Downtown Austin, West Campus ranked among most walkable neighborhoods in Texas

Bharath Lavendra

Three areas in Austin, including West Campus, rank in the top 10 most walkable neighborhoods in Texas, according to an article from the real estate firm REDFIN.

According to the article, rankings are based on data from WalkScore.com, a website that scores neighborhoods on a scale of 0-100 based on their distance to nearby amenities. Downtown Austin ranked as the second most walkable neighborhood in Texas, following Downtown Dallas. West Campus and East Austin took the number three and eight spots, respectively. Dallas and Austin both had three neighborhoods ranking in the top 10, with two areas of Houston holding spots on the list.

Mark Cole, a program consultant with the Sidewalk and Special Projects Division of the City of Austin’s Public Works Department, said articles and ranking lists like these are great for the city, but he still hears many valid complaints.

“A lot of people think Austin should be more walkable, and I agree,” Cole said. “Traffic is slow, and we have to keep working to ensure that sidewalks are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Maitri Zalawadia, a junior civil engineering major, said despite its third place ranking, West Campus could use major improvements.

“Most of the sidewalks in West Campus need to be fixed,” Zalawadia said. “There’s a lot of construction going on, so it sometimes it feels very unsafe.”

Cole said Austin’s “Sidewalk Master Plan” contributes to the walkability of Austin, but is currently being updated.

“Austin is one of only a few cities to take responsibility of their sidewalks,” Cole said. “The Sidewalk Master Plan is an initiative to improve the sidewalks in the city by prioritizing those that need the most work first.”

John Eastman, a project manager with the Public Works Department, said advocacy groups, such as Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA), help promote and maintain streets and sidewalks downtown.

“The DAA help the city know where repairs need to be done,” Eastman said. “They advocated for projects such as power washing 6th Street so that the city and downtown area can be more attractive to tourists.”

Eastman said West Campus benefits from the high population density and the mix of commercial and residential zones.

“West Campus does a good job of meeting the walking needs of its residents,” Eastman said. “The new private dorms and apartments being built in West Campus have redone the sidewalks near their buildings and included a lot of attractive greenery.”