Austin, like many towns in Texas, is not necessarily always easy to get around by foot, at least safely. The problem, as journalist Richard Whittaker recently pointed out, is putting pedestrians at risk. Part of the reason for this state of affairs is that sidewalks used to be the responsibility of property owners, and there were no laws requiring sidewalks to be installed.
While pedestrian travel is easier downtown Austin, the case is a little different in the outer metro areas. That is fundamentally still the case. Though some improvements have been made over the years, more are needed. The problem is well-known by city officials, and a plan has been developed to address the issue.
The Sidewalk Master Plan, as it is called, was adopted in 2009 with the stated aims of improving pedestrian safety, encouraging walking, and increasing pedestrians’ ability to walk to and from transportation hubs. The big problem with the plan is that the funding just isn’t in place. The problem isn’t only with money, though, but also with a Department of Transportation which, by some accounts at least, does not take investing in walking seriously enough. This may change in time, hopefully.
Pedestrian accidents can happen in any context, but poor infrastructure can certainly be a cause for these accidents. That and bad drivers. When drivers fail to operate their vehicles responsibly and watch out for pedestrians, serious accidents can occur. Pedestrians who are harmed by negligent drivers have the right to seek recovery in personal injury litigation, and it can certainly help to work with an experienced advocate in doings so.
Source: Austin Chronicle, “Where the Sidewalks End,” Richard Whittaker, July 11, 2014.
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