UT: A Model City-Within-Our City

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Now that we know we all must work together to ease our traffic woes by using other commute options from time to time, let’s shift our focus to a place where that actually happens. A place right here in Austin where the majority of residents walk, bike, or take transit, and live, work and play in a dense, connected environment. Where does such a fantastical place exist? It’s called the University of Texas at Austin. And everyone should take note of how its students, faculty and staff get around. UT is in the middle of car-loving Texas, and yet its 87,000-strong population manages to get where it needs to go without depending on cars.

There are a few key factors that make this work. First, a dense concentration of live, work and play. In recent years an overlay plan has helped usher in dense building growth around the West Campus portion of UT. Residential, retail, and services are clustered near academic buildings, which means it’s easy to get to where you need to go on foot or bike.

Options also abound on campus. UT offers a limited amount of car parking, enough for roughly 15 percent of its population. At the same time, the university has increased the number of bike parking spaces on campus, as well as bike pump stations and a mobile bike shop. The student organization The Orange Bike Project acts as a UT community bike shop where students can rent bikes, as well as work on their own bikes. All of these amenities make biking an easy choice for students and faculty.

Transit passes for any Capital Metro bus or rail as well as student-specific services like the E-Bus and UT Shuttles give students and faculty a reliable way to get to and from home or other UT destinations like the Pickle Research Campus or Intramural Fields.

UT also understands there are times when you just need a car. They have teamed up with Zipcar and car2go to offer convenient and easy carsharing options for those times.

Rather than ignore this model in the heart of our city, maybe we should ask ourselves what we can learn from UT, even if we’re not enrolled there!

 

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