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.

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.

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Robin Stallings

Robin is the Executive Director of BikeTexas, the statewide bicycle advocacy and education organization. He has been with BikeTexas since 1999, making the transition to ED in 2003.