The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) announced Thursday that Austin has upgraded from “bronze” to “silver” Walk Friendly Community status, making it the only city to increase its rank this round.
“Many cities have achieved some level of Walk Friendly Community designation, but few have taken the necessary steps to move from one level to the next, demonstrating a high level of commitment to pedestrian safety and walkability,” said Dan Gelinne, a PBIC representative.
“I’m proud of our community for achieving this prestigious designation,” said Austin Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar. “This demonstrates that we’re making progress toward improving mobility and safety for all Austinites. It also encourages us to push forward on initiatives like the new Vision Zero Program and the development of a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.”
In May 2016, the Austin City Council adopted the Vision Zero Action Plan, which lays out actions to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025. The Plan also calls for the development of action plans for vulnerable road user groups, such as pedestrians.
The PBIC “report card” for Austin noted that the organization was “particularly impressed” with the City of Austin’s work in several areas, including:
- “A Complete Streets policy, Sidewalk Master Plan, and Urban Trails Master Plan that are each detailed, easy to understand, and offer clear steps for implementation.
- The city’s commitment to improving traffic safety through a Vision Zero approach and the addition of a Pedestrian Advisory Council.
- Positive design practices including lane conversions and pedestrian signals.
- The presence of a Safe Routes to School program and crossing guard at the majority of Austin schools.”
The Walk Friendly Community designation, ranging from bronze to platinum, is given to applicant communities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies.
In order to be considered for the designation, the City of Austin completed a comprehensive assessment that evaluates community walkability and pedestrian safety through questions related to engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation and planning.
There are 58 communities that have been designated Walk Friendly Communities by PBIC, which is maintained by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.
Learn more about the Walk Friendly Community designation here.