Archived Story

2020 list shows plenty of interesting Austin ideas

Published 1:08pm Friday, November 11, 2011

Remember that great idea you provided to Vision 2020 — your plan to make Austin a better place? One thing you can be sure of is that, whatever your idea, you were not alone.

Vision 2020 has posted on-line the 4,000 or so ideas that community members submitted — through the Vision 2020 web site, on napkins, on official idea forms, during discussions groups and, for all I know, carved on wood blocks.

Just getting all of those ideas into one format was a massive under-taking. Getting them roughly categorized, as they are on the version posted this week at, only added to the difficulty.

Paring those ideas down to 100, on which the community will vote beginning Dec. 1, is going to be an even tougher job. There’s a volunteer committee taking on that task. But it’s still fun to peruse the idea list.

I was pretty sure that my own idea — modernized stoplights — would have some company, because after I wrote about that concept several people called me to add their own refinements. And indeed it looks like at least a few of them also passed their ideas along to to Vision 2020.

“All of the older stoplights need to be replaced or removed and then a specialist should come in and time out all of the lights so stop-and-go driving is a thing of the past,” one person wrote.

Another put it this way: “The stoplights in this town are atrocious. There is no reason that a person should have to sit at a stoplight and wait for no cars to pass going the other direction.”

Transportation in general, from bicycling to walking to automobiles, provoked quite a few ideas. One of them was so simple that it was repeated, verbatim, two dozen times: “Bike Trail to Target.”

Although partial to the stoplight idea, I have to admit that “bike trail to Target” makes a lot of sense, especially as shorthand for the need to make it easier and safer to get from the main part of town over to the far northwest shopping district.

Here’s how one person elaborated on the “bike trail to Target” idea: “I would like to see a safe path to the HyVee/Wal-Mart/Target area for pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders, etc. My children and I have both tried to ride bicycles to these areas from our home in a nearby northwest neighborhood and it is so dangerous! I believe it would be an often-used path. Please let me know if I can help.”

Here’s how another person put it: “Just having a bike, walking lane over the west side of the 14th St. NW bridge over I-90 that goes to the Target store area shops would be a real plus for safety reasons. Just continue the sidewalk that is already in existence on the west side by Riverland …. Just seems that by 2020 smaller electric cars and bikes will be required in order to stop pollution.”

And another: “Make the 4th St. overpass safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Perhaps adding guard rails along the sidewalks would work. If it can be replaced, better yet.”

Another whole subset of bicycle-related ideas also touched on the need for more safe-travel lanes for bikes and pedestrians.

Cleary, many people have noted that the biggest mass of shopping in Austin is located nowhere near most people’s homes — and that in the 21st Century, many people would like to use something other than an automobile to do their errands.

Transportation is, of course, only a tiny segment of the gigantic flood of ideas. If you’re interested in restaurants, shopping, jobs, recreation, sports, attitudes, home maintenance, economic development… actually, in just about anything, there’s an idea or two worth pondering.

It will be fascinating to see which 100 emerge as the finalists. I’m just glad it’s not my job to make that decision.

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