City of Austin, create a "Slow Streets" program NOW to prioritize walking and bicycling on neighborhood streets, while allowing local traffic, to enable safe exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic

Mayor Adler, Austin City Council Members, City Manager Cronk, Assistant City Manager Fiandaca, and Austin Transportation Director Spillar,

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John Simmerman, Active Towns

Austinites are experiencing unprecedented hardship. Pandemic-related stress and the shelter-in-place order has created skyrocketing mental and physical health impacts. Meanwhile, despite the enormous health benefits of outdoor exercise, residents are being discouraged from crowding in parks and trails but have few alternative opportunities for safe exercise, meaning that park and trail use remains at dangerous levels. This situation must be addressed now to prevent the crisis escalating still further.

A "Slow Streets" program will prioritize walking and bicycling on miles of neighborhood streets to allow for safe exercise near home, while still allowing local traffic. This crucial preventative tool will greatly mitigate public mental and physical impacts, reduce potential COVID-19 transmission, and relieve pressure on parks and trails.

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Austin, TX

To: Mayor Adler, Austin City Council Members, City Manager Cronk, Assistant City Manager Fiandaca, and Austin Transportation Director Spillar,
From: [Your Name]

I urge the City of Austin to immediately create an emergency “Slow Streets” program to enable safe exercise on neighborhood streets during the COVID-19 pandemic in every City Council District in Austin. This program will prioritize safe, socially-distanced walking and bicycling on non-arterial, non-transit neighborhood streets in all City Council districts while still allowing access for local traffic.

I also call for the City to implement the following measures to address a rise in vehicle speeds and walking and bicycling:

+ Create temporary bicycle lanes on Congress Avenue north of Riverside Drive to the State Capitol
+ Reallocate partial/full road space for walking and bicycling on other currently unsafe streets and near crowded trails/sidewalks, as was recently enacted on Riverside Dr and on the Longhorn Dam bridge
+ Disable pedestrian push buttons at intersections and automate crossing phases to eliminate the need to touch surfaces, while still catering for the needs of those with disabilities
+ Implement Lead Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) beyond downtown
+ Retime traffic lights citywide to discourage speeding and reduce pedestrian crowding at intersections