Roadway Improvements & Obstacles
As the number of roadway improvements for cyclists mushrooms, there's no way I can track them all, so check the City's Bicycle Program website for info on new projects not listed here.
Have an idea for a roadway improvement? Check out our Get Involved page.
Finally, check out our section on Transportation Planning.
Proposed or Implemented
Cars still in bike lanes on Shoal Creek. See our separate report on the Shoal Creek plan.
City Council screws up Lamar Bridge. Cyclists couldn't easily cross the river at Lamar because the lanes were too narrow to share with cars and even the sidewalk was too narrow to ride on (and prohibited for that reason). But rather than simply adding inexpensive bike lanes to the side of the bridge, the city built a completely separate bridge, but the bridge doesn't even re-connect with North Lamar! Cyclists will thus continue to use the main bridge to get downtown, making the separate bike/ped bridge unused and useless. Great. Update, Feb. 2006: Looks like after many years, the city might actually finish the bridge. (more on Lamar Bridge)
Lance Armstrong Bikeway approved (1/00). In late 1998 (or maybe early '99, we forget), local cycling advocate Eric Anderson proposed the idea of a crosstown bikeway running about 5 miles east/west from Mopac to 183, mostly along the abandoned railway on 4th St. The City Council approved $1.2 million of City money for the project, and applied for matching federal funds. The City was awarded $1.97 in federal matching funds in Jan. 2000. (Several other bike and non-bike applications failed to receive funding.) In a fit of patriotism, the Council renamed the project the Lance Armstrong Bikeway sometime in 2000 or 2001, though Armstrong had nothing to do with the project and doesn't bike for transportation, so far as we know. The project is expected to be completed in 3-4 years. Here's an excerpt of Anderson's open letter about the project. And here's our article about the bikeway in our 1-30-00 newsletter. The Friends of the Crosstown Greenway is advising the City as the project is built. Contact them at 476-7304.
Update, Oct. 4, 2004: Jeb Boyt writes:
"The design of the Bikeway west of Shoal Creek to Lake Austin Boulevard and east of IH 35 to US 183 will continue such that construction would commence in Fiscal Year 2005."
Shoal Creek trail (Oct. 2004)
Eric Anderson writes: "This from COA Parks planner Butch Smith: The low-water pedestrian bridge at 29th St. (ADA -bike- compliant) and repaired trail will finally make Shoal Creek Trail bikeable from 29th St. to 9th St."
Also, see the article on the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association website about possible improvements to the trail below 5th St.
I-35 & US 183 (Dec. '02).
Thank you for your interest!
Update on status of projects (11/02). Eric Anderson provided us with a lengthy updates on the status of various local roadway projects. (read the update) Also, here's a link to the May minutes for the UTC/Bike Subcommittee meeting, which lists projects for 2000-01. (It's a shame you have to go to a citizens' websites to find this info, since it's not on the City of Austin's site!)
Texas Transportation Plan. (11/02) Here's a link to the TxDOT's 25-year Transportation Plan for the state of Texas.
Bike lanes gone on Bull Creek. On Oct. 22 '02, Mike Dahmus writes: "Last night, the Urban Transportation Commission voted 4-3 to recommend approval of a request by a church at 4300 Bull Creek Road to allow cars to park in the bicycle lanes on Bull Creek from 9-2 on Sundays with appropriate signage."
Riverside Drive closed to create a Central Park? (7/02). Riverside Drive inconveniently splits up parkland that exists north and south of that street (between the Palmer Events Center and the railroad bridge). So park advocates want to shut down Riverside in order to connect that parkland and thus create a large "Central Park" in Austin. Of course, they're facing some heavy resistance. The City Council is set to consider an interim plan on July 18, but we expect it may be a long time before the issue is finally decided. (more info)
Upper Boggy Creek Bikeway (6/01)
Dave Westenbarger writes: On May 24, 2001 the City Council voted to submit Phase I of the Upper Boggy Creek Bikeway to TxDOT for federal matching funds (along with the Walnut Creek Trail and the Congress Avenue bat viewing platforms). At its June 7 meeting, City Council voted to double the required 20% local match for the $2 million proposal, approving almost $800,000 from funds allocated for pedestrian and bicycle improvements. On June 18, the City of Austin officially nominated the project for a TxDOT program to award Federal funds for "enhancement" projects. The projects selected by TxDOT will be announced later this year. Austin Metro Trails and Greenways is sponsoring two site visits/walking tours of the first two phases of the proposed bikeway in June & July, and everyone is invited to participate. More information on the Upper Boggy Creek Bikeway is available at bike.cherrywood.org.
