Naked City

Gandy Promotes Ped Power

About 15 locals showed up at the Parks and Recreation Dept. conference room Thursday night for a pedestrian safety "roadshow" hosted by transportation nonprofit Trans Texas Alliance and led by consultant Charles Gandy. The Alliance's slideshow highlighted its successes in holding "pedestrian audits," workshops that give neighborhoods across Texas tools to calm traffic and increase livability. "I'm in the business of creating truly great places," Gandy, a bicycle activist and former state representative, told the audience, which included representatives of the Sierra Club, Texas School for the Blind, and TxDOT. "It's amazing the innovation that's taking place."

Gandy has hosted more than 300 audits for neighborhoods and elected officials interested in determining where to erect new sidewalks, crosswalks, and public art, and has often helped them brainstorm design and funding options. In Zilker, South Boggy Creek, and other Austin locales, Gandy's audits have resulted in new crosswalks and traffic-calming measures, among other enhancements. Gandy showed that even relatively minor modifications to existing streets can make drivers slow down and smell the flowers -- sometimes literally. He used computer graphics to drop landscaped traffic circles into photos of dangerous four-way stops, gussied up downtown retail areas with medians bursting with marigolds and sidewalk extensions at street corners, and extolled the miracle of paint in adding transportation choices and calming traffic on wide streets.

"The wider you build the street, the faster people go," Gandy said. "You build a 25-foot-wide street, which is standard in many cities, people go 25 miles an hour. You give people 40 feet, like in North Austin, and they'll go 40. Simply adding a bike lane can fix that."

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