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Jaywalking crackdown is stupid

Quick commentary since I'm still drowning with all the recent troubles.

This is stupid. Most jaywalking occurs in high-pedestrian-traffic areas where crossings aren't sufficiently present (like South Congress or west 6th) or where pedestrian traffic is just overwhelming compared to car traffic (like South Congress or 6th anywhere downtown). However, most of the injuries and deaths occur in other places so the enforcement here isn't doing anything other than PR for the department among motorists. Strictly bush-league nonsense.

The only burgs that have the right to prosecute jaywalking to this degree, in M1EK's informed opinion, are those like New York, where you don't have to go many blocks to get to a crosswalk.

How do we fix this? The City Council has to direct transportation staff to create additional protected crossings on Congress and 6th and a few other spots. My first attempt on the UTC to do something, way back in 2001, was to get more traffic signals put up on blocks downtown which had 2-way or 4-way stops on the theory that we know the pedestrian traffic is there; the streets are in a grid pattern anyways; and it's probably more efficient to just have lights on every block instead of a gap of 2 or 3 blocks on W 6th which forced many N/S motorists to abandon the most direct routes and head over to Guadalupe/Lavaca, for instance. Made precisely zero headway, since absent official direction at the council level, they aren't going to put up signals that don't meet warrants - and the pedestrian warrant in Texas is just about impossible to meet.

But if there's enough jaywalkers to make it worth the cops' time; it's now worth the council's time to add some legal places to cross.

Austin Contrarian has covered this issue (insufficient crossings) in the past in more detail. Please check it out.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , I Told You So , Republicans Hate Poor People , Republicans Hate Public Transportation , Republicans Hate The Environment , Texas Republicans Hate Cities , Transportation , Urban Design , Walking in Austin (Pedestrian Issues)

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Comments

Don't most of the traffic fatalities occur on East 7th and Riverside drive areas? Like the one that happened this week? Yeah, let's go after those downtown jaywalkers...

I'd also love to figure out what the rules are for those traffic islands on South Congress.

Good point about the traffic islands, Tim. Isn't the point precisely to give jaywalkers a safe zone as they frogger through the traffic?

Can the neighborhoods do something about this as part of the neighborhood plan process? I'm hoping to get some more crossings on Lake Austin Blvd as part of mine - dodging Westlake pickups when I take the kid for a swim at Deep Eddy is terrifying.

Shilli, in my experience with the OWANA plan, you will not be able to get the city staff to do anything not warranted by the, uh, warrants. Meaning nothing but a crosswalk here and there; nothing signalized for sure.

(To me, given the law in Texas and driver behavior, a crosswalk which doesn't have a red light attached to it is worse than nothing).

Two streets needing additional protected crossings that I would add to your list are Lavaca between 15th and MLK, and N. Lamar next to the Triangle.

Lavaca for sure (we had people request this at the UTC more than once back in my day). Lamar, as a design issue, sure; but that ship has sailed - the neighborhoods successfully obstructed serious adult efforts to do things like connect to the existing street grid which in the long run are far more important than which tenants end up there at the beginning.

Hard to justify a signalized crossing for low numbers of pedestrians when roads like 46th don't even line up, in other words. The same mistakes are about to be made up at Crestview Station - pandering to NIMBY nitwits leading to a staggered/disconnected street grid.


Hard to justify a signalized crossing for low numbers of pedestrians when roads like 46th don't even line up, in other words. The same mistakes are about to be made up at Crestview Station - pandering to NIMBY nitwits leading to a staggered/disconnected street grid.


This is what drives me bonkers every time that I hear austinites complaining about traffic, when the traffic problems are caused by horrible grid connectivity that drives all traffic onto a couple of heavily used through corridors, especially in South Austin and Hyde Park.

And it seems like every time that some sort of compromise on connectivity needs to be reached, it's the pedestrians and bicyclists, who reduce traffic density the most, that are screwed the most. People don't seem to understand that if there were a low density road that ran uninterrupted and parallel to say Oltorf, then that bicyclist wouldn't be in your lane annoying you.

This may just be anecdotal, but aren't a huge number of the pedestrian fatalities on North Lamar (say, 183 on north), where stoplights are spaced very infrequently and the road gets super wide?

A lot are. A lot are also on highways (people attempting to cross the mainlanes of I-35, for instance). A large number are drunk people or the homeless (also probably drunk).

Hardly any in my recollection are on 6th or Congress.

Syncing the Triangle with the existing grid would certainly have helped those of us who walk and/or bike. I work in one of the State buildings across from the Triangle and every day at lunch there is a significant number of folks scampering across Lamar trying to avoid the speeding SUVs. A co-worker lives in the Triangle and drives to work(one block!)because crossing Lamar is so hostile to pedestrians. There are also a large number of visually-impaired folks here who have to walk down to 45th and back up to the Triangle if they want to lunch at one of the many restaurants.

What is the best avenue for pursuing the installation of mid-block crosswalks?

One of those online forms - and then when they reject, the UTC. Which will probably end up going nowhere, too, but you can console yourself with the thought that the midblock crosswalks with no actual traffic signals are, IMO, worse than nothing at all.

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