Your complete streets aren’t complete. At least, not right now.
The idea of ‘complete streets’ is a fantastic one. For the unfamiliar, a complete street in urbanist talk is a street that is designed to be safe for folks of all abilities and ages to travel, be it by car, as pedestrians, cyclists, or on public transit. Usually, that means adding features and amenities the road didn’t have before, like crosswalks, a wider sidewalk, or the go-to, a bike lane.
Complete streets are a great concept. Once they’re filtered through the many stakeholders within a city, however, a complete street may lose a few critical components.
This story from Planetizen, which highlights a Complete Streets policy of our San Antonio, dives even further into it. What the dive tells us is why these complete streets feel so half-baked.
Why are our streets so incomplete?
One of the main reasons according to the story mentions that ambiguity is a killer. This is what happens when you’re trying to check a box: you lose out on why you’re trying to build a complete street in the first place.
You can see this ambiguity in their very own policy. There might be some good things in there: “streets that account for all ages and abilities” and “streets that provide shade and create buffers” are fantastic ideas. But here in lies the problem: there’s nothing actionable, very little specific, and a whole lot of good ideas that can be avoided.
And of course, there’s the issue of lack of funding. San Antonio streets are riddled with potholes, largely because a sizeable tax base can’t support our sprawling roadway network AND everything else that needs to be supported. It’s hard to find funding to support car culture and ever-expanding roads and goodwill for cyclists despite cycling infrastructure costing significantly less both in construction and upkeep.
San Antonio local active transportation planner Joey Pawlik mentioned that San Antonio communities are already looking at updating the city’s complete streets program. We’ll have to stay tuned on what changes, as community outreach and work takes time, but it is comforting to know that something will happen, hopefully.
Complete streets sound useless, but as Michael Lewyn says in the story from Planetizen, that’s not completely the case. They’re just not the lone tool in the street safety toolbox we need to use to make streets safer for everyone to use.
What can we do about making our streets better for pedestrians and cyclists?
As of now, we don’t have a magic solution to build more equitable, effective streets in San Antonio. Streets take time to design, which means if you want to see positive changes in the future, we have to start advocating now. Well, yesterday would be better. Today works, however.
What we can tell you, however, is that new complete streets policy work is coming soon. And once we know exactly what’s going on, we’ll make sure to not only share it all with you but tell you what you can do next to help.
Until then, join us at Bike San Antonio. Visit one of our local events, join us at a ride, or reach out. We’d love to hear from you.
As we gear up for an impassioned spring cycling season, we want to provide some important resources regarding legislative updates happening at the state and local levels that affect bike infrastructure and road safety. The Texas Streets Coalition, a network of more than 25 nonprofit organizations and community groups from across Texas that are working to improve the transportation system and empower one another to successfully advocate for the diverse transportation needs of our growing state, was kind enough to share a 2023 legislative update identifying key state-level funding priorities that will impact bike and highway infrastructure in 2023.
Bike San Antonio supports the group’s Vision of a safe, healthy and just Texas transportation system locally, regionally and statewide that provides dignified multimodal access for all people regardless of age, ability, or place and Mission to champion people’s access first by informing, reforming,and transforming TxDOT and other integrative transportation projects and processes through dynamic advocacy. Please read on to find out more about the changes needed to the Texas transportation system to reduce traffic deaths and congestion, as well as the high costs of transportation, and to improve access for all.
An Efficient State Highway Fund
HJR 77/ SJR 37 led by Air Alliance
Proposing a constitutional amendment to transfer state general revenue into the Texas State Highway Fund for spending on multi-modal transportation projects including public transportation, bike paths, and sidewalks. Allows TxDOT to build projects to best meet the needs of the diverse Texas population.
Local Street Design Authority
Led by STOP TxDOT I-45
Will transfer design authority from TxDOT to city governments for all road extents within the limits of the municipal government. Will allow local municipalities to maintain the integrity of their local transportation plans, often created with input from constituents and voter approval, and integral to connecting the municipality.
Transparent Identification for TxDOT Field Staff and Contractors
HB 1969 led by STOP TxDOT I-45
Requires on-site identification for TxDOT contractors and subcontractors by way of a visible ID badge and vehicle decal. Will ensure public awareness of TxDOT projects and protect the public from potential scammers.
Fair Decision Making at MPOs
Led by Farm&City
Will require Texas Metropolitan Planning Organizations to analyze their decision-making strategies to ensure democratic processes are aligned to the principle of one-person, one-vote, giving proportional weight to population.
