Viral Newz

Austin, Texas aims to address systemic racism, equity with new walk and bike trail plans


AUSTIN (KXAN) — We’re getting our first look at what future sidewalks, trails and bikeways could look like in Austin.

Austin Public Works and Austin Transportation departments released three draft plans Friday available for the public to view, and comment on: Sidewalks, Crossings and Shared Streets; Urban Trail, and Bicycle.

The city said it tried to apply an equity lens to all plans, starting by creating a base map called Equity Analysis Zones (EAZ), areas of Austin that have higher concentrations of historically marginalized populations.

Their map shows most of the most vulnerable and medium-high vulnerable zones are on the East Side of Austin.

“Many of these areas were targeted through a historic practice called redlining, where banks and other institutions withheld investment based on the racial/ethnic or economic make-up of the community,” the urban trails plan states. “Many of these areas are now experiencing high rates of displacement.”

This map shows where the most vulnerable Austin populations are located. You can see they fall primarily on the East Side. (Source: City of Austin)

Having more transportation options factors into affordability, as well, said the city.

They say transportation costs are the second highest household expense behind housing.

“Bicycling, scooter, tricycle, and other micromobility are an opportunity to significantly
reduce transportation costs through driving less or reducing the number of cars in a
household,” the city states in it’s bike draft plan.

They added that ensuring everyone has access to those other mobility options will help lower transportation costs.

The map on the left shows where affordable areas are in Austin based on housing costs — the areas shaded in yellow. When you factor in transportation costs along with housing, though, you can see those affordable areas are dramatically reduced. (Source: City of Austin)

Affordability isn’t the only aspect at stake for Austin’s vulnerable populations: So is safety.

The city’s sidewalk, crossings, and shared streets plan states lower income communities of color experience a disproportionate amount of danger compared to other Austin communities.

The map on the right shows the city’s Pedestrian High-Injury Network. The city says EAZs overlap with higher shares of the HIN. (Source: City of Austin)

It’s all why the city said it’s focusing on building more biking and walking paths on the east side.

You can find all of the plans here, along with how to submit your own thoughts on them.

What challenges the city faces in achieving their equity goals for these plans, on KXAN News @ 6 p.m.


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