Posts about the Shoal Creek Blvd. mess.

This page contains comments from bicyclists about the Shoal Creek Blvd. striping plans. We have another page that covers the background on this issue.

People continue to misrepresent this process as a compromise (implying that cyclists got something, parking motorists got something, drivers got something, neighborhood got something, etc). In fact, any rational observer can compare conditions before this change to conditions now and make the following judgement: Parking won. Period. Cyclists got less than they had before, and far less than they should have had. The neighborhood got curb extensions (even though they won't work). Cyclists got the middle finger. -- Transportation expert Mike Dahmus


Below are some selected comments about the plans and the process.

writes:

It's pretty clear to me that we _are_ getting screwed here [with Plan C]. The main difference between what we're going to get with this plan, and what we had before all this started, is that now there's a much narrower portion of the road which automobiles will reasonably expect bicyclists to be using; and yet those bicyclists will _STILL_ have to be worrying about parked cars. Worse off all around.

If the stripe between the 3.5-foot bike lane and the 6-foot parking lane did not exist, we would be slightly better off than we were at the very beginning. However, in both cases, we're FAR WORSE OFF than we would have been if the city had merely exercised its authority to manage traffic on a major through route like Shoal Creek for the benefit of all users, not just local residents, and had just put parking down one side as originally envisioned by Eric Anderson [Plan A; see the diagram].

Shoal Creek is NOT a residential street. Shoal Creek is a major collector which should have continued to be classified as a minor arterial. Every possible bad thing I was thinking would happen by allowing the neighborhood to think they had veto-power over this street has come to pass; and I'm less happy to be proven right than I would have been to be proven wrong.

Now, when can I abuse the process of 'consensus' to get on-street parking on Enfield Road in my neighborhood?

The goal seems to have been to give the neighborhood parking on both sides of the street as the number-one priority; with through car lanes being the #2 priority; and bike lanes being the loser (as if we couldn't have guessed).

1. Bike lanes are (at maximum) 4 feet. See next paragraph for worse news.

2. Of the 40-foot cross-section of the road (39-foot or less usable cross-section after striping); 50% more space is going to PARKED CARS than to bicycles. Total amount of space reserved for cars is 75%.

Left unanswered is the question of how a facility with this design can manage to fit in all that space for vehicles, plus the lane stripes (4 inches wide between the car and bike lanes; presumably more for the double-yellow stripes) in a 40-foot wide pavement section. Where will that extra foot or foot-and-a-half of striping space come from? Well, early indicators are that it'll be the bike lanes (of course), since the consultant specifically mentions 3.5 feet bike lanes in several places (mentioning other substandard bike lanes across the city as excuses why we should accept substandard bike lanes on Shoal Creek).

Also left unanswered is whether vehicles which 'need' to park on the street on Shoal Creek can practically fit within 6 feet of space (counting mirrors). Additionally, this completely removes any safety margin which could have prevented cyclists getting doored.

For comparison's sake, the original city plan [Plan A] had something like this (hopefully I'm remembering the relative proportions correctly):

(left curb) 11-foot parking and bike lane (white stripe) 11-foot car lane (yellow stripes) 11-foot car lane (white stripe) 6-foot bike lane (right curb)

Note that in my opinion, an 11-foot lane shared bike/parking lane provides substantially more safety margin against 'dooring' than does a 3.5-4 foot bike lane next to a 6-foot-wide parking lane.

adds:

As a cyclist, I believe this is good news, and I want to explain why I think Plan C is a good idea. First, let me tell you where I'm coming from. I'm a resident in the Shoal Creek neighborhood and a participant in the Working Group that coalesced to work through the restriping issues. I am also a longtime cyclist. I was motivated to join because I'm living proof that cyclists and residents share many common interests in this project. And I found that I was not alone. Lane Wimberley, Bill Canfield, and other neighbors stood up to explain why cyclist safety is part of neighborhood safety. As a result, the Working Group evolved. We left behind the tribal warfare between pedalers and parkers, and we became a community united by a common interest in safety for *all* the things that we all do on SCB: walking, biking, and driving. Non-resident cyclists like Stuart Werbner pitched in to demonstrate that this community of shared interests extends beyond the immediate neighborhood. This process hasn't always been easy, but it has worked: cycling advocates are on the inside, making a difference, not left outside to be ignored or "screwed".
 
Here's why the Working Group Consensus Plan (6/4/10) represents an improvement for cyclists on SCB.
 
1. Dedicated 4' bike lanes in both directions. No parking allowed in these bike lanes. Parking is squeezed to the curb, reasonably adequate for all cars, and striped to discourage straddlers.
 
2. Net *increase* in space effectively available to cyclists outside traffic. Reality: the density of parked cars on SCB is very small (on average, < 12 per mile). That means that, for the most part, cyclists can operate unobstructed in the parking lanes, inside a zone of 6' + 4' = 10'. Not unlike before, but better, because it's the car lanes that have shrunk.
 
3. Smaller car lanes (plus other features) strongly encourage slower car traffic. Slower traffic means reduced risk of cars veering into the bike lanes and better chances for a cyclist to avoid an imminent collision. And in the event of a collision, 10 mph slower can be the difference between hurt bikie and dead bikie.
 
And I also mark another gain: a local community has learned that cyclists aren't carpetbaggers trying to steal their parking, but rather neighbors and roadmates a lot like themselves. I see that all sorts of bike-friendly projects can succeed in Austin when we cyclists can find common cause with our communities.

[Ed. note: The problem with the #1 point in Kimbrough's analysis is that he's comparing it to the EXISTING ROADWAY, rather to a GOOD PLAN. Of course Plan C is an improvement over the status quo, because the status quo is stupid and unsafe. Plan C is better than what we've got, but it's worse than what we COULD HAVE. Finally, Kimbrough is ignoring the increased chance of getting doored with very narrow bike lanes next to parked cars.]

 
adds:

Rather than become embroiled in unproductive, irrational, emotional arguments, I think we should focus on the salient differences between the two competing plans -- that proposed by Charles Gandy, and the city's original plan. I see these differences as follows. I'll try to state each point objectively first, followed by my subjective assessment.

 
1. The Gandy plan trades about a foot of space that cyclists have available in the bike lane to pass a parked car, for traffic calming. To put this in perspective, there are about 40 cars parked along SCB at any time on average, with a max of about twice that on rare occassions. The speed limit on the street is 30 mph, which equates to a 39 mph enforced limit. Traffic volumes are heavy during the day (specifically, rush hours), and very light at night. My personal feeling here is that I'm willing to trade the foot of parked-car-passing space for slower, calmer traffic.
 
