For all of you reading this shortly after it’s been posted, no context is necessary. But in case anybody ever goes back and reads this months or years from now, here’s the situation as I write this. Most folks in Austin are working from home on account of the global pandemic COVID-19. Dining areas in bars and restaurants are closed. Yesterday, 18 positive tests for the virus in Austin were added to the 23 existing ones. 2020’s edition of SXSW was cancelled and a large chunk of SXSW, Inc’s workers were laid off. So many other workers are being laid off in Austin and around the country and world that people are starting to ask whether the economic collapse will look more like the Great Recession or the Great Depression. Cap Metro has reported a nearly 50% drop in ridership and has dropped service to mostly Sunday-levels. I could go on and on but suffice it to say the situation isn’t looking good.
Now, the professionals have weighed in and come up with three options for streets, as well as three options for a design language. (Scroll down to the May 15 event.) All three feature protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and more street trees, but they differ in the details:
In third place is a design by Ryan Young:
Ryan’s design includes many features! Center-running light rail lines with a transit shelter between the north-bound and south-bound trains. There are two 10-foot wide general travel lanes per direction. 10′ lanes are a safer design for city streets, because drivers feel unsafe taking them at faster speeds. There are bike lanes, sidewalks and a row of trees on each side. Congratulations Ryan!
In second place, a design by Dan Hennessy:
Dan’s design has one 10′ general travel lane in each direction, as well as a 12′ wide bus lane. Additionally, he has bike lanes, physically protected from the bus and car traffic by a transit shelter. The two directions of travel lanes are separated by a row of trees, adding a calming influence. A very nice touch in Dan’s design is the inclusion of wayfinding stations (i.e. maps). The “Main Street of Texas” sees a lot of tourist travel and even locals can sometimes get turned around.
And the winner is…a design by Mateo Barnstone:
Mateo’s design emphasizes a number of features that emphasize Congress Ave as a place to be and not just a place to pass through. 9½’ general travel lanes can be very uncomfortable for drivers to take at speed, but encourage drivers instead to drive slow enough to take in their surroundings. Each wide sidewalk has two columns of street trees, offering a unique, fully-shaded experience to pedestrians walking through the hot Texas sun, as well as shaded benches for taking in the scene.
Thanks to all of you who submitted entries and voted! Congratulations to Ryan, Dan, and Mateo. Mateo, get in touch and I will get you your gift certificate generously donated by Popbar!