Report finds citizens in favor of funding bicycle master plan

Lauren Florence

Six percent of central city residents use their bikes to get to work, but a majority of locals support fully funding Austin’s updated 2014 Bicycle Master Plan, according to a report from MobilityATX. 

MobilityATX, an online discussion platform, released a report in early October of the most popular mobility ideas and solutions that citizens had suggested through the website. 

“As Austin rapidly evolves, we must continually innovate new approaches to engage Austinites in the discussions that shape City policy,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in the report. “Given the participation in the MobilityATX initiative, it’s clear Austinites are anxious to contribute their ideas for transforming mobility, and how it impacts our commutes, our economy, and our lives.”

The report gathered information over a three-month period to accumulate the ideas that were most upvoted by users. Of the 4,119 upvotes on the site, the report analyzed 1,143 votes from the 10 most popular ideas proposed by citizens.

The City of Austin created the first Bicycle Master Plan in 2009 and has since spent $20.7 million on bicycle and trail funding, expanding the city’s bike network by 210 miles, according to the report. The plan was updated and revised in 2014 and now outlines 247 additional miles of facilities which would cost an additional $151.7 million.

“As mentioned in the [Bicycle Master] plan itself, the amount of cars which would be taken off the road by fully funding the plan would be equal to the capacity served by the new lanes on MoPac,” the report read. 

The revised 2014 Bicycle Master Plan also surveyed the public and found Lamar Boulevard was the road with the most requests for improved on-street bicycle facilities such as protected lanes. According to the plan, less than 20 percent of Austin bike riders feel safe riding in unprotected bicycle lanes, while about 55 percent of riders will travel using protected bicycle lanes — such as the bike lanes along Guadalupe Street next to campus.

Physics junior Eduardo Priego said Guadalupe Street and Rio Grande Street are areas he would want to see bicycle network facilities implemented, since the protected bike lanes don’t extend down the entirety of both streets.

“I know that Guadalupe already has a really nice bike lane — the only problem is that we see cars go really fast there, and it’s always really crowded,” Priego said. “I don’t know if they could protect it more — I know the right side is very protected and has cement [medians] already, but the [other] side is not as much.”

Austinite Raina Koller said she doesn’t have any problems using the bike lanes on Guadalupe Street to get to campus, but the bike facilities on Lamar Boulevard could be improved.

“I wish there was a bike lane on Lamar because I live close to Lamar,” Koller said. “That’s the main one that comes to mind because that’s a pretty direct shot for me to go either north or south from where I live.”

To fully build the planned network of urban trails and on-street bike facilities outlined in the 2014 plan, the City Council will need to pass a $150 million bond, to be approved by voters.

Correction: A quote in the original article was misattributed to a report from MobilityATX. This quote has been removed.