2. There is a slightly reduced chance that impatient motorists will be inclined to use the parking/bike lane as a passing lane in the Gandy plan. This is because it is slightly narrower, and also because the Gandy plan clearly separates the bike lane from the parking lane with a stripe. The chance of an accident occuring between such an impatient driver and a cyclist in this situation is extremely small --like that of a cyclist getting doored. But, given the choice, frankly I think I'd rather get doored than get rear-ended by a speeder.
 
3. The Gandy plan clearly identifies a dedicated bike space. I think this is important for two reasons. First, it gives bikes a place on the road. Second, it enables the enforcement of any laws respecting keeping these spaces clear. (BTW: if the council chooses to go with the original city plan, I would sincerely hope that they would, at the very least, opt to mark the devision between the bike lane and the parking lane for these reasons.) On the other hand, there is a pos-sibility that some cyclists will interpret the Gandy configuration as meaning that they are confined to remaining in the bike lane only --arguably less safe than scooching over into the parking lane when possible.
 
As far as young cyclists go, _any_ bike lane configuration could be accused of lending a "false sense of security." That extra foot of separation with the city's plan helps, but only marginally. The safety problem we face in this case has to do with behavior, and the key to safety here is to reduce traffic speed and volume. The city's plan offered effectively nothing along these lines, while the Gandy plan offers reduction of perceived lane widths as well as other devices like curb extensions.


adds:
A. We lose far more than a foot of "parked car passing space". The city plan had 11 feet of shared bike/parking space on one side; 5 feet of bike-only space on the other side; in both cases next to a standard-width travel lane (11 feet). This plan has 3.5 feet of bike space next to 6 feet of parking space; and the typical modern vehicle (i.e. an SUV) does not fit in that 6 feet of parking space even if parked directly next to the curb. In addition, the 3.5 feet of bike space which is already being encroached upon by the parked cars is next to a substandard vehicle lane; so the cars travelling in this space have less room to pass the cyclist.
 
B. Philosophically, if there's not enough parked cars to worry about passing in substandard lanes; there's not enough cars to worry about the neighbors' having to park on one side instead of both, n'est ces pas?

 


writes on July 12, 2002:

I can say that, having participated in the process (albeit more as sideline observer and occassional commenter than as principal contributor), there is no way bikes can expect to get a truly fair shake since the process is consensus-based and includes voices of MANY neighbors (both in the form of survey results and working committee participants) and few cyclists. It has been impossible to get the committee members to understand that cyclists have equal claim to the road, and that cyclist safety outweighs neighbor [parking] convenience. What we have now is currently perceived by the working group as the compromise most acceptable to all.

At any rate, I feel we should not act hastily or imprudently here. The city, as I understand it, is watching this experimental process carefully. If it represents any opportunity for us cyclists to benefit, we should be careful to make that happen and impress on the city that the process worked and was good, so that we might engage similar processes around the city in the future. If, on the other hand, we really are getting screwed, then the opposite is true: we should shoot this down and ensure that the city does not sponsor any such [consensus-based] process again in the future.


writes on Oct. 28, 2002:

Just got this from city staff (Meghan Wieters). Although there is a claim of "designation" of purpose below, no specifics about how the designation will be made evident, so I'm gonna assume that we're still on track for no signage.

So, welcome (back) to parked cars in bike lanes. After three years and lots of time and money spent, we've made precious little progress (if any).

From: "zappa032000"
To:
Subject: Shoal Creek Blvd Update 10/28/02
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2002

Update on Shoal Creek Blvd. Project

In cooperation with consultant Charles Gandy, neighbor representative Paul Nagy and City of Austin (City) staff, the Director of Transportation, Planning & Sustainability (TPSD), Austan Librach, has approved a plan (Plan) for traffic calming and striping of Shoal Creek Boulevard. The Plan includes the following elements:

Travel lanes will be 10'. The outside 10' on each side of the roadway will be colored asphalt with an outside stripe. This "shoulder" will be designated for as a buffer zone and may be used for bicycling or parking. Curb extensions will be constructed to deter travel in buffer zone and to provide some traffic calming effect.

In next couple of weeks, the City of Austin's Public Works Department (PWD) will be securing the services of a design consultant from the rotation list. The consultant will scope the implementation of the proposed plan and provide preliminary cost estimates. Our goal is to conduct a public meeting during the 2nd or 3rd week of January 2003 with Mr. Charles Gandy's assistance. The purpose of the meeting will be to present to the public the recommended improvements to be designed and constructed based on refined cost estimates and available funds.

Postcards will be mailed to remind you of the meeting once it is set.


writes on Oct. 28, 2002:

And, by the way, the decision to screw us on Shoal Creek was applied as a precedent to the decision to screw us on Bull Creek. (On Oct. 21 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.)

This entire corridor will be effectively bike-hostile thanks to the Allandale neighbors.

You'd better fight the important battles or you lose all of them.


writes on Oct. 30, 2002:

 
Colored asphalt and curb extensions sound like progress to me towards a calmer, more bike/ped friendly street than what we have now or in the past.
 
We need to see an example of this - does anyone have photos?
 
What is an "outside stripe?" If that's a stripe between the car lane and the colored bike/parking shoulder then I say replace it with sharrows so bikes aren't "forced" into close proximity to parked cars opening doors and also so drivers will be aware that bikes might be in the car lane not just in the colored area. To accomplish this I figure the sharrows should straddle the edge of the colored asphalt to indicate that bikes might be on the black part or in the colored area, but aren't limited to one or the other. (remember, sharrows are good for situations like this when there isn't enough space to provide a dedicated, full sized bike lane. I'm assuming there's going to be parking on both sides of the street which is why there isn't enough space.)
 
Or maybe just eliminate the 10' colored shoulders altogether and just use sharrows and signs to indicate that bikes belong in the travel lane somewhere in the general vicinity of the right side. Maintaining all that shoulder paint on the street would be an expensive hassle anyway without any justifiable purpose that less expensive sharrows couldn't accomplish. I'm assuming sharrows and signs are less expensive than painting two 10' shoulders the length of Shoal Creek Blvd. and signs.
 
Let's continue to push for signs no matter what. (such as a car and a bike on a yellow diamond with the words "share the road")


An anonymous contributor writes on Dec. 16, 2002

I am dismayed that Mike Dahmus was so damned right about this whole debacle from the very beginning. Although originally, I was very hopeful that a community consensus could be reached that could benefit everyone (and possibly even improve relations amongst the diverse users of SCB), I see now that I was completely naive. What we have now is little better than what we had originally: parking in bike lanes. I'm still hopeful that traffic will be a little calmer, but I doubt that drivers will remain in their lanes, and cyclists riding near the stripe will be at risk of being struck.
 
