Last year was called “the deadliest year for Austin drivers,” and for a good reason. More than 100 people lost their lives in traffic accidents, 30 of which were involved in pedestrian accidents. As of July 9th, 34 people have lost their lives this year, the most recent of which was a 40-year-old man who died in a North Austin pedestrian accident.
Fortunately, it seems like city officials are aware of the alarming number and began making changes. On May 19th, the Austin City Council voted to approve Vision Zero’s plan to reduce the number of traffic fatalities by deconstructing the myth of “accidents.” While Vision Zero does agree that drivers and pedestrians will naturally make mistakes, Austin’s transportation system should have a design that will not allow those mistakes to be fatal. That said, the city is taking some steps to minimize the likelihood of pedestrian accidents.
Vision Zero and Austin’s Department of Transportation are Working to Keep Pedestrians Safe
The Austin Transportation Department set up a pedestrian hybrid beacon near John B. Connally High School in North Austin last month. These types of beacons allow a pedestrian to push a button at the crosswalk which turns on a red light. Car drivers treat this light the same way they would a traffic signal and allow pedestrians, mainly students in this case, to cross safely.
Additionally, Austin’s city leaders asked property owners to trim their trees and manage their overgrown shrubs and trees alongside the sidewalks. Approximately 40 percent of Austin sidewalks are blocked by overgrown shrubs, which forces people to walk into the street to go around. This dangerous situation is such a simple fix and hopefully, Austinites will comply to make things a little safer for pedestrians.
Burnet Road has grown immensely in the number of shopping centers and convenient bus stops. However, this growth is a big problem for pedestrians, as there are very few crosswalks distributed on this road. In the past two months alone, Burnet Road has been the location for two reported pedestrian accidents. The Vision Zero Taskforce is looking to build more pedestrian hybrid beacons and more sidewalks to make sure this area is safe to walk across.