Austin’s streets get a lot of attention these days. Austin adopted Complete Street policies in June of 2014 and immediately received national recognition for it. In downtown Austin we also have a Great Streets program, and now Austin’s adding one more: Green Streets.
It seems Complete Streets means more than streets for all human users – now flora is included and someday we may also come to include all fauna where appropriate. Perhaps we can even add Movability Executive Director Glenn Gadbois’s particular favorite, duck lanes.
Getting back to the serious stuff, this Green Streets introduction is the result of collaboration among City staff from several departments including Transportation, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Planning and Development Review, Watershed Protection, and the Office of Sustainability. The document is intended to serve as an informational resource to assist in the implementation of the City’s Complete Streets policy.
The resource, in turn, should get planners, engineers, maintenance crews, and others thinking less narrowly about streets and begin to see them as opportunities to contribute to:
- Public Space
- Economic Benefit
- Climate Change Resiliency
- Integration of the Public and Private
- Public Health
This is all great in theory. So what does it mean for you? Well nothing quite yet, but it could mean more shade while walking or visiting with neighbors in a pocket park. It could also mean better solutions to water drainage and much more. And you have the opportunity to let the right people know what you think by contacting the Green Infrastructure working group or via the SPEAK UP online forum.
If you want to dive even deeper, there will be a lot of public events celebrating our “Better Streets” during the NACTO conference here in Austin October 25-31. Evolve Austin is hosting a specific speaker event: Green Streets: Learning from Philadelphia, with Ariel Ben-Amos on October 28th from 8am-9am at St David’s Episcopal Church downtown.