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Ben Wear article on bike bridge misleads

Just sent to the Statesman in response to Ben Wear's article this morning

There are a few key facts that Ben Wear left out of his article on the South Mopac bicycle/pedestrian bridge which paint a very different picture:

1. There used to be a shoulder (available for use by commuting and recreational cyclists) on the Mopac bridge until a few years ago (when it was restriped to provide a longer exit lane). When the shoulder existed, it was frequently used.

2. The 15% figure cited by Wear is misleading - when you run the same comparison on total transportation funding in our area, about 1% (last time I ran the figures) went to bike/ped projects.

3. Urban residents, even those who don't drive, are subsidizing suburban commuters through the toll-road 'donations' he mentioned (remember; the city has to repay those bonds from sources like sales and property taxes; not the gas tax) and in many other ways. When you add up the flows of dollars, it would take a couple of bridges like this every single year just to begin to make up for the money flowing out of Austin towards the suburbs, from drivers and non-drivers alike. Perhaps THAT would be a better focus for an article in the future. I'd be happy to help.

Regards,
Mike Dahmus
Urban Transportation Commission, 2000-2005

I spoke on this exact same 15% issue a few years ago on KLBJ's morning news show but it keeps popping up as if we're in a bad game of Whack-A-Mole. In this case, the 15% applies only to city funding, and includes pedestrian infrastructure which was never built back when saner cities would have done it (i.e. when the road was constructed in the first place). When I ran the numbers a few years ago, bike/ped funding for the whole area ended up at something like 1%.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , Bicycle Commuting , Bicycling in Austin , Funding of Transportation , PS: I am not a crackpot , Subsidies to Suburban Sprawl , Transportation , Urban Design

Comments

What about this: "Over the past few years of increasing Austin traffic, I've seen a number of arterial roads narrowed from four lanes to two with paint stripes, with added bike lanes." Has that actually happened anywhere?

The only cases I can remember are Hancock and North Loop - and it was a 4-to-3 change, which actually helped car traffic too. I can't remember any that were changed from 4 to 2, but I don't get out to the burbs much these days.

Plans are in the works (or were last year anyway) to do the 4-to-3+bike change for Steck, too.

Also, of course, they wanted to do this to SCB (but no chicken lane), but that was strongly opposed.

They might turn Cameron from 4 lanes to 2 lanes plus a turn lane and bike lanes, at least from 51st to 290. Lots of accidents where a car rear ends another that is turning left. Windsor Park is not to far away from being very well linked to the Hyde Park/Downtown bike lane system.

I believe Guadalupe between 45th and Koenig was changed from 4 lanes to 2 plus a bike lane in each direction not too long ago. But that stretch of Guad is not an arterial, more of a neighborhood through-street.

Not as far back as I can recall - the bike lane stripes were added to the part between 51st and 45th recently but it used to be 2 wide lanes; the northern part as far as I can tell had bike lanes at least 7-8 years ago.

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