Any possibility that a mutually beneficial result could emerge from a consensus-based process -- however slight -- was completely dashed when the whole process was hijacked by Paul Nagy. There was a point where Gandy had hood-winked everyone into thinking a panacea solution existed, when he should have known better that his "solution" would never make it past city engineers. (I actually don't feel bad at being deceived by this snake oil, as so many others -- except Dahmus -- were also taken in, including many from the bike community.) I place full blame for that on Gandy for playing politics by trying to please everyone when it's clear that that is impossible. We hired him as an "expert," and clearly he is not.
 
At the point where the original design -- which was agreed upon by the original consensus committee as final -- was tossed back, Nagy and Gandy jumped on the opportunity to assume the helm without any input from anyone else. There is NO cycling voice in the process AT ALL now.
 
I also see failure on the city's part for not standing firm on their commitment to the cycling community (and to pedestrians) to work to eliminate parking from bike lanes, and to promote cycling transportation by improving facilities, etc. They have completely crumbled under the pressure of Jackie Goodman (under the influence of Paul Nagy) and City Council. This has been a huge setback for alternative transportation in Austin. You will now see more accommodation for cars, at the expense of cyclists and pedestrians.
Moreover, anyone with a pro-car or anti-bike agenda has hereby been provided with a clear strategy to defeat cyclists and the city to get their goals achieved. Just get the city to approve a consensus-based community project, like the one that was so successful on Shoal Creek. Convince the 'community' to back an impossible plan, then when it gets tossed back, jump into the driver's seat and assume full control to do whatever you like, which, as politics dictates, will amount to catering to the convenience of the car majority at the expense of the safety of the bike minority.


writes on Jan. 24, 2003:

 

Cyclists lost big on SCB. And, not only those who use SCB, but ALL cyclists in Austin.

Cyclists on SCB lost because our safety has been compromised for the sake of maintaining on-street parking convenience of residents. This is entirely unreasonable on at least a couple of grounds. First, streets are first and foremost for transportation, not for (even temporary) storage of personal vehicles. Now, one might argue that there are entirely reasonable tradeoffs involving safety, but I don't think it's reasonable when you are trading one group's safety for another group's convenience. (And a convenience that is, quite frankly, easily done without.)

Second, the city of Austin should -- for all of what I hope are the obvious reasons -- be supporting, promoting, even encouraging bicycling as a viable alternate mode of transportation. Clearly, they are remiss unless they can first make the environment safe for cycling. I think that SCB is definitely a step backward for cyclist safety.

How did the cyclists of Austin lose out because of this miserable little SCB fiasco? Some three or four years back (I think) city transportation staff, in the interest of promoting cycling as alternative transportation, etc., decided to adopt a policy whereby parking in bike lanes would be abolished on any street with a bike lane at the time that such a street was restriped (and, I suppose, also on new construction). This was a Good Thing. [TM]

I believe many cyclists viewed this policy adoption as a commitment to cyclists.

Now, because of SCB -- and, I believe, ONLY because of SCB -- they are now being forced to completely back out of that commitment and retract the policy entirely. How could they abolish parking in bike lanes in some east Austin neighborhood, say, when those rich white folks over on SCB get to park in their bike lanes? Why, it's racist, I tell ya!

At any rate, evidence of the reversal of policy is begining to present itself at various points around the city.

OK, so why did we lose so horribly?

Here's what I think. We participated as a minority group in a consensus-based process. I've come to realize that there is a very high risk in such processes that the minority groups will be the ones to make the biggest compromises. This should _never_ have been a "consensus-based" process. That's not to say that there should be no mechanism for creative input from the stakeholders, but I think cyclists got totally railroaded on this one.

So, who is responsible for this mistake? I think that's a little harder to say, but I think there's blame a-plenty to go around, not the least of which should be reserved for Mayor-Protem Jackie Goodman, Paul Nagy, Curba and Alan Lampert, and Charlie Gandy.

But, I think perhaps the cyclists also deserve a significant share of the blame. Perhaps we were naive (I _know_ I was), but even after it became apparent that, as the minority group, we were being forced to sacrifice unreasonably, we did nothing. I think one of the biggest problems we have is that we are incapable of reaching consensus even within our own ranks, let alone in a broader setting. How can we possibly expect to convince others what is safe, and that safety is more important than convenience, when we can't agree on it ourselves. Perhaps that's just the nature of cycling communities, non-conformists that they tend to be. I dunno. Nevertheless, I don't think we should expect victory often in these situations. The car folks simply out-number us, out-politically-connect us, out-gun us, out-pretty-much-everything-else us.

We should never agree to consensus-based process. We should always stress safety over convenience.


writes on Jan. 27, 2003:
 

The problem is that before the SCB debacle, we had a shot of having bike lanes recognized as being more important than car lanes or on-street parking, on streets where car volumes were low:

Bike lanes > car lanes >>>>>>>>> on-street parking
 

Now, we've established a precedent due to the SCB debacle of the following hierarchy in those cases:

On-street parking > car lanes >>>>>>>>> bike lanes

 

And of course, on roads where car volumes are high, we remain the lowest priority. (Roads like SCB are supposed to form a network of alternates to roads like Burnet Road, where car volumes and geometry will always prohibit any bike facilities).

The first fight we lost because of the SCB precedent was on Bull Creek Blvd., where the UTC voted to allow a church to have its parishoners park in the bike lane. This was a street where we had previously achieved parking-free bike lanes. The fact that the Allandale neighborhood was able to establish that high-volume collectors and minor arterials are not subject to oversight for the good of the city by people outside the neighborhood was directly responsible for this result. (The Bull Creek neighbors highly recommended supporting the church because otherwise the parishoners would be parking on side streets, and the well-meaning moderates on the UTC went with the neighborhood as they did with SCB, because we didn't fight hard enough to make a case that the neighborhood was wrong).

I expect that the next fight will be on a street where we are making car lanes narrower, or reducing them from 4 lanes to 3, in order to provide space for bike lanes. In such a case the neighborhoods along Jollyville Road, for instance, will petition the Council to leave "their" street alone because they think that narrow 10-ft. car lanes are too dangerous. Given the fact that the most important bicycle route in the city (SCB) will now be undesignated; it will be difficult to convince the UTC and Council that roads like Jollyville (lesser commuter spines than SCB) justify overruling the desires of the neighborhoods along its route.

Shame on the bicycle community for allowing the enemies of cyclists to win. And shame on the bicycle community for requiring me, only a part-time cyclist (I drive half-time even in good weather; more like 95% of the time lately), to be the sole voice of sanity on this issue from day one.

