President David Lawry 

Immediately following the awards ceremony, the international attendees (with visitors from Australia, Canada, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden, among many others), were invited to an evening reception.  At this event, I was thrilled to meet the other 2018 JR Fellow, Jason Waldron, who studied the street car system in Sydney, Australia during his study tour.  We all enjoyed an evening to mingle and talk informally about the advantages of the international public works exchange program.  One of my unofficial duties at the PWX was to serve as an International Ambassador, which is another way to help any of our international visitors feel welcome and continue to strengthen our partnerships.  I truly believe we have the same public works issues on every continent, and there is so much to learn by collaborating and sharing ideas with agencies in so many countries.

My capstone event for the PWX conference was attending a fabulous networking event with the Chicago Metro Chapter.  All Chicagoland members at PWX were encouraged to sign up for the chapter dinner, and it was held at the Seattle Space Needle. With a superb 360 degree view over the beautiful city, we had a relaxing evening getting acquainted with many people who hold active leadership roles in the Chicagoland chapters.  I learned we are the largest chapter of APWA and we typically have the highest number of attendees at PWX.  Based on the dinner turnout, I could certainly see why…and it was so fun to belong to this festive crowd. I am very grateful to all my new friends and look forward to maintaining my connections. In all my events at PWX, representing the Chicago area as a JR Fellow has been so positive and such an honor.

Chicago Metro Chapter PWX scholarship recipients and scholarship co-chairs John Wielebnicki and David Preissig.

If anyone is contemplating participating at PWX in 2020, I highly recommend it.  From the many international friendships I established, to reconnecting with professional colleagues in the Chicagoland area, as well as choosing from selection from a wide variety of educational speakers and topics, and exploring a huge company exhibit hall, I say it is definitely worth it.  I look forward to attending our local events now that I have met so many hard working and friendly officers and members in my local APWA chapter and branches.  All that I needed was a visit to Chicago Metro via Seattle! 

Since my PWX conference, I have enjoyed helping with the Chicago Metro International Affairs Committee and provided input for our 2019 application for the co-sponsored tour to Australia.  Soon, we will begin reviewing the candidates and selecting a recipient, and I am excited to see the ideas and focus of these applicants.  I am sure it will remind me of my own curiosity and hopefulness I held when I was applying for my Jennings Randolph award in 2018. 

Another area I am expanding my assistance is with any chosen JR Fellow who travels to Sweden.  As I was born there and have language fluency, I am always happy to answer questions and provide guidance as needed. 

In so many ways, the JR Fellowship has opened more opportunities besides meeting with representatives in our international partners in public works.  It has also increased my involvement with APWA in my local chapter and I am pleased to participate in the international aspects of our organization in any way possible.

by Helena Sullivan, Construction Engineer III, McHenry County Division of Transportation, Woodstock, Illinois

2018 Jennings Randolph International Fellow, Sweden


31
JAN
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The Jennings Randolph International Fellowship program was established in 1987. Since that time, 41 individuals have been designated as Jennings Randolph International Fellows (JR Fellows). These individuals have conducted public works study tours in APWA’s partner countries and have broadened their knowledge and exchange experiences and information on technologies and advances in public works. 
 
Now, through the JR Viewpoint, JR Fellows will bring forth international perspectives, share their experiences, and relate how their public works study tours have impacted their careers and made a difference in their lives.   
 
A special thank you to Nora Daley-Peng, 2019 JR Fellow who spearheaded this idea. 
 
Join us as we explore international public works together!
 
Lillie Yvette Salinas, International Affairs Committee Staff Liaison