The city should pursue more roundabouts, consider narrow roads and slow down traffic to encourage pedestrian activity, a walkable-environments expert said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Dan Burden, co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute based in Washington state and a consultant to the Blue Zones Project-Fort Worth, presented the results of eight walking audits conducted throughout Fort Worth and called for changes in how the city is designed.
“Unfortunately, during much of the last 40, 50 and even 60 years, our built environment has lost the qualities that we seek. We have essentially built endless miles of roads people have to travel, because it has so far been the only real mode invested in heavily,” Burden said.
The audits were conducted with community members and leaders walking through neighborhoods to determine weaknesses and strengths.
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The sites were North Main Street in the Stockyards; North Tarrant Parkway and Thompson Road at Fossil Ridge High School; the area around Mary Louise Phillips Elementary School; the intersection of University Drive, Bailey Avenue, West Seventh Street and Camp Bowie Boulevard at the West Seventh Urban Village; Ramey Avenue at Dunbar High School; Berry Street at Paschal High School; Seminary and Campus drives at O.D. Wyatt High School; and the intersection of Altamesa Boulevard and McCart Avenue.
Most of the recommendations involved replacing intersections with roundabouts, including at the confusing four-street intersection at the West Seventh Urban Village.
Burden said common problems include streets that are too wide, speed limits that are too high and sidewalks that are too narrow. Suggested policy changes include creating clearly defined crosswalks and more on-street parking to narrow the streets, adding shade to cover sidewalks and making sidewalks at least 5 feet wide (the average now is 4 feet).
“Fort Worth is no better or worse than anywhere else — motorists have basically taken over the neighborhoods by going too fast. Parents don’t want their children to walk to schools because they perceive a danger,” Burden said.
The next step is to incorporate the audit findings into the update of the city’s master thoroughfare plan, Burden said.
Mayor Betsy Price called the audit recommendations “amazing.”
“If we can start small without a big investment as we just get our policies right, then we can go forward,” Price said.
Caty Hirst, 817-390-7984