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#1 2008-12-12 13:52:24

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

an article about the new CoA transportation leaders and city prospects

From Community Impact Newspaper:

Austin looks to expand transportation options

Written by Mark Collins and Patrick Brendel Friday, 12 December 2008

...

Making biking better in Austin

Creating continuous bike lanes throughout Austin is another project on which [City of Austin public works director] Howard Lazarus and [City of Austin transportation director] Rob Spillar are collaborating, armed with recommendations from the city's Street Smarts Task Force.

"The focus right now is to repaint bike lanes when we happen to resurface a street," Spillar said. "We need to move that the other way around — identify bike corridors and try to rearrange the resurface program to do the whole corridor at once. We want to make this a bike city."

Jennifer Schaffer, a coordinator for nonprofit Yellow Bike Project, said cycling in Austin is becoming a lot more popular as gasoline prices fluctuate.

"We're fairly decent compared to Texas. But compared to other parts of the world, there's a lot of work to be done," she said.

While building bike lanes and trails are important in helping new cyclists acclimate themselves, getting people out of cars and onto bikes requires radical changes in lifestyle, said Schaffer, who chose to live in east central Austin based on her decision to cycle instead of drive.

"It's really a chicken-and-egg kind of problem with infrastructure. The infrastructure is there," she said. "We just need room. And the only way to get room is to have a bunch of cyclists out there."

...

And this news item uses a bicycle and trail to demonstrate "How a House bill becomes a law" in Texas:
http://www.impactnews.com/central-austi … 009-agenda

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#2 2008-12-12 16:22:25

doughead
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Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 37

Re: an article about the new CoA transportation leaders and city prospects

"We need to move that the other way around — identify bike corridors and try to rearrange the resurface program to do the whole corridor at once. We want to make this a bike city."

Let's for god's sake hope so.

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#3 2008-12-13 13:04:30

JW
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Registered: 2008-10-07
Posts: 15

Re: an article about the new CoA transportation leaders and city prospects

The city just did a bunch of work on Cesar Chavez downtown: now two-way, in an effort to calm traffic; new dedicated turn lanes, to allow cars an easier time into downtown; new sidewalks with artistic panels in railings overlooking the river, and etc. But where are the bike lanes? The city staffers and planners say one thing, but when you look on the ground for what actually exists, it doesn't "walk the walk."                                                                                                                 I've been waiting over 30 years for some of these changes. I think many Austinites wants "other people" to use public transit, or to walk and bike, so that they can have free and clear traffic lanes for their cars once again, as it was in "the good old days."  We are in danger of becoming the largest city in America dependant almost entirely on cars for our transportation needs, sort of a giant Fresno (sorry if I slander Fresno). 
It's time to start calling bullshit on all these nice plans and statements, like the one that first got my attention, "all improvements in connection with the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, east of I-35, are complete." I read those words, or words to that effect in the newspaper last year. I ride all over east Austin daily and I asked, what are they talking about?  Turns out those lame little paintstripes alongside some onstreet parking slots on far east 5th street is what they were talking about. Must have taken a stripe painting crew all of an afternoon or two to do that, but to read the statement you would think the city had been hard at work for months making a serious effort for a bikeway worthy of Lance Armstrong's good name. I'm sure the city staffers who make those sort of statements would rather you didn't actually go and see what they were referring to. If I were Lance, I'd ask the city to stop using my name if they can't be bothered to do something worthy of it.  And I challenge any city employee to join me for a friendly little ride across town, east to west or vice versa, to look at this "bikeway" and other matters related to the streets used to cross the town. We can bring along a reporter, or leave him home, I don't care. But I do think the streets are in terrible shape, the bikelanes are incomplete, faded and crumbling, trash strewn and dangerous. The intersections have the sidewalks pruned back so far that cars routinely encroach on both cyclists and pedestrians, and the utility companies have put poles in the middle of sidewalks making them nearly useless for able bodied pedestrians, let alone for people with physical handicaps or for small children on bikes, etc. The constant butchering of the shade trees alongside many streets by the utility crews increases the lack of shade that is so necessary for pedestrians and bicyclists in a city with a six month long summer.

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#4 2008-12-13 13:29:25

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

Re: an article about the new CoA transportation leaders and city prospects

Amen, JW.  A lot of good stuff in there.

