Reading off the eight names of the cyclists killed on Austin roads since their last meeting, James Lentz said the mood at the Bicycle Advisory Council meeting felt noticeably more frustrated than normal on
“There’s not really any reason why people need to die just trying to get where they need to go,” said Lentz, council member and civil engineering senior. “It’s almost like that should be a given, but it’s not.”
The bicycle council, an advisory voice to Austin City Council, called on the University and Capital Metro to enact rapid changes to the stretch of San Jacinto Boulevard between Dean Keeton Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Proposed changes include elimination of private vehicle access to the corridor and protected bicycle lanes, which separate cyclists from buses.
The committee’s recommendations come weeks after a cyclist was killed on San Jacinto Boulevard, colliding with a CapMetro bus on Jan. 28.
As a temporary solution, the committee recommended the immediate elimination of angled parking spaces and addition of temporary bike and scooter lanes until a permanent solution is implemented.
The council asked the University to send a representative to the meeting to answer questions about the 2013 Campus Master Plan. Director of sustainability James Walker agreed to attend the meeting and answer questions about the plan.
“We’re constantly in a state of planning, so I think this will be more input,” Walker said. “We don’t have a timeline right now for planned changes on San Jacinto, but their input certainly adds.”
The 2013 Campus Master Plan calls for limits on vehicular traffic on the San Jacinto corridor while adding bike paths and a light rail. There is no timeline for these changes.
“The real obstacle is … finding the drive to make these things happen,” Lentz said. “Obviously, the hope here is that by passing a resolution, the (council) could help pressure the University to respond in a timely manner …. Whether they actually do is anybody’s guess.”
Student Government passed a resolution the same evening pledging to help the Campus Bike Alliance, which Lentz is president of, by facilitating meetings with Campus Planning on establishing an official timeline for changes.
Ben Solder, neuroscience senior and SG speaker of the assembly, said riding down San Jacinto Boulevard can be nerve-wracking.
“You have to be constantly looking over your shoulder,” Solder said. “Sometimes the cars that are in angled parking back out pretty suddenly and might be hidden around another car. You definitely ought to take additional precautions when biking down San Jac just because the way that the parking is set up.”
Solder sponsored the resolution passed by SG last night.
Walker said the University is waiting for police investigation of the Jan. 28 accident to be completed before announcing any action or timeline.
Lentz said it was heartening to see the cycling community come together on the damp evening.
“It’s terrible it has to be something like this to get attention paid,” Lentz said. “I hope that the University takes their responsibility to the community seriously, and they recognize their role in this and their role in preventing future deaths of students or otherwise.”