SA Tomorrow Survey to Inform Future of Bike Infrastructure, Culture

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Cyclists ride through heading north. Photo by Scott Ball.

Cyclists head north on Broadway Street. Photo by Scott Ball.

I’ve been thinking about the most recent Síclovía, which reportedly attracted 70,000 people who wanted to experience streets outside of their car. Doing some quick math, that’s very close to 5% of the 1.44 million people living in San Antonio (almost one in every 20 residents) that converged on the same three miles of Broadway while it was closed for a few hours to motorized traffic.

It’s an impressive number. And it takes numbers like this to build the case for changing how we think about our largest public space – our streets.

A Bike Survey released Oct. 28 by SA Tomorrow is asking how you roll, and the input it collects will give decision-makers, planners, engineers and advocates alike a better understanding of the frequency and reasons people bike (or opt not to) in the San Antonio area. I may have been one of the first people to complete the survey, but I am counting on not being the last because the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), like the City of San Antonio which released the Bike Survey, looks forward to the results of this data once the survey concludes on Dec. 2. Here’s why:

The last statistically significant survey that was conducted by the MPO centered on attitudes toward bicycling in 2010. However, a lot has changed in our region in these last five years, including the arrival of San Antonio BCycle, the construction of 47 miles of the trails making up the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails System and 15 miles of trails making up the extended San Antonio River Walk, and the founding of numerous bike clubs and shops. As a result, the number of people we see riding bikes on the streets and trails has compounded since 2010, both anecdotally and according to the limited Census data available. (You can actually watch live bicycle and pedestrian count data for two counting locations on the greenways, too, courtesy of San Antonio Bikes.)

A group of cyclists cruise down South Alamo Street towards Southtown on the Fourth of July, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

A group of cyclists cruise down South Alamo Street towards Southtown on the Fourth of July, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.

More recently, an online survey was conducted to help inform the MPO’s Regional Bicycle/Pedestrian Transportation Plan (under development). While it provided helpful background information for that study, the survey was completed by less than 2,000 participants, so there are lots more people that can be heard from given additional opportunities like the SA Tomorrow Bike Survey.

As the MPO’s bike and pedestrian transportation planner, I’m attuned to recent national reports that are consistently showing how quality infrastructure makes a marked difference in bike ridership. Specifically, bike lanes with some sort of physical barrier from traffic are tremendously effective at boosting bike ridership on the specific streets on which they’re built, shifting routes of existing bike riders who appreciate the new comfortable space. It’s also documented that protected bike lanes boost safety for all users of a street, a benefit everyone can get behind.

However, another finding underscores the importance of connectivity in general. Networks of comfortable cycling infrastructure are key to raising bike ridership citywide beyond single corridors. I’d be surprised if the SA Tomorrow Bike Survey doesn’t corroborate this trend and indicate that local residents, whether they currently bike a little or a lot, are hankering to see protected bike lanes and connected routes, too.

The SA Tomorrow bike survey is no time to take lightly an opportunity to speak up for safe, connected infrastructure. The plan this survey is informing will be used for the next 25 years to communicate the City of San Antonio’s transportation strategy, proposed multimodal improvements and prioritize projects, as stated on www.satransportationplan.com.

Cyclists ride past Lions Field. Photo by Scott Ball.

Cyclists ride past Lions Field. Photo by Scott Ball.

Since the MPO works very closely with the City of San Antonio and with other cities in our study area on promoting safe driving, biking and walking habits, I’m especially looking forward to seeing the responses residents give to questions about the most important aspects of drivers’ and bicyclists’ behavior that I can be addressing as I talk to the public. I’m also looking forward to seeing what improvements residents say would most boost their riding and what specific challenges keep them from riding more.

Answers like these can guide the MPO’s Bicycle Mobility Advisory Committee, a unique group of public agency staff, representatives of bicycle clubs and organizations and citizens who meet on a monthly basis, to the most impactful work they can get behind.

The SA Tomorrow Bike Survey will be up through Dec. 2.

 

*Top image: Cyclists head north on Broadway Street.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

Related Stories:

Take the City’s Cycling Survey, Then Ride With Caution

Transportation Pieces Take Shape for VIA, Comprehensive Plan

Commentary: Charter Amendment Derails San Antonio’s Transportation Future

Commentary: Transportation is a Quality of Life Issue

10 thoughts on “SA Tomorrow Survey to Inform Future of Bike Infrastructure, Culture

  1. Look into making district 5/Collins Garden cycling safe. We cycling racers training and local cyclists pedaling around. I would like to see this change.

  2. Allison, I have several comments regarding this article. Firstly, I don’t think we’re ever going to win the “data” battle with motorists. The numbers for SA are always going to be GREATLY in favor of motorist friendly policies and infrastructure (which subsequently means that ridership #’s and the like will always seem paltry). This is exacerbated by the fact that the development lobby wants to build roads and highways, not puny bike lanes. We need LEADERS in the government to make decisions based on overall good, I.e. They need to see the Forrest for the trees. Obesity and diabetes, can they see how they are linked to a society that discourages active transportation? Motorized Transportation related pollution, how does that affect the Edwards aquifer? I could go on and on but the point is, I don’t want to hear about how many people are riding, or how many could be riding, but WHY we NEED to build active transport infrastructure. The reports from other cities are nice but there are STRONg arguments that are specific to SA’s plight that, in my opinion, are much more compelling.

  3. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE: don’t focus on bicycles. The main problems with our roads don’t truly have anything to do with bicycles. Cyclists are just the only organized group that vocalizes their displeasure with transportation infrastructure. But let’s be REAL, our roads are dangerous. For everyone. Motorists die everyday in traffic “accidents”. Motorcyclists tambien. Pedestrians and cyclists are just caught up in the mayhem. The argument isn’t FOR cyclists, it’s against this demolition derby of a transportation system we have. Let’s have an honest conversation about how deadly our roads are. I can’t quote directly but from readin the paper, it seems as though someone dies nearly every single day on our roads. And those are just the deaths, what about the serious accidents where people didn’t die? What’s the cost for that? For police to focus almost completely on traffic enforcement v. Other crimes?

  4. Don’t spam me with ads on Facebook about the three feet law. That doesn’t do shit for cyclists. Look at what just happened to the cyclist on Blanco rd. We don’t need laws, we need walls. Build me a protected bike lane, I’m not gonna put my life into the laws hands like that. It effectively does nothing for cyclists. Punic victory at best.

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