Incomplete Street: Planners Put Vehicles First, People Second in Lower Broadway Plan

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A downtown cyclist navigates Broadway Street, a major North - South artery connecting neighborhoods to the center city.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

A downtown cyclist navigates Broadway, a major north-south artery connecting neighborhoods to the center city.

San Antonio is still building a city for vehicles, rather than a city for people. This is not a new observation on my part. I visited the issue most recently in an April column, It’s Time for a Safe-Streets Advocacy Group in San Antonio, and a bit earlier, in a November column, Why Is San Antonio Still Building a 20th-Century City?

I have written more columns than I care to count over the last decade on the urban core’s lack of integrated bike lanes and the City’s long-neglected 2011 Bicycle Master Plan, which falsely claims San Antonio has 210 miles of bike lanes. San Antonio might have that many miles of fading white stripes painted on roadways, but it isn’t a city with 210 miles of bike lanes.

Our lack of progress on that front as the Decade of Downtown draws to a close is reflected in the fact that City officials still cite the 210 miles figure eight years later, while seldom noting the report’s call for a city with a “1,768-mile bicycle network.”

This isn’t just about the cycling community. San Antonio fares poorly in the ranking of cities with safe streets and public health, and there is a definite link between the two.

The lack of continuous sidewalks, particularly in the historic inner-city neighborhoods populated by people of color, the lack of bike lanes, and an underfunded mass transit system all contribute to limited mobility options, poor public health, worsening air quality, and people’s strong preference to travel everywhere individually by car, truck, or SUV.

Now Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) are locked in a public dispute over the nearly completed redesign of Lower Broadway, a signature $42 million “complete street” project in the City’s 2017 $850 million bond program. You read it first in this article, Nirenberg, Treviño on Opposite Sides of Broadway Bike Lane Debate as Design Nears Completion, by Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick.

In brief, Treviño has worked with staff, urban developers, and property owners to devise a plan that would push bike lanes to adjacent Avenue B and North Alamo Street, leaving lots of room on Broadway for wide sidewalks, on-street parking, and pickup and drop-off spots for rideshare, taxis, and other vehicles.

Nirenberg wants protected bike lanes and the people riding those bicycles to be part of the Broadway fabric as the long-moribund River North district slowly comes alive with new residential, retail, and commercial development.

I am with the mayor. Broadway needs a road diet, not a redesign that only encourages more vehicle traffic. The urban core’s new residents, and there are thousands of them, want mobility choices and they want to spend as little money and time as possible on automobiles. They also want safe streets – ones that are not so dominated by vehicles that cyclists, scooter users, and pedestrians must take to those streets at their own risk.

That message came through loud and clear at the recent workshop staged by the local chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar International at Hardberger Park. Gil Penalosa, the founder of 880 Cities in Toronto, was the keynote speaker. He’s a passionate advocate for building streets for people. Unfortunately, a room that included many City staffers did not include any senior staff or elected officials. In their defense, they were busy elsewhere, planning the fiscal year 2020 City budget.

People gather around the proposed designs for the Broadway corridor lower segment.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Community members gather around proposed designs for Lower Broadway during a public meeting Thursday.

The core problem in San Antonio is not money, it’s not street capacity, it’s not the lack of cyclists and pedestrians, hot climate notwithstanding. It’s the culture in the bowels of City Hall.

City staff includes Jillian Harris, whom I call the bike czarina, and a young Vision Zero team, and they have their priorities right. I don’t see much evidence that anyone is listening to them or including them in the decision-making process.

The City’s Transportation and Capital Improvements Department, which has been without a permanent director since December, has long made vehicle traffic its priority – some would say at the expense of all else. The latest Broadway design, in my view, reflects that bias and can only be fixed by hitting the reset button and imagining a street not for the last 25 years but for the next 25 years.

I spent most of a Friday morning hour pedaling up and down Lower Broadway, starting at 8 a.m. Vehicle traffic was thin. Most of the on-street parking was empty. About a dozen vehicles were parked on Broadway south of Travis Street, all at expired meters or in places where the drivers had ignored the City’s sidewalk parking ticket station.

