News came out recently that the Austin Police Department hopes it can help make a dent in pedestrian fatalities by increasing its ticketing power on highways. APD has said that while there’s an existing ordinance that prohibits pedestrians from crossing I-35 and U.S. 290, there’s not an updated version that applies to 183A, S.H. 130, S.H. 45, U.S. Highway 71, and Loop 360.
APD would also like to change the ordinance so that it applies to all parts of a highway, including the shoulder or median.
This proposal comes in the wake of a terrible year for traffic fatalities – in 2015, Austin had 102 traffic deaths, 30 of which were pedestrians.
While we applaud the City taking the problem seriously, prohibiting walking is not a workable long-term solution.
We caused the problem by building massive infrastructure that simply was not designed for pedestrians. And yet, there will always be some people who need to cross it and don’t have the means to do so beyond their feet.
If ticketing is an interim solution, then it makes sense. But it isn’t a final or even best solution. People will still need to get to the other side of the road and walking may be their only choice. Instead of relying on ticketing we need to get to work changing the design – the real problem that we created. After all, there is no cheaper or healthier (when safe) transportation option than walking.
photo credit: Zoe Fu, Daily Texan