Is Walking Becoming Obsolete?

While most folks don’t think of walkingthemselves as pedestrians, we all walk every day! Now there is a movement underfoot to make walking more attractive, safer and convenient. The movement is called “walkability,” and having “walkability” is a leading indicator of a neighborhood’s health and attractiveness. This past month Austin quietly celebrated the first ever Walkability Week. Groups like the Mayor’s Council on Health and Fitness, AARP, and others joined to host lectures by national experts, Dan Burden and Ellen Dunham-Jones.

What is it?

Making a place walkable can take many forms. For instance, South Congress has become more walkable with better crosswalks, more time allowance for crossing, back-in parking that benefits cyclists, and repairing sidewalks. As the number of people living in downtown Austin increases, so will the number of destinations and activities, highlighting importance of wide sidewalks, like those on 2nd Street, as a means to connect public interaction and commerce.

Why you want it…

People are responding by leaving their car at home and strolling to their favorite restaurant, bar or museum. Those taking MetroRail into downtown for date night are greeted with easy walking connections to many of their favorite destinations. Surprise, integrating a little more walking into your daily routine is all that’s needed to make a big difference in your health as well. Whether you walk to work, to lunch, errands or to your bus stop it’s good to stretch those legs. Walking more and driving less also spares you the cost of gas and parking..Plus, creating walkable places increases the value of a community. Home values go up and retail spending increases. Making Austin walkable is something we can all get behind.

Get started!

There are many great places to walk in Austin and now there’s even an app to guide you to historic destinations! Start small, walk around the block, walk to your favorite bookstore on the weekend. It takes some time to find figure out your walking routine, but you’ll soon be enjoying the benefits (like not looking for parking!). Stay tuned for upcoming events that celebrate walkability like Viva!Streets.

Additionally, we all want to feel safe when we’re walking, and making a place safer for all to walk not only increases safety for those on foot, but also those using every other mode. That’s right: make conditions safer for pedestrians, drivers, cyclists and those using transit—they will reap the benefits as well. To that end, there are two bills making their way through the Texas Legislature right now that aim to make it safer to walk.

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