People are Key in New Austin Transportation

The Austin Transportation Department (ATD) just released its 2013 Annual Report. While that’s not the kind of thing we’d normally cover, there are some exciting nuggets in this report we just can’t ignore.

League Cycling Instructor Seminar Fort Collins, August 7 - 9, 2009

Both ATD Director Rob Spillar and City Manager Marc Ott recognize how much YOU are part of the solution.

We’ll need your help and optimism as the City strives to provide strong leadership in tackling the next round of transportation improvements. In the years ahead, providing a safe and reliable transportation system will require an on-going commitment of sufficient resources by the City and all agencies. At the same time, each of us needs to make personal choices that are mindful of finite transportation resources. Just as we conserve electricity and water, we need to conserve gasoline and limited transportation dollars.”  Director Rob Spillar

Your efforts and daily transportation choices matter too. This week, try something new – join a carpool, invite someone to share a ride, run an errand by bicycle, try out the new MetroRapid service, walk to lunch. Join us in being part of the transportation solution.” City Manager Marc Ott

Why are your transportation decisions a part of this process? Because many of the solutions to our problems require us to change our travel behavior. The City has plans to do its part, but success depends on Austin residents choosing to use travel options. Here’s what the City is doing to make your choice easier:

Reducing travel all together

Compact centers and corridors allow daily necessities (such as work, shopping, dining and school) to be located closer together, resulting in shorter, more convenient trips and less time spent on the road. Shorter distances between people’s homes, workplaces, and other daily destinations increase opportunities for walking and bicycling instead of driving. Walkable destinations can enable greater transit use. For those Austinites who choose to drive, it gives them the ability to park once and walk…Austin residents and visitors need the ability to choose and safely use different modes at various times – walking, bicycling, transit, and driving.

This means more people-friendly, complete streets where cycling and walking is safer – and for many trips more efficient – than driving.  It also means making transit faster through streets like Lamar and Congress.

Efficient investments even on highways

Even on the regional highways ATD is seeking to use lanes most efficiently, since building more roads is quickly become too costly and too inefficient a solution. The priority will be to give people more travel options. MoPac Managed lanes will greatly speed up commuter transit into downtown and may eventually even give carpool (High Occupancy Vehicles) discounts for express lanes. Similarly, officials are seeking ways to expand Austinites’ workable options for efficiently making local trips other than driving their cars on I-35.  Most I-35 traffic is generated by people driving alone for local trips, so more people traveling earlier or later, carpooling, and using transit, can help to prevent even more intense I-35 congestion in the future.

Programs for intensive improvement

There have been bicycling, pedestrian, clean air, neighborhood, and parking management programs around for a decade or more. But now there is a lot for them to accomplish quickly if they are truly going to keep up with the rapid growth of this city. This report promises that these programs are up to the task. We certainly hope so, because this Annual Report seems to be offering people a deal – “we need you and if you help, we will keep up our side of the bargain giving you safe, viable, maybe even better options.”

The great news is that the city’s transportation professionals have also begun to realize they must have you as a willing partner. Your travel choices are the key. You can resist change until traffic strangles this city. Or you can become part of the solution and work with Austin’s transportation professionals to make sure they are providing workable options for you and your neighbors.

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