Loop 360/183 intersection to be crossable by bikes (12/00). The CAMPO PAC (policy advisory commitee) approved funding on 12-11-00 for a bike/ped connection across Loop 360 between Jollyville Road and the Arboretum area.
Bike lanes for Barton Springs Road. (12/00). The CAMPO PAC (policy advisory commitee) approved funding on 12-11-00 for bike lanes from Loop 1 (Mopac) to Robert E. Lee Rd.
Sidewalks on Jollyville. (12/00). The CAMPO PAC (policy advisory commitee) approved funding on 12-11-00 for sidewalks along Jollyville Road from Braker Lane to Floral Park Drive.
CAMPO approves lousy 25-year plan (6/00). CAMPO approved a 25-year regional transportation plan that we can't afford and which won't work. (more)
Mayor proposes regional source of money for transportation projects (6/00).
Triangle Development (9/98). Patrick Goetz helped design roadway and traffic control improvements to lessen the impact of the Triangle development (bordered by 38th, Lamar, and Guadalupe) and to prevent increased traffic from threatening cyclists. (more)
Suggested Roadway Improvements
Proposed trail to connect Town Lake bridge & Ullrich Bridge. (5/00)
Read Eric Anderson's proposal.
Obstacles on sidewalks. (Wayne Simoneau, 5-00)
Anyone know why so many utilities are being stuck in the middle of the sidewalks down in the area being trashed (subdivision shuffle) between Brodie & Mopac on Slaughter. Slaughter isn't my favorite place to ride & during some hours I've decided not to cheat death, so I bail & ride on the sidewalk - only to find myself dodging all kinds of poles, hydrants, & signs. It's a real good course for bike handling skills. (more on sidewalks)
Shade needed for sidewalks. (Christine Willis, 5-00)
I bike and/or walk as a form of transportation every day (about 10 miles round trip). The sun beating down on me is a HUGE pain. I think many more people would walk and/or bike if there were more shaded paths and walkways -- shade can lower the temperature by 10-20 degrees easily. There are miles and miles and MILES of walkways that only the most hardcore (or poverty stricken) will brave because of the sun and heat. I haven't really seen anyone addressing this problem. I think that if new and existing businesses were required to include adequate trees along the pathways in their landscape designs there would be more people out of their cars and walking the paths. (more on sidewalks) [While the City could certainly do more, developers get Smart Growth points for including trees and shade for their sidewalks, according to the City's Smart Growth Matrix. It's not much of an incentive, but at least it's something.-- Ed.]
Far West/Mopac Bridge. Cyclists heading eastbound on Far West over the Mopac bridge can get to Shoal Creek via a paved pathway that connects Mopac to Shoal Creek. The problem is, there's a large metal post in the ground between Mopac and the pathway, to keep motorized vehicles off the path. Cyclists can fit through, but eastbound cyclists risk crashing into the metal post to get to the path, because:
(1) the path is a few car-lengths to the north of the bridge, requiring cyclists to make a left than an immediate right in order to get to the path, and
Below are some readers' suggestions for how to remedy this problem.
by Phil Hallmark, 5-24-00
BEST SOLUTION: build a new entrance onto the bike bridge so that a quick exit off of the Far West automobile bridge can be made. This would entail adding an opening to the south of the current opening. The new opening would be about 4 car lane widths to the south of the current one, and would need to merge in with the bike bridge at some point east.
CHEAPEST SOLUTION (BUT SORT OF WEAK): hacksaw out those darn steel posts that "guard" the bike bridge entrance. Come to think of it, I guess I could do that myself some late night, huh.
by Bill Canfield, 5-26-00
Phil's ideas for Far West got me thinking. The main problem in hitting the bike bridge is that you have to make a sharp right turn from an auto lane. There's no other place to be.