Most of Lower Broadway below Jones Avenue remains a mishmash of surface parking lots, small offices, scattered retail, vacant or underutilized commercial buildings, and two multifamily and mixed-use projects under construction.

There is no need now or in the near future for wide sidewalks of 10 feet or more as envisioned in the plan. There is nothing on the near horizon to attract that kind of people traffic. Nor is there a need to give grouchy retailers on-street customer parking or pullover spots for passenger drop-offs. Let Uber and Lyft drivers turn on to side streets for drops and pickups. Let people pay for their parking in area lots or, if the price stops them, let them become bus riders.

Give cyclists protected bike lanes, which can be easily engineered with more narrow sidewalks, especially if we bury the utilities and stop using sidewalks as placeholders for utility poles and street signs. CPS Energy can afford to cover the cost of burying those utilities.

Let’s build at least one stretch of a “complete street” in downtown San Antonio, one with protected bike lanes. Build it and they will come. It might be the smartest thing that City leaders can do to inject new life in old Broadway.

68 thoughts on “Incomplete Street: Planners Put Vehicles First, People Second in Lower Broadway Plan

  1. Cyclists are not paying for this bond project. The pedestrians walking on sidewalks and motorists are the real people paying for this project. TCI is doing the right approach in the design.

  2. Protected bike lane would-be the best, especially for children to be bike riding there. Speed limit should be 20-25 as in Seattle. If there is no protected bike lane, speed limit should be 20mph. Drivers should drive with consideration that pedestrians and cyclists also have a right to move in a safe environment.

    • This is a great argument for why bike lanes should be on slower parallel streets instead of Broadway, which is a much wider, faster arterial.

  3. “Bury the utilities” is the best thing I have heard in this discussion. Even more important than public art is removing public ugliness and we have an epidemic of public ugliness. Buried utilities should be a key part of every street project. Get poles out of our sidewalks. Get wires out of our skies.

      • Utilities were buried between Central Library and the Southwest School of Art in the ’90s and it’s become a beautiful pavilion space that should be used more often than just the Book Festival. Burying really transforms streets. Great idea, George, and it might attract the businesses bike riders would go to.

  4. I guess it is never enough for the privilege. The few bike users want to dictate the high cost of bike lanes. In addition to much money is already dedicated to Broadway when other parts of the community need basic street repairs and sidewalks. Stick to the basic and be happy with the current pet project dedicated to Broadway mostly enjoyed by City of Alamo Height residents. Only in San Antonio!

    • You perceive cyclists as the privileged ones in terms of who gets more investment and infrastructure development? Not car drivers? Maybe I’m reading it wrong?

  5. Doesn’t the law state that in the absence of a dedicated bike lane,a bicyclist can use a whole traffic lane?Am I right on this?

    • i think you’re right but in reality it might not be the best idea / motorists want to pass slow moving bicyclists and if they can’t conveniently do that may become aggressive

    • Yes, cyclists do have a right to the road. As do pedestrians in a marked crosswalk crossing properly at a street light.

      Yet this legal right did not stop two (2!) cars making left hand turns across the crosswalk while a stroller with two children, an ambulatory child and adult, and an adult in a mobility scooter were crossing. This same illegal maneuver by a bus made near city hall a couple of months ago killed a city staffer.

      Saturday’s incident took place at Broadway and Jones. For San Antonio to make progress keeping pedestrians, cyclists and elderly requiring mobility scooters safe, we need at least one major corridor where the message is “healthful modes of transportation rule – your polluting, potentially deadly vehicle is not the priority on Broadway.”

      • We need more than one corridor dedicated to bikes, and we need them with enough separation in order for riders to travel their maximum speed, with perhaps a limit of 50 MPH, in my opinion this would encourage a greater segment of riders who currently avoid it due to safety concerns and slower, more dangerous travel times. To use Mr. Rivards’ phrase, build it and they will come.