Safe Neighborhood Streets
HB 2224/ SB 1663 led by Farm&City
Will allow cities to set safe speed limits on residential streets. Specifically it will allow 25 mile per hour streets and remove cumbersome bureaucracy and costs to implement. This will increase quality of life, economic growth and property values as crashes, injuries, and deaths are reduced.
We also received a guide that was guide that was shared with us by a reader of our blog. Mr. Leo Clarke is a consultant and researcher of digital content and media who owns and manages his own firm. The online handbook, entitled Share the Road: Cyclist & Pedestrian Safety Awareness for Drivers, includes important information about, and updates to, The Highway Code, a government guide to the rules of the road prepared by the Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, aiming to create a clear system for anyone using the road in the UK, whether they’re walking, driving, or biking, to keep everything running smoothly.
The 17th edition of this handbook, published in 2022, features a new “hierarchy of road users” that classifies road users according to their risk in the event of a collision, with the most vulnerable listed at the top. This information will be pertinent to all cyclists and pedestrians, including those of us in the Lone Star State, where bicyclist and pedestrian crashes comprised 36% of all fatal crashes on Texas roadways between 2015 and 2019 that fall within the 290-square mile portion of the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s planning area (and a small portion of the Capital Area MPO [CAMPO] planning area) located northeast of San Antonio between Interstate Highway (IH) 35 and IH-10, as reported in the AAMPO’s April 2022 Subregional Planning Study.
Other factors in road safety, including Level of Traffic Stress (LTS), which quantifies how stressful it feels to ride a bike close to cars, buses, and other traffic, access to active transportation and multimodal transportation options, and roadway connectivity, are included in the final report.
The U.S. government does not currently preside over its own Highway Code. Instead, we have the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, designed to prevent and reduce vehicle crashes.
We at Bike San Antonio also anticipate the preparation of the 2022 (Scheduled) Bike Network Plan, beginning in Fall of 2022. This updated plan will build on the foundation provided by the 2011 San Antonio Bike Plan and 2011 Bike Master Plan (BMP), which outlined the purpose and need for bicycle facilities in San Antonio, and accommodate the implementation of bicycle facilities over the past few years, to update policies and include the introduction of feasibility studies to support further implementation of multimodal infrastructure. The new plan will focus on evaluating all areas of San Antonio, as well as the City of San Antonio Transportation Department’s re-evaluation of its programs and initiatives to provide clearer guidance on how to achieve safer streets and account for all transportation modes in planning, design, and implementation.
Among the topics and language to be addressed in the new plan include:
Language regarding the implementation and connectivity associated with road capacity, parking, and the accommodation of additional bike facilities (additional traffic operations analysis and schematic development to determine the impacts of adding bicycle facilities to secure funding for bike facility implementation)
Strengthening public outreach to garner community support for the future success of the bicycle network
Addressing equity as it relates to a citizen’s transportation needs
We hope that these online tools will help readers familiarize themselves with the key components of ridership across borders, ensuring all road users can co-exist safely and share the road in 2023 and beyond.
Late this month, the Texas Department of Transportation announced that it will rescind minute orders issued in 2014 and 2015 transferring control of Broadway Street along the 2.2-mile stretch from I-35 to Burr Road to the City of San Antonio.
For the past six years, the City has been busy planning and implementing multiple phases of the Broadway Corridor Project, beginning with Phase 1: the Lower Segment, which encompasses Broadway from East Houston Street to the I-35 overpass–a $43 street redevelopment plan funded by voters.
A major component is a road diet—a reduction in the number of north and southbound traveling lanes from three to two on both sides of Upper Broadway Street–to make room for a protected bike lane, wider sidewalks, and shade trees for cyclists and pedestrians.
Shortly after receiving word of this decision from members of the San Antonio Cycling Coalition, Bike San Antonio traveled to Austin to attend a meeting hosted by the Texas Transportation Commission. We also submitted public comments to the Texas Governor’s Office and gave interviews to local media to voice support for the City’s original plan to build bike lanes on Broadway.
TxDOT’s rationale for the motion to retake Broadway was that a lane reduction would increase congestion and drive cars from Broadway to 281.
The news came as a huge shock to San Antonio cyclists, but it’s a setback for the whole city, which has been making headway in recent years to becoming more bike-friendly. City leaders, including Mayor Ron Nirenberg, voiced their opposition on social media and public forums.
“We need public outrage about this,” said Bryan Martin, former interim executive director of Bike SA. “This is the exact opposite of small government. TxDOT should trust San Antonians to make decisions that are right for them and their community.
“These roads need to go on a diet, and make it safer for pedestrians, bus riders, and cyclists,” he added. “What I’m hearing from TxDOT is a 1 to 2-minute delay is not worth saving lives.”
