We asked Travis County to invest in bike lanes and sidewalks

Travis County | Public Domain
Environment Texas intern Gwen Reed testified before the Travis County Bond Advisory Committee in support of bike lanes and sidewalks

On May 25th, we both testified before the Travis County Bond Advisory Committee in support of funding multi-modal transportation in Travis County. The committee is considering how to spend a $450 million bond on transportation and parks. The committee is proposing that the vast majority of transportation funds go to widen roads. We advocated that the County should invest at least an equal amount in “multi-modal” transportation projects such as bike lanes, sidewalks, and transit. After we and others testified, the committee included $15 million for priority walk/bike projects in their recommendations to the Commissioners Court. Now the Commissioners Court will consider the recommendations and make a final decision by August on the makeup of the transportation bond package that will be presented to voters this November.

Here are our prepared remarks:

Caroline Gamble

I’m Caroline Gamble and I am currently a third-year Sustainability Studies and Economics double major at the University of Texas. My studies and my work as an intern at Environment Texas motivated me to attend this meeting and advocate for what is best for Travis county residents and the environment.

Funding road expansion is not the direction that I and many others want Austin to take. Expanding roads will only increase car dependency and incentivize citizens to use their cars more. This will increase traffic through induced demand, fuel emissions, and the danger of vehicle collisions and pedestrian/biker casualties. My friend Ella got hit by a car while in the bike line. She broke her leg and was scared to continue biking for transportation. By expanding roads, these casualties will become more frequent as more cars are on the road and less money is invested into biker safety. 

“The nation’s largest 100 urban areas added 30,511 new lane-miles of roads between 1993 and 2017. Traffic congestion, as measured in annual hours of delay, actually rose during those 24 years, by a staggering 144 percent.” -study by Transportation for America

As someone who studies Sustainability, I am jealous of the walkable cities in our world. I would love to live in Amsterdam or Singapore and be able to explore the city by foot and bike to work. This would drastically increase my mental well-being and productivity. Reinvesting this money to make Austin a walkable city would make us a city that people admire and long to live in. The cities are well planned, accessible, reduce fuel emissions, and look beautiful aesthetically. Let’s learn from these cities and make Austin more accessible. 

I want to live in Austin after college. It’s a wonderful city, but I am discouraged about its future if we expand roads rather than invest in what Austin citizens want: a more accessible and walkable city. 

Gwendolyn Reed

As I grow older, I want to see Austin capitalize on its potential for multi-mode transportation. Accessibility for alternatives to cars is a huge appeal for a city in general, and as we know it is also incredible for the environment. Additionally, walking, biking, and the like are great for mindfulness and mental health in general. My dad bikes to work everyday and I have grown up seeing him do this. At some points it was due to the fact that he and my mom shared a car for a while, and this is currently the case with many families in Austin. We need to acknowledge that not every family has a car for each individual, especially considering the living expenses of Austin. Even when my dad does have a car available, he prefers to bike whenever possible for both recreational and environmental purposes. Whether it’s biking, walking, motorcycling, etc, I want a safe environment for him and others to continue to choose other forms of transportation rather than just cars, whatever their reason may be. Funding roads rather than walkability will drastically diminish the opportunity for diverse forms of transportation, which again Austin has significant potential for. Thank you

Gwendolyn Reed


Caroline Gamble



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