If you’re looking to get around Austin without a car for business or pleasure, you’ll notice a relative lack of sidewalks pretty fast once you venture outside of downtown — it’s a longstanding issue, with the city estimating in 2019 that our pedestrian network was roughly only half connected, though we’ve added quite a lot since the approval of a new sidewalk improvement plan back in 2016. That’s not to mention the gaps in our bike lane network, where even major arterials only offer painted lanes if anything.
But there’s a silver lining here — it feels great to complain, particularly when those complaints might actually help fix something. Enter the ATX Walk Bike Roll project, a planning initiative by Austin Public Works and the Austin Transportation Department now soliciting input on improvements to our pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure via an interactive public input map that attractively features your complaints wherever you’d like to drop a pin. Some spots that immediately come to mind are South Lamar Boulevard between Treadwell Street and Barton Springs Road, featuring either hilariously narrow sidewalks or none at all; along with some real failures of imagination inside downtown like the obstacle course along West 15th Street.
Many steps have now been completed in the ATX Walk Bike Roll planning process, including:
- Performing an equity analysis and creating an equity framework to guide how the project team will make decisions through an equity lens
- Launching a community ambassador program to collect feedback and build relationships with residents from communities that have been historically underrepresented in City of Austin planning processes
- Conducting a trip potential analysis to identify where people are expected to walk or bike
- Analyzing where crashes involving people walking or biking occur, and which populations are most impacted by traffic crashes
- Gathering public input on how people currently walk, bike, and roll through the city and how their experiences could be improved
Currently, the project team is analyzing Austin’s existing pedestrian and bicycle networks and evaluating if they provide effective access to key destinations, including transit stops, employment centers, grocery stores, schools and parks. They’re also working on mapping where there are barriers, opportunities, and potential connections in the urban trails, sidewalks, and bikeway networks. Public input is needed to help the team determine where and how to expand these transportation networks.
The project team is continuing to analyze all public input received to date and plans to publish a summary of this feedback by Spring of 2022.
The real benefit of this map is that it allows you to plunk down a pin anywhere you experience these issues in the whole city rather than a specific planning area, meaning you can note problems in your own neighborhood that might not typically come to the city’s immediate attention. Not everyone lives near downtown, and once you venture north of 183 or south of Highway 290 the streets can quickly become hostile to alternative modes of transportation — tell us, have you ever attempted to navigate the district of breweries near our new soccer stadium on foot?
Let’s all go to Austin Beerworks!
Anyway, we’d like to hear from our readers about their priorities for what they’re adding to the map — but don’t tell us first, tell the city. You have until March 6.