“Having streets like Broadway under local control allows cities to better attune streets and zoning according to the needs of everyone who uses it,” said Bike SA Board Member Alvin Holbrook. “Forcibly taking control from the city does just the opposite, leaving it to a highway-obsessed firm with a track record of putting auto traffic before people. If you care about how your city looks and feels, you need to care about this.”
Streets like Broadway that are not major highways belong under local control. The posted speed limit on Broadway is 35 miles per hour. Businesses and drive-outs line both sides, buses frequent the right lane, and it is flanked by residential neighborhoods to the east and west, as well as Brackenridge Park. Turning it into a highway will increase the Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) that a person on a bike feels riding close to cars, buses, and other traffic.
Research from the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization shows that while most people are comfortable riding on a quiet residential street, they would feel unsafe riding on a six-lane road with a 40-mile-per-hour speed limit. Most people avoid riding a bike on many parts of San Antonio’s street network because it is a stressful experience.
Since I began biking nine years ago, I’ve ridden on Broadway many times and have never felt safe. Several years ago, I was sideswiped by a truck driver in Alamo Heights who was trying to cut across a neighborhood street over to Broadway. A pedestrian witnessed the near-crash and said it behooved me to watch out for certain motorists, because they could behave aggressively. I’ll never forget his words or the jarring experience, and how I felt like I’d avoided death.
I wonder what the driver would have said if I’d confronted him. I didn’t see her. The sun was in my eyes. I was in a hurry. All of these are reasons I’ve heard motorists give to try and explain bike crashes. None rationalize the damage done to cyclists by motor vehicles each year on Texas roadways.
Roadway crashes continue to rise in our state. More than 4,400 people were killed on Texas roadways last year–the second-highest count for the state roads ever, and 500 more than were recorded in 2020, according to data from the Texas Transportation Commission. Crashes involving pedestrians and cyclist fatalities and serious injuries were higher in 2021 than they have been in years.
That’s why cyclists follow Texas bike laws when riding on public roads, whether they’re quaint side streets, busy thoroughfares, or access roads. We know we have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, and that it’s important to signal properly when turning and coming to full stops at Stop signs and red lights. Even on the greenways, which prohibits motor vehicle traffic, we practice etiquette to keep the linear spaces a safe, fun, and recreational place for all.
We appreciate it when drivers move over and #Give3Feet of space for us to ride on major/busy roadways. It makes us feel not only safer, but like we’re part of a community.
As the implications of this latest development roll out, we anticipate hearing how federal transportation dollars allocated to the Broadway project will be spent. We are encouraged by measures taken at the federal level, from a new safety policy outlined by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg aimed at setting better guidance for setting safe speed limits and also awarding grants to cities that build Complete Streets. The new infrastructure bill will provide federal grants to improve bike and pedestrian facilities in safety in our town, as well as roadway issues across the state.
We hope TxDOT keeps the City’s plans for Broadway and recognizes that multimodal transportation isn’t just about urban design for a select group of people, but building the framework for modern and innovative cities across Texas.
Those in the San Antonio cycling community know the tireless efforts involved in bike safety and advocacy. Bike San Antonio has been working diligently these last few months to produce a Public Safety Announcement, network at Síclovía, and team up with local bike nonprofits including Earn-a-Bike and Ghisallo Cycling Initiative. We are promoting bike education as we continue to grow our coalition through active engagement with diverse individuals and bike groups throughout the city.
We’d like to thank local SA journalist Billy Busby for partnering with us on the PSA, and his creativity in bringing it to fruition. Since airing on YouTube on Sept. 24, “Saddle Up SA” has reached more than 400 viewers and received multiple shares on social media. This is more than a message from the SATX bike community to motorists to obey traffic laws. It’s a clarion call for the public to share the road, give 3 feet for cyclists, and recognize that people on bikes belong to the community and deserve respect.
This project comprises one in a series of cycling and pedestrian-related PSAs to come that will be featured on TV to help bring cycling tragedies to a halt. We honor a nationwide commitment to Vision Zero and the Complete Streets policy that the San Antonio-Bexar County Transportation Policy Board adopted in March 2009, and that City Council approved on Sept. 29, 2011. Still, it will take much more. We need justice for cyclists who are assaulted, struck, injured, or killed on the streets and highways of Texas each day. That’s why you’ll see us posting on Facebook and Instagram to raise money for injured cyclists and sharing announcements about upcoming events and ways to volunteer to further bike education.
In the season ahead, we’ll launch a membership drive to give folks a chance to show their support for our cause by owning a Bike SA t-shirt, helmet, lights, and bumper stickers. Donating to our organization will help us strategically advocate safer bike infrastructure, education, and awareness both politically and in our communities. We are building capacity to hold public forums with stakeholders, outreach meetings to increase participation from cycling residents in each council district, and hire an executive director to build relationships with elected and non-elected officials.
