3 takeaways from Austin’s draft pedestrian safety plan

A pedestrian hybrid beacon allows a user to push the button and activate a signal that stops traffic so the person can safely cross a street.

A pedestrian hybrid beacon allows a user to push the button and activate a signal that stops traffic so the person can safely cross a street.

As part of Austin's Vision Zero plan aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities, city staffers released Tuesday a draft of the pedestrian safety action plan.

The Vision Zero plan, which City Council approved in May 2016, called for developing mode-specific plans, including for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

“Pedestrians make up around one-third of traffic fatalities so we wanted to focus on them first,” city Pedestrian Coordinator Joel Meyer said. “… Pedestrian crashes have been on the rise nationally, and that’s true here, too.”

The new pedestrian safety plan recommends 21 action items to improve the safety of residents walking throughout the city. These recommendations would be achieved through a variety of efforts, including street engineering, education, enforcement, land-use planning and partnerships with other agencies.

Austin pedestrian safety action plan The plan identifies six behaviors that can cause a pedestrian crash.[/caption]

Nearly 1,900 pedestrians were involved in crashes between 2010 and 2015, and of those, 121 people died, according to city data. The plan also identifies six behaviors that contribute to pedestrian crashes: failure to yield, distraction or inattention, impairment, improper maneuvers, speed and failure to stop.

Residents have through Aug. 31 to review and provide comments on the draft plan. More information about the plan and providing feedback is available at www.austintexas.gov/pedsafetyplan.

Austin pedestrian safety action plan The city will use these risk characteristic scores to help identify streets with physical characteristics that contribute to the severity of a pedestrian crash.[/caption]

Here are 3 takeaways from the plan:


1. Street design is a large component of making it safer for pedestrians
“A lot of U.S. cities design cities around cars, and walking is not always the best option for people,” Meyer said. “One thing we want to do is look at where we could do low-cost treatments to make crossing [a street] a little bit safer.”

Some of these treatments include installing pedestrian hybrid beacons that allow a pedestrian to push a button to activate a signal that halts traffic to allow the person to safely cross the street.

Meyer said the department is also looking to add signage, lighting and pedestrian islands that would allow someone to take refuge in the middle of a wide street instead of crossing the width all at once.

2. The transportation department will deploy Vision Zero street teams in the next few months
These teams will be educating the public about the purpose and goals of Vision Zero, Meyer said.

“We’re trying to [achieve] behavior change by reaching out into the community,” he said.

3. Areas with higher numbers of low-income, minority populations have higher rates of pedestrian crashes
Austin’s rising housing prices have pushed these populations toward the city’s outskirts where roads are not best suited for walking, Meyer said.

“A lot has to do with street design,” he said. “… We want to look at those factors when we’re looking at where to make improvements.”
By Amy Denney
Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and then senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition and covering transportation. She is now managing editor for the nine publications in the Central Texas area.


MOST RECENT

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas twice issued calls for power conservation this spring but has said it is prepared to manage the potentially record-breaking statewide demand for electricity through the summer. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislature passes power reforms as Texas grid is prepped for potentially record-breaking summer demand

The Texas Legislature wrapped up its spring session with the passage of several bills related to the power grid ahead of the system's next seasonal test this summer.

Photo of a pending sale sign
Southwest Austin median home price exceeds $600,000 for second month

While prices have reached a new record, the rate of increase has slowed from previous months.

The Central Health PUD site is currently being cleared to pave the way for future development. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Central Health's downtown innovation district planned unit development project approved, campus cleared for potential redevelopment

The 14-acre site located between I-35 and Waterloo Park could be redeveloped as a walkable, mixed-use commercial hub.

Mama Fried is a new food truck located at the Armadillo Den on Menchaca Road in South Austin. (Courtesy Evan LeRoy)
Southwest Austin business news: New distillery, float spa, Merle Haggard-inspired french fry trailer coming soon

Mama Fried, from the team behind Leroy and Lewis barbecue, will open at the Armadillo Den in South Austin in July.

West Austin's Lions Municipal Golf Course was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 due to its significance in the civil rights movement as the first Southern golf course to desegregate. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austinites share their hopes for Muny golf course's future

The Lions Municipal Golf Course is part of a University of Texas-owned property that may be rezoned by the city of Austin over the coming months.

Waterloo Park will open to the public Aug. 14 with a daylong festival, and its Moody Amphitheater is set to host its first ticketed concert Aug. 20. (Courtesy Waterloo Greenway Conservancy)
PHOTOS: Waterloo Park will open Aug. 14 with full-day festival, host Gary Clark Jr. for first ticketed concert Aug. 20

The 11-acre park on Waller Creek features an amphitheater, trails, gardens, play spaces, and a food truck area.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a special legislative session will begin July 8. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces special legislative session to start July 8

Agenda items will be announced before the session begins, according to a release from the governor's office.

Photo of fireworks in downtown Austin
Austin June and July events: fireworks, gallery openings and more

The Austin Symphony's Fourth of July fireworks show is back this year at Vic Mathias Shores.

Photo of an outdoor fort art exhibit
'Fortlandia' art installation coming to Butler Hike and Bike Trail

The interactive outdoor art exhibit was originally part of the popular "Fortlandia" event at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 2020.

The Lions Municipal Golf Course is part of one of four University of Texas-owned properties that could move through Austin's rezoning process over the coming months. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Public feedback process now open for rezoning of 4 UT-owned properties, including West Austin's Muny golf course

An initial public engagement session covering the Brackenridge tracts, where Muny is located, will be held June 21.

The Office of Police Oversight released its first comprehensive report detailing its operations though 2019 and 2020 this June. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Office of Police Oversight report finds complaints against Austin police officers went up, but discipline fell in 2020

The new report centers on the office's three main functions, including tracking APD officer discipline, reviewing the city's police policies, and engaging with Austin residents.