Austin to limit some street traffic so people enjoying outdoors can social distance

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council approved a resolution Thursday that will create a slow streets initiative called “Healthy Streets” to temporarily create safe outdoor spaces for Austinites to walk, bike, push strollers and travel in wheelchairs while social distancing requirements are in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Austin Healthy Streets will be regular streets that have temporary barriers in place to deter through-traffic from cars, allowing people to spend time outdoors but have plenty of space for social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Healthy Streets Initiative was created by Council Member Paige Ellis. According to the city, it was modeled on other successful slow streets initiatives being implemented across the nation.

“During this unprecedented time, Austinites have to get creative to fill their need for exercise and fresh air. Many Austin residents do not live within walking distance of a park, and others report feeling unsafe by the influx of visitors in parks and on trails,” Ellis said.

The next step of the initiative will have the city seek public input on the best locations for the Healthy Streets. According to the city, the goal is to implement them throughout the city as soon as possible.

The city may also partner with community groups to recruit block captains to help maintain the street blockades, in an effort to save on costs.

The plan is to have a phased roll out of the Healthy Streets initiative with the first blockades deployed within two weeks.

You can read the full draft resolution on the Healthy Streets Initiative on the city’s website.

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