 


writes on Aug. 8, 2003:

What we had before: wide bike lanes with parking.

What we get now: wide bike lanes with parking.

What we could have gotten, if the city had had the guts to stand up to the neighborhood: bike lanes with no parking; and parking for cars on one side of the street.

Let's never forget, amid all the candy-coating, that we got NOTHING here by working with the neighbors.


writes on Aug. 8, 2003:

I completely agree with Mike here. Moreover, I would say that it's worse than getting "NOTHING;" we actually lost.
Before: city had policy of removing parking from newly striped (or re-striped) bike lanes

After: city has no such policy

 The lesson I think we learn here is that, as in most things, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If the SCB outcome (including in the larger context I mention above) is acceptable to us, then we need only to continue to lay down like lambs and be happy and quiet. If it's not, we'll need to be a lot louder and more annoying than we were on this issue.

-Lane, who believes convenience should never trump safety


Printed letter to the Austin Chronicle, Oct. 1, 2004

My dear Editor,

I'm afraid I'm a little behind in my reading.

In "City Hall's Bumpy Road" [News, May 23, 2003], the Chronicle refers to a "successful mediation process involving motorists, bicyclists, and Shoal Creek neighbors" about getting car-free bike lanes on Shoal Creek Boulevard. Actually, the mediation was anything but successful, at least from the bicyclists' point of view. All we wanted were bike lanes without cars parked in them. But that was "mediated" away. It was a mistake to give the neighborhood de facto veto power on this issue, as they ultimately decided that their convenience was more important than our safety. This sets a pretty lousy precedent &endash; that neighbors can demand to be able to park in bike lanes. Why should they get to make those kinds of decisions?

The tragedy is not just that car-free bike lanes were apparently too much to ask for in supposedly bike-friendly Austin, it's the "way" that came about &endash; by the city effectively giving the power to block the car-free bike lanes to the neighborhood.

There's more on this debacle at bicycleaustin.info/shoalcreek .

Michael Bluejay


Michael Bluejay, Jan. 13, 2005

The Austin Chronicle ran a story on the Shoal Creek debacle but the new reporter got a lot of his facts wrong. It's funny, probably neither the reporter nor his editor even noticed my recent letter to their paper about this issue, printed just a few months ago.

Mike Dahmus of course examines the story in his blog. And below is another letter I fired off to the Chronicle. I was tempted to submit the same letter I sent in October, prefaced with, "Since your reporters are apparently not reading their own paper, I'm submitting to you the same letter I submitted and you printed back in October."


My dear Editor,

About the plan for pseudo bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd. [Peace and Progress come to Shoal Creek, Jan. 13, 2005] you quoted Keri Juarez as saying, "No one loves it, but everyone can agree on it."

Uh, not. I don't agree with it and I don't know any other cyclists who do, either.* Why would we? All we wanted was car-free bike lanes. Is that asking for the moon? Instead the city allowed the neighborhood and consultants to "compromise" away any real improvements. As Mike Dahmus put it:

"What we had before: wide bike lanes with parking.

What we get now: wide bike lanes with parking.

What we could have gotten, if the city had had the guts to stand up to the neighborhood: bike lanes with no parking; and parking for cars on one side of the street."

This whole mess is detailed on BicycleAustin.info/shoalcreek.

Michael Bluejay

[*Since I submitted this letter, there have actually been a couple of cyclists posting to the local email list who have cheered the cars-in-bike-lanes outcome for some bizarre reason.]


Lane Wimberly's letter to the Chronicle, Jan. 18, 2005

Dear Editor,

   After reading Dan Mottola's response to Mike Dahmus' criticisms of his report on the effort to redesign Shoal Creek Boulevard ["Postmarks Online," Jan. 14], it occurs to me that Mr. Mottola, like many, ignores the fact that streets are for transportation, and not for personal storage of automobiles. The street is not owned by the residents, it is a shared public resource. The ability to park in the street is not a right, and the notion that residents' ability to park on the street is somehow more important than cyclists' ability to use the corridor safely for transportation &endash; its principal purpose &endash; establishes cyclists as second-class road users, which they are not. The fact that several elderly folks and other neighborhood residents don't see things this way doesn't give the city a pass on its responsibility to provide infrastructure for its citizens that respects equal access.


writes on Jan. 18, 2005:

Robbin wrote:
What it is starting to look like is some of the Bike people have a mindset of a WAR with the property owners on Shoal Creek. Why are we fighting? Shoal Creek is a nice and safe place to be -- whether you are walking, running, riding, driving, or living there (yes, people do other things besides drive or ride a bike down SCB). Why not try to co-exist? I truly believe that that was and still is the concern of the neighborhood residents and property owners (I know it is for me). Fight for something which is important -- all this is doing is creating a negative image of bicyclists.

Having cars parked in bike lanes is a long-term problem for all cyclists in Austin in any number of ways. More importantly, the political message sent by Jackie Goodman when she gave the neighborhood what they wanted (parking on BOTH sides of the street prioritized over bike lanes) is going to hurt us for years and years to come.

Shoal Creek is USUALLY a nice place to ride IF you're a expert cyclist AND the car drivers are in a good mood that day. A novice is, sooner or later, going to get killed by a car when they swerve out of the "bike lane" around a parked car and the car driving by isn't expecting them to leave the "bike lane". A parked car in a lane designed for travel is universally a bad idea, whether that lane is reserved for cyclists or a general-purpose travel lane. That's the whole reason we don't normally allow parking in bike lanes -- the same reason you don't allow parking in the right lane of Koenig Lane, for instance.

Even before somebody gets killed, allowing parking in bike lanes creates the appearance of conflict among cyclists and motorists when motorists expect cyclists to ride in the bike lane as long as possible while the cyclist merges out into the vehicle lane (usually appearing to be too early to the motorist). I get honked at and "waved at" quite frequently on Shoal Creek while executing this legal and responsible manuever even though I attempt to reduce the delay to the motorist as much as possible.

All the neighborhood had to do to solve this problem was act responsibly - Shoal Creek was a minor arterial (later forcibly reclassified to a neighborhood collector. NOT a "residential street") - which means that MOST of the people travelling on that road, by design, don't live on the street and MANY of them don't live in the neighborhood. Through travel, whether cars or bicycles, is SUPPOSED to be prioritized over on-street parking in that case, but the city staff went above and beyond and came up with a way to preserve parking on one side of the street while still meeting the non-negotiable primary mission of the roadway.

The neighbors were so unconscionably greedy that parking on one side wasn't enough for them. Never mind the fact that in the two center-city neighborhoods where I own property, parking is restricted all over the place, even on some truly residential streets.

