Three new Austin neighborhoods are transforming busy boulevards into walkable, bikable streets. On July 27, the City of Austin officially announced the second phase of its Healthy Streets program is expanding into Hyde Park, Windsor Park, and South Austin.
Healthy Streets temporarily opens roadways to pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, runners, and others engaging in physical activities "that promote physical and mental health" during this time of social distancing.
To close off the streets, Austin Transportation uses traffic cones and other physical barriers to create a sort of zigzag down the length of the road to slow vehicular traffic. For the time being (the program is billed as temporary, but doesn't have an end date), access to the roadways is limited to residents, deliveries, and emergency vehicles.
Austin's newest members of the Health Streets program are:
- Avenue G from 38th Street to 56th Street in Hyde Park
- Belfast Drive from Broadmoor Drive to Cameron Road in Windsor Park
- Street segments comprising Marsh Drive, Leo Street, Seminary Ridge Drive, and Whispering Oaks Drive from West Slaughter Lane to West William Cannon Drive, in South Austin
Walk Austin, a coalition of 30 local, mainly grassroots organizations, lobbied city council for the program — then called Slow Streets — in April as COVID-19 closed gyms, trails, parks, and other recreation spaces. On May 7, Austin City Council then passed a resolution directing the transportation department to create the Healthy Streets program.
These newest selections were the result of a public survey that gathered more than 500 suggestions for new Healthy Streets. They join three other roads that were transformed in late May:
- Bouldin Avenue/South Third Street/Garden Villa Lane between Bannister Lane and Barton Springs Road
- Comal Street from Manor Road to Lady Bird Lake
- Country Club Creek Trail extension (around Wickersham Lane, Ventura Drive, and Madera Drive) from Mabel Davis Park to Lakeshore Drive
As we continue to adapt to this new coronavirus-induced reality, the city is still taking nominations for new Healthy Streets, which can be made here.
“Communities know their streets best so we’re inviting the public to help roll this out quickly and successfully," said Joanna Wolaver, board president of Austin Outside, in a release.