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#1 2008-10-03 16:19:37

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

From Nadia of the CoA Bike Program:

... there is a neighborhood group meeting on Monday that involves cycling issues.  If you ever ride your bike on Exposition, or think one day you might like to ride your bike there, please consider attending the meeting.

What:  Discussion of parking modifications on Exposition
Where:  Howson Library, 2500 Exposition Blvd, Austin, TX, 78703
When:  Monday, October 6th at 7:00 p.m.
Who:  West Austin Neighborhood Group

The issue here is whether cars should be parked in bike lanes.  A strong showing from the bicycle community at this meeting will show how important this issue is and will give the neighborhood an idea of how many people are affected by cars parked in bike lanes.

Here is the League of Bicycling Voters' position on parking in bike lanes on Exposition Blvd.:
http://www.lobv.org/docs/LOBV_ExpositionBikeLanes.pdf

Please attend.

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#2 2008-10-03 16:53:16

rmonsees
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 39

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

KXAN has a news article on the upcoming meeting:

http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=9120386

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#3 2008-10-04 12:50:42

tomwald
Moderator
From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

The CoA staff recommendation is to allow parking in the bike lanes at all times except Mon to Sat commuter hour restrictions 6-10am and 4-7pm, except Sundays and holidays.  This recommendation is based on a compromise of the views/needs/wants of residents, the church, and bicyclists.

If you attend the meeting on Monday, remember to be respectful of others.

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#4 2008-10-07 09:35:37

JW
Member
Registered: 2008-10-07
Posts: 15

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

Was there a decision reached at last night's meeting? Looked like bike lanes were being thrown over for the ability to park on the street at any time convenient for the motorist.
    It has been my observation that part-time bike lanes get even less respect from motorists than dedicated lanes, and that's not saying much. I rarely get that far west on my bike, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to come up on the rear bumper of a parked SUV were I to be cycling along Exposition Blvd.

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#5 2008-10-07 13:16:38

doughead
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 37

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

I was there, no decisions were made but there are a block of residents that are definitely against any restrictions on parking. The new guidelines are not well thought out they pretty much put bike lanes in jeopardy. Problem number one, the city bike plan calls for no parking in bike lanes. Problem number two, bicycle activists want no parking in bike lanes. Problem number three the new guidelines give the resident stakeholders the choice of approving the plans or not. It takes a vote of the city council to actually get rid of a bike lane.
It would be very bad for west Austin cyclists to lose the lanes on Exposition because of the volume and speed of the traffic and the fact that Exposition is about the only through street available for meaningful transportation.
If the bike lanes disappear I am afraid that Exposition would be made into a four lane street with no room for cyclists whatsoever.
In this situation the status quo would be better than removal of the bike lanes.
The city guidelines should have a more "safety for cyclist" orientation instead of the promoting political cat fight orientation that they have now. The BAC tried to get a traffic volume / speed condition put in the guidelines that would automatically eliminate parking once a certain number of auto trips per day was reached on that route but the attempt failed.
In this situation and the one I live near (Emerald Forrest) I would rather keep the lane with some parking in it than get rid of the lane altogether. Remember, it takes a vote from city council to actually eliminate a bike lane.
More later I am sure.

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#6 2008-10-07 16:29:27

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 553

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

Of course, if the bike lanes get removed and it goes four lanes, they lose their parking ...

Would four lanes really be so bad for cyclists?  You just take the right lane, right where you were before when there was a bike lane.  Well, where you'd be if you weren't going around a parked car.  The only difference is that you might have a car behind you -- but he'd probably just change lanes and go around you anyways.

As is usually the case, there doesn't seem to be a solution to make everybody happy.  Though personally, I'd say that if you can't have a bike lane that's reasonably free of cars (parked or otherwise), you shouldn't have a bike lane at all, and so we should push for the bike lane to be removed and be replaced with another lane of traffic.  And if it does end up that parking is allowed during certain hours, cyclists should make it a point to be very vigilant about reporting every violation right away.  No parking at 7am?  Find a car at 7:01am?  Call 311 ...

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#7 2008-10-08 06:10:18

doughead
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 37

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

The no bike lane at all point of view is a valid one but bike lanes do cause drivers to give bike riders more room. Drivers keep further to the left in their lane when there is a striped bike lane to the right of them. One of the problems with no bike lane on Exposition would be that there is a lot of "up hill" on Exposition and though it is legal to take the lane and go five miles an hour it does cause a lot of frustration and resulting reckless behavior from car drivers. Asking car drivers to be rational in frustrating circumstances is going against human nature.

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#8 2008-10-09 10:10:13

damicoaustin
Member
From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 143
Website

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

I'm going to put Annick's comments in the forum, because I'm a forum kind of guy.

I agree with Annick, that this policy was well researched and thought out....and vetted completely with the Street Smarts Task Force. But here's my recollection....When we looked at it in Street Smarts there was grave concern that this policy could endanger bike lanes. Essentially, the effort to get rid of parking could put them in jeopardy if neighborhood objections ended up before the City Council.

