Get Involved: I don’t want ten people to die on Texas roads every day

Get Involved, VisionZeroTexas

On average, ten people die using the Texas transportation system every day. Most of them are riding in cars and trucks. Many die riding motorcycles. Many die walking or riding in a wheelchair. Many die riding bicycles.

We can end traffic deaths in Texas.

Farm&City is working with a coalition of organizations to host the local World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims Sunday, November 18. The event will honor those we have lost or who have been hurt by the transportation system over the last year. We will also honor them with a call to action to fix our streets and roads and prevent future deaths.

We have launched a social media campaign to bring attention to the problem of traffic deaths in Texas.

You can join the campaign by filming yourself just saying these words “I don’t want ten people to die on Texas roads every day” and then posting that video on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media.

If you do it on twitter, you can do it as a reply to this tweet and we can make it a long thread of people saying this (including TXDOT CEO James Bass who already joined in).

You can use one or more of these hashtags:

And you can add a link to @VisionZeroTexas on twitter or or this Facebook event where you can find out more about the vigil and our legislative agenda to end traffic deaths in Texas. You can also ask your friends and family to join us at the event.

Austin’s PAC needs some POC

DecideTexas, Get Involved
The Texas transportation decision making system has a structural flaw: the people serving on various committees and decision making roles do not reflect the full race, ethnic, gender, abilities, class, age, and geographic diversity of the State, and often miss the mark to a remarkable extent. One of Farm&City’s long term goals is to fix this flaw that hinders the effectiveness of Texas transportation policies and spending. The Decide Texas project is built around the year long study I did on the issue in 2016 to contribute to that year’s TXDOT Sunset Process. Every MPO policy board, every appointment by the governor, every city advisory committee, and the overall suite of elected officials need to better reflect the full diversity of state for us to make better decisions reflecting the reality of the lives of all 28 million (and growing) Texans.
I am in the middle of a two year term on the City of Austin Pedestrian Advisory Council (PAC) and it has been a great privilege to serve the people of Austin and work for safer streets, fight for sufficient sidewalk funding, and to help to balance the needs and desires of people on foot, in wheelchairs, on scooters, on bikes, and in cars and trucks. But there is a problem. As far as I can tell, all full voting members of the PAC are non-hispanic white. This isn’t unique in Texas. The Texas Transportation Commission – a five member body appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate – is currently three non-hispanic white males and one non-hispanic white female. In the entire history of the institution, you can count the people of color on one hand out of hundreds of commissioners. We need all such commissions, from neighborhoods to nonprofit boards to cities to counties to regions to statewide transportation planning entities to better reflect the full wisdom of the diverse people of Texas. Our transportation system is less efficient – we’re making dumb decisions – if our it remains systematically unaware of the experiences, needs, desires, and wisdom of people of color and women. The City of Austin is now a majority minority plurality city, with no single race or ethnic group making a majority. In particular with pedestrian issues, voices of people of color are crucial, as we know that people of color in America are more likely to be killed as pedestrians. We also know that “the elderly, the poor and those without health insurance were more likely to live in areas that are dangerous for pedestrians“.
So lets start with the PAC. Nominations are due September 16 and you can nominate yourself or someone else to the PAC here. You don’t need to be a traffic engineer or planner to join the PAC. You just need to care about all pedestrians and give of yourself to attend an evening meeting each month for the next two years and to contribute to bettering our city for all people. While we’re at it the City of Austin Bicycle Advisory Council is also open for nominations at this time. There are currently people of color serving on that committee, but there’s always room for more voices at these tables.

TXDOT’s Unified Transportation Program needs your feedback

DecideTexas, Get Involved, Texurban, VisionZeroTexas

The public comment period for Texas Department of Transportation’s Unified Transportation Program (UTP) is now open.

The UTP is a ten-year plan that guides transportation strategies and spending within the state. Unfortunately, the plan has historically been hindered by a lack of citizen participation and questionable priorities.

Last year’s UTP received only 23 comments for an overall rate of less than one comment per one million Texans. With such little public engagement, it’s no surprise that the plan strays from its paramount goal of protecting the safety of Texans, with ten people dying every day on our roads.

This year’s UTP proposes at least $35 billion to “address congestion” over the next ten years, and only $3.3 billion in Category 8 funding for safety issues. This is wildly out of proportion with the actual annual costs of crashes ($38 billion) compared to the cost of congestion (a mere $14 billion).

We encourage you to tell the Texas Transportation Commission, our Governor, and our Legislature that you want to prioritize the lives and physical wellbeing of Texans over all other concerns in the transportation planning process, that you want concrete goals and strategies for reducing transportation deaths, and that you want our TXDOT budget to reflect its moral obligation to ending this epidemic.

You can submit online comments or print a comment form and mail it to: TXDOT, Attention: Peter Smith, P.O. Box 149217, Austin, TX 78714-9217. UTP comments must be received Monday, August 20, 4pm.

If you can make it in person to Austin, there will be a public hearing on the UTP on Tuesday, August 7, 10am in Austin at ENV Conference Room, 118 E. Riverside Dr., Austin, TX 78704.

You also can make comments in person when the Texas Transportation Commission considers the UTP on Friday, August 30, at 125 East 11th St., Austin, Texas, in the Ric Williamson Hearing Room on the first floor.