Thanks for the article "Neighborhood Watch
" [News, March 22]. It's odd that some people oppose decent walking space in a city. Everyone needs to walk. The more densely populated an area is, the more it needs wide sidewalks, bikeable streets, and pocket parks. The biggest cities, such as New York, are busily turning car space into walking, biking, and sitting space.
Twenty-eight pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in Austin last year. That's a record number. It's getting deadlier to walk here. Most of Austin's streets lack sidewalks. Every day, I walk on streets full of people with dogs and baby carriages, bicycles, and speeding cars. Whenever there's a crash on the highway, the highway traffic pours through the neighborhood streets, among the dog- and baby-walkers. Not having sidewalks lets everyone know that important people stay in cars, and that it's all right to kill people on foot. Car drivers who kill pedestrians usually go unpunished.
Lack of sidewalks cost us money. It raises public health costs. It means that most people drive even tiny distances, polluting the air and needing lots of space to park their cars. Yet year after year Austin fails to build sidewalks.
It isn't only children who need sidewalks and parks. Single people in their 20s don't spend all their time drinking and driving. They, too, like to walk, bicycle, and visit parks.
While big cities nationwide are working to become more walkable, Austin is slow to move in this direction. That's why it's becoming meaner, dirtier, and more clogged with cars. Sidewalks are people-friendly, not just child-friendly. Let's make Austin more friendly to people, including people on foot.