Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx named Austin one of the winners of the Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets. Austin, which won for its Smart Trips Austin program in the Rundberg neighborhood, is the Mayors’ Challenge Ladders of Opportunity (Large City) Award Winner.
“This award is designed to support a community that creates opportunities through bike and pedestrian efforts. Let me say this, because I found the statistic alarming when I read it, that fewer than 50% of low-income neighborhoods have adequate sidewalks and crosswalks around the country,” said Sec. Anthony Foxx at the 2016 Safer People, Safer Street Summit in Washington, D.C., this morning. “I’m pleased to announce Austin as winner of the Ladders of Opportunity Award. The City of Austin has launched a new program in a low-income, predominantly minority community that highlights the health and safety benefits of walking and biking. They have also installed more than 30 new pedestrian signals and beacons to make crossing safer for those with disabilities.”
“We piloted our Smart Trips Austin program in the Rundberg neighborhood, because of our commitment to improving equity,” said Mayor Steve Adler. “By helping people learn to take trips by walking, biking, and transit, in a way that works for their lives, we gave them a leg up on getting to work or school safely and more affordably – with a health and fitness bonus too.”
In 2016, Austin launched Smart Trips Austin to encourage people to forgo car trips and instead walk, bike, or use transit, the benefits for which include increased fitness, money saved, and reduced traffic. Following priorities set by the USDOT Ladders of Opportunity initiative, Smart Trips Austin was piloted in the Rundberg neighborhood. Rundberg residents saw:
- An 11.8% increase in active trips (walking or biking), and
- A 2.2% decrease in driving drips, including 44% of program participants.
The city will continue to build these ladders of opportunity in other ways, including working with TxDOT to install 15 new Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons and 18 Accessible Pedestrian (i.e., deaf and blind pedestrians) Signals throughout the city using funding from the Federal Highway Administrations Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).
“We are excited to align with the USDOT Ladders of Opportunity agenda,” said Austin Transportation
Department Director Robert Spillar. “I found it inspiring to travel with Secretary Foxx to three European cities that are great places for bicyclists and pedestrians, and we are already putting ideas from that study trip to work here in Austin.”
According to the Smart Trips Austin report, 27,512 community members were reached in the pilot program.
Community partners including the Office of Sustainability, Captial Metropolitan Transportation Authority, North Austin YMCA, Gus Garcia Recreation Center, Dobie Middle School, Lanier High School, Barrington Elementary School, Guerrero Thompson Elementary School, Bike Austin, The Ghisallo Cycling Initiative, Born Again Bodies, Austin Voices, Thurmond Heights Apartments, North Gate Hills, Georgian Manar, Partnerships for Children, Restore Rundberg, Rundberg Education Advancement District, and Imagine Austin.
Other cities winning the 2016 Mayors’ Challenge included Miami-Dade County, FL, Myrtle Beach, SC, Los Angeles , CA, Bellevue, WA, Henderson, NV, Lexington, KY, Norwalk, CT, Louisville, KY, Oro Valley, AZ, Brownsville, TX, New York, NY, South Bend, IN, and Washington, DC.
For a video recording of the DOT Summit for Safer People, Safer Streets, click here.