The Shoal Creek Debacle of '00 hurt us in 2003 when a church was able to convince most of the UTC that allowing parking in bike lanes was no big deal - so they approved (over my no vote) allowing it in certain parts of the bike lane on Bull Creek Road. That's just the first instance of Shoal Creek setting a negative precedent - I fully expect more.

So for you (whomever you are) and especially Thorne -- if you think this is no big deal, you'd better think again. This was the biggest loss for bicycle transportation in our city in a decade or more. The ramifications, even if no kid riding to Northwest Park ever gets killed by a car because of it, are just beginning to be seen.


writes on Jan. 18, 2005:

Shoal Creek Blvd. is *usually* a nice, safe place to ride/drive/walk. But, I suspect the expert cyclist I helped load into the ambulance a few years back after he'd been doored might be somewhat leery of that statement, as might be the three people I know to have been hit by cars on SCB in the past several years. There have also been a few car accidents on SCB in that time, although I'm not aware of any injuries to motorists. I also am not aware of any accidents or injuries to pedestrians. ...

And, again: on a shared, public resource, cyclist safety IS more important than resident parking convenience.


writes on Jan. 18, 2005:

Thorne wrote:
I've thought it through many times, Dahmus. And have again. SCB was the wrong place to be having the wrong argument, since cycling SCB with parking on the sides is just fine, and I was no 'expert rider' my first several dozen times riding it. All of us might ask ourselves why SCB is so attractive to cyclists if it's also so bad as some claim. It's not the bike lane, its the nice safe riding.

I agree that the SCB battle was bad for the future of cycling interests in Austin--wholeheartedly. Losing the SCB battle was bad for cyclists because it showed cyclists fighting the wrong battle for the wrong reasons and seriously reduced the credibility of 'bicycle advocates' in Austin. And that was the very concern I had from the moment I was approached in 2000 to sign the petition in support. By all appearances, it was a battle over turf, not safety, which is why the 'debacle' started with the idea to paint the bike lanes in the first place (long before the battle over parking began). To date, I've never heard a coherent argument for why SCB parking was the priority of the day as far as Austin cycling safety was concerned. Dangerous places needed that attention, and still do.

That statement would be fine, if the issue being debated was whether or not to place bike lanes on Shoal Creek. The problem for your theory is that the debate was actually whether or not to allow parking in the bike lanes that were already there.

We're a laughingstock nationally for allowing cars to park in bike lanes, folks. Many of you may not realize this, but in the rest of the world, a "bike lane" is equivalent to a "car lane" in the sense that you don't allow parked cars in a lane designed for through travel. Again, this presents problems in the fact that car drivers get mad when you leave the bike lane to get around the parked car -- they don't know how early you must merge in order to do this safely. This creates friction which hurts us politically - I've spent half a dozen mornings here at work defending cyclists to suburbanites on issues just like this one.

And don't dare lump me in with people who think you should put bike lanes everywhere either - I was on record here years ago as saying that Bull Creek was a marginal case, for instance, and didn't deserve the attention until the suburban routes like Jollyville were addressed.

If your argument is that we should remove the stripes entirely - I'd agree. Bike lanes with cars parked in them are worse than no bike lanes at all. I'd, in fact, be thrilled to hear the neighbors wail and moan at the inevitably higher-speed automobile traffic that would then result.

But, since I'd really hoped that the repetitive SCB posts would end (and noting that I have received several off-list replies thanking me for interjecting into the SCB history debate my concern that there wasn't good cause to enter the battle),

Well, if that's the game that we're playing, I can truthfully relate to you that I've also received many off-list replies thanking me for continuing to post on the subject, and thus getting the history CORRECT rather than allowing the neighborhood to rewrite it. And the precedent set did indeed affect debate on the UTC about the church wanting to park in bike lanes on Bull Creek, and I, in case you forget, was and am in a position to know.

In short: Many roads are marginal cases for bike lanes. But if the bike lane is there at all, it must be a no-parking bike lane, or it hurts both the political position of cyclists (causing unnecessary irritation to motorists) AND runs a safety risk with novice cyclists. If you want parking on a street, get rid of the damn bike lane.


writes on Jan. 18, 2005:

Stuart Werbner wrote:
I'm sorry you feel that way. You certainly had your chance to publicly speak out against the final proposal. You had your chance to make your feelings known to the working group, and you were once part of the working group, yourself.

You had your chance to make constructive counter proposals. Complaints are not a counter-proposal, though they make excellent email forum and talk show fodder.

Aside from the vague complaints you made to me from time to time when we'd occasionally cross paths on our bicycles into work, and an occasional angry email message to the bike forum, you didn't seem to say very much about it at all.

Just to set the record straight, I did participate in the process, right up to the point that the Gandy proposal was rejected by the city, at which point the working group was completely out of the picture, and Gandy, Nagy and a few others had complete control to do whatever they wanted. At that point, any cyclist perspective or representation was completely out of the picture, to the best of my knowledge.

And, I was an active participant -- to the extent that I could be. There were many voices there, and it was a struggle to keep things civil, to keep them from devolving into chaotic argumentation.

My principal goal in the process was to make sure that folks understood the importance of the corridor to cyclists, and the importance of the city's responsibility to provide for cyclist safety. Other than that, I kept quiet.

Your words remind me of a heated response I arroused in Alan Lampert after I complained about the outcome, in which he felt that it was unfair of me to complain when he perceived that I hadn't contributed. Ironically, he was the only person in the group to attack me during one of the working sessions for attempting to contribute.

I also remember a break-out group I participated in that consisted of residents, cyclists and a city planner/engineer-type. The recommendation that we jointly came up with was excellent, and we were all very excited that it was a good, safe compromise with unanimous consensus within the group. But, because it did eliminate some (not all) parking, it was rejected out-of-hand by the Gandy/Nagy faction.

In addition to this, I participated in several other ways by volunteering my time to gather data, etc. I also tried to keep the folks on this list up to date on the progress, to solicit their ideas and concerns and to communicate those (again, to the extent that I could) to the working group.

So, just to be clear, I did participate in good faith, and I did make suggestions and recommendations. I think I've earned the right to complain and be critical of both the outcome and the process.

I'm sorry you feel that way. You're part of the less than 40% of SCB residents that voted against the final proposal.

I don't think *anyone* had the opportunity to vote on what truly became the final proposal.


[The press keeps getting this story wrong. In January we mentioned how the usually accurate Austin Chronicle got their facts wrong. To this we can add the mistakes of the frequently-wrong Austin American-Statesman, detailed below. Given that the page you're reading now with all the facts conveniently summarized at the top has been available on the net since 1998, this is doubly disappointing.]

writes on Mar. 22, 2005:

Hi, Ben,

Having sat through several public hearings on the Shoal Creek Blvd. (SCB) debacle, I feel compelled to correct a small but significant error in your article.

