I found out about this on Nextdoor. There will be a series of meetings in different places around town in February and March. See: http://austintexas.gov/activetransportation
As you can imagine, some of the posts on Nextdoor were pretty hateful. Lot's of anger directed at cyclists. On the bright side, most posts seemed to be in favor of making the roads safer for all users. I'm going to try and get to at least one of them on the north side of town.
I attended the Walk and Bike meeting held at Spicewood Springs library a couple of nights ago. I think there are a couple more still planned in case anyone is interested in going. They had the meeting room set up with displays and various city staff were on hand to answer questions and listen to feedback.
My take on it is that the city does seem genuinely interested in making safety improvements, but they are meeting a lot of resistance from the NIMBY crowd. I think it is important for those of us who care about cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to go to these kinds of things and speak up as often as possible. I think that our city people do want to make things better for us, but we need to speak up and give them the political cover they need to get some of these projects done. Here are a few of the points I tried to make with each of the people manning the stations:
1. Given the blind hatred that a significant number of people have towards cyclists, it might be a good idea to frame infrastructure improvement projects, whenever possible, in terms of Safe Routes to Schools. Force the NIMBYs to try and prevent bike lanes and lower speed limits by arguing against the safety of innocent little kids. There are lots of elementary schools. If we could safely navigate between them we could pretty much go anywhere in the city.
1a. Get ahead of the people who argue against 'right sizing' roads by downplaying the benefits to cyclists and playing up the benefits to drivers. Be ready with statistics to show that reducing lanes doesn't really impede traffic or that if it does slightly the safety benefits, like not getting slammed from behind while turning left on a four lane road, outweigh the cost.
2. Find ways to get various agencies, school districts, MUDs, precincts, etc to work together on connectivity projects. In my neighborhood, JB Connally High School can only be reached from neighborhoods to the west by driving on Howard, Lamar, and Parmer. But if a 120' long multi-use trail were to be built to the west of Connally kids could walk home after late practices and games (or detention - which was my extracurricular activity back in middle school). This would get lots of cars off the road for very little concrete, but it would take the coordinated efforts of an HOA, the city, PfISD, and probably others. There are many of these opportunities around town. These could yield results relatively quickly at relatively low cost and be used as examples of how infrastructure is beneficial.
3. Allow and incentivize people who receive certain traffic tickets to reduce their fine by taking the Bicycle Safety course instead of the usual car centered defensive driving course. The content is pretty similar anyway and it would have the added effect of getting people to understand the rights of cyclists. Maybe some people would even grow a little empathy.
Anyway, if anyone agrees any of my ideas please consider mentioning them if you go to a meeting. It could help for them to hear the ideas from a variety of people in different parts of town.