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Fall 2011 update on the Master Bicycle Plan

Posted Oct 04 2011 8:00am

Editor Note: The following is an update article from the City of Austin Bicycle and Pedestrian Program on the City of Austin’s Master Bicycle Plan. The plan was passed in 2009 with the goal of making Austin a world class cycling city by the end of the decade.

Goal 1 of the Bicycle Plan is to, “Increase citywide workforce commuter bicycle mode to 2% by 2015 and to 5% by 2020. and Increase central city workforce commuter bicycle mode to 8% by 2015 and to 10% by 2020.” According to the 2009 American Community Survey (US Census), within Austin’s Central City (the area roughly bound by Oltorf St., Pleasant Valley Rd., FM 2222, and MoPac ) 3.73% of the population uses the bicycle as a primary mode of transportation when commuting to work, and citywide, 1.14% of Austinites ride a bicycle to work.

What can you do to get our citywide number up by another 0.86% by 2015? We hope that some of our recent projects, proposals, and programs will encourage new and potential cyclists to bike to work on average three times per week. Read on for more details on what we’ve accomplished since June 2009.

BICYCLE NETWORK

The Bicycle Plan recommends almost 3,000 miles of bicycle facilities. Some of these facilities were in place when the Plan passed in 2009, and almost 1,000 miles are recommendations for neighboring jurisdictions. Given that starting point, to date, the City of Austin has installed over 140 miles of bicycle lanes, 50 miles of multiple-use paths, 420 miles of shared lanes, 560 miles of wide curb lanes and 290 miles of wide shoulders. Therefore, we are approximately half-way done with completing the bicycle network portion of the Bicycle Plan (to be complete by 2030).

The Bicycle Plan also speaks to restricting motor vehicle parking in all bicycle lanes by 2020. In 2009, there were 55 miles of bicycle lanes that permitted parking. Since then, the City has worked with neighbors, store owners, schools, religious institutions, and other stakeholders to restrict parking in 13 of the 55 miles, more than 23%.

EDUCATION

The Bicycle Plan strives to educate 1,000 bicycles and motorists annually through classes about bicycle and motorist safety. The City of Austin’s employee Defensive Driving Program, which includes bicycle specific information, reaches 1,330 motorists and cyclists each year. The City of Austin and the Austin Cycling Association have also partnered to provide Defensive Cycling as to cyclists that have received citations within City limits. These classes combined with Traffic Skills 101 educated almost 100 cyclists in 2010.

The City of Austin Bicycle Route Map serves as an educational tool in that it provides basic information about safety, riding techniques, bicycle shops, topography, and ideal bicycle routes. Objective 2.0 of the Bicycle Plan includes the goal of distributing at least 5,000 bicycle maps per year. In 2010, the Bicycle Program distributed almost 6,000 maps. However, with the new printing of the map, thus far, only eight months into this year, we have already distributed over 10,000 maps! This can be greatly attributed to the energy and vitality of staff (namely Pete Dahlberg and Katherine Zeringue) that have investigated alternative avenues for bike map distribution and really thought outside of the box for places to sell the map. Look for the Austin Bicycle Map at your local convenient store, car rental shop, or even your grocery aisle. If you have a suggested venue for distribution, let us know by e-mailing pwdbicycle@austintexas.gov.

SAFETY AND ENFORCEMENT

Objective 3.0 of the Bicycle Plan requires that APD be trained in bicycle laws and bicycle issues along with how to address motorist behavior and interