For those of you who have been downtown in the last few days, did you notice something a little different? Seriously, none of you saw all the cobblestones that fell off a truck onto two different streets last week and all the caution tape everywhere? Probably not… a lot of us locals speed right on past things that are going on around us and never even look up. I know this because when I speak of our recent Heritage Circle Clock Project that we unveiled in December, I still get people looking at me like… What?.. Where?… All chiding and joking aside, for those of you who don’t know, we just installed the first two of three decorative cobblestone style crosswalks in the downtown area. There was even a picture and a caption talking about it on the front page of last week’s Newsboy for the love of heaven. Nonetheless, I expect that people will find these things to be a welcome addition to our downtown area, be it the year 2024 or whenever some folks finally realize they are down here. Sorry, had to get one more poke in there… (not the type of poke that Capt. Augustus “Gus” McCrae always refers to… but a proverbial jab to the ribs type…) Honestly, I am pretty surprised that I didn’t get any calls from agitated business owners and others who felt like they were inconvenienced somehow due to the construction. Just the side streets that were affected this time so maybe they weren’t bothered too much. Or, maybe they were bothered, but focused on the “big picture” I was referring to last week and decided that the 5 day hassle is but a small price to pay for decades of use and enjoyment. The 3rd planned crosswalk should be completed in the next month or so, but some of the future crosswalks which will cross over Davis St. will be a little more problematic. And I suspect everyone will be a little less forgiving when those barricades go up. But rest assured, we’ll gather input and make sure that we have a well thought out plan to make the process as painless as humanly possible.
When looking at the Luling community as compared some others, we realized that there was some work to be done if we wanted to make Luling a more walkable community. These new crosswalks will certainly improve our downtown area and create a safer and inviting way for people to cross the street. But we realize that there are still areas around town that can also be improved to make it easier for people to get around on foot if they want. But heck, you have to start somewhere. It’s a little more complicated to get upgrades done on TXDOT’s right of way and we realize that this will just have to be a work in progress.
Below are three tidbits I’ve run across, but don’t remember specifically where I got them or who wrote them so I guess I won’t be able to give them their due credit. So I suppose the best I can do at this point is try not take credit for writing them myself…
-Walkability: is important because it makes downtown main street relevant for the locals, not just a marketing tool for visitors. The more that the pedestrian experience and walkability is accessible for everyday use, the more the downtown and city will prosper as a whole and become a more vibrant and interactive district.
-Walkable communities are more liveable communities that lead to whole, happy, healthy lives for the people who live in them. And they lead to more social interaction, physical fitness, and they diminish crime and other social problems.
-Walkability is good on a lot of fronts — it increases foot traffic in front of retail locations (which should increase traffic within these retail locations), it decreases the amount of auto traffic on the roadways (if people are more apt to walk in and around town) and it gives the city a vibrant energy with a lot of people walking about.
These points all make perfect sense and should give us a better idea what to shoot for when trying to plan ways to make our community a more “walkable” one. We are at step one of many, and this will be a long-term deal that will take some time to see it through. But hopefully everyone is on board with us regarding the grand plan for our downtown pedestrian flow. If you have any questions about what this “grand plan” is please don’t hesitate to call or come by.
“We have a strategic plan… it’s called doing things!!! – Herb Kelleher