Thursday, 26 November 2015

Solidifying expectations

The four days spent in the cities in Texas of Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas generally solidified the expectations and impressions I had prior to this study tour. I had heard about the sprawling cities and enormous freeways – these were all things that I expected, however it was the sheer extent of this car-driven city that is both shocking and extraordinary across Texan cities. What is even more extraordinary is that in Texan cities it appears that they embrace cars rather than making any major effort to reduce their appearance on their expansive roads. This is evident throughout the multi-level Texas freeway loop systems that we were constantly confronted with while travelling between the cities. What is shocking is that these expansive freeway systems with almost too many lanes to count, still isn’t enough for the Texas traffic with congestion being the number one issue in Texas, particularly in Austin where the I-35 freeway was awarded the most congested roadway in Texas. This car positive stance gives the impression that they barely consider any other forms of transport. This is still the current ideology in Texas, evident by a denial of a proposal for a railway project in Austin in 2014. Of course, other transit modes do exist but only with limited availability. The most effective and available public and active transport options were observed only close to the University of Texas in Austin where separated bicycle paths, buses and pedestrians were a common appearance. The tour throughout Texas also pointed out the ways in which Texan cities are slowly changing to meet the standards of even Australian cities, where car dependence and urban sprawl are detrimental issues. I believe that Texas is most generally anarchic. Their ideology of the very low importance of transport modes and availability leads it to dramatically fall behind in terms of transport services innovation, even compared to Australia.

Kaylee Thompson