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Life without sidewalks

Sidewalks are a simple, easy way we are able to get from place to place. Without them in neighborhoods, our safety and connections suffer.

Photo of Staci H
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Last October, I thought about taking the bus to work instead of driving but found out it would take about 45-50 minutes to make that trip. That baffled me. I live in a pretty central part of the city in 78704 and it's about 2.5-3 miles to get to work. That said, we made a conscious decision to sell our second car, keep our Prius, and I'd start walking to/from work. It would take the same time to do that as it would to take the bus, but there were more health benefits walking. However, within the first week, I realized how many areas in Austin don't have sidewalks. Sometimes there is a short stretch of sidewalk in front of one or two houses and on some main streets there is a sidewalk on one side of the road, but in large part, many areas lack this simple option. Many people I've met walking by are people who can't afford a car and don't have other options. Many also have kids. Realistically, It's not safe to walk in the streets in Austin, and if you have kids or are walking at night it's even more dangerous. There are also many people who use the sidewalk as a way to commute by scooter, which is also dangerous, but at least it gives more options to get around. It won't solve the massive issues we have with one driver per car, but I do think it will connect our communities better and provide a safer, healthier way to get around town.

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Photo of Mark Lind

Walking is a more viable alternative to driving if there are: 1) wide sidewalks and 2) sufficient shade-producing elements— either manmade structures like awnings or trellises, or natural ones like trees...

Without good sidewalks with adequate shade, walking in Texas can be onerous enough to discourage this method of travel....