We all realized this, but we couldn't really think of any other ideas to transform bike lanes into no parking zones. You have to force the issue in some way, and restriping seemed to be logical.

So we thought the process would either mean no parking or the loss of the bike lane, and it seemed to be a gamble people were willing to take. Either that or we were just unable to formulate anything better. But I don't think anyone anticipated that something "in between" would happen, e.g. time restrictions for no parking. We never discussed this at all.

Annick is right that the written policy gives COA complete latitude to balance needs and propose whatever they want...but again, we just never thought of it in this light. Maybe we were caught up in the dreamworld of bike lanes or no bike lanes.

So it's an interesting question? Is it really better to have bike lanes with no parking some of the time? Or is this dilution counterprodutive? Should we force the issue in every case and possibly lose bike lanes?

This is important, because LOBV needs to know where we need to spend out time and energy.

----- Original Message ----
From: Annick Beaudet <beaudets@sbcglobal.net>
To: forum@BicycleAustin.info
Sent: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 10:11:40 PM
Subject: Re: BIKE: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

"The new guidelines are not well thought out they pretty much put bike lanes
in jeopardy. Problem number one, the city bike plan calls for no parking in
bike lanes."

I'd like to comment that the guidelines were reviewed by the Bicycle
Advisory Council and Street Smarts Task Force; many people spent many hours
creating, reviewing, and deciding to move forward with a consistent approach
to a complex urban planning problem which address the Goals and Objectives
of the Austin Bicycle Plan.

The City Bicycle Plan says "parking should not be allowed in bicycle lanes",
and it also says that the City will work with stakeholders on a case by case
basis with regard to parking and bicycle lanes.  The guidelines are
facilitating that process and the Bicycle Program is very proud of the hard
work put into creating a consistent approach the issue, and thanks the many
volunteers (many who are on this forum) for their hard work. 

See actual Bicycle Plan language here:

http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/bicycle/down … p_5_p1.pdf

(See Objective 5.5.2.2)

The objective is silent regarding time restricted parking and does not
preclude the City from using that as a tool (example being Duval Street
bicycle lanes).  The language will be reviewed and most likely revised with
the Bicycle Plan Update process.

The guidelines are in pilot form this year and the City Bicycle Program is
taking careful notes on areas of confusion, interpretation, and any other
areas that are brought to our attention as we work through pilot cases of
bicycle lanes which contain parking.  After the end of the year we will
review the process with stakeholders and refine the guidelines, when that
meeting times comes it will be posted here.  I don't believe there is
anything in the guidelines which allow anyone stakeholder to make the
decision.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the Exposition bicycle lane
issue to this point.  As soon as we are ready to proceed in some fashion, we
will let you all know.  We are awaiting input from the West Austin
Neighborhood Group, which we expect to get in the next week or so.

The City of Austin will enforce time restricted parking which we install. We
will do enforcement proactively and respond to 311 calls.

Annick Beaudet, City of Austin Bicycle Program

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#9 2008-10-09 12:20:16

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 553

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

I think when this sort of situation comes up, we should just push for the conversion of the bike lanes to traffic lanes if we can't get the parking prohibited.

1) bike lanes with parked cars are worse than no bike lanes at all when it comes to safety.  Not only do you have to change lanes into traffic when coming up on a parked car, but you run the risk of being doored by that car if you don't go far enough.  And more than a few cyclists have run into parked cars.

2) with four lanes of traffic, we can take the right lane, and it's not that different from it was before with the bike lane.  Except that the right lane is probably devoid of gravel, and motorists actually will expect to see traffic in it.  The downside is that you might have a car behind you as you ride.

3) the local residents probably would prefer a 2 lane+bike lanes road (even if they can't park on it) in front of their house than a four lane road (with no parking.)  Assuming that this is true (and I am far from certain) then this would give the residents an added incentive to work with us.  Perhaps it's a `scorched Earth' sort of policy, but bikes ride just fine on scorched Earth too, as long as it's paved and clean, and scorched Earth today might help stop the parking tomorrow.

4) When the city removes a bike lane, I imagine that this hurts the statistics they use to show that Austin is bike friendly.  Assuming that making Austin seem bike friendly is important to the city (I assume, I am not certain), then this is a bad thing.  Of course, this assumes that the city listens to our suggestion that improper (i.e. parking allowed) bike lanes be removed, but if the biking community wants bike lanes removed because they're worse than the problem they try to solve, then that certainly looks bad for the city.

Of course, this all assumes that the cycling community thinks that bike lanes that permit parking are worse than no bike lanes, and that the city would listen to us if we suggested the removal of a bike lane. .  And of course, it's not a all or nothing sort of thing -- time restricted parking is better than permitting parking all the time, and of course it depends on just how much parking is done. If every block has several cars parked in it, all the time, then the bike lane is useless to bikes, but if one block is 100% full of cars and the rest are devoid of cars, then that might not be so bad, especially if that's only for a few hours a week.