You write:

"So about five years ago, when the city striped the road with bike lanes and declared parking off limits, the neighborhood revolted."

Actually, the city only planned to prohibit parking on *one* side of the road, which would have afforded enough space to allow for car-free bike lanes on both sides. (And the bike lanes were never actually striped.)

Given the small number of cars parked on SCB at any given time, this would have provided more than adequate on-street parking for area residents. Furthermore, a large public hearing held by the Urban Transportation Commission at that time revealed that only a small number of neighbors (generally those who had a beef with bicyclists using SBC in the first place - less than 5 out of around 100 speakers) "revolted" against not being allowed to park on both sides of the street, and were quite belligerent about asserting that it was "their" road. (One crankster insisted that he had been forced to pay for the roadway construction when he purchased his house, hence had the right to determine how the roadway should be used.) Most neighbors were only interested in slowing down traffic on the street and would have been more than happy with a few mid-road traffic circles (see Dawson for an example of such a thing) as an addendum to the city's original plan. According to the city, however, no monies were available to add traffic calming to the plan.

The current solution satisfies only the small minority of SCB residents who want parking and no bicyclists. A few quick observations:

1. Now that the city has put in "parking lanes", many more people are parking on the street than before; i.e. as far as I can tell, people who were parking in their own driveway are now parking on the street instead. Consequently bicyclists must now more frequently share a 10ft lane with motor vehicles. The city is apparently planning to use bicyclist roadkill as a traffic calming device.

2. The "curb extenstions" are hardly that -- they're traffic circles stuck right in the middle of what used to be bike lanes, and unless the city plans to illuminate them at night (no such plans exist, as far as I know), they present a significant safety hazard to unsuspecting bicyclists using the roadway.

3. For many years I've used SBC as a route to introduce inexperienced bicyclists to the joys of bicycle commuting. I don't feel like I can do that any more. Being channeled directly into the path of cars (which is what the barriers in the former bike lanes do) is stressful and dangerous. All this will do is convince potential bicycle commuters that bicycle commuting is too dangerous for them.

4. The idea that putting barriers on the side of the road slows down traffic is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. If anything, it turns Shoal Creek into more of a Monte Carlo raceway that it was before. I drove down SBC last week in a car and -- if there hadn't been a Chevy suburban driving down the middle of the bike lane -- oops, I meant improved shoulder -- in front of me (no, I'm not making this up), it would have been wicked fun to navigate the road at 70mph.

5. Yes, every motor vehicle I observed swerved well into the "improved shoulders" at every curve on SBC. The previously mentioned Suburban, whom I followed for about a mile, drove almost exclusively on the "shoulder", veering around the bicycle barriers whenever necessary.

6. As far as I can tell, the city is spending $300,000 to implement a plan which meets the approval of 5% of SBC neighbors (the ones who hate seeing bikes on "their" street) and 0% of bicyclists. If the plan is to kill and injure as many bicyclists as possible, then it looks like it's going to be a big success. I worry, however, about potential liability that the city might face after someone is killed by all this nonesense.

7. One of the SBC residents antagonistic to bicyclists (they get in the way of his 6 or 7 private motor vehicles, some of which he likes to store on the street) has been particularly persistent in emailing city council/staff in addition to anonymously taunting bicyclists now and again on the bicycle listserv. At various times he's sent email to city council accusing bicyclists of vandalizing his house, and so on. It's amazing to me that the city is spending $300K to bend over backwards to satisfy this individual (and perhaps 2 or 3 others) at the expense of almost everyone else. This should be mind boggling, but of course is the standard modus operandi of government in the great state of Texas.

(See CAMPO's toll road plan for a similar example.)


writes on Mar. 22, 2005:

CHTepper(at)aol.com wrote:

Just so history isn't revised incorrectly: If a small group of "activist bicyclists" had come to the realization that five cars parked in the bike lanes along the five-mile expanse of Shoal Creek didn't pose a danger of cyclists. And, if they had allowed the city to restripe the original bike lanes as were, then none of this time, expense, and antagonism would have happened in the first place. I would argue that these "bicycle activists" actually turned a simple repaving project into an expensive five-year turmoil and have effectively placed us regular cyclists in perilous danger.

Not to turn this into a long, drawn out argument, but restriping the original bike lanes was not an option that was on the table. Under the tenure of COA bike/ped coordinator Linda DuPriest, the department of Public Works adopted a policy of not striping bike lanes which also allowed parking; i.e. if you put in a bike lane, it is automatically a no-parking bike lane (Carl should know this). This is still the official city policy, btw., and explains why the SCB debacle is being called an "improved shoulder" rather than a bike lane.

I agree with Carl, however, that having no striping at all would be have been a considerably safer (and cheaper) than what's been done. Sometimes less is more -- a LOT more, in the case of SBC. Anyone who regularly bikes on this formerly delightful stretch of road is deeply saddened and angered by what's gone down; at considerable expense, no less.


writes on Mar. 22, 2005:

And, just to be even more clear, "activist bicyclists" had little or nothing to do with the debacle initially. The cyclists I know would have been perfectly happy with the original city plan of allowing parking on only one side of the street, giving bicyclists obstacle-free bike lanes. It was a few noisy neighborhood residents who raised a stink. Then, cyclists would have been happy with the proposed (and almost-tested) so-called "neighborhood alternative," which allowed parking to alternate sides, again providing cyclists with an obstacle-free bike lane. Again, neighbors complained (although I believe that the official reason that the idea was rejected was that it failed the "test," which is ludicrous since the plan that is now being implemented fails against the same criteria).

Finally, five cars over a four-mile (not five) stretch of SCB is a drastic exaggeration. I don't remember my car counts from a few years ago at the moment, but I want to say it was typically more like 30 or 40, and at times could range up to 80-100.

But, that's not really the issue. All we wanted was a dedicated, obstacle-free bike space in the interest of safety. What we got was (all together now!) ... parking in bike lanes.


writes on Mar. 22, 2005:

As I commuted on debris-ridden SCB this morning I thought about those crazy curb extensions. When the crepe myrtles are planted and begin to grow, won't they become a sight obstruction to vehicles trying to pull from driveways/roads onto SCB, causing them to pull into the multi-use lanes to see around them? Most just seem to be near driveways, but the one on the NW corner by Treadwell is close to that intersection. Perhaps not many cars come from Treadwell, but seems having trees planted in the multi-use lanes is going to introduce visibility issues since peds and cyclists can be difficult to see in the first place.


writes on Mar. 31, 2005:

The problem with the new striping (based on my anecdotal observations only) is that people now see the "improved shoulder" as a bonified parking lane, so that people who were parking in their driveways are now leaving their car(s) on the street. There were many, many more cars parked on SCB last week than I've ever seen before the new striping. Residents on most streets are loathe to park on the street because street-parked cars frequently get hit, presumably by inebriated late night revelers. The fancy new striping and curb bulbouts on SBC, however, help to insure that Shoal Creek is the safest street in town to park your car on. I continue to maintain that the situation for bicyclists is now considerably worse than it was when there was absolutely no striping on the road at all.

