Updated 04/07/2010 06:59 AM
City of Austin releases 'bike boulevard' recommendations
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A new bike boulevard plan proposed by the City of Austin includes changes for Rio Grande and Nueces streets, but not to the extent originally thought.
City officials released their recommendations
The recommendations include street resurfacing and shared-lane pavement markings on 4th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and a new hike and bike bridge over Shoal Creek on 4th and Rio Grande streets.
On Nueces Street, from 3rd Street up to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, proposed changes include enhanced bicycle lanes and modifying on-street parking to one side of the street only from 13th Street to MLK Boulevard.
The League of Bicycling Voters called the recommendations a "watered down" version of a "bike boulevard."
"For a long time, Nueces has been recognized as a bike route," the league's Executive Director Tom Wald said. "That's primarily based on what routes bicyclists happen to use. It's a side street. It has a gentle grade. Those are very important."
He said the idea is to get more people on bikes, and Rio Grande is a more difficult commute for a new bicyclist. Wald said the new plan won't keep enough cars off of Nueces to encourage more cyclists.
"We had hoped to see something that would still allow motor vehicle access to every single location and destination on the street, but not be so easy for people to cut through to use as a alternative to Mopac or Lamar," he said.
The league’s plan would not shut out cars completely, but instead install a variety of different speed bumps to slow traffic down on the street.
Business owners, who opposed the original plan, aren't necessarily on board with the new one, because of parking. They say losing parking means losing business.
"Where are my clients going to park?" Nueces property owner William Mange said.
Mange said parking in front of his law firm is already limited and he worries about what could happen if that situation gets worse.
"Well, then my business fails, my law firm fails. I'm no longer able to support my wife and daughter," he said. "The people who rent from me, they will stop renting from me."
Even without the traffic calming devices on Nueces that were originally discussed, he doesn't see this plan as a step in the right direction.
"I think that instead of making a bad plan for Nueces Street or Rio Grande, they're making a bad plan for both Nueces Street and Rio Grande," he said.
The recommendations require approval from city boards and commissions before they can be implemented.
According to the city, the project could cost approximately $670,000, and would be funded through bond-specific funding.
Construction for Rio Grande recommendations could begin in the fall or winter of this year.
The Nueces Street recommendations from 7th to MLK, Jr. Blvd are to be installed during the final stages of an upcoming city water line project, projected for spring 2012, according to the city.