Later this month, the event Viva Streets will take place in the Mueller neighborhood. During the event, which will run from 10:00am to 3:00pm, a two-mile route though Mueller will be closed to motor vehicles so that people can use the streets to bike, walk, run, and play. While this event will no doubt be a great one, we can’t help but imagine: what if we didn’t have to settle for a couple of hours once a year to allow a variety of people and vehicles to use and safely enjoy our city streets?
In New York City, the city closed off nearly seven miles of city streets to vehicles throughout August, allowing residents to enjoy healthy recreation on the streets. San Franciso tried something similar this spring. And in cities throughout Europe, pedestrianized streets are becoming all the rage.
One of the reasons we always see auto traffic and rarely see people traffic, except maybe for the occasional event like ACL, is that our public space has been designed so that the automobile is the number one priority and 75-85 percent of the space is dedicated to that one type of user. While activities like Viva Streets may give us a brief view of what public space can feel like when it is used differently, redesign needs to occur to really make changes. That’s why the recent adoption of a Complete Streets policy could be so helpful to people who want more travel choices. Maybe someday we’ll see people accessing Austin streets on their feet or bikes more often, whether it’s because of new street design or events like those in New York and San Francisco.
image via Viva Streets