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On August 21, 2013, in what was the culmination of a months-long process of advocating for bicycle accommodation on Loop 1604 access roads, the Alamo RMA Board unanimously approved the construction bid for re-striping the road to accommodate a wide outside lane and include signage to alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists.
Prior to construction of the interchange at Loop 1604 and US 281, the access road had an 8' wide shoulder used by many people riding bikes for transportation and recreation. During construction, TxDOT's requirement of three travel lanes instead of two was accommodated by removing the shoulder. After local cyclists alerted BikeTexas to this issue, BikeTexas helped rally dozens of cyclists to attend Alamo RMA Board meetings in February and April 2013.
At first response, engineering staff at the RMA discussed the possibility of a bike lane and bicycle accommodation on the sidewalk where road widths did not allow for a minimum-width bike lane. However, those staff left the RMA during the transition to Bexar County providing staffing for the RMA. BikeTexas subsequently worked with staff at Bexar County, now in charge of RMA operations, to come to agreement over how to accommodate cyclists.
"I’m disappointed...but am not surprised," said Justin Moore, local cycling advocate and LCI, via email when informed of the final design presented by the RMA. Mr. Moore was the first to contact BikeTexas about this issue.
Many in San Antonio have expressed regret over recent road “improvements” that have made things more dangerous for cyclists, such as this access road losing its shoulder. The City of San Antonio and TxDOT both have policies in place that people on bikes should be accommodated in all road projects. The road was safer for people on bikes with an 8' shoulder than a 14' outside lane shared with cars.
A future project along the 1604 corridor could improve the situation. Early projections of what will be included in the build proposal of a project to widen 1604 from I-35 to Bandera Rd include multi-use paths on each side of the corridor to safely accommodate both bicycle and foot traffic.
BikeTexas is remaining vigilant to review any plans for this corridor and will alert our networks of any chance to comment.
Friday, September 20 2013 11:23
Write a story of no more than 500 words, in one category, in English.
Identify your category: #1, #2, #3, #4
Include a photo of yourself with your bicycle.
DEADLINE: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27TH 2013
The winner will receive a prize from Momentum’s Gear Closet and their winning entry will published in the Winter Issue of Momentum Mag!
Runners-up & other really interesting stories will be posted on the Urbanthinkers site to be shared virally!
Let's see if we can get a winner from Texas! Enter before the deadline on Friday, September 27!
Friday, September 20 2013 09:05
San Antonio held a Livability Summit on August 21, 2013, bringing together key players working to make San Antonio a vibrant, walkable, bikeable city. The day was organized into four panel discussions each with 4-5 speakers presenting different aspects of the San Antonio to come. Here are some brief highlights (and a couple lowlights) of the day, from the perspective of people who ride bikes.
The first panel discussion focused on a phrase recently coined by Mayor Castro: The Decade of Downtown. Daryl Byrd with SA2020 started the day off by presenting the vision for the city that came out of an extensive public involvement process - that of a compact city, with rich centers of multiuse development and a diverse multimodal transportation network. Andres Andujar next presented some compelling details of the new Hemisfair Park that will soon begin taking shape, including what would be the first in Texas - a plaza street where cars, pedestrians, and bikes would all mix at low speeds. Jeff Arndt, President/CEO of VIA, gave a presentation that included a lot of information about their Primo bus rapid transit (BRT) line and its future plans along with the upcoming streetcar project. Studies around the US and the world have shown how effective BRT can be at producing economic growth. VIA showed how their one current line is connecting the high employment centers of the Medical Center and Downtown with residential centers along the route. They talked about the new possibility that developers are exploring with increasing the amount if housing in the Medical Center.
The next panel focused on specific projects that are pushing boundaries of innovative development. Shannon Mattingly showed some very interesting work from a new master planned community in New Braunfels, highlighting development codes that will foster short block length and easy connections for biking and walking to parks, commercial centers, and neighboring streets in what could normally be a car-dominated tract of suburban housing. Mukul Malhotra gave a rousing talk about Complete Streets and the many ways innovative cities are achieving multi-modal development, including burying highways in Boston, or removing them entirely in Seoul, to achieve reduced congestion and increased quality of life. Malhotra is with MIG, Inc., the firm in charge of Complete Streets accommodation in the bond projects that will be remaking Market St, Cesar Chavez St and others downtown.
