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Prentiss appeared to have beat me to the punch on the photo-essay thing, but I have archives of this very blog that prove that my photo essay on pedestrian problems on US 183 was planned much earlier, and simply took longer to implement since I’m far far far lazier than he is. I’m frankly amazed I ever got it done. Thanks, slow day at work!
ALSO ALSO ALSO! This is the ONE HUNDREDTH ENTRY in this crackpot blog! Somebody put on a party hat or something, please.
5 thoughts on “Pedestrian problems on US 183”
If god had meant people to walk he wouldn’t have built gas stations.
Say, I happened to listen to the Radical Bicyclists’ Rant or whatever it’s called on KOOP last night and someone finally mentioned the #1 anti-pedestrian idiocy in all of Austin: the “no walking” sign telling pedestrians not to cross Guadalupe on the south side of the Guadalupe-29th Street intersection.
That’s one of the most pedestrian-intensive intersections away from downtown and the campus proper, yet the authorities would have us make three crossings instead of one just because of their little sign. I’m guessing that they had a safety issue in mind when they designed it that way, but what’s safer, an anti-walking sign that everyone routinely ignores or an actual crosswalk?
I still haven’t heard anyone address the most insidiously *evil* anti-pedestrian feature, the innumerable stupid little buttons you’re supposed to press to get a “walk” signal, whose window for making your humble petition has inevitably passed just as you arrive at the intersection. They’ve even got one of these babies at MLK and Guadalupe, another extremely heavy-pedestrian intersection.
Congrats on the century mark.
I agree with adding sidewalks but I think you’re going after the wrong pile of money. Sidewalks are a city responsibility and should be funded either through the city budget or the city utilities.
If it’s the idea that some people who don’t drive pay taxes to help purchase right of way is what’s bothering you, you should also note that utilities get to use the right of way free of charge. The idea is that everyone benefits from the utilities being there. The point is that there are more beneficiaries from the ROW than just the drivers on the road.
That’s an interesting way to put the anti-argument, and a way which I’ve never seen it put before. Congratulations for that, at least.
Keep in mind, though, that the “right-of-way contributions” are for the expanded footprint of the road, mostly. When 183 was expanded, most of the money went to buy land that turned into automobile lanes, not land set aside for utilities or for future sidewalks. (And, by the way, the right-of-way costs are beginning to be more of a contributor to total cost than even asphalt and concrete – as you would expect in a more built-up area).
The worst thing about the recommendation that the city ‘just do it’ is that the city _is_ ‘just doing it’ – but the design decisions made on this roadway (your only example for now; rest assured there will be more) have made the city’s bill for sidewalks about a hundred times higher than it should be, which in the practical world we live in, means we’re never getting sidewalks here.
I have to take exception to your suggestion that the city is already “doing it.” What they are doing is not much and my suggestion is that the elected bodies utilize and enhance an already existing revenue stream. You are not going to be very successful taking money away from highways – c’mon get with reality! But in the city of Austin there’s always room for another fee or surcharge on your utility bill or city taxes.
if the problem is, as you suggest, design of new roadways to accomodate sidewalks, there is ample opportunity for the city to get involved with design.
Also, you seem unaware that road planners take utility needs into consideration when determining how much ROW to purchase. That supports my statement that everyone benefits from ROW purchases, not just single occupancy vehicle drivers. Additionally, everyone benefits from ROW purchases for reasons such as safer roads, and easier delivery of goods and services.
First to Mike and then to Douglas-
Mike-Yeah, I think you are right. Don’t get your hopes up about that strip of ROW getting sidewalks any time soon (at least not from the city). Great article, by the way.
Douglas-Besides the bureaucratic process that restricts alot of what the city can do (and how quickly they can do it), the city is at least attempting to do alot.
I had an internship with what was the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program in the Transportation, Planning, and Sustainability Department of the City of Austin this summer. There are a couple of big reasons why sidewalk projects seem to be nonexistant right now.
1: The department has A) moved to a new building, and B) been split up. The Bike & Ped program was formerly located in the San Jacinto Annex (1011 San Jacinto) but has just recently moved to One Texas Center. There was alot of planning for that move that needed to be done, and alot of changes were made to peolpes’ jobs. The Bike and Ped Coordinator (Colly Kriedler) is now working under Public Works, and the GIS staff that he was working with are now under the Neigborhood Planning and Zoning Department. There have been alot of changes, obviously, and the structuring of the whole program has been manipulated.
2: The city is working very hard on the Sidewalk system in Austin, but the vast majority of the work going into it, at least by the planners, is taking place in the office working with GIS. The city still hasnt recieved a 100% accurate sidewalk shapefile from the company they hired to survey and enter data (I did alot of QAQC on this), but when this is recieved, they will be having a Web-Integrated GIS mapping system so that one can enter their origin and destination and see which sidewalk or bike route to take.
On the actual construction/maintenance side, the city gets hundreds of phone calls a month about different areas where citizens think sidewalks should be or where sidewalks need maintenance (or dont meet ADA standards, etc). What the city is doing is creating a sidewalk matrix and scoring each sidewalk segment based on a few factors such as its proxemity to a school, civic building, gov’t offices, bus stop, etc. and its location in the city. An area within a 1/4 mile of a school and a bus stop closer to downtown will get a higher score than your 183 sidewalk which (correct me if Im wrong) is not near any schools, etc. and has no bus stops directly on it unless you count the Pavilion P&R.
Once this is all done, they can prioritize sidewalk projects to the ones that score the highest. They also (well, I actually did alot of this) recently checked bike lanes to make sure that they were there and had the necesary signage and are re-doing the bike map.
They have alot on their plates right now and are going through a period of transition…not to mention Public Works can only take on so many jobs at one time.
Let me know if you have any more questions.
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