  6. Any more, I rarely visit downtown. Those rare occasions may be for jury duty, business at Frost Bank, something entertaining at the Majestic Theater, and maybe a lunch at the Mexican Manhattan during those visits. So, I don’t really understand the clamor to turn Broadway or any other street into a 1960s version of Saigon crowded with bikes and other peddled conveyances.

    Thousands may live in the inner core but hundreds of thousands do not and probably visit the core less than I do. Why should we support the expense of what is proposed to enhance the gentrification of the inner core?

    Serious question.

    • Because downtown is the center of the city culturally, geographically and financially, to answer your question. Broadway, the main north/south conduit to downtown for the neighborhoods to the north was the pathway between the headwaters and the rich alluvial valley for 20,000 years before the Europeans showed up. The springs (now located on the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word) were a pilgrimage site and the path along the gentle meandering stream was an enchanting journey reflected in today’s Riverwalk. This is the heart and soul of San Antonio even now 300 years later. We need to remember and honor that in how we develop Broadway.

        • This is only the start to dedicated bicycle lanes. They must be installed throughout the city. Every section of town needs to have a safe corridor, citizens should have the freedom to ride from NE San Antonio, to Port San Antonio if they freely decide to do so. As a bicycle group effort, we must be the squeaky wheel, as special interest uses their influence to sway stakeholders to do the opposite. It’s a culture that must change, especially now with the current climate crisis.

    • I rarely use the 281/1604 interchange. Therefore it’s a pointless waste of money. By the way, there’s no clamor to turn Broadway into a straw man, just a street that multiple forms of transit can use as easily and safely as cars.

      • Number of people served, Luddite. I also almost never travel over 281 or any part of 1604, but I support the state and city portions of funding because of the sheer numbers of people served daily. How many people does a Broadway bike lane serve? Will it further congest Broadway traffic? Some commenters seem to make a more reasonable argument for an Ave A route.

        • I think viewing the issue based on “congestion” is perpetuating the POV Mr. Rivard is addressing in this article. We should not solve for car congestion today, but plan for the future of transit. This is a “complete streets” project–if it’s truly a complete street, it NEEDS to include bike lanes. On street parking will create much more traffic than protected bike lanes, as we all have to wait for Joe Schmo to back into that parking spot… Just saying. Also, our city’s statistics on biker deaths and traffic accidents are SHAMEFUL. Broadway is an opportunity to protect our many bikers, promote this healthy, green mode of transit and promote alternative forms of transit over the mighty vehicle. To build “rideshare” pull in spaces into this plan is so stupid. RR does a great job addressing how these things are not needed and that bike lanes can easily replace them.

          • No, not really. Nor am I ticked off by much of anything. No time for it. Thanks.

    • I work downtown, usually one night a week at the UTSA downtown campus. I drive home on Broadway frequently. There is a lot going on in this area and in downtown in general. I hope we really get it right. Scooters are everywhere and bikes and lots of construction. We can also really mess things up if we decide to make Broadway into another vehicle dominant transit into the city. Sure, I guess lots of people don’t go downtown unless a relative comes to visit who wants margaritas on the river or something. I travel a lot and there are some really great downtowns for people to visit. The ones who have great downtowns look like they took the time to really plan for all sorts of transit options including bikes.

  7. As a cyclist, taxpayer, and previous ‘09 er. We need to look forward into the future to reduce our emissions. I know more safe bike lanes is one answer to this problem.

  8. My good relationship with the downtown depends on the on street parking. As a long standing bicyclist, riding in the same lane with cars is normal. This is not such an issue at 30 mph, either. This daredevil behavior does require my lane manners, but I rarely get honked at. (As in once or twice in 20 years.) Ten foot walks with trees is no problem. Parking on Broadway is really a good thing, and you may not notice, but the extra space on Broadway works for truck unloading to the small businesses as well.