The calendar is full with all that’s planned. Be sure to look for our board members and riders at the Tuesday night SATX Social Ride, at ActivateSA virtual meetings, on the trails and greenways, and all your favorite riding spots.
Happy fall, San Antonio, and safe travels on two wheels!
A record number of cyclists have been riding along the streets and greenways of San Antonio since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bike shops began selling out of bikes last spring, and have struggled to keep up with demand since.
The time to build comprehensive bike infrastructure in San Antonio is now. With a population of 1.5 million, the city is the sixth-largest in the U.S., and continues to be the fastest-growing, outpacing any other major metropolitan area. Still, statistics and local wisdom show it’s behind in providing citizens with a safe, interconnected bicycle network.
In May of 2019, People for Bikes reported that San Antonio had a bike-friendly score of 1.5 out of 5 stars based on ridership, safety, network, reach, and acceleration, ranking it 284th out of 512 cities. That number has decreased to 1.2 according to the organization’s latest data–a problem that is reflected statewide. Despite the fact that more than 4 million Texans ride bicycles each year, Texas is at the lower end of bicycle-friendly states in terms of current laws enacted to protect people on bikes (ranked 30 out of 50, according to the League of American Bicyclists).
San Antonio’s bike community is growing exponentially, and while motorists may be starting to take bicycles seriously, the reality is the city is not safe for cyclists. People continue to be killed on San Antonio roadways while riding. The overwhelming reason San Antonio residents don’t ride bikes more often is they don’t feel safe riding in traffic, but the lack of bike infrastructure gives them no other option.
Over the last four years, Bike San Antonio has been hard at work improving bike safety. We’ve engaged in meaningful outreach with bike groups throughout the city, including SATX Social Ride, Activate SA, Pedal SATX, and Earn-a-Bike. We’ve hosted public events such as Street Skills Classes and walk and bike nights. We’ve spoken to city planners and architects with the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) and Public Works department, as well as elected representatives on the San Antonio City Council, to advocate bike infrastructure. By participating in questionnaires and online surveys, we’re increasing public participation to make our elected officials aware of which streets are priorities for public safety.
On October 27, 2019, Bike San Antonio and Bronko Bikes hosted the inaugural “Ride Broadway with City Council and the Mayor” to advocate a protected bike lane on Lower Broadway Street. Broadway was one of the 50 major citywide projects included in the $850-million municipal bond package approved by voters and passed by City Council in 2017. It committed funds to build 200 miles of sidewalks, bike amenities, and multi-use paths over the next five years. $42 million of this funding is devoted to transportation, drainage, public facilities, and recreation on the southern portion of the street, which is now under construction.
Riders from across San Antonio, the SATX Social Ride, Wild Dawgs, Storm, Zombie Bike Club, Give 3 Feet, and San Antonio S’well Cycle flocked to the event. They joined Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City Council Representatives Shirley Gonzales (D5) and Ana Sandoval (D7) in a ride down the busy corridor in support of bike lanes.
Bike SA board members also attended a virtual CoSA meeting on August 6, 2020, to advocate bike infrastructure on Commerce Street from St. Mary’s to Santa Rosa Avenue. We urged the City to comply with the Complete Streets policy that the San Antonio-Bexar County Transportation Policy Board adopted in March 2009, and that City Council approved on Sept. 29, 2011.
The City’s Department of Planning and Community Development recognized the need for Complete Streets more than a decade ago, and the proposed Complete Streets policy requires city roads to be planned, designed, built, and maintained for all users, with requirements for developers to consider bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and pedestrian buffers, among other amenities.
San Antonio was recognized in this recent report, “Safe Streets in American Cities,” for setting Complete Streets policies, and has made strides in safe paths for walking and biking. Much more work is needed, however, for our roadways to accommodate users of all ages and ability levels by providing a holistic approach to multi-modal transit.
We continue to support the Vision Zero SA initiative and the full implementation of the 2011 Bike Master Plan, which recommends a 1,768-mile network of bike facilities, including 861 miles of bike lanes, 12 miles of bike boulevards, 228 miles of multi-use paths and cycle tracks, and 500 or more additional miles of wide shoulders and signed routes. The plan outlined 17 miles of bike lanes and paths to be constructed, including the designation of Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails as connectors linking bike infrastructure across San Antonio, and the addition of protected bike lanes on major thoroughfares. We’d like to see the recommended improvements put into action.
Bike San Antonio’s board members have aligned the following projects with our Strategic Plan of Take Action, Bike Rides, Community Engagement, and Bicycle Safety through Education and plans, which will be presented at upcoming meetings:
Stop funding/planning more greenway miles until committed greenways are funded/given completion dates.
