Ford is driving forward with an innovative new idea to tackle Austin's terrible traffic. On June 24, during a press conference at Austin City Hall, the car company, along with the City of Austin and Planet M, announced the local launch of the City:One Challenge, a new program that asks residents to reimagine mobility.
The idea, says Ford, is that the answer to Austin's woeful traffic issues may come from an untapped source: you.
Over the past decade, as the city's population continues to grow, little has been done to enhance infrastructure or improve public transit, creating an increasingly critical issue.
"While Austin continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the country, that growth has also impacted mobility in the city," says Ford in a release, adding that the average Austin driver spends more than 50 hours a year in traffic.
"The challenge will invite residents, community organizations, and businesses to explore dynamic mobility options, including making biking and walking more inviting, helping residents move to and from the neighborhoods to destinations throughout Austin, and providing additional access to transportation."
To participate, log onto the challenge website and create an account. Residents are then asked to explain a recent journey through Austin, share inspiration for new mobility solutions, talk about what a healthy lifestyle means to them, or ask a question. The first phase, called "explore," will culminate in a community workshop on July 18 at the Asian American Resource Center.
Then, on August 28, the project will open up applications for solutions to Austin's most pressing mobility solutions. Anyone, from community members to startups to design firms are invited to pitch an idea. In October, a panel of Ford stakeholders and city leaders will pick 12 finalists. Those lucky dozen will compete to be named the winner, potentially earning $100,000 from Ford, along with partners at Dell Technologies, AT&T, and Microsoft.
“Austin has distinguished itself as both a city on the cutting edge of technology and one where community input helps shape solutions," says Mayor Steve Adler in a release. “The City:One Challenge program is perfect for a city like ours. Austin is where great ideas become real.”
Hopefully, the mayor is right, and an Austin resident has the bright idea to begin tackling the city's crippling mobility issues. That way, the city can move forward, and our leaders can return to other pressing projects, like putting queso on the moon.