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T H E A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E
JULY 25, 2014
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Time To ShifT PrioriTieS Toward
PedeSTrianS
Dear Editor,
I was interested to read the article, “Where the
Sidewalks End” [News, July 11], as it described
in detail what many American cities are strug-
gling with as we return to more urbanized living.
I am a new Austinite coming most recently from
Los Angeles, where I spent 10 years as a public
health advocate for smart, safe, and healthy
urban planning. Like many of L.A.’s communities,
Austin is clearly struggling with a return to more
pedestrian-centric living, but the drivers of the
city haven’t yet caught up.
I walk with my two children everywhere in
Austin. Often, I have people raising their eye-
brows at me at the places I attempt to walk, but
what I have found is that although the sidewalks
are indeed a problem, worse still is the culture
of drivers who appear unwilling to give up a few
seconds of their day to let us cross an intersec-
tion safely – opting instead to cut us off to speed
on their way. A culture shift toward the “walker”
needs to occur.
In my work in L.A. bringing together com-
munity residents, city planners, public health
departments, and others, we generated the
most important recommendations related to
walkability by involving residents who know their
streets. We used something known as the PEQI
(Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index), which
is a walkability survey accessible to someone
with limited education. Using PEQI, we both
collected concrete data and also educated and
involved residents about the issue. This helped
the city in gaining support for where to target
limited funds.
I applaud the city for taking on this important
issue and encourage residents to stay engaged.
I also encourage “outside the box” thinking, as
it is only through a broad solicitation of ideas
for solutions from residents that the best solu-
tions emerge.
Elina Nasser
‘Three inconTroverTible facTS’
Dear Editor,
On June 26, the City Council passed Austin’s
first urban rail line route. Public testimony was
limited, but I would have pointed out three incon-
trovertible facts. The first is that the approved
route terminates at the old Highland Mall, with
no plans to extend any further. Every initial line,
as part of any transit system, should have plans
to be extended, but this one isn’t. Terminating
Austin’s initial urban rail line there is proven
illogical by no plans to extend it. And doubly
illogical because, second, the entire proposed
redevelopment is already served by passenger
rail. The Highland station on the MetroRail Red
Line is within a half-mile of the entire Highland
Mall site – the distance passengers are willing to
walk in a transit trip. Spending hundreds of mil-
lions of dollars on a tunnel, and placing new rail
on Airport Boulevard (paralleling, only a few feet
away, the already existing Red Line passenger
rail) to reach a planned redevelopment already
served by voter-approved (and funded) passenger
rail is a very expensive double service. Third,
the projected ridership for the Guadalupe/North
Lamar light rail route, considered by voters in
Oops!
In “The Road to 10-1: Now We Begin,” July
18, the name of City Clerk Elections
Coordinator Ann Franklin was misspelled;
and concerning the opening of the official
filing period of previously declared candi-
dates for City Council elections, Franklin
explained, “None of them are [officially]
candidates until they file for office.”
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