The Mopac overpass at the end of Far West has 5 auto lanes: 2 east, 3 west. One of the westbound lanes is a left-only lane.
Call me a dreamer, but if you took away the left-only lane, you could stick bike lanes on both sides of the overpass. Then, the eastbound bike lane could begin at the point where Far West's right-only lane ends. There are some road bumps there to prevent cars from continuing in the lane, so there's not even a question of crossing the path of cars, though they would have to cross the bike path in order to go south on Mopac.
Since I'm already in dream world, I'll spout another idea for the Far West overpass. Another way to get more real estate out of the overpass is to make the auto-lanes mutually-exclusive alternating one-way (got that?). In other words, set up the lights so that there can never be an eastbound car on the overpass at the same time as a westbound car. You could increase throughput in both directions to three lanes, and also have big comfy bike lanes.
Texas Highway 71. The Texas Dept. of Transportation is converting the wide shoulders on Highway 71 to travel lanes, forcing cyclists on that road to mix with high-speed traffic. In some places they're also putting in retaining walls, so a cyclist couldn't even dive into the ditch in an emergency. According to Tom Delaney who attended a public hearing about the plan, when cyclists expressed concerns a TxDOT engineer said, "We don't care at all about recreational cyclists." jweinshe(at)concentric.net wrote to TxDOT and this is the response he received on Jan. 13, 2006:
SH 71 is being reconstructed in the Village of Bee Cave, the wide shoulder will become part of the travel lanes. The outside lane will become a shared use lane and be striped 14 1/2', I know this is not as nice as the shoulder that is currently functioning out there but we have considerable amount of development going on in this location and some improvements to the intersections in this area are needed. Should you have specific questions about the project, please contact Don Nyland, TxDOT's Area Engineer for this part of Travis County or Lisa Brundrett TxDOT lead engineer for this project, at 447-3942.
I have also forwarded your concerns to our office handling public comment, so your concerns will be noted.
FM 734( Parmer Lane) will have some reconstruction around MOPAC to accomodate the LOOP 1 extension. I am trying to determine what specifics are on this project but have not had the opportunity to discuss this with the project engineer. For specific information, I would contact Terron Everston at 512/225-1300.
If you have further questions, I will be back in the office on January23 and can follow up on any additional questions you may have.
Travis County Bonds 2001. The county is poised to spend a ridiculous amount of money on roads to subsidize suburban sprawl. Read the report.
State Highway 130. This highway will cost a massive amount of money and it won't even relieve congestion! Read our report on S.H. 130.
The Big Dig. This one's in another city, but it's so awful that we couldn't let it slide without comment. Boston is getting 7.5 miles of roadway for 14 BILLION DOLLARS! Adjusted for inflation, that's more than the Panama Canal, the Alaska Pipeline, or the Hoover Dam! That much money could have installed a public transportation system that would have been the envy of the world, but NO! Read the article on the Dallas Morning News site.
Mopac. Bryker Woods Neighborhood Association MoPac Position Statement (Spring 2001): The history of MoPac (Loop 1) has not been pleasant for central Austin. The six lane freeway was squeezed through our residential area in the early 1970s. It has split apart our neighborhoods. The design and construction of the highway led to extensive flooding of homes along Johnson Creek. The speed limit has increased from 45 mph to 65 mph, and motorists now routinely drive 75 mph or faster. Initially prohibited, commercial trucks now speed past day and night. The extensions of the highway far north and south have led to traffic counts well in excess of 100,000 vehicles per day. Traffic noise has exceeded federal standards since 1976, and steadily grows more intense. Residents alongside MoPac and its frontage roads live in fear of high-speed accidents. MoPac commuters jam neighborhood streets. Our air increasingly is fouled by vehicle exhaust.
The Texas Department of Transportation currently is studying possible changes to MoPac in our area including, among other alternatives, the addition of elevated lanes. We, the residents of Bryker Woods neighborhood, are compelled to speak out against this or any further intrusion by MoPac on our community.
Our section on bike lanes has moved to its own page.