City to seek community feedback on mobility, transportation issues during month of April

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Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Austinites can share their thoughts on city traffic, public transit and other transportation issues in April through the city’s Mobility Talks, a new initiative seeking to gauge community concerns.

Conversation Corps, a partnership of agencies that include the City and Capital Metro, is organizing each of the 11 mobility-based talks. The organization sponsors monthly conversations between community members and trained volunteers about topics ranging from affordability to recycling.

For next month’s conversation, the City Council asked the organization to “gather feedback” for any possible ordinances or actions addressing mobility and transportation issues, Conversation Corps officials said.

“This is the first time that an elected official came to us and said, ‘We really want to use your program for very specific feedback,’” said Julie Smith, Conversation Corps program director. “Not only do participants walk away with possibly different viewpoints and understanding the issue through the lens of other community members, but they also know that the feedback that they shared is going to be incorporated into a report … and [sent] to City Council.”

Anyone interested in participating can take an online survey, attend a City board or commission meeting, or sit in at any of the scheduled events throughout the city — listed at ATXtalks.org. Interested Austinites can find more information on public hearings and online surveys at MobilityTalks.org.

Communication studies senior Larissa Stephens, who bikes around campus as her main mode of transportation, said she sometimes feels unsafe when she has to move into the car lanes on the road and is always concerned with her safety.

“What I would like to see in the city is protected bike lanes,” Stephens said. “A lot of times, bike traffic is blocked by trash cans or something, or a car is parked there, or there’s no way for me to get around it.”

Stephens said she does use her car to drive farther out north or south of the city and that she would like to see some focus on highway traffic during peak times, between 3 and 6 p.m.

“I feel like I can’t go out of the house at that time,” Stephens said.

For other students interested in sharing mobility concerns, the Conversation Corps is hosting a talk near campus at the University Presbyterian Church on April 17 starting at 1 p.m.

Once April is over and the City has collected information from community members, a report will be made and presented to the City Council’s Mobility Committee on June 8 at 3 p.m., according to Sara Behunek, a Capital Planning Office public information specialist.

Behunek, who is closely working on the mobility talks, said the city manager’s office will present the Conversation Corps’ report to the City Council on June 8 to inform members on potential ways of funding community priorities.

“The City Council has called out several ways and goals that they have for this public conversation,” Behunek said. “They really want to have a very diverse, broad spectrum of ideas and voices and input.”