After lunch, Representatives from the development community showed examples of some of their newest projects that combined a walkable and bikeable approach to development with the latest in environmental sustainability along with social equity, embodied in such projects as the Cevallos Lofts, that includes space for a small grocery store. James Lifshutz, the developer behind the Blue Star Arts Complex and an upcoming revival of the Hot Wells Hotel near Mission San José expressed pessimism that San Antonio could ever be a place where you could live without a bike. David Adelman with Area Real Estate, the developer behind 1221 Broadway had a different opinion, citing all the housing along with offices and commercial space at Pearl and its proximity to downtown as evidence that a complete life could be already be had in town without needing an automobile, and that will only grow as a possibility in the future.
Building on this notion was John Dugan a senior planner in the City’s Planning and Community Development department, as part of the day’s final panel “Public Sector Insight.” Mr. Dugan discussed in practical terms what the vision of SA2020 laid out - a series of dense, walkable centers throughout the San Antonio region that are connected by transit. He talked about the need for redoing suburbia, and that really a suburban style of development is what defines the majority of San Antonio. Instead of creating a totally dense city, he said that the city would need to density several centers enough to be walkable or bikeable within those centers, then connect those centers with transit. He also stressed the need to have what every Chinese city has - a museum of planning - in order to have space to showcase a physical model of the city and its buildings.
Mike Frisbie, the director of the City’s Capital Improvements Management Services (CIMS) on the same panel gave a disappointing overview of his department’s attempts to accommodate cycling. CIMS oversees all the projects from the 2012 bond package as well as internal construction for the City of San Antonio. Many of the bond projects advertised bike lanes or other accommodation, some of which has since been removed as CIMS goes through its design-build process, including some of the first bike lanes in the city on Theo and Malone streets. Mr. Frisbie was lackadaisical about pushing forward any real attempt to increase cycling in San Antonio, instead stating that some cyclists would prefer to be in the road mixing with traffic, therefore no specific bike accommodation is acceptable in some projects, even though this is in direct conflict with both the City’s Complete Streets Policy and the language used to advertise these bond projects.
Overall, the day included a wide variety of people working to increase quality of life in San Antonio and its environs through infrastructure, planning and development. Although there was some time for questions, in general the audience was kept apart from panelists, and the day lacked interactivity that could have been helpful for building broader connections among all the stakeholders present.
Thursday, September 19 2013 12:50
El Paso cyclists have passed through yet another hurdle standing between them and a bike share program in the city: At the September 13 El Paso MPO meeting, a request from TxDOT to deprogram the bike share was on the agenda.
Velo Paso swung into action, alerting local cyclists and BikeTexas to this new threat. We were happy to join with Velo Paso to get the word out and rally local cyclist to contact the local Transportation Policy Board and attend the meeting to show support for bike share in El Paso. The transportation blog Streetsblog also weighed in, wondering if TxDOT has the authority to stop the bike share project.
In a packed house for the meeting, the El Paso MPO voted to say no to TxDOT's request. Scott White with Velo Paso wrote, "You did it, El Paso! TxDOT still refuses to release the federal funds, and we will continue to work on that, but for now, know that your support made today’s victory possible."
Keep an eye on Velo Paso for more updates about bike share in El Paso.
Photo credit: Kristofer Johnson
Thursday, September 19 2013 11:58
International Walk to School / Bike to School Day is coming up fast-- October 9 is the big day! Are you ready?
If you aren't sure where to begin to organize an event in your neighborhood or school, start with the Safe Routes to School Event Handbook, available as a free download. BikeTexas also provides free Master Pages for download that you can distribute to your participants.
Finally, be sure to register your event! The International Walk/Bike to School site has a page of Who's Walking in 2013. So far, there are 66 registered events in Texas-- can we get even more before October 9?
Wednesday, September 18 2013 12:21
In July, the Texas Transportation Commission announced 81 projects around Texas that will receive funding from the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program. These projects were selected from the nominations received after a TxDOT call in September 2012.
BikeTexas is especially pleased about this round of projects because we fought to save this funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects in Texas. In 2007, TxDOT attempted to meet the federal government's rescission requirements by taking all the money from Transportation Enhancement projects instead of making smaller cuts across all funding categories. BikeTexas fought back and our members spoke up in protest against these focused funding cuts. TxDOT finally agreed to save some of the Transportation Enhancement funding, and many of these newly-funded projects might not have been if the rescissions had been allowed to go ahead as TxDOT planned.
Cities and Organizations that will be overseeing bike projects funded by this round of TE funding are:
Clear Lake Shores
Denton County Transit Authority
Fort Worth Transit Authority
North Central Texas Council of Governments
Old Katy Bikeway
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