More than $2 million of pedestrian and crosswalk safety improvements are coming to Austin this year. Thanks to some federal funding (matched with City of Austin dollars) the Austin Transportation Department has launched a campaign to install more pedestrian countdown timers (including some tailored for the visually-impaired) and five more pedestrian hybrid beacon crossings at intersections throughout the city.
What does all that mean?
Pedestrian countdown timers are those little boxes found at intersections that countdown how much time a person has left to cross the street before the light turns red. According to the US Department of Transportation, these countdown signals reduce pedestrian crashes by about 25 percent.
Pedestrian hybrid beacon crossings are crosswalks that force drivers to stop for pedestrians, even when there isn’t a traffic light. All pedestrians have to do is press a button (which turns a special signal red for drivers) and then safely cross the street.
There are already several of these around town, but five more will be installed at these intersections:
- South Congress Avenue and Alpine Road
- Pleasant Valley Road and Sheringham Drive
- Oltorf Street and Burton Drive
- Manchaca Road and Larchmont Drive
- Burnet Road and Ashdale Drive
In 2015, 102 people died on Austin’s roads, the most since record keeping began in 1985. Almost a third were pedestrians or bicyclists. In response, the city launched the Vision Zero initiative, which commits the city to eliminating all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2025. This new $2.2 million investment in pedestrian safety is part of the Austin Transportation Department’s implementation of the Vision Zero Action Plan.
Pedestrian safety improvements also improve the overall walkability of a city, contributing to larger plans to make Austin more walkable and to expand the number of viable alternative transportation options. More info>>