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Walkable and Livable Communities Institute Executive Director Dan Burden traveled to Austin on January 23 to address a luncheon meeting of legislators and staffs, and to give a talk to the general public in the evening.
Mr. Burden spoke about Complete Streets and how they can help a community. Specifically, Mr. Burden talked about the elderly benefitting from sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and similar treatments that make a neighborhood navigable on foot. Mr. Burden says, "If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places." Mr. Burden emphasized that Complete Streets are not an overnight fix, but an approach that will improve our cities over time so that all road users are accommodated safely and comfortably. When the legislature chooses to pass a Complete Streets law, they choose to invest in a future for all Texans to enjoy their cities of all sizes.
As Texas sees a "Silver Tsunami" coming when Baby Boomers grow older and retire, it will be more critical than ever that Texas cities are prepared to allow our senior citizens to remain in their homes and the neighborhoods where they have social ties. Most people are reluctant to give up their mobility, and as the elderly stop driving, their transportation options shift to walking, cycling, or transit. We owe it to our senior citizens and to ourselves to make our communities welcoming, walkable places. As a bonus, infrastructure that benefits senior citizens also benefits people of all ages.
The legislative luncheon was hosted by Senator Rodney Ellis, Representative Linda Harper-Brown, and Representative Geanie Morris, and was co-sponsored by AARP Texas and BikeTexas. The evening event was co-sponsored by AARP Texas, the City of Austin, the Mayor's Task Force on Aging, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs.