Kyle youth looks ahead at city mobility improvements

Kyle is turning to its youth to help improve pedestrian mobility across the city.

The Kyle Area Youth Advisory Council (KAYAC) last week held a community charette, or public meeting, to determine what types of sidewalks are needed in the city, said Lyler Ramos, KAYAC secretary.

KAYAC’s initiative is a capstone project for members, who are students in Hays CISD high schools in Kyle. 

This year’s capstone project looks to address the mobility needs and the quality of life benefits of increasing the amount of sidewalks in the city. 

Aiden O’Keefe, KAYAC chairperson, said they wanted to gather public input on the need for sidewalks so they can put together a proposal that is representative of the needs of the city at large. 

KAYAC’s charette had members of the public take a look at the city’s network of roads and streets and identify where more sidewalks were needed. 

Members of KAYAC gathered the data and will process it. They did not make a determination at the time of the meeting. 

Travis Mitchell, Kyle City Council member, attended the meeting and was impressed with the organization’s effort to make the city “more safer and walkable.” 

It stems from the city’s effort to make the town interconnected. But Mitchell said the challenge is that sidewalks aren’t the only thing the city needs. 

“It’s providing a safe corridor from point A to point B,” Mitchell said. “Sidewalks don’t solve that. Lighting is something the students pointed out. Just because there’s a sidewalk doesn’t mean they will walk it.” 

Mitchell said students spent time talking with residents on the deficiencies in the city’s mobility plan and ways to strengthen it. 

Mitchell said he was interested in discovering that every subdivision in the city has sidewalks. That was information gathered by KAYAC members. 

One discussion centered on sidewalks around schools in Kyle, which Mitchell said was a weak point in terms of mobility. 

The group also discussed the dilemma of adding sidewalks near schools as doing so could change Hays CISD bus routes to certain neighborhoods. According to Hays CISD’s Safe Routes to School program, subdivisions that are deemed to have a  “safe route” within two miles to a campus do not receive bus service. 

“There’s a tradeoff,” Mitchell said. “Putting sidewalks could have a negative affect on some of the parents in terms of how they get their children to school.” 

For Mitchell, balancing installation of sidewalks with maintenance and safety improvements is what the city is working to accomplish with KAYAC, which has seen success with previous capstone projects. 

Ramos said that a past capstone project led the group to study the effects of e-cigarettes on youth. 

As a result of their efforts and their presentation to the Kyle city council, the city to instituted a ban on the sale of e-cigs to minors.

That presentation was then picked up by state representative Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), who in turn made it possible for KAYAC members to testify in the state legislature in 2013.

Nicky Ladet, Recreation Coordinator for the city of Kyle and liaison to KAYAC, urged for more public involvement with KAYAC. 

Ladet said KAYAC is “doing awesome work” and that “citizens should get to know what KAYAC is all about and support the organization as it sets out to accomplish its mission.”

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