About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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New bike boulevard plan raises questions from all sides
The updated proposal for a so-dubbed bicycle boulevard that would be located in downtown
For the LOBV, the latest version of the boulevard doesn’t make the affected sections of
What would turn into a long evening started out with a brief presentation by the City of
Though speed cushions, enhanced bike lanes, shared lane markings called “sharrows,” and other bike-conscious improvements remain, and the boulevard zone has been expanded to include sections of both Nueces and
At the hearing, LOBV President Rob D’Amico expressed his displeasure with the updates. “The idea was to make the street special so that when you put your tire on
“I think much of the vision has been lost,” he added. Though he said that his group was in favor of the proposed changes to
“A bike lane, however valuable in some circumstances, is not a bike boulevard.“ he said.
For Susan Harris, the owner of Site Solutions at 18th and
She then told the UTC that, if the city is going to be “intellectually honest about the need to build extensive bicycling facilities throughout the downtown area,” it needed to answer some questions. For her, these included whether the TIA’s conclusion that the changes associated with the boulevard would have no appreciable impact on traffic was accurate and up to city standards.
The UTC did its best to answer Harris’ questions. After commissioners Sheila Holbrook-White and Dustin Lanier took turns grilling Beaudet and the party responsible for the TIA — HDR’s Heidi Ross — about traffic impacts, UTC Chair Richard MacKinnon jumped in and put everything together.
“There were some concerns about the intellectual honesty of a TIA that can, on one hand say that a bike boulevard can reduce motor vehicle traffic on the street, but then on the other hand say (it would) have no appreciable effects (on) motor vehicle traffic on the street,” he said. “My impression … is that the TIA is not restricted to simply Nueces, it’s actually looking at the entire area, and that, when you compare the volumes of traffic on Nueces to the volume of traffic on, say, Guadalupe, Nueces (has) a very small portion of traffic.”
The bike boulevard plan will continue its trip through city government. On May 11, Beaudet says that her team will return to the UTC with a full presentation that will include 3D animation of the boulevard.
Council Member Chris Riley, who has been an avid cyclist for years and rides his bike through downtown to work, said after the plan has gone through the various commissions and been presented to City Council, he expects the city to proceed with the Rio Grande portion of the plan. That would mean removal of four stop signs and installation of traffic circles at those locations plus beautification of the street. Riley made his comments in a conversation after the meeting.
Riley noted that the
“I do still like the bike boulevard,” he said, agreeing that “in a perfect world it would just be one” street, rather than two.
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