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City launches map to track bike network projects

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 by Ryan Thornton

The city is anticipating a major push for bicycle infrastructure over the next year. As part of that broader effort, the Austin Transportation Department launched an interactive tracking tool this week to help residents follow the progress of ongoing and future projects.

To stay on course with its self-imposed goals, the city will need to have built at least half – roughly 200 miles – of the All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Network by the end of 2020. Transportation says it plans to meet that deadline by accelerating development and construction of bicycle network projects leading up to 2021.

As the name suggests, the network is intended to provide a connected web of safe, comfortable bikeways for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

With the progress tracker, residents can browse the extensive network, check the status of each individual project and view completion estimates for projects already under construction.

“There’s never been a clearer moment in Austin’s transportation history than now for the need for a complete network of high-comfort bikeways to serve the growing mobility demand,” said Laura Dierenfield, division manager with Austin Transportation’s Active Transportation and Street Design Division.

Construction costs have added millions to the estimated cost of the network since adoption in 2014. Initially calculated at around $150 million, Transportation staff told the Austin Monitor in May that design complexities of urban trails, among other issues, have pushed the total network cost closer to $170 million, not including the $46 million already dedicated in the 2016 Mobility Bond.

The network has also evolved from the original map of 220 miles of on-street facilities and another 150 miles of urban bike trails as seen in the 2014 Austin Bicycle Plan. The network was updated this year, with a number of new planned bikeways, as part of the adoption of the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan.

The ASMP identifies construction of the All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Network as the top strategy to meet its 2039 mode share goal with 5 percent of all work commutes taken by bicycle. From 2013 to 2017, 1.3 percent of the city’s workforce commuted by bicycle.

The network consists of three general types of projects: protected bike lanes, urban trails and neighborhood bikeways, also known as “quiet streets.” Unlike protected bike lanes and bike trails, neighborhood bikeways experience little automobile traffic and can be made relatively safe with inexpensive improvements like lighting and wayfinding signage for cyclists.

While the city owns most of the network right of way, some portions will require involvement of other governmental entities like the Texas Department of Transportation, Travis County and the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

Photo by Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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