Build a continuous E/W corridor through downtown that connects to Broadway protected lanes
Build the “Tito Bradshaw Memorial Bikeway” that connects to a downtown corridor and extends to at least 410 East. Ensure the Bradshaw family/community is consulted in this process.
Create an E/W corridor that connects to a downtown corridor and extends to at least 410 West.
More public meetings about Roosevelt Avenue
Public Works shall maintain an up-to-date website of all protected bike corridors.
Do something concrete to get more bike racks out there.
Advocacy is our #1 goal. Communication with property owners, businesses, and designers is key to securing bikes a place on the road. Continued outreach and marketing will help grow a broader, more inclusive coalition of cycling advocates from diverse demographics and neighborhoods throughout San Antonio, helping create fair and equitable bike infrastructure for streets designated within the Bike Master Plan and beyond.
Working with the AAMPO and groups that receive federal funding to implement local plans will help Bike SA unite municipalities and agencies to build a truly connected network, provide public bike education programs, and leverage funding at the county, state, and federal levels to improve connectivity to roadways outside Bexar County.
We’ll continue to seek out large projects that offer buffered or protected bike lanes and that link gridded areas inside 410 to curvilinear streets and neighborhoods outside 410. In addition, bike safety can be greatly increased at intersections. Cyclists prefer not to take neighborhood streets because they have to stop at every intersection and face poorer street quality, as well as dogs, lighting, and other obstacles.
Over the last couple years, we’ve welcomed two new board members: Alex Papanastassiou served as Bike SA’s Executive Director until he had to leave the group early this year due to other commitments. We are happy to have Tina Beecham on board with us as our new Vice President. Tina is a Trek advocate and founder of Pedal SATX who works with Bike World, People for Bikes, and Black Girls Do Bike, which has close to 500 members and more than 86 chapters nationwide. Tina’s commitment is to strengthening bike advocacy in San Antonio through various practices, including surveys to gather input on streets lacking bike amenities, and to secure better funding sources. She stresses the importance of safety and action in improving bike education.
There’s no doubt that bike riding is growing in Texas. The increasing number of bike riders on the streets is leading state legislators to introduce bills addressing traffic and bike safety. We also need protection for multiple road users. H.B. 554, introduced in the Texas House of Representatives in the 2021 legislative session, for instance, requires motorists to provide a three-foot distance between a car and a bike and truck drivers to provide six feet of safe passing space. H.B. 3325, the “Crash Not Accident” bill filed by State. Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-District 43, changes the terminology to describe transportation-related accidents as crashes. This April, a second bill was voted unanimously out of the Texas House Committee on Transportation and recommended to be sent to the Local & Consent calendar.
Unfortunately, however, laws are not enough to save the lives that have been cut short by bike crashes. Earlier this month, San Antonio witnessed the tragic loss of another cyclist who was near and dear to the community. Beatrice Gonzales was riding with her friends when she was struck by a drunk driver in front of Central Catholic High School on St. Mary’s Street. It was like any other night when cyclists enjoy riding, until disaster struck.
This kind of thing can’t keep happening. Bike San Antonio is determined to see San Antonio become a bike-friendly city for all. Please stay tuned and visit our social media channels to see the excellent work we’re devoting to building bike infrastructure in our home city.
San Antonio has a bike friendly score of just 1.5 out of 5 stars, 284th out of 512 cities (People For Bikes). With a population of 1.5 million, it’s 6th largest city in the US and the fastest growing (Census). We must establish a safe, interconnected bike network now or we will soon be choked by traffic and pollution.
BikeSA has worked for two years on improving bike safety. We’ve gone door to door, created petitions, attended city meetings, rallied cyclists to attend public meetings and more. Because of this, the city has agreed to add protected bike lanes to 2 miles of Broadway, where before it was only 3 blocks. Before our efforts, there were no plans for bike lanes on St. Mary’s, now they are planned for the whole bond project. We got the city to clean the major bike lanes once a month rather than once a year. They are now studying where car parking can be removed from bike lanes, and a protected bike lane on S Alamo as well as Commerce because of our requests.
We’ll be meeting with influential members in the city to devise a plan to move forward. We’ll assess the current bike plan and work with the bicycle community to realize the protected bike network. We’ll work with city officials and develop strategy to ensure timely rollout of the network.
The power of the bicycle to relieve traffic and emissions is greatly underestimated. These figures from the National Association of City Transportation Officials show that installing a protected bike lane can facilitate transport of about the same amount of people as a Bus Rapid Transit dedicated bus lane.