I agree with Fred that weaving in and out of bike lanes is considerably more dangerous than holding a steady line. The new SBC geometry can only be safely navigated if the bicyclist holds to the line separating the shoulder from the traffic lane, and this is guaranteed to piss motorists off, as the new lanes are not wide enough for a motorist to pass you in-lane when you're riding on the line. We were much better off when the bike lanes were narrow and the car lanes wide; both from the perspective of discouraging street parking and from the perspective of safe biking (see below for a more detailed explanation).


writes on Mar. 31, 2005:

Another thing I have experienced on SCB (as well as Hancock after it was restriped), many motorists are much less likely to veer out of well striped lanes when passing cyclists. Before the new striping, cars were much more likely to move somewhat into the opposite lane to give a cyclist room. After the striping they are so set on staying in between the now bright obvious lines that they do not give enough room to the cyclist. Add the little bumps to the mix and its next to impossible to get a car to leave its designated lane even if it means buzzing a cyclist.

All said, I personally feel much more vulnerable on the new SCB than the old one. I have been riding it regularly since about 1998.


writes on Mar. 31, 2005:

I am a resident of Shoal Creek Blvd. Today when I pulled out of my driveway and as I started to move forward, I noticed that a truck was passing me on the right, using the bike/parking lane as a traffic lane. Not only did he pass me, he continued to drive in that lane for quite a while. This is not the first time this has happened. Clearly people are confused about the bike/parking lane thinking that it is available for passing. I might add, that this has never happened to me before the striping. Back then people only passed me on the left, using the oncoming traffic lane (not exactly a better option, but at least less likely to hurt a cyclist or a pedestrian).


writes on May 12, 2005 (excerpted):

Perhaps the most interesting and relevant, if not surprising, piece of information presented [at the public meeting on May 11] was the result of the traffic (speed) study. Traffic engineer Alan Hughes reported that, after analyzing traffic at several spots along SCB both before (immediately, I believe; ie, when there were no stripes at all on the pavement save the center double yellow line) and after the construction, the data showed that there was a very small slowing of car speeds, something like 0.2 mph or so. This was judged to be negligible by the city. Hence, I think to the extent that the design was intended to calm traffic by reducing speeds, it has failed.

The overwhelming sentiment of the neighbors was a demand for the city to remove the curb extensions.

I found two things rather ironic. First, while people seem to hate the curb extensions, ostensibly because they force cyclists into the "car lane," no mention was made of the fact that actually, it is the parked cars that are more effective barriers to cyclists. Whereas there are fully four feet of space that a cyclist can easily use to negotiate the curb extension, there is typically zero space, especially accounting for the "door zone," to pass cars parked in what is effectively exclusively a parking lane, and cyclists are forced fully into the adjacent travel lane.

Second, the majority of the anger and frustration, by far, seemed to stem from the fact that the current design has not effectively channelized car and bike traffic, with the result that people fear dangerous car-bike interactions in a confused space. But, this confused space is an unavoidable feature of the current design [in which no on-street parking was removed from Shoal Creek Blvd.]

The lesson here is, if you're going to channelize traffic, you can't put obstacles in the channels.

Going forward, I see only two possibilities for improvements. If we decide that channelization of car and bike traffic is valuable and worthwhile, then we need to remove parking from properly implemented bike lanes. This would mean either removing parking from both sides of the street, or some form of one-side-only parking, as was featured in several of the alternatives explored during the redesign process.

If channelization is deemed unnecessary or undesirable, then I believe on-street parking can be left alone, but the parking lane stripes should be removed, leaving cars and bikes to share wide lanes -- basically, what we had prior to the current implementation.

Unfortunately, I feel the city will be disinclined to follow either of these paths anytime soon -- assuming that no one is killed or seriously injured on SCB in its current state. The budget isn't there, and even if it were, the city might think twice about risking making further mistakes on SCB and suffering the ire of the neighbors.


writes on May 13, 2005:

Lane Wimberly wrote: The overwhelming sentiment of the neighbors was a demand for the city to remove the curb extensions.

Doesn't this beg the question: if the neighbors don't like it and cyclists don't like it then why was it done? Wasn't this supposed to be consensus driven process as per the city council resolution authorizing expenditure of the funds?


writes on May 13, 2005:

Patrick Goetz wrote: "The real question is how did this happen and how can we prevent it from happening again? What negotiation? Who was involved in this negotation? The 3 neighborhood zealots who were opposed to losing any on-street parking, a overpaid consultant, and a couple of anti-bike lane helmet loonies thrown in for good measure? I really would like to know who was involved in the negotion, because it clearly wasn't most cyclists, the neighbors, or the UTC."

Jackie Goodman. Period.

Seriously.

She allowed the process to go off into consensus-land, at which point it was doomed, because there simply is no way to compromise both-sides-parking AND car-free-bike-lanes.

Her hand-picked neighborhood people dominated the second round of the process, with a token bicyclist in for good measure, and that's why we're where we are today.

Simply put: The City Council's job is not to tell people to compromise. A chimp with a tape recorder could do that. Their job should be to make decisions when choices must be made between competing interests, whether it's about zoning/infill/NIMBY, or parking-vs-bike-lanes.

Their abrogation of responsibility here is primarily to blame - although I also blame the rest of the UTC for their vote for providing at least some apparent cover for the consensus-compromise-plan.


writes on May 14, 2005:

As Mike pointed out, when you're elected to be a leader, you lead. This means making decisions that aren't always going to make everyone happy. SCB is a perfect example of a vague, mushy, "consensus" solution which cost a lot of money, which is considerably less safe than what it replaced, and which almost everyone hates.

Consensus only works when someone is willing to draw a line in the sand and says these are the non-negotiable guidelines, as Kirk Watson did in the case of the Triangle Development. (The guidelines were (A) the development is going to happen, so get over it (B) it must include a new urbanist mix of residential, retail, and commercial -- i.e. the neighbors got mandated (A) and the developer got mandated (B), then they were told to duke it out.] In the case of SCB, the car-free bike lanes should have been non-negotiable, as they were in every plan that had been proposed prior to Gandy and the neighbors should have been guaranteed some functional traffic calming. In the absence of mandates we ended up with no bike lanes and no traffic calming.

