Sharing the Road in 2023

Greetings, San Antonio cyclists!

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.

San Antonio Needs Complete Streets, Not More Highways

A conceptual illustration of the Broadway corridor.

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.”

Read a letter from SA business and civic leaders to the Transportation Department

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.

(Clockwise from left): Lydia Kelly, San Antonio director of Bike Texas, Davey Bemporad, trails and transportation planner for the Great Springs Project, Bryan Martin, former interim executive director of Bike SA, and Kari Kuwamura, executive director of Activate SA, traveled to Austin Jan. 27 to speak before the Texas Transportation Commission about keeping the San Antonio Broadway project under local control. (Courtesy photo)

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.

-Katie Nickas

Secretary of Bike San Antonio

Broadway – Protected Bike Lane Presentation

We have been meeting with stakeholders along Broadway to talk with them about the importance of a protected bike lane on Broadway. Below is a Powerpoint we have been presenting. References for the facts stated.

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