Car lane = 1,600 people/hr Bus mixed w/ cars = 2,800 people/hr 2-way cycletrack = 7,500 people/hr Dedicated bus lane = 8,000 people/hr Light rail = up to 34,880 people/hr Heavy rail = up to 120,400 people/hr
53% of people in the US want to bike more, but worry about being hit by a car. 47% say they would bike if streets had protected bike lanes (People for Bikes). When safe bike infrastructure is there, people use it. Those places with the most bike infrastructure see rates of up to 50% of all trips by bike.
People say it can’t be done here because Americans love their cars. But this hasn’t been achieved in any US city because safe and complete bike infrastructure has never been built here!
San Antonio also has the worst walk and bike scores among cities with 1 million or more people. It has a walk score of 38 and a bike score of 42 out of 100. It has the 6th highest percentage of overweight adults in the US – a staggering 38.5% (WalletHub). Unfortunately, obesity in SA is going up. 20% or 1 in 5 people in San Antonio live in poverty (Census). Providing affordable and safe means of transport is essential to ensure their needs are met.
A new study found that cycling 30 miles per week cuts heart disease and cancer risk in half. Cyclists had a 41% lower risk of premature death compared to those who regularly travel to work by car. The avid riders had a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer (The British Medical Journal). Although electric cars are better for the environment, they still pollute since most of our electricity comes from polluting sources. Car use doesn’t just harm the environment, it increases obesity, isolation, personal monetary costs and roadway costs, asthma, crime and more (World Health Organization).
The US transportation sector produces about 30% of all US global warming emissions, more than almost any other sector. Auto-oriented, car dependent cities are discriminatory against those who cannot drive – the poor, the young, the elderly and the disabled. These people deserve safe, comfortable and convenient ways to get around the city. Bicycling is a fun way to get around town! It has been shown to actually improve mental well-being. One study, published in the Journal of Diabetes Complications found that after cycling for 12 weeks, participants saw a boost in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein responsible for regulating stress, mood, and memory.
Cycling also improves one’s self-perception and sense of self-worth, resulting in higher self-esteem. These improvements are even stronger for mental health patients and people suffering from mild depression. So it can potentially be just as effective (if not more effective) than psychotherapy.
Bike lanes benefit businesses:
In New York City, the addition of a protected bike lane on two major streets led to “a 50 percent increase in sales receipts.” In San Francisco, after a bike lane was added on Valencia Street “two-thirds of the merchants said bike lanes had been good for business.” In Seattle, the creation of a new bike lane, which eliminated 12 on-street parking spaces resulted in a serious increase in retail sales along the street.
When a new protected bike lane was installed on Broadway in Salt Lake City, sales on the street rose 8.8%, in spite of the fact that the bike lanes decreased on-street parking by 30%. Surveys of business owners along the street showed that a majority of them felt that the change was positive, and most of the remaining business owners felt neutral about it (People for Bikes).
In 2013, the city of Vancouver installed protected bike lanes on a key street, which involved removing 20 parking spaces. For business owners along this corridor, their initial fears about losing sales did indeed come true. But that was only a short-term result. Soon after the bike lanes were installed, one local restaurant owner happily reported that business was better than ever and stated, “We definitely have benefited from the increased usage of the bike lane.” With a slew of bike riders now streaming by, he was able to reach a range of new customers.
On Tuesday April 9th we met with Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI) officials:
Razi Housinni – Interim Director/City Engineer; Peter Zanoni – Deputy City Manager; Arthur Reinhardt – Interim Deputy Director; Richard Grochowski – Broadway project manager; David McBeth – City Engineer, St. Marys and Fredericksburg projects; Bianca Thorpe – Programs Manager.
-Tito Bradshaw Memorial Bikeway on East Houston Street
-Bike Lanes on St. Mary’s, Broadway, Fredericksburg, Cincinnati
-Restriction of cars parked in bike lanes
-Bike SA Master Plan update
They agreed to look at restricting cars parked in the bike lanes we provide them with. We sent them this: According to a Bike SA poll, cyclists have identified the following streets to remove car parking, because really, you can’t count these as bike lanes, they are actually car parking lanes. Mission Rd, Cincinnati Ave, Ashby, St Marys, Austin St, Woodlawn, S Presa, Grayson, Dover Ridge, N Vandiver, Les Harrison.
On E Houston, they said they can commit to looking at a protected bike lane from 3rd to where the contra flow lane starts. Also the potential bike boulevard on a side street from there.
Our responses to the meeting: We think that Ave B south of the freeway can work if we make it a one-way with a protected bike lane as you said. But since it isn’t part of the bond project, we’re afraid it won’t get funded, or if it does it will take like 20 years before it’s finished. We would also want the stop signs turned outwards for cross traffic, and very prominent wayfinding signs and markings on the road on Broadway indicating where the bike route goes.
