Disappointed About South Flores Street? Us, Too.

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Looking south on S. Flores St. at Mitchell St. The Bicycle lanes extend between Cevallos St. and Military Dr. Here the lanes pass in front of Bolner’s Meat Market. Photo by Rafael Mancilla.

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.

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.

Dr. Edward Kern and Jack Sanford disagree over the removal of bike lanes on South Flores Street but engage in a respectful dialogue after the City Council vote to remove the lanes May 29, 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Dr. Edward Kern and Jack Sanford disagree over the approved removal of bike lanes on South Flores Street but engage in a respectful dialogue after the City Council vote May 29, 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

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: mayorjuliancastro@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.7060

District 1: Diego Bernal 210.207.7279

District 2: Ivy Taylor district2@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.7278

District 3: Rebecca Viagran district3@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.7064

District 4: Rey Saldaña district4@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.7281

District 5: Shirley Gonzales district5@sanantonio.gov

District 6: Ray Lopez district6@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.7065

District 7: Cris Medina district7@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.7044

District 8: Ron Nirenberg district8@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.7086

District 9: Joe Krier district9@sanantonio.gov, 210.207.7325

District 10: Mike Gallagher district10@sanantonio.gov, 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.

RELATED STORIES:

City Council Removes South Flores Bike Lanes

Southsider Reflects on Potential Bike Lane Removal

$700,000 Street Plan Includes Removal of Bike Lanes

Bike|Beat: A Pachanga Promoting Bicycle Awareness

Bike Advocate to San Antonio: Why Are You Moving Backwards?

The Gorilla in the Room: One Cyclist Death Too Many

33 thoughts on “Disappointed About South Flores Street? Us, Too.

  1. I wasn’t just disappointed, I was surprised. I don’t use them but love that there are bike lanes in both my neighborhood and around my office.

  2. Resurfacing was recently completed on Brook Hollow and the striping has been done. Although there is a solid white line on the right that would appear to be a bike lane, there is NO SIGNAGE (on the street or posted) that shows it to be a bike lane. It’s primarily used as a parking lane now.

  3. Bikes and cars do not mix well. I really believe we should develop paths for bikes and pedestrians.

    Every car/cycle accident I saw while living in Austin was just hard to swallow.

    I know if we all just obeyed the law and worked together bikes and automobiles could probably lower the chances of an accident, but they are still brutal when they happen and they do happen.

    Also this is a niche movement by a small group of cyclists with affluent vocal abilities.

    How about we focus on paths for cyclists and pedestrians and get cars to have to make room for a mass transit system?

  4. I can’t get over the fact that they are spending money to remove bike lanes. What a waste of money.

  5. San Antonio has such a beautiful cyclist network of off the roads in and between parks…why would anyone want to put themselves at risk…the car wins everytime. The scenery is much more relaxing off road…just do that and spend the city money on something more useful.

    • Many cyclists, including myself, ride for commuting purposes, not just for pleasure. While sidewalks through parks are unarguably beautiful, they are not efficient from getting from point A to point B. Bike lanes make it safer for cyclists to get to work, get home, go to the grocery store and anything else you may require your car for. Bikes are good for the environment, good for your body and good for your wallet, so why drive if you can ride?

      I agree with you: the city should use the money towards something more useful. Imagine what that $700,000 could do if it wasn’t being wasted on removing these bike lanes.

  6. No Joseph Lopez, we want safety. Those who ride on sidewalks are wrong, just like the cagers who are too impatient to wait to pass safely. We know it’s all about you

  7. What about me? Richard? I walk all over SA, I drive cars, I don’t have a problem with the bike lanes because I know it is too unsafe even with them to ride around in Texas with them. We do not have responsible enough drivers to handle having cyclists and automobiles in the same vicinity. I am a realist.

  8. Also for it all being about me, the middle class cyclist sure are having a self centered time trying to gentrify south Flores… Not to mention the San Antonio River… But let me guess yal deserve that space…

    • I would like to gentrify it for the money. I can care less about the space. It’s a river for crying out loud. Those people living along the river deserve better but it seems like “Progressive” here means pushing people out of their homes. If that’s the way it’s going to be then why not follow the money. I once believed that the survival of the fittest mentality was solely a conservative stance but it seems as though it might be a progressive one as well.

  9. I know Paddy Martini, I think that is awesome. So good for you and the air we breathe. Thank you. I personally respect all two wheeled riders because I am both and must travel in a cage. Here’s a futuristic thought…I vote for cycling bridges…connecting all the paved off road paths by going over what you can’t go through…kinda like life! Happy Sunday to all.

  10. As a cyclist, I think reaction to the South Flores changes are overblown. Taking away a lane in each direction and painting in a bike lane doesn’t automatically make it safe. Especially if traffic is impeded behind buses at times.

    I finally dug deep into the bike master plan: https://www.sanantonio.gov/Portals/0/Files/SABikes/BicycleMasterPlan/03-BikeNetwork.pdf

    It goes into great depth explaining all the different options for making cycling safer…and discusses their costs.

    While I’d like to see curbed, separated bike lanes on every busy street, we can’t afford it. In the case of South Flores, it seems to me that when you have a street that is two lanes each way, but doesn’t have shoulder room to add a bike lane, a good alternative is to aggressively sign it with ‘sharrows’ and ‘Bicycles may use full lane’ signs. I’ll take a full lane to myself any day over a narrow bike lane with broken glass and parked cars in it. Anyone who has ridden the Theo & Malone bike lanes on garbage day will tell you about how the bike lanes are useless when filled with garbage cans.

