The Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle Mobility Advisory Committee approved a resolution Wednesday to prioritize protected bike lanes in the Broadway Corridor project.
The committee asked assistant City engineer David McBeth and project manager Richard Grochowski, who gave a presentation on the proposed design, for more emphasis on provisions for cyclists and dedicated bike lanes all along Broadway Street.
A portion of the 2017 Municipal Bond funded the Broadway corridor project with $42 million to revamp the thoroughfare from Houston Street north to Hildebrand Avenue. The state controls right-of-way north of Interstate 35 and maintains that part of Broadway, McBeth explained, so there is a separate $14 million allocated for the stretch of Broadway north of I-35.
Construction on the segment of Broadway south of the interstate is projected to start next summer, McBeth said. The plan is still in the design stages, with ongoing changes as the City continues to receive feedback.
Part of the design McBeth and project manager Richard Grochowski presented included space for on-street parking along Broadway. Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5), who chairs the committee, objected.
“We approved a $12 million parking garage by the zoo,” she said. “So I’m reluctant to support more on-street parking when we could use it for mobility, including [public] transit.”
Committee member Matthew Driffill agreed, saying that he thinks of on-street parking as useless dead space. San Antonio’s attempts to be bicycle-friendly fall short in sections of the city where bike lanes suddenly end, pushing cyclists back into the main street, he said.
“One of the most important factors for cyclists is consistency,” he said. “I think for the extent of your future projects, aim for consistency for multimodal folks.”
Lydia Kelly, a representative from cycling advocacy group BikeTexas, told the engineers that the Broadway makeover was an opportunity to put San Antonio on the map as a bike-friendly city, but it ultimately wouldn’t change cyclists’ habits.
“If you don’t add the bicycle facilities, we’re [still] going to ride Broadway,” she said. “That’s not a threat, it’s just what’s going to happen. You can make it safe for us, beautiful for us, or you can make it hard for us.”
Gonzales said that she still considers dedicated bike lanes to be the safest option for cyclists.
“I ride down Broadway pretty often. I know a lot of us do,” she said. “There’s no comparison to having a protected [lane], whether it’s curbs or something like that. You can take your children on it when it’s separated, where now I don’t feel comfortable taking my children even on a striped bike lane.”
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Grochowski said he was not surprised by the committee’s decision against endorsing the plan. Project leaders also received around 500 emails from the cyclist community in San Antonio, he said.
McBeth said he also expected that the committee might be reluctant to accept the design right away.
“We know there’s a strong community,” McBeth said. “We’re looking at this very thoroughly, and we will take feedback into account.”