Yesterday, I volunteered for the Near Southside's Open Streets and did a TON of walking.
(S/O to the Near Southside Team for putting on a killer event!)
On more than one occasion now, I have found myself at a point where it would take roughly the same amount of time to walk to where I'm going than to wait for the bus. For example, yesterday it would have taken 44 minutes to wait for the next bus and get home, or 45 minutes to walk home. Although I had spent most of the day on my feet, I chose the latter because it was nice out and I enjoy walking.
The Care and Keeping of Fort Worth
Because I've been walking so much more, I've gotten to know more about the neighborhoods I frequent. I've seen cool old houses I've never noticed before, kids getting out of school, and I've even stopped by a few local businesses I've wanted to check out because, hey! I'm in the neighborhood.
Look at this cute new coffee/pizza food truck and eating area off of Main Street catty-corner to the T&P Station parking lot. Their iced coffee was the perfect treat on a warm afternoon.
Yet, I've also seen how INCREDIBLY trashed some parts of our city are, where it feels like no one cares.
I've always considered one of the social benefits of public transportation is sharing space with your neighbors. Cars and other single-occupancy vehicles are so isolating from the rest of the world.
I wonder if we would take more responsibility for our neighborhoods and city if we were to walk more. Would we take better care of those in-between places where no one is really responsible for maintenance and care? How might that affect the quality of life of our neighbors? Something to think about.
Your Fort Worth, My Fort Worth
Someone asked me recently if I felt safe while riding on the bus, which I can answer with an astounding YES.
However, where I have not felt as safe is when I'm walking home, especially in areas that are missing sidewalks, and especially-especially in the dark. It made me think of a few articles I have read recently about how to design a city and make public transportation safer for women.
However, my neighborhood is relatively safe and walkable. It is made up of a mix of students and the upper-middle class and is predominantly white. In comparison to other areas in our city, its infrastructure is fairly well maintained.
According to the November 2018 City of Fort Worth Task Force on Race and Culture Final Recommendations, Super-Majority Minority Areas (S-MMAs) of Fort Worth have a disproportionate share of poor-condition streets, and poor-condition (or missing) sidewalks and street lights.
"This disparity is caused primarily by the convergence of older infrastructure, prior construction standards and may also be related to project selection criteria."
S-MMAs are also disproportionately affected by pedestrian and bike crashes.
"This disparity is likely related to the higher vehicular speeds and volumes of the roadways on which they occur, as well as potentially greater dependence on, and the relatively poorer condition of, alternative transportation networks within S-MMAs."
On top of all of this, I have the ability to walk on the grass if a sidewalk is missing, or call an Uber/Lyft if it begins to rain or I start to feel uncomfortable. For those who are differently-abled and require mobility assistance (and who typically rely on public transportation to get around) and for those who cannot afford the $4+ ride from an Uber (or who can't use an Uber due to their mobility-device) their options are significantly narrowed.
A desire-path along a street that connects my neighborhood to the main street & my bus stop.
Note the confetti of litter & the lack of a sidewalk. When not under construction, this street gets a lot of high-speed traffic, which can make using the road dangerous for pedestrians.
Fort Worth's Future
While I'm learning more and more about the current state of the transit network in our city and the infrastructure that is in place. I'm holding onto my hope that the conditions will improve.
The City of Fort Worth has recently completed their Active Transportation Plan which will create a unified citywide transportation network for people who walk and bike, with a coordinated implementation strategy for planning, prioritizing, and building improvements.
The City is also working with Trinity Metro and other partners to finish an updated Transit Plan - Transit Moves | Fort Worth - to create a transit vision for Fort Worth to guide improvements through 2045. The Plan will lay out specific improvements that should be implemented to achieve this vision, including the identification of potential new sources of funding and governance changes recommended to facilitate implementation of the plan and improve transit service delivery. TTA has been a part of the task force looking at this plan, but no priorities have currently been established.
I hope that one of the first recommendations that comes out of this study is funding for increased frequency of routes. Many bus routes in the city run every hour. This makes getting around the city incredibly difficult (and has been an impetus for me walking so dang much!). Think about how much easier the system would be if you knew that your next bus was only 15 minutes away.
The city will be hosting a series of public meetings in May on the Transit Moves | Fort Worth plan. Keep your eyes open for more information.
Car-Free Counter - 04/08/2019
Miles Walked = 19.4 mi Bus Rides = 7 Rides Received / TMC Rides = 4