Last week, we found out traffic woes and other mobility headaches in the Rainey Street District have prompted the City of Austin’s Design Commission to recommend conducting a comprehensive mobility study for the neighborhood. The end goal of the study would use its gathered data and other community input for crafting a “Rainey Neighborhood Mobility Plan,” which would contain policy modifications and other guidelines for new developments in the district.
If all goes well, these changes will make it easier to get around the area on foot, in a car, on a bike, and so forth. Considering the continued growth of Rainey Street as an entertainment district and the large crowd that visits its bars and restaurants every weekend, pedestrian improvements are likely going to be a huge priority here — a previous study of the area conducted in 2017 already found that mobility improvements for people navigating the neighborhood on foot, such as a more comprehensive network of sidewalks and more crosswalks at busy intersections, is the most-needed addition.
Fixing the choke point intersection at Red River and Cesar Chavez Streets is another big priority, since it’s currently the de facto gateway to the neighborhood and is particularly frustrating to navigate on foot, let alone in a car during rush hour traffic.
We thought we’d ask our readers what they think the city should include in the mobility plan to fix the neighborhood. Here’s what we found:
What do you think are the biggest mobility challenges for the Rainey Street District? If you could make the city do something to fix those problems, what would it be?
“With only a 2 lane road, traffic is often clogged because pedestrians are crossing the street in front of traffic and Lyft/Uber drivers are dropping people in the middle of the street. We should disallow public parking on the sides of the roads north of the roundabout [at Rainey and River] to allow for wider sidewalks. Disallow passenger dropoff on Rainey Street, and make a designated dropoff area. Close Rainey Street to traffic on the weekends.”
“Too many cars. Close it down to cars, duh.”
“People safely getting to, from, and around it! Stop pretending like vehicles will be anything but a hindrance in the area and make it an alternative transportation haven (and bring back the Dillo to get people there!)”
“Clear lack of ingress and egress options for vehicles, public transportation, bikes, scooters, etc. Red River Street should continue down to River Street. The MACC would probably complain when part of their parking lot turns into a roadway, but the greater good is more important. Also, punch Rainey Street through to Caesar Chavez Street.”
(1/5) Five steps to improve Rainey District access. #1 connect San Marcos & East Avenue.
— Jude Galligan (@downtown_austin) May 2, 2019
“Too many vehicles trying to access and circulate on an inadequate, disconnected street network. It was OK when Rainey Street was a neighborhood of single family homes; apart from the cut-through traffic. Now with traffic from the concentrated high-rise residences and bars, the previous street patterns do not work. We should link Rainey Street through to Cesar Chavez Street, limit the number of vehicles circulating at peak pedestrian times, maybe by closing Rainey Street to traffic; and improving pedestrian access – sidewalks, crosswalks etc.”
“Rainey Street is really a pedestrian zone, but the sidewalks, lighting, and the presence of cars, scooters, bicycles, taxis, ride-sharing vehicles, and electric vehicles makes it challenging to walk in this neighborhood. Residents, vendors, ride-sharing vehicles and emergency vehicles all need access, but all other traffic should be restricted. Limiting the time of day when vehicles that are not operated by residents, vendors, ride sharing drivers and officials like police and firemen can access the neighborhood would be a seriously positive step towards making the neighborhood safer and more usable.”
Anyway, #atx, Rainey Street is a freaking Cinco de Mayo mess right now including the longest line of people I’ve ever seen at Icenhauer’s (what are you standing in line for? Bro’s response: uhm, a band I think, right?), ponchos, sombreros, and scooters everywhere.
— Bekah (@bolderbekah) May 5, 2019
“Just block off the street from cars entirely. Make cars only drop off along Driskill Street and East Avenue. Those are practically unused at nights.”
“Continuously circling rideshare vehicles, there should be a designated route/pickup-dropoff location off of Rainey Streeet nearby. Could easily see a dedicated circulator performing well between the district and downtown. Close the street itself to vehicles during peak entertainment hours.”
“Too many cars, scooters and bikes on streets that don’t support the traffic, making it dangerous for emergency vehicles to access the area and for pedestrians. It’s horrible without the new condos and apartments still being built. We should add another street parallel to Rainey Street, perhaps expanding the alley that goes past 70 Rainey and the Shore condos, which you can’t get through all the time due to beer trucks creating a safety hazard. That would give the 70 Rainey people and the Shore people access in and out. You could also take some of the city land near the MACC and contributed land from developers and create a street in front of the Shore, also giving more access in and out. Then you could close off Rainey evenings and weekends like Sixth Street.”
“Scooters blocking everything. Extremely poor intersection at Cesar Chavez and Red River. Very limited sidewalks (new construction is making this worse.) Potential closure of the alley behind 70 Rainey due to the MACC wanting something pretty instead of something functional and safe. Dockless scooter parking zones. Fix/redo Cesar Chavez/Red River intersection. Pedestrian crossings from Fairmont OVER Cesar Chavez. Add and widen sidewalks, removing blockages like utility lines. Lighting on East. Extend Rainey to Cesar Chavez. WIDEN CC by a couple of lanes. Oh, yeah…get rid of the circus bar. Improve the alley that runs parallel to Rainey between Rainey and East.”
“The biggest problem is drunks. Make Rainey Street a car-free zone.”
“Dangerous cars! Very inefficient use of space in such a cramped area as well. Turn Rainey Street into a dedicated (24/7) pedestrian/bike mall (possibly with some level of delivery vehicle access) and a car turn around by the Hotel Van Zandt and towards the MACC for rideshare drop off. Apply great streets principles towards Red River Street especially focused on a 15 mph design speed and safe accommodations for bike users of all ages and abilities as well as those walking. Rainey Street needs more room for people and has too much room for cars. Bike parking is largely inadequate as well.”
“Lack of public transportation and pedestrian infrastructure. We should extend Red River Street south and across the river via a dedicated pedestrian/bus bridge to connect to East Riverside Drive. Then run one or two high-frequency buses down it, with stops near the north and south ends of Rainey Street.”