I think it's glaringly obvious that the City of Austin (despite good efforts by some within staff) does not consider bicycling a high priority, at least not yet, and my hope with these directors is tepid until something tangible comes about.

The Lance Armstrong Bikeway has made a lot of progress in the last year and will likely make more progress in the next year.  However, if bicycling were a priority, it would and could all be done by May 1st.  Why won't it be done?  Because bicycling is still thought of as a fringe, low priority, relatively untested idea by the City of Austin.  No, indeed, despite words, there is no real indication that the director has the nerve and support to make Austin a "bike city".

Indeed, the Cesar Chavez street project is done for cars, but its bicycling counterpart (arguably), the Lance Armstrong bikeway, is still incomplete.  Unless I'm mistaken, the LAB is a project over a decade in the works.  It's not that a public works project has to take that long, it's just that it's a bicycling project and the City of Austin is still shy about having a real commitment to bicycling.  Why?  There are so many possible answers to that.  I'd guess that one answer is that we haven't had many or any council members who use a bicycle as their primary transportation.  But there are other reasons and there are other routes to fix the problem.

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#5 2008-12-13 14:17:32

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

Re: an article about the new CoA transportation leaders and city prospects

The fact that the Lance Armstrong bikeway has new paving dedicated to bikes (and pedestrians?) coming off the western end of 3rd street, downtown, and extending in a westerly direction, with many twists and turns to a terminus at Austin High School, doesn't excuse the city from renovating a six lane major crosstown thoroughfare like Cesar Chavez and leaving NO provision for bicycles, in this day and age.  When I cross town on my bike, I'm in as much a hurry as anyone in an automobile. I view twisty turny sidewalks, cinder paths, hike and bike trails, etc. as being for sports bicyclists at best. I don't see them as serious transportation if for no other reason than that they are hidden away, usually, and when I leave my house I am on a street and I intend to go to a place on a street, and I use the streets between the two to get there. I have a right to use the streets, and it is time that the city facilitate that right by leaving some room for bicycles, be it a wide shoulder, a clean breakdown lane, a dedicated and marked bike lane, whatever. They did none of that on the newly renovated Cesar Chavez, and yet they were able to leave at least one whole lane for left turn lanes onto north/south downtown streets. Why allow left turns from that street at all? Why make it easier for cars to pour into downtown at all? The days of driving downtown to run an errand or to work all day with your car parked nearby, are about over, or at least the city says they are.  And yet, when they renovate and redesign existing streets, they ignore their own statements and plans and consultants, and build a street just as if it were the Eisenhower era and we all drove big cars with tailfins. What WERE they thinking? 
    I refuse to compliment the city or its staff anymore for good plans or intentions. I will compliment any improvement to the transportation infrastructure that helps people get around by any other method than by car. And I eagerly await word from others to point out such recent improvements. We would all benefit from the debate, as long as it isn't just between us few bicycle and or public transportation afficianados.

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#6 2008-12-13 21:42:57

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

Re: an article about the new CoA transportation leaders and city prospects

I agree about the twists and turns that the LAB takes.  We're certainly not working up to a first-class facility with the completion of the LAB.

The LAB technically doesn't not end at Austin High, but continues up Stephen F Austin Dr. via on-street bike lanes painted firmly in the door-zone of parked cars.  Please, please, please do not bike in the door-zone.  If there are parked cars there, assert your right to ride safely, even if that means holding some cars behind you to a sensible speed through a popular park.  LOBV (including me) is working to ensure that no more bike lanes put bicyclists in door-zones of parked cars: http://lobv.org/

I compliment the CoA Bicycle Program because they do good work with limited resources.  If the office had a staff of twenty, we would surely see a significant change in the condition of bicycle accommodations in this city.  They currently cannot address many worthwhile bicycling needs because they are simply understaffed.  I recommend advocating more staff for the CoA bike program.  The bike program _certainly_ did not get to shape the redesign and reconstruction of Cesar Chavez.

CoA Public Works, in general, and their contractors are learning, but are still pretty ignorant of bicyclist and pedestrian needs.  CoA Public Works needs a culture of multi-modality.  They must no longer have any employees in any decision-making capacity (including site foremans and anyone who places a sign, digs a hole, etc.) who do not understand multi-modal needs (cars, bikes, pedestrians, wheelchairs, buses, large trucks).

(I like paragraphs.)

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