  9. The city is already reducing Broadway by one vehicular lane in each direction. I’d venture to say that most people using Broadway to commute downtown don’t live close enough to bike. Congestion is going to already be an issue, and I don’t think a dedicated bike lane is a priority. Most of the new (and less serious) cyclists that the city is trying to attract would prefer a detour onto Ave. A, etc, so they could have a more quiet and stress-free ride.

    Until we get a lite rail system (or something similar), bike lanes are not the solution for commuting long distances, especially in 100+ degree heat.

    • This new (and less serious) cyclist would prefer to stay on Broadway, and not have confusing detours. This new (and less serious) cyclist would like bikes to be included in the so-called “complete streets” project…

  10. Planning for NOW is a mistake. For those of you who don’t go downtown, you are missing out. There is something new, a new coffee place, a new restaurant a new development going up every time I go and I visit frequently. Downtown can be infinitely better by planning for the FUTURE. I believe dividing North and South bound traffic on Broadway between Travis or Houston street (south end of broadway) and Cunningham Ave. on upper Broadway would transform the Broadway corridor as much as the Pearl did. South bound traffic could stay on Broadway and north bound traffic could be transferred to Alamo street up to Cunningham Ave where Alamo already leans over a block and ends on Broadway. This would provide room for nice width protected bike lanes and expanded sidewalks for restaurant and cafe tables as well as trees and landscaping, creating a really nice ‘paseo’ along Broadway. This vibe that starts at the Pearl could be extended all the way to the heart of downtown. It would establish the much desired connectivity I have heard about. Also, I believe this would be exponentionally less expensive than the ‘half fixes’ that are proposed.

  11. Build the continuous bike lanes and they will come! The reason there are so few bikes is because it’s so dangerous without bike lanes or respect for bikes on the part of motorists. I live Northeast and would bike downtown and all over the city if I could and there are plenty like me.

  12. “Incomplete Street: Planners Put Vehicles First, People Second in Lower Broadway Plan” What a stupid headline! As if people are not in the vehicles. No matter how much you people would like to believe San Antonio is actually Portland, Oregon, it’s not – and it’s always going to be oppressively hot in San Antonio (and I hate to tell you but global warming has nothing to do with it) and not that many people are going to ride their bikes to work. The plan before us uses the resources and space we have in the best and safest way possible to meet the needs of the most users – it’s that simple.

  13. Good commentary Robert. Not only do we need the bike lanes for those of us that want to cycle up or down Broadway, but with scooters banned from sidewalks July 1 they could use the dedicated bike lanes instead of the full street. We still have drivers in San Antonio that do not know that bicycles and scooters have the right to the traffic lane the same as cars. I saw a car blowing their horn continuously at three scooter riders going down Houston Street.

  14. Couldn’t agree more Bob!

    Why is San Antonio so far behind? The city wants to attract millennials and tech companies, yet we are seriously still debating whether or not a major thoroughfare should get bike lanes?!?

    Look at other major cities across the globe. I’m talking innovative cities. Bike lanes are a major component to a happy, healthy and thriving population.

  15. I have written more columns than I care to count over the last decade on the urban core’s lack of integrated bike lanes and the City’s long-neglected 2011 Bicycle Master Plan, which falsely claims San Antonio has 210 miles of bike lanes. San Antonio might have that many miles of fading white stripes painted on roadways, but it isn’t a city with 210 miles of bike lanes.
    Half of the 210 are the Greenway Trails and they are still adding to them, as Salado from John James to Jack White is supposed to get Started in Oct from what I am told and will take a little more than a year to complete.

  16. Why can’t the secondary roads have bike lanes? Space is a massive issue. The problem is that while a lot of the money comes from the bonds, there is a lot contributed by taxes collected on vehicle usage (petrol tax, registration).

  17. As an urban planner that has spent their entire career working on commercial district revitalization, working with communities across the country, neither plan will revitalize the Broadway corridor. The “complete streets” movement is akin to building pedestrian malls in the 60’s as a solution to all that ails downtown. If you want to revitalize Broadway you need to work on business development and recruitment, marketing and promotion and urban design and planning which includes transportation and land use management. Most of all there needs to be daily management of this corridor to see that plans are being implemented and assisting and the stakeholders. This management needs to be on going and not considered a project, just like shopping centers have professional management.