    A future with better and safer cycling options in town will contain a combination of options that we can afford. Each option will have to make sense in its own environment. As we get more signage, more bike lanes, and more cyclists out there, motorists will see us and learn how to coexist.

    Thank you to all who fought to keep these lanes. It is appreciated. But this is not as big a failure as some make it out.

  11. I am a resident of the area. I live in district 5. My council person was the only one to vote for keeping these lanes. At the surface this looks like she was advocating for her constituents but it makes me wonder why she failed to get other council people on board! We need a voice not just a finger that submits votes!

  12. Richard, she failed because the rest of the council voted how Viagran voted. It is a professional courtesy when the vote at hand doesn’t matter to their district. Viagran got torn up by her constituents when she voted to rezone the trailer park on mission street for condos. Viagran wasn’t about to piss off her constituents two times in a row. Gonzalez was the only one who voted using common sense.

  13. I deliver in southtown. And the bikers are a problem. Most don’t stop at red lights or stop signs. Especially since I hear a lot about them wanting the same rights as a motorist. I don’t get why you can go 10mph on the street when you could do the same on the sidewalk.

  14. Why is this a problem? The streets are bike lanes. The sidewalks are bike lanes. The grass is my personal bike lane. The curbs are bike lanes for dare devils. Why can’t I just use the underground tunnel that goes from downtown through S. Presa all the way to Brooks. That can be a bike lane. 🙂

  15. Consequences are needed. The only council person who should be reflected is Shirley Gonzales. There ARE enough cyclists who can vote to make it happen. SA should lose bronze status with the League, too. SA got it using smoke and mirrors. Parking in bike lanes mean it isn’t a bike lane…..it is a protected parking lane. Moving forward with sharrows is bogus…..sharrows ….they are accommodations not facilities. Just like a route (to nowhere) is an accommodation. Adding loads of bike share is good only for tourists….. Since that is where they are located. Relegating the Bicycle Mobility Advisory Committee to another level of bureaucracy ,,,,, making it an advisory committee to an advisory committee……are examples of how cyclists are treated as 2nd class….. Or worse citizens. Might be time to move. Brownsville had a whole delegation of elected officials at the Trails and Active Transportation conference in Ft Worth in March. How many did SA have: zero.

  16. If like to see more education. I cycle to my night job, and love it, although taxis and buses (especially the ones with the “look out for bicycles” posters on them!) seem to be in league to crunch me to death. Anyway… We need better cyclist education. I stop at stop signs & yield at yields etc. I get pissed when I see people on the sidewalk (in a car I won’t see you) or riding against traffic, or barreling through red lights, as though their helmet, or lack of, makes them invulnerable. Could we require a pamphlet be handed out with every bike sale? While a bike “license” would sacs many from death and serious injury a doubt “the Land of the Free” could handle that kind of safety requirement.

    • Jean-Luc, you’re talking way over the head of the average San Antonian. People here don’t read for facts and learning, they just dig in and cling to ignorance. And our cowardly “leaders” just play along, perpetuating the problem.

  17. Will read it, but not an option. I take the risk nearly everyday, get buzzed and honked at just for my presence from rednecks and phucktards that barely look up from their phone enough to see me or get pissed that they have to wait an extra 10 seconds. See the same garbage from my motorcycle. Bike lanes or not, we are allowed on the road and in some cases can take the whole lane. It’s up to all of us to know the rules, and get over ourselves and grow the hell up. I wish the police would sting the bikers like they have the drivers who don’t pass properly, but they don’t even do that anymore. Texas is a beautiful place to ride, but too dangerous because people can’t be troubled to do only one thing at a time, drive with their eyes on the road.

  18. Cyclists are not the only losers in this decision. I ride almost everyday, and I ride a lot, and for a very long time I fell in the camp that just really didn’t bike lanes. They are often full of garbage and debris, and didn’t really seem to make things any safer than without the bike lanes. But, given enough time and thought on this, I’ve come to appreciate bike lanes for a whole other reason. They reduce road capacity. In the case of S. Flores, they eliminated two traffic lanes, and narrowed the remaining lanes. The result is calmer traffic, which is safer for all road users: motorists, pedestrians, some guy walking his dog, and even cyclists. If you buy into the concept of induced demand, which is well supported with research, then you accept the correlation between automobile usage and road capacity. If the city is serious about achieving the reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), and you accept a major factor in the growth of VMT the past five decades is expanding road capacity, then one important strategy to reducing VMT is to reduce road capacity. Additional benefits are calmer traffic and better conditions for cyclists and pedestrians, improved air quality, less obesity, and more happy cyclists. Especially less experienced cyclists. The loss of the S. Flores bikes lanes was indeed an important loss, but the biggest losers weren’t cyclists. They were pedestrians, that guy walking his dog, those who appreciate air quality, and motorists themselves. At least those few motorists who prioritize safety over perceived convenience.

    • Kevin, you’re right about “induced demand”, it is a very real measurable phenomenon. A corollary is: Trying to solve a traffic problem with wider roads is like trying to solve a weight problem with a longer belt. As obvious as this might seem, it apparently requires too much intellectual ambition from the average resident, and too much intellectual honesty from the average elected official.

  19. Oh, the cops. Driving home late, we saw them riding their bikes, against traffic, on the sidewalk, at night with no lights. We slowed down to tell them their lights weren’t on, I thought they’d like to know. They chuckled and tide off, in the dark. We need a lot if education about rights and responsibility in road use for all.

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