This post reminded me of one of the easiest ways we could encourage pedestrians in Austin. Neighborhoods love culdesacs. They keep cars away from your house and provide extra hard-scape for kids to play. The problem is that they also frequently create long impenetrable walls to pedestrians. In our previous neighborhood the developer had actually provided one of these sidewalks between two houses. No road went along with it. And it allowed pedestrians in the neighborhood to leave the neighborhood and walk to a bus stop. It could have been better. It could have been a walkway that went directly to the bus stop. But it was much better than the circuitous route that was almost twice as long to exit the neighborhood via the main road entrance.
So perhaps the City of Austin can setup a program to encourage people in the middle of blocks to give up some land for sidewalks. Perhaps have a trade where the city financially helps rebuild a homeowner’s fence in exchange for the land for the sidewalk. And maybe it wouldn’t even need that much. There are a lot of people in Austin who want it to be more walkable. The number of people willing to donate some land to the city in exchange for a sidewalk might be bigger than we think.