    Right now this effort is being kicked off with a transportation and public improvements project with three basic users groups that need a balanced approach for motorists, bikes (scooters) and pedestrians. The planners I believe have it right. But I would also consider this to be the inaugural effort to get bikes lanes in downtown. As a bicyclist that bikes between 60 and 100 miles a week, much of it in this corridor I would go with the Avenue B alignment.

    The upper part of Broadway is full of suburban land uses where it will be necessary for those businesses that have parking to have their customers cross the bike lanes. Lower Broadway doesn’t have the curb cuts but the street width isn’t as wide as upper Broadway. Thus the conundrum to accommodate cyclists, motorist, pedestrians and mass transit all on a street that isn’t wide to do all of these.

    Currently you have a pretty safe biking corridor from the Witte to Josephine in Avenue B. One that I bike with my daughters. I wouldn’t do this myself with a protected bike lane on Broadway. There’s a way to continue to do this via Ave B and go under the expressway and continue to tie into Avenue B south of I 35.

    Get one corridor completed and lets use the heck out of it so that someday in the future we need to talk about expanding the bike options in this corridor. Maybe we’ll have two bike routes.

    • To me, the logical solution is to make sure that Ave. B (and/or North Alamo) remain safe and bike-friendly. That may require enforcement and more street lamps, but not the millions (and long-tern disruption) for a total re-configuaration of Broadway.

      We regularly bike from Southtown, past the Tobin Center, and from there ride Ave. B all the way to the Witte Museum. It is safe, smooth, pleasant, low-and-slow traffic, low-stress, and we enjoy the peace and green of the golf course. There is that one detour (at Newell) that adds a whole minute to our trip from downtown to Brackenridge Park.

      As long as B is safe and pleasant, I don’t want to bike on Broadway. I don’t wear spandex, don’t bike with the large groups and don’t really feel the need to be seen, so I’m ambivalent about the Broadway project. I will, however, be quite upset if development along B makes it less safe or pleasant for biking.

      It is interesting, however, to see all the reasons people come up with as to why they absolutely have to cycle on Broadway, and can’t do it on B.

      • Couldn’t agree more with you. I’m an avid cyclist and riding on Broadway now or even in the future if there were bikes lanes is like play roulette with your life. I find riding on Avenue B and N. Alamo to be quite pleasant and low risk.

  18. I agree Bob! We need bold vision for Broadway. TCI needs to get back to there drawing tables and design a complete Street with Protected bike lanes!! The cycling community is not done in this fight. We need leadership in this matter and I hope Mayor Nirenberg is in this fight with us.

  19. People argue that space on Broadway is the main issue, and I agree. So in that case we should be increasing infrastructure for the most cost efficient mode of transit, the bike. Alongside this, putting the convenience of parking over the safety of other vulnerable users of the road is selfish. Catering to the car is a waste of space and tax-payer dollars and the city should focus on making other modes of transit more viable as younger generations move back into the city and density increases.

  20. Several times in this article it’s mentioned the city puts vehicles first, people second. Does the author not consider the operators of the vehicles people?

    • If you haven’t figured it out yet the Rivard Report is biased and pushes whatever the Mayor is selling on any giving day.

    • Richard
      Municipal policies over the decades have left whole neighborhoods without sidewalks and safe streets (none that you or I have lived in), and made urban avenues exclusively for vehicles at the expense of cyclists and pedestrians. When cyclists use the streets , legally as is their right, they do not impair vehicle use, but that’s not the case when it comes to designing streets that are exclusively for vehicles (and their drivers) and thus made unsafe for anyone attempting mobility by any other means.

      You will never have a problem in San Antonio driving in your vehicle. There is zero threat to your way of life or mode of transportation. Why not open up to others who wish to travel by other means?

      –RR

  21. There are several north-south blocks west of the Alamo where traffic moves slower than pedestrians. It is silly to allow cars in every area downtown, and to have the horses drawing carriages in the lane with vehicles.

