Transportation planners in the U.S. and Canada are making good progress on making cities more efficient and accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.
But the road map is far from complete.
Here’s a look at some cities where transit advocates are working on getting more people to ride.
Austin, Texas A few years ago, Austin was the poster child for how transit systems can work to make our cities more convenient.
Now, Austin is one of a handful of major U.C.L.A. cities that are developing smart and efficient transit systems, with more than $4 billion in investment.
As part of its Smart City program, the university recently partnered with the Austin Transportation Department and the Austin Planning Department to create the first smart, integrated smart transit system in the country.
The system combines bike lanes and a bus stop with pedestrian crossings, bus stop, and bike-only crosswalks in the downtown core.
Austin has been working to develop these systems for decades, but the city is finally ready to bring them online.
Austin City Councilman Jim Reams (D) has said the city wants to make the most of its infrastructure, and he hopes the system will reduce the amount of time it takes for people to get around.
“We’re hoping it will give us a little bit more of a sense of where we’re at,” Reams said.
“So, the first thing is getting the public to use these transit systems.”
Austin’s Smart City is part of a nationwide effort called Smart Mobility, which aims to make more than 4,000 cities, counties, and school districts smarter about how they use and invest in public transportation.
The initiative aims to improve public safety, reduce pollution, and provide more options for people who need them most.
Reams has a plan to build an additional 400,000 bike lanes in the next decade.
The plan calls for building 1,000 new bike lanes on major roads by 2030.
“The biggest challenge is the transportation infrastructure,” said Reams, who is also chairman of the city’s transportation commission.
“That’s why we’re looking at all kinds of different ideas.”
The Austin plan is not only focused on improving the citys infrastructure but also on improving pedestrian safety.
Reets is a former president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, which has called for a major overhaul of the way states and localities deal with traffic signals, which are usually installed by drivers.
Reames said that’s something he hopes to see in Austin as well.
“One of the things that we have to do is make sure the signals aren’t as heavy and as complex and as heavy as they are in some places around the country,” he said.
The citys new Smart Mobility initiative is also working to get people on bikes and pedestrians to use the city sidewalks and bike lanes.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the project on Tuesday, March 4 at 9:30 a.m. at City Hall.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the City Council is committed to using Smart Mobility to provide more choices for people.
“I’ve seen this in other cities around the world,” he told ABC News.
“You can’t have the same traffic congestion that we are experiencing right now and still have the people biking and walking around the city.”
Reames and Austin officials have said the goal is to have a system up and running in just 10 years.
But they also have some major challenges ahead.
Ream said he believes the city can do it, but that there are some big hurdles that need to be overcome first.
“It’s going to be a very ambitious and challenging task,” Reames added.
“But we are very committed to making sure that we get it done.”