Learning and Participating in More Types of Mobility, by Abril Gurrola


Hello, St. Edward’s community! My internship in my last semester at St. Edward’s University has been providing me with great experience before graduation. I have been involved in two projects with Walk Austin, an organization that advocates for safe and enjoyable walking experiences. It focuses on this type of mobility that may be a privilege to some groups and looks for ways to shorten this gap. One of the projects they have been working on for a year is their Healthy Streets program. If you drive down Avenue G or maybe through Bouldin Ave, you may have seen barricades that slow down traffic for vehicles. You can also see more people walking down the street to exercise, play, or enjoy a stroll with their families. Inspired by other similar programs in the country, Healthy Streets launched at the beginning of the pandemic when people followed lockdown procedures. Its purpose is to provide a closer alternative for residents to spend time outdoors while still practicing social distancing and not having to worry about local traffic. There are other Healthy Streets located in the city, including East Austin, for people to enjoy.

These locations are where I have spent the majority of my time while working for Walk Austin. The program has been losing support from the city since it has lowered stages and restrictions. Some of the Healthy Streets continue to flourish while others have closed down. I go to the remaining streets to observe and collect data on the number of people and vehicles that pass through them. This type of data is useful for Walk Austin so they can continue to understand how the program works and how many people continue to use the designated streets. I collect this type of data from two sites on a regular basis. To make sure the data I collect is significant, I also compare and collect data from adjacent streets that serve as my control streets. It has been interesting to visit the Healthy Streets because I have not seen nor experienced a street being used in the way these are. If you were to go to Avenue G, you can see people and families leisurely walking down the middle of the street with reduced alertness to traffic. Kids might even be seen playing with their parents or by themselves due to this increased safety. The Healthy Streets program was very successful for the community around Avenue G and they want to maintain it. That is part of the reason I help collect this data on its use which I will then present to members of Walk Austin. If you have time to check these streets out and see what I am talking about, you should check out Avenue G and see what could be possible to other streets around the city!

For my second project with Walk Austin, I have been working on developing a transportation and mobility equity survey that is meant to target residents of the East Austin community. Walk Austin wants to understand how residents from this part of town might benefit from resources to improve the infrastructure like the 2020 Proposition B entailed. In order to understand how this community can benefit, I am reaching out and asking these residents through a survey. This has meant connecting to organizations from this part of the city to reach out to community members. The survey will be sent out soon and I am excited to see the type of answers that come in to learn about this important but underrepresented community.

Overall, my experience with Walk Austin has revolved around learning about how to bring people out more and encourage them to stay active, and connect them to other types of mobility. My supervisor has also made sure that along the way, I learn about how urban design can bring more people together and reclaim the space they live in to increase their use. If you or someone you know is interested in sustainability, mobility, transportation, and research – an internship like this can be a great experience! This was the first time that my supervisor and Walk Austin have participated in working with an intern so it was a learning experience for them as well. If you are interested in the type of work I did this semester with Walk Austin, you can look up this organization and contact Adam Greenfield, the board president. You can also ask Dr. Amy Concilio about the organization and she can help connect you as she helped me.


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