  22. The vast majority of pedestrian and bicycle commuter traffic uses Ave B over Broadway for good reason. It’s smoother, nearly traffic-free, quicker, more peaceful, and safer. Alamo street has similar qualities, or will again once the construction is complete. Optimizing Broadway for vehicle traffic and protecting the functioning default pedestrian and bike paths on each side of Broadway seems to make a lot of sense.

  23. CITY OF SAN ANTONIO ISSUES BOND DEBT TO INSTALL BIKE LANES, THEN TURNS AROUND AND WIPES OUT THOSE SAME BIKE LANES TO GRANT PRIVATE BUSINESS STREET PARKING TO DEVELOPERS. SEE CORNER OF BROADWAY AND THIRD. THOSE APARTMENTS HAVE STREET PARKING ON BROADWAY (WHICH MADE THE BIKE LANES DISAPPEAR PARTIALLY) AND STREET PARKING ON THIRD. BESIDES WHEN SPECTRUM VEHICLES OR OTHER COMMERCIAL VEHICLES PARK THERE, THEY ALSO PLACE ORANGE CONES (‘FOR SAFETY’) AND THAT PRETTY MUCH BLOCKS THE MOST RIGHT HAND SIDE LANE FROM SOUTH TO NORTH FOR VEHICULAR TRAFFIC. VEHICULAR TRAFFIC IS FORCED TO TRANSIT IN A SINGLE LANE. SAME SITUATION AT APARTMENTS AT BROADWAY AND GRAYSON.

  24. Great article! Harry Wurzbach is a great example of where we could have a nice wide bike and pedestrian path that is not connected to the roadway! From 410 to Ft Sam, it is an eyesore of a street with gravel washed out medians and overgrown shoulders 100 feet wide! Resurface Harry Wurzbach, plant palm trees or something along the center median, and put a nice wide bike and pedestrian path (bonus for connecting it to the lateral park system which it comes close to in a couple of spots). They could even probably get HEB, Lowe’s, Discount Tire and other major retailers along Harry Wurzbach to at least clear the brush beside their businesses, remove the discarded shopping carts and trash, etc!

    • Excellent idea! Harry Wurzbach is one ugly stretch of traffic congestion and noise. A nice promenade and bike lane would enhance this entire area and could easily connect to the lateral park system.
      The commercial businesses definitely need to clean up trash and debris for everyone along this route; such an eyesore in San Antonio.

  25. What I find most surprising in this discussion is that so few people appear to understand that there is ALREADY a safe and bike-friendly parallel route 30 yards away: Ave. B (and/or North Alamo). It sounds like even the people in charge of the project are not very familiar with the area. If any of them have actually cycled the route themselves, I doubt any of them have bothered to check one block away for alternate routes.

    The priority should be to make sure B remains safe and bike-friendly, and for the city to officially designate and mark B as an official bike route with clear signage. Paint stripes, add some street lamps, and enforce compliance (parking on the bike lane, etc.).

    If spending millions for months of disruption are what people want, then let’s have protected bike lanes on corridors without nearby parallel alternate routes like N. St. Mary’s, San Pedro, South Flores, etc.

  26. Thanks Robert for the astute commentary. I hope the staid auto culture folks absorb at least some of it. It’s a bit like taking action on climate change, though. Since they’re about to make significant investment, it has permanency and sends us backwards yet again, making us a second rate city and, sadly, deserving of Austin’s mockery of us as “Keep San Antonio Lame.” Once again, we’re behind and flatfooted as we face the future.

  27. Bob, you bring up valid points in support of a bike-centric design for lower Broadway, not surprising given your passion for cycling. However, being actively involved in the Broadway conceptual design process, I disagree that there was a push or desire for a vehicle-centric design for Broadway.

