Like many of you, we watched the San Antonio City Council’s decision to remove S. Flores bike lanes with disbelief and disappointment. Despite hearing from many people who ride bikes, including one gentleman who indicated he and his wife began riding for their health after the S. Flores lanes were installed, the city council voted 10-1 remove the bike lanes at a cost to the city of up to $700,000. District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales was the lone vote in favor of keeping the bike lanes. (Watch the video of the council meeting here; the bike lanes item begins at 2:27:38).
This decision is a major step backward for a city that claims to be committed to building a bike network. Council Member Shirley Gonzales gave an impassioned speech (watch here beginning at 3:26:36) reminding her fellow members that San Antonio is committed to a healthy and safe future for all, and that removing bike lanes is not in accordance with that goal. For much of this process, Gonzales stayed out of the debate because it was not her district, but the most recent plan (the one the City voted for) included the portion of the lanes in Gonzales’s District 5. Once again, the City ran roughshod over the public process by not giving District 5 residents any input.
Mayor Julián Castro was forceful in saying that San Antonio has a policy to install bike lanes anytime there’s a resurfacing project, per the Complete Streets ordinance and the bike plan. He said we cannot set a precedent of asking people whether they want bike lanes, because we are committed to building a complete bike network. He added that many of the crashes that residents opposing the bike lanes described seemed to be the fault of drivers, not the bike lanes.
However, in the end he voted for removing the lanes, citing, as many council members did, the Harlandale Superintendent’s unsubstantiated claims that the bike lanes made traffic less safe around the schools in the area.
City engineers showed concrete evidence that traffic volumes are the same as before, with faster or the same travel times at the speed limit. The only traffic delays averaged only 9 to 25 seconds behind VIA buses, something that they could have mitigated by reducing a few seldom-used bus stops along the corridor. Crashes have gone down on S. Flores by 4% since the bike lanes went in.
The Mayor and city council chose to ignore these facts and instead follow the unproved claims by those in the district who have been inconvenienced. Please be sure to contact the mayor and your city council member to let them know you are disappointed in their decision (contact info below). If you live in District 5, please thank Council Member Gonzales for standing with people who ride bikes and want to see a healthier, safer San Antonio.
Please consider adding your voice to that of people who ride bikes in San Antonio and across the state! Join BikeTexas today so we can continue to fight these kinds of setbacks.
Mayor Julian Castro: email@example.com, 210.207.7060
District 1: Diego Bernal 210.207.7279
District 2: Ivy Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org, 210.207.7278
District 3: Rebecca Viagran email@example.com, 210.207.7064
District 4: Rey Saldaña firstname.lastname@example.org, 210.207.7281
District 5: Shirley Gonzales email@example.com
District 6: Ray Lopez firstname.lastname@example.org, 210.207.7065
District 7: Cris Medina email@example.com, 210.207.7044
District 8: Ron Nirenberg firstname.lastname@example.org, 210.207.7086
District 9: Joe Krier email@example.com, 210.207.7325
District 10: Mike Gallagher firstname.lastname@example.org, 210.207.7276
*Featured/top image: Looking south on South Flores Street at Mitchell Street. The Bicycle lanes extend between Cevallos Street and SW Military Drive. Here the lanes pass in front of Bolner’s Meat Market. Photo by Rafael Mancilla.