According to the complete streets ordinance: “All new construction and full reconstruction of city roadways will be planned, designed, constructed, and maintained to maximize the benefits to all users.”
All of the bike projects you are seeking federal funding for are in the most wealthy neighborhoods, yet the highest concentration of cyclists and cyclist crashes are in the downtown area where there is little safe bike infrastructure. Why were those projects prioritized?
David said he would send the latest streetscape plans of St. Mary’s and Fredericksberg.
Bianca said she would update us on when we can expect to see the bike crash map after she meets with UTSA.
Tito Bradshaw Memorial
The group discussed the new bikeway built in memory of cyclist Tito Bradshaw and how to connect it to the Salado Creek Greenway.
Feasibility of adding bike lanes to East Houston Street.
Possibility of Houston Street becoming a magnet for dock less scooters if it is made pedestrian-friendly and the need for another corridor to accommodate the density of scooters.
TCI was amenable to doing a study and analysis.
Restriction of cars parked in bike lane
TCI reviewed the law passed by the SA City Council in 2014 that prohibited parking in bike lanes. As a result, any new bike lane installed would restrict parking. However, the law does not apply to lanes that are already in place.
TCI expressed concern about adding bike lanes where there are residential areas and driveways.
Russell suggested adding signage on all lanes telling people whether they can park—not only in areas where parking is prohibited.
TCI stressed it needs Bike San Antonio’s help in identifying the streets where signage is lacking.
Bike SA Master Plan Update
TCI said it submitted $60 million worth of projects to the City Council about three weeks ago for authorization to submit the Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) update for funding as part of the Congestion Mitigation Project (CMAC).
Of the $60 million, about $21 million is for the Bike SA Master Plan or bike facility projects.
TCI will learn whether these projects are funded by July or August 2019.
TCI provided that $1.5 million was allocated for the Bike SA Master Plan and implementation.
St. Mary’s Street Bike Lanes
TCI informed that St. Mary’s is another bond project for which about 70% of the design is complete. Three or four public meetings have been held so far. A bid will be placed this spring with a public meeting following in May or June.
The new project would include curbs with dedicated bike lanes and a driving lane running in each direction with parking on one side of the street.
TCI stated that due to high demand for nightlife, vehicles, and pedestrians on St. Mary’s, it is moving forward to try and widen the sidewalks, remove obstructions, and add dedicated bike lanes to the winding street.
TCI identified an adjacent residential area as well as parking as challenges to the project.
TCI said the eventual goal for St. Mary’s is to have buffered bike lanes.
TCI agreed to send a schematic plan of the St. Mary’s project to Bike San Antonio.
Quotes from Arthur Reinhardt:
“We want our streets to be as complete as possible. We are also looking at parallel corridors.”
“We want a destination—a shared use. We’ve had some challenges with pedestrian safety. When we start to move those elements, we run into problems.”
“Vision Zero guides us and focuses a lot on pedestrian safety. We have to get better engineering.”
“For two-thirds of the Broadway project, we feel we can fit bike facilities. We want to have a great street, sidewalks, shade, and promote other modes of transit, but one of the challenges is the southern section. It’s the rock we’re under right now. We’re looking at Avenue B farther south. We want to convert Avenue B to one-way traffic and repurpose half the street to have a nice protected bike lane.”
The following topics were also raised:
Safe-hit flag posts
Adding bike lanes at the time new sidewalks are installed
Integrated sidewalks/bike lanes/shared spaces
Installing binding laws requiring a certain number of bike lanes to be installed per year (www.saspeakup.com.)
Armadillo shells in buffer lanes
Current bike projects:
A cycle track on Hamilton Wolfe Road, an east-west running corridor located on the city’s NW side in the Medical Center.
A bike facility project added on Abe Lincoln Road.
A bike facility project on Lockhill-Selma where there’s about a mile gap running from I-10 to Salado Creek
A bike facility project at the Five Points neighborhood intersection at Fredericksburg Road, where a VIA bus station is located. TCI would like to connect this area to Cincinnati Avenue.
Janel requested an update to the citywide bike routes and crash maps that UTSA was working on for Vision Zero.
In just 2 days, 1,000 people have signed the petition for The Tito Bradshaw Memorial Bikeway on E Houston, and 8,000 emails have gone out to 8 city officials. We are demanding action! As a result of these emails, I received a message from the Director of Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI) expressing his condolences and agreeing to meet. He also shared the news that two weeks ago, City Council approved $21 million for dedicated bike facilities, and to update the City’s Bike Master Plan. He encouraged us to provide feedback on what we want prioritized in the FY2020 budget. Please take the survey at www.SASpeakUp.com. View all surveys here.
