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Neighborhoods Council hears update on Bicycle Master Plan

Thursday, February 26, 2009 by Kimberly Reeves

Neighborhood leaders at last night’s Austin Neighborhoods Council meeting learned that the city’s Bicycle Master Plan – now under review after 18 months of work – does incorporate the work of the current neighborhood plans.

Leaders also learned that a vote on a consultant for the city’s new comprehensive plan is being delayed, in part, due to fears the work of neighborhood plans would not be incorporated into the final product.

Program Manager Annick Beaudet, on the other hand, was able to tell ANC’s neighborhood leaders that a review of the neighborhood plans was a crucial component in developing a full picture of the city’s master plan for bicycle use. The city’ last bicycle master plan was adopted in 1998.

And, furthermore, Beaudet asked for neighborhood feedback on to the plan, which is broken out street by street in order for homeowners to give feedback on whether they thought a proposed bike lane was appropriate or inappropriate, especially in areas where it took away street-side parking.

“Something has got to go sometimes,” Beaudet said. “You look at some streets on the plan, and you see parking on one side and the bike lane on the other…. We’re trying to get that balance between local park needs and bike lanes.”

Beaudet is a cycling optimist. Still, it’s not difficult to be optimistic about the popularity of cycling in Austin. She expects the current number of active cyclists – 3,500 – to double in the next census, adding that the number of bike lane miles also had doubled in the last 10 years, adding an additional 80 miles.

“We want to make bikes an integral part of our multimodal system, integrating them with transit and bus service,” Beaudet said. “We really cater not only to Austinites who already are using bikes, but also to encourage the use of cycling. It’s a very affordable mode of transportation that can be safe and effective.”

Those who want to view and comment on the city’s proposed bicycle master plan can go to http://www.cityofaustin.org/bicycle.

Taking questions from the audience, Beaudet stressed the importance of the bike pathways complementing the existing bus routes. She also agreed that education and signage were important and were supported in the plan.

One audience member asked about closing the gaps in the Shoal Creek Trail. Beaudet said that effort would be a coordinated between the city plan and the city parks. Beaudet said the two departments would coordinate closely.

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