It’s too bad that Austin has largely been growing out instead of up. But at least our sprawl development has not been free of sidewalks. In fact, most street frontage in Austin now has sidewalks. Here’s the source.
What explains the rapid increase? Part of the reason is definitely that about a decade ago the city began requiring that new development include sidewalks. The city has also been investing to build sidewalks in neighborhoods that have always lacked them.
Even walkability allies are critical of the sidewalk requirements. Homeowners are often required to add a sidewalk simply for rehabbing their home or adding a garage apartment to their property. That requirement can deter the addition of housing. Some Council members have asked that the new code lift that requirement for very small projects.