This was my response. We appreciate your efforts to update the bike master plan, but once it is updated we need to implement it. San Antonio is good at creating plans to increase street safety, but not as good at implementing them. We are a highly creative and technologically advanced society, we can easily make it so we don’t have to fear for our lives just to get from a to b.
I have to disagree with you that we are making progress with Vision Zero. As you can see in these graphs, since 2010 we have hardly increased the number of complete streets, traffic fatalities and serious injuries are increasing, alternative transit use is decreasing, and commute times and VMT are increasing.
Bryan and I walked down Broadway the other day to show how dangerous the streets are. As you can see in this video, there are construction steel plates in the bikeway that are uneven and unsecured. We called them in to 311 6 days ago and they are still there. They are placed incorrectly, and they shouldn’t move when driven over. Many cities add a textured coating on the plates, and place them so they are all flat. Cyclists and even motorist can easily slip on these with any bit of rain. Cyclists told me that they biked over them in the dark and didn’t even realize they were slick metal plates until they were off of them.
I’ve heard city officials here say that protected bike lanes are great, but “we aren’t built for that in San Antonio.” The Netherlands wasn’t built for bikes either, but in the 70’s they made a conscientious decision to accommodate cyclists. Now in some cities as many as 50% of all trips are by bike. I consistently hear from planners and officials here that if we take away car lanes it may increase traffic. Look at NYC who have been installing protected bike lanes on their streets that are already at a standstill with traffic. They make it a priority because they understand the importance. I encourage you to watch this video as well.
In terms of the money allocated to bike infrastructure and planning, the amount devoted to bikes is minuscule compared to the entire transportation budget. We could build 1,280 miles of protected bike lanes for the cost it takes to build 1 mile of freeway! San Antonio now has just 355 miles of on-street bike lanes. The bike plan goal is to add 1,740 miles of bike lanes in the next 20 years, which is 87 miles each year, we are not on track to meet this goal. We look forward to working with y’all to remedy these deficiencies in the transportation network.
Yesterday we walked down Broadway with MIG Urban Designer Mukul. We learned that there are many areas of Broadway that allow for extra room, not necessarily notated on the street design schematics. For instance, there are buildings that are set back further than their property lines, which give more room for sidewalk and bike lane space. Under I-35 there is a center turn lane that turns into nothing, which can be removed and added to the sides to create a protected bike lane. Analyzing the street in person is an invaluable necessity we plan to continue while working towards a Broadway complete street.
Mukul informed us about the Indianapolis Cultural Trail that is an 8-mile bike and walk path through the city. It has points of interest along the way connecting some of Indy’s most popular cultural institutions. Something like this in SA could draw tourists out of the downtown areas to activate and enliven other areas of the city that are economically depressed. It could also provide safe and convenient ways for locals to travel while getting exercise.
Texas’ Safe Passing Bill is dangerously close to being over for this legislative session. You can make sure this bill stays alive.
Only call if you live in these zip codes. 78201, 78202, 78203, 78204, 78205, 78207, 78208, 78209, 78210, 78212, 78213, 78215, 78216, 78225, 78230, 78231
The only shot Safe Passing has at becoming law is for it to pass the House Transportation Committee. We’re working with our friends at BikeTexas to make sure the Transportation Committee hears from their constituents who walk or ride bikes. Your representative sits on the House Transportation Committee and has not indicated his or her stance on this bill. Here are the representatives we need to reach (please only contact your own representative)
Chairman Terry Canales
Shawn Nicole Thierry
Please call or email your representative today to ask for his or her support for HB 962. Here’s a script you can use:
My name is _______, my occupation is _______, and I live in District _____.
HB 962 is important to me and my family because [them why Safe Passing matters to you, such as: one too many close calls; you want law enforcement to have this tool to prosecute drivers who are at fault in a collision; your children walk and/or ride bikes in your neighborhood and you want them to be safer; or whatever your reason for supporting this law is].
I ask Representative ________ to vote YES on HB 962.
This is the first step in a long process to make Safe Passing a statewide law in Texas, but if the bill doesn’t pass the committee then it doesn’t go anywhere. Please contact your representative today and ask him or her to vote YES on HB 962.
Because of the urgent nature of this Action Alert, you may also hear from one of our allied organizations today about this bill.
If you would like to stay up-to-date on bicycle-related action in the Texas Legislature, please sign up for BikeTexas’ email newsletters and action alerts at www.biketexas.org/newsletter. Make sure to include your zip code to receive information specific to your legislative district.