Last edited by dougmc (2008-10-09 12:21:15)

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#10 2008-10-09 12:53:01

JW
Member
Registered: 2008-10-07
Posts: 15

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

My experience with the bike lane on Chicon, which allows parking from 7 to 7, overnight: motorists, probably because they can use it for parking some of the time, seem to use it whenever they want to, and no, I don't have time to call 311 everytime I see a parked car or delivery truck in the bike lane. Also, because it is used for parking, no one seems to mind that is full of gravel and road debris; motorists see it as a parking area rather than a traffic lane for cars OR bikes.  Also, the white stripes are barely visible in many places. Of course, four lane streets seem to encourage higher car speeds, think of that before you say you'd rather not have any bike lane at all.
     Seems to me that the city needs to make a real commitment to bikes, with 24 hour dedicated bike lanes on some streets, and many other things besides before this city can claim to be bike friendly. I've never thought of it as such. Why should city officials care what anyone thinks of Austin's attitude towards bike use? Because as things get more and more expensive and frustrating for auto users, some of the very people Austin says it wants; educated, creative, center city dwelling people will attempt to use bikes more. And if those people don't feel accomodated in their wants, they are just the sort of people most able to vote with their feet. Feeling comfortable on a bike in town is the mark of a civilized town. We're not there yet, and people are noticing.

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#11 2008-10-09 16:01:52

doughead
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 37

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

1. We can see how the Street Smarts Task Force dealt with this issue (parking guidelines) by reviewing the channel 6 tapes of the meeting that was held in council chambers when we were hammering out the final version of the SSTF recommendations.
I was not in the Infrastructure Committee meeting but was told that it was not discussed in depth.
I was at the Law and Safety Committee meetings where it was discussed and passed on with the idea of making it better later, a lot of issues were passed on that way.

2. From my own experience I have witnessed infrequent use of parking on Exposition and Emerald Forrest which is the main reason that the status quo is ok to me. Shoal Creek seemed to have only a small amount of actual parking on it also. There needs to be a traffic engineering (science) guideline that triggers the removal of parking thus taking it out of the political and into the traffic safety realm. The bike lane that is part of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway in front of Austin High is a fine example of a completely dangerous piece of bicycle infrastructure. In a lot of these cases a reduced speed limit and sharrows would probably be of use.

3. the city is definitely motivated to keep the miles of bicycle infrastructure that is in the bike plan that is actually non existent or unsafe. The SSTF actually did a lot of work on this issue and requested that some of the current bicycle infrastructure be removed from the maps and the bike plan. Hopefully there are members of the League of American Bicyclists that might bring this to that organizations committee that issues the gold and silver standards for Bike Friendly Cities.

4. The triggers for parking modification to be considered are:

A. Parking removal --- (parking) utilization is below 10% during both average daytime and nighttime periods.

B. One sided parking --- more than 60% of vehicles were parked on one side during the daytime.

C. Daytime parking restrictions --- where daytime utilization was below 20% (residential) or 150% workplace areas.

So actually the process is triggered by the bike lane with occasional parking in it?
The process is also triggered by the street maintenance schedule instead of as needed schedule.
The document can be found here,
http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/bicycle/default.htm
under
On-Street Parking Modification Guidelines (Draft)

This problem (conflict) seems to be systemic to bicycle programs all over the planet. It is definitely not an easy one to solve. The idea of purity will probably not help.

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#12 2008-10-10 14:41:29

doughead
Member
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 37

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

The following is exactly what the Law and Safety Subcommittee passed on to the Street Smarts Task Force regarding the new guidelines for parking in bike lanes.

"The City of Austin should develop a comprehensive strategy to preserve existing bike lanes, analyze and promote a seamless bicycle network, limit parking in bicycle lanes and expand lanes that promote safety and connectivity. September 4."

The "preserve existing bike lanes" was in direct concern about the potential for getting rid of usable bike lanes through the Parking Modification guidelines that are now in pilot mode and being tested on Exposition.

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#13 2008-10-14 16:24:01

m1ek
Member
Registered: 2008-06-02
Posts: 153

Re: Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting

I would back exactly what Doug McLaren has said in this entire thread: a bike lane that allows parking is worse than no bike lane at all (and worse than a bike lane that encourages dooring, like on the Lance Armstrong Stopway).

The claim that speeds would increase is unlikely to be true - a 4-lane roadway would have 10 foot lanes (or 11,9), which doesn't promote fast motor vehicle travel (actually discourages it in most cases), compared to the very wide lanes you often get with the traditional 2+2 design (old Shoal Creek, Exposition).

A problem not yet mentioned is one of perception: if a bike lane exists, motorists expect it to be used, and may react negatively when it's not being used for no apparent (to them) reason. This happened to me all the time in the crapfest on Shoal Creek, when I would leave the bike lane well in advance of a parked car obstruction up ahead.

Finally, there's the "attractive nuisance" problem. lf you convince an inexperienced cyclist to ride in the bike lane, and they get squashed between a parked car and a car driving in the other lane, you've got yourself a huge liability for the city. Big mistake, in my opinion, for both safety and simple fiduciary responsibility, for city council members to approve this, but, heck, they approved the disaster on Shoal Creek, so all bets are off.

Last edited by m1ek (2008-10-14 16:25:54)

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