I accept my share of blame for this -- I was completely wrong in not coming out strongly against the 10-4-6 plan. I still think they snuck the bike crashers in later, as I would not have supported these in their current configuration. When you're wrong, it's best to just admit it and move on to trying to fix the problem.


writes on October 20, 2005:

City staff suggested fixing this mess by eliminating parking from one side of the street and having a car-free bike lane on each side of the road. Council probably would have approved that, except the rep from the Austin Cycling Association told them not to do it! There's more on this travesty in the history section at the top of this page.


writes on October 23, 2005:

[Speaking about the original process that led to the current roadway setup.]

The trick is that the participation of the ACA allowed Jackie Goodman's camp to assure the rest of the council that the Gandy plan had the "support of the cycling community". Without that support, I doubt very much whether council would have been willing to attempt to overrule their own staff (which is how we ended up with 10-10, of course; staff balked; council still thought that some variety of that plan was "supported by the cycling community", etc.)

If the ACA had just stood firm on the core principle of car-free bike lanes (or no bike lanes at all, which is an equally rational answer, although one I don't personally agree with), the Council would have not had the cover to avoid being responsible and CHOOSING between INCOMPATIBLE purposes for the street. EITHER choice (bike lanes OR two-sides on-street parking) would be far better than what resulted from the supposed 'compromise'.


writes on December 5, 2005:

...[I]t looks like the 3 council members are falling back into a "let's get a consensus plan together which meets all stakeholder interests" mode which, in case anybody's forgetting, is what ended up giving us this abomination and all of the nightmare since then.

This is not a situation where compromise works. This is a situation where the Council has to CHOOSE between:

1. Parking on both sides of the street, and the elimination of Shoal Creek Boulevard as a safe and useful link in the bicycle route system for Austin (no alternates exist which come close to the length and right-of-way advantages of SCB).

2. Bicycle lanes on both sides with no parking (in the bike lanes); and on-street parking restricted to one side of the street (also known as "Option 2").

But instead, it sure as heck looks like they're ignoring the advice of the TTI (which was absolutely clear about what other cities do in cases like this - they do #2) in favor of kow-towing to the neighborhood yet again; inevitably ending up with some stupid combination of Option 3 and the Gandy debacle.

The worst part is Brewster's gang of "stakeholders" which includes nobody credible from the transportation bicycling community (no, the ACA doesn't represent these folks) and has come up with a plan to try a BUNCH of different things on the road, all but one of which (option 2) are heartily discouraged by modern roadway designers.

This is so depressing...  [See Mike Dahmus' original blog post]


writes on February 14, 2006:

I was the only citizen to speak at yesterday's Land Use & Transportation Committee meeting in favor of banning parking on one side of the street in order to make enough room for proper bike lanes. Sondra Creighton, director of Public Works briefed the Council, saying that that plan met national design standards and was the safest option. But instead the committee voted unanimously to keep unlimited parking on both sides of the street, with the outside lanes being shared "bike & parking" lanes. The three committee members (McCracken, Dunkerly, and Leffingwell) represent 3/7th of the City Council, so when this goes to Council on March 2 the Council will probably back this boneheaded idea. Where is the outrage?


March 6, 2006

At its March 2 meeting the City Council voted to keep parked cars in the bike lanes. Here's a movie of my presentation to City Council (QuickTime, 2.2Mb), or the text of the presentation if you have a slow connection. Below is what the ACA sent to the City Council after the meeting.

Honorable Mayor Wynn and Councilmembers,

On behalf of the Executive Committee of the Austin Cycling Association, I'm writing to let you know that we are very disappointed in Council's 5 to 2 vote to remove the Shoal Creek Boulevard curb islands without changing the striping on the roadway.

We appreciate the leadership of Mayor Wynn and the support of Councilmember Alvarez. However, we will inform and remind the ACA?s 1500 members and the larger cycling community that we view the decision by the remaining Councilmembers to delay re-striping as a mistake that is not in the best interests of cyclists nor other stakeholders.

We don?t understand why the majority of Council voted against the objective and professional recommendation of City Staff, against national bicycle safety standards, and against the opinion of the cycling community. We feel that testing alternatives on other streets is a decision that puts cyclists at increased risk on Shoal Creek Boulevard.

If Council is determined to test alternative striping on other streets, the ACA can assist in this process. In order to further inform the cycling community, we respectfully ask Council to respond to the following questions:

  • - Who will manage the testing project?
  • - By what timeline will the testing will take place?
  • - What criteria will be used to identify the test locations?
  • - What measurement and evaluation process will be used to determine the success or failure of a test?
  • - Who will determine if a successful test result can be applied to Shoal Creek Boulevard?
  • - Will there be additional public input on test results to be applied to Shoal Creek Boulevard?

In addition, we request that Council keep the cycling community informed of the progress with the testing so that we are reassured that Council will in fact address the issues for all stakeholders.

Sincerely,

Scott Korcz
President, Austin Cycling Association

 


Laurie writes on March 16, 2006 [sent to the ACA]:

The reason I'm writing is to let you and ACA know about an incident that occurred last night while the Rogue Training Systems triathlon training group was riding in the area of Shoal Creek and Great Northern, between Anderson and 2222.  I was in a group of cyclists who were pelted with hard pellet-like materials thrown at us by an approaching car. We were riding north on Great Northern and a light-colored sedan driving south toward us flung a large amount of green beads at us.  We were all stung by the beads and the fellow riding behind me suffered a cut eye, blinding him and requiring medical attention.  We called 911 and the EMS folks treated him at the scene and then took him to the hospital for further treatment.  While the EMS and police were there talking to us, some other members of our training group rode up and said that they also had been assaulted.  One person was hit with a water balloon  and another was hit with either rocks or beads, both thrown from a car matching a similar description.

This is not the first time that cyclists have been assaulted in this area by hooligans in cars.  Last year some friends and I were riding on Great Northern and someone in a car threw a book at us, hitting a couple of us and causing one person to crash.  That same night, another rider mentioned that a rider in a car had thrown something at her as well.

Please let the ACA membership know that they need to be alert when riding in this area, since it is very clear that some folks do not like cyclists and will harrass and cause bodily harm to them.  I wish we had been able to get their car tag number, but we were more concerned with making sure the fellow who was blinded was ok.  We also talked about the need to wear glasses while cycling, even when it is cloudy/dark out, since the lenses can provide good protection for your eyes.   Thanks in advance for your help in spreading the word to the cycling community.  Let me know if you have questions or need additional information.

 




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