The Austin Chronicle

Alternatives to Driving Needed

RECEIVED Wed., March 19, 2014

Dear Editor,
    I was born and raised in Austin, Texas, and I hope to die here, too. Just not yet.
    Last week's event on Red River that resulted in three deaths and dozens of injuries was a tragedy. It is not, however, an isolated incident nor "extremely unusual," as quoted by APD Lt. Brian Moon. This is a frequent and serious problem in Austin. Drinking and driving is ingrained in the lifestyle here. Maintaining and growing our renowned entertainment district and nightlife takes precedence over common sense and appropriate punishment for serious crimes.
    I understand you can't account for the actions of a particularly violent individual, but this can serve as a wake-up call to us all. Harsher punishments for drinking and driving alone will not solve this cultural problem. Our city and our entertainment is amazing. We need alternatives to driving Downtown. It has come to be seen as a right, not a privilege, to park right Downtown. Only a portion of revelers Downtown on a given night are students or central residents who can walk, bicycle, or bus to our favorite dives, but a majority of Austinites drive from south of the river or our suburbs to join in. And they do have a right to join in. We have failed them. The Night Owl and MetroRail are great but severely undermarketed and limited in stations and hours; cabs are usually nonexistent. We all feel traffic expanding and costs increasing, but we need to bring back actionable discussions of monorails, light rails, and a car-free Downtown. We need to suffer the cost, the traffic, the construction, and the eyesores collectively. We shouldn't single out cyclists, pedestrians, and festivals but encourage their presence in our city. We need alternatives to driving. Our lives depend on it.
Molly McClurg

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