    Talented people representing varied interests tackled the challenge of how to balance multiple uses within a limited space. I liken it to the experience my family just went through in downsizing to a smaller dwelling. As much as I wanted to take 3,ooo square feet of stuff and fit it into a 1,500 square foot box, it wasn’t going to happen. So compromise took place and Goodwill became the beneficiary

    In the case of lower Broadway, compromise was needed. There many design iterations, including those showing dedicated bike/scooter lanes. But those options came at the expense of the pedestrian experience, which I argue should be the first mode of transit for lower Broadway.

    And this brings me to a second point of disagreement…what the future of lower Broadway looks like. As you accurately noted, the Broadway of today is not pedestrian friendly. There is not enough “there there” to make people want to stroll from place to place. But in 25 years (your timeline) the lower Broadway corridor will be a vibrant neighborhood of residences, retail, commercial and public paces. A neighborhood to stroll through, even in the heat of summer.

    In that vision, the pedestrian experience will be the most ideal and probably the safest. Bikes and scooters will have to twist and turn a bit more to get from point A to B, but will have much better, safer paths than what exist today. And drivers in vehicles will have to slow down and wait longer at intersections. They will by far be the most inconvenienced. Isn’t that the point? Let’s give them the chance to look out their windows and see how Broadway changed while they were zooming past. They may decide to bike or walk the next time. We can hope!

    • Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the lower Broadway cross -section include four travel lanes? The idea that four travel lanes and 44+ feet of ROW make great pedestrian spaces is just foolish. Further, the thought that even more ROW is still better for walking is yet more foolishness. If that were the case, then north San Pedro, Southwest Military, the 410 access road and all those other miserable arterials would be tourist attractions. The central thesis of this article is correct. The design team ensured there were four travel lanes first, then divvied up the remaining space for the mythical walkers and cyclists who love the cozy environment of suburban-serving arterials.

  28. There are 50 or so comments posted on this column, as well as the usual in-box email messages sent to me by people who believe sending their comments privately somehow merits a more individual or direct response. What readers will find in this batch of comments and those posted to my other columns on urban transit options is this: Those defending the status quo sidestep issues that make them uncomfortable. They never address climate change; deteriorating air quality in San Antonio and its attendant health problems; or the rapid rise in adult and adolescent obesity and Type II diabetes hastened by a lack of walking and exercise.

    For too many naysayers, it’s all about their individual right to get from Point A to Point B on their terms. There is nothing about the greater good or adapting to allow a diverse urban population to choose its own mobility options without risking lives.

    Streets are not just about moving traffic. They are where community forms and exists, and where we can come together if those streets become more than just vehicle arteries. So many other cities recognize this. Is San Antonio doomed to never rise to that level? –RR

    • Bob, I disagree that those that defend the status quo never address climate change…
      That said, I agree with you about vehicle congestion downtown. When I stay downtown I dislike walking due to traffic even though I am on a sidewalk. It is an anxiety ridden journey to go from point a to b.
      Here are my suggestions: 1. Consider banning vehicle traffic in the “center” of downtown with the exception of smaller surrey type vans operated by VIA for people who can’t or do not want to walk. 2. Eliminate the large, rarely one quarter full, VIA buses polluting and jamming movement downtown. Replace with Trolley or surrey type vehicles operated by VIA. A vision of a traffic free downtown square of city blocks is inviting and I think would make downtown visiting and living more enjoyable.

  29. Hooray for the call to bury the powerlines along Broadway as part of the revisions. Not only do the poles interrupt sidewalks, but the entire mid-air infrastructure is incredibly ugly. Above ground lines are also much more vulnerable to storm damage and power outages, as demonstrated by our most recent sever storm.

    I have been told by TCI that there is no money to bury the lines in the budget. Perhaps partnerships with CPS and solicitation of funding from other sources could be employed to bury the powerlines along Broadway at the same time that streets and sidewalks will be under construction. Hell, I’d even contribute to a Go Fund Me campaign to make this happen.

    I agree with the writer that the plan as currently proposed is not the best we could do, especially as it caters to automobile traffic as the primary mode of transportation. Further, Broadway will remain an ugly street until the powerlines are buried.

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