New program would allow residents to transform vehicle-dominated blocks into vibrant community gathering spaces.
Austin, Texas – July 1, 2021 – A coalition led by Austin residents, Bike Austin, Walk Austin, and local businesses and organizations is petitioning city government to fund Austin Living Streets, a new program that would enable residents to temporarily transform their block into vibrant community gathering spaces or safe pedestrian through-ways.
Austinites are looking for new ways to connect with friends, neighbors, and their environments after a year of solitude, yet the spaces most accessible for facilitating connectedness — our streets — are dominated by vehicular traffic. Through Living Streets, residents could obtain a permit to slow or stop traffic on their block for hours or days at a time, and create public areas for community gathering. The program is modeled after similar successful initiatives in Memphis, Tenn., Fort Worth, TX, and Fayetteville, Ark.
“We were so excited by the success of Healthy Streets in 2020 and all the street life and art it inspired,” says East Austin resident and Living Streets supporter Sarah Arvey. “Nothing is better than when neighbors shape their own streets and make them safe for kids to play. Living Streets would be a huge step forward for Austin.”
Recipients of a Living Streets permit could shape their street in one of the following ways:
- Placemaking and traffic calming: Residents can use materials such as barrels, plants, and paint, which can easily be adjusted over time, to make changes to streets, making certain that traffic can still pass slowly through
- Resident-led Healthy Streets: Residents can create their own one-block Healthy Street or to work with nearby blocks for longer segments. Neighbors can borrow City of Austin barricades, specially designed for this purpose.
- Play streets for kids: Residents can block traffic for a few hours in the evening to create a space designated for children’s play up to several times a week
- Better and easier block parties: A Living Streets program will overhaul Austin’s burdensome regulations to make block parties easier to organize
To get the attention of Mayor Steve Adler, City Council, and City Manager Spencer Cronk, the coalition is working to collect broad public support through a petition asking the City to create and fund a Living Streets program.
To learn more about Austin Living Streets visit: https://www.austinlivingstreets.com/. To view the petition visit: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/austin-living-streets/.