MobilityATX: What Now?

Screen shot 2015-07-06 at 9.29.45 PMA few weeks ago, MobilityATX hosted its final event, a Town Hall meeting to wrap up three months of public input and discussion on the online forum. Check out our previous articles here and here, or watch the full coverage of the Town Hall if you need to catch up.

The online forum was an innovative way to gather public input. Almost 1,000 users logged in to the site to generate ideas, and comment on and vote for suggestions to improve transportation in Central Texas. This crowd-sourced site was available to anyone with Internet access, and the 342 ideas showed a wide range of opinions.

However, while 1,000 people is arguably far more than would likely attend a public meeting on a similar subject, it is still only 0.1% of Austin’s population. While the ideas generated are not a mandate from the voting public, public officials seem to be paying attention to the results because these are the most engaged and energetic “constituents” on transportation issues.

At the Town Hall meeting, a panel of public and private sector representatives presented the top-rated ideas and discussed next steps. The top ten ideas touched on topics including bicycle planning, bus lanes and frequency, sidewalks, parking minimums, housing density, and light rail. Noticably absent is much interest or discussion in the transportation Austin spends most of its money on – maintaining the roadway system.

With a focus on short-term solutions, several panelists talked about their new or ongoing initiatives. Mayor Steve Adler discussed his commitment to reducing City employees’ drive alone commutes by 20% by the end of the year. Joseph Kopser unveiled RideScout Route, a small, free downtown circulator they will pilot this summer. Linda Watson of Capital Metro announced that they would add stops to MetroRapid, and discussed the new High Frequency Routes which will soon expand to include the heavily-used 1 and 3 Routes.

So, MobilityATX is a wrap. While, many of these Top 10 ideas have already been much discussed among Austin transportation wonks over the last few years. What fell to the bottom of the pile in this process were things like late night traffic control, reducing parking costs for carpoolers, bus stop improvements, sharing lots for park and rides, small tweaks to roads and bus routes, and a lot of comments about staggered schedules. These aren’t sexy, big ticket items like many of the Top Ten ideas, but they warrant some consideration — if only because they are evidence of some “regular” Austinites jumping into the discussion.

It’s exciting to see the Top 10 ideas being addressed with momentum, and we hope that other public and private leaders will embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that Mayor Adler spoke of at the beginning of the Town Hall – and that more Austinites will participate in future conversations.

 Top 10 Ideas by Upvotes on MobilityATX

  1. Fully fund the bicycle master plan.
  2. Support Reconnect Austin’s vision of an I-35 that’s buried through the center of downtown. *
  3. Dedicated bus lanes in high traffic corridors throughout the city.
  4. Remove all sidewalk exemptions.
  5. Fix Anderson Mill Rd from Hwy 620 to Hwy 183 – High accident incidence; insufficient access to the bus stops; unsafe bike lanes & discontinuous sidewalks.
  6. We need to allow for small-scale apartments all over the city, especially in central city neighborhoods.
  7. Restore the original frequency on the 1 and 3 local routes.
  8. Time to reboot the Dillo!
  9. We need to get rid of parking minimums, and consider parking maximums all over town.
  10. We must get cracking on planning a light-rail line that will serve the greatest number of riders on Day One, and going forward.

*most discussed

Image via City of Austin

One Response to MobilityATX: What Now?

  1. Rollie Cole says:

    An admittedly minor point compared to the 10, but one I think serves multiple goals, is to hold a contest for Permeable Materials for multi-use paths. Brushy Creek and South Walnut are great, but solid concrete in part or total. Even latticed concrete might be better, let alone experiments with crushed stone, deck plastic, etc. As a trike rider, I really do appreciate the hard, smooth surface of concrete, so suggest some form of contest to bring out new solutions that would be equally (or almost equally) hard and smooth, but still permeable.

    I recognize that many of the traditional solutions, especially latticed concrete and crushed stone, come with increased maintenance requirements — so again, the contest is to identify (“surface” for those who could not resist the pun ), new materials that might complete with concrete on maintenance costs.

    One could imagine a wheel/tire contest as well, seeking new tires and new suspensions, etc., better able to handle surfaces that are less hard and less smooth than concrete. One example is large-core balloon tires, but they add substantial weight, a big disadvantage to pedaled vehicles. Maybe something like two-tired wheels would work, where two thin tires might weigh less than one big thick one. Maybe adding suspension to standard-sized mountain tires would improve the experience on rough surfaces.

    A third possibility is a “motor-assist” contest where various forms of engines for normally pedaled vehicles could compete, especially on their ability to help with surfaces that are less hard and smooth than standard concrete.

    In all these cases, I think Austin could add substantial value to its image by holding nationally-publicized contests for these sorts of new technologies.