Last week, I wrote about the Austin American Statesman’s feature on the increasing problem of auto-pedestrian accidents. I noted that this was a reflection of the increasing number of auto-pedestrian accidents we’re seeing in our practice.
Today, I saw that Drew Finke, a University of Texas architecture student, had his own interpretation of the issue in a column in the University of Texas newspaper, The Daily Texan.
In the article, Drew makes a great point. In part of the column, he writes:
Though Austin has recently made a commitment to encourage dense, pedestrian-oriented development, much of the inner city’s infrastructure is designed to accommodate the car. Nearly all of Austin’s “transportation corridors” are busy streets that currently include few provisions for pedestrians. Even along Guadalupe, which already boasts high pedestrian traffic, large stretches of road without crosswalks south of MLK and north of 24th Street make crossing inconvenient for pedestrians, and encourage motorists to speed along uninterrupted stretches of roadway. At the intersection of 24th and Guadalupe streets — where thousands cross every day — narrow sidewalks and disintegrating curbs make for a dangerous situation, between turning cars and the crowds of students waiting for the light to change before crossing.
While his example involves the UT campus area, the same principles exist downtown. For example, at lunch today, I walked down San Jacinto street to eat lunch around the corner of San Jacinto and 1st. For much of the walk, a large sidewalk was available. But further South, the Vince Young Steakhouse and Max’s Wine Dive had outdoor patios that took up the walkway. Thus, there was no sidewalk, and I was forced to walk in the lanes of traffic.
That’s a particular concern since the area around San Jacinto has a lot of pedestrian traffic from downtown office buildings and from those using the convention center for its multitude of events.
Let’s hope that future planners do a better job of taking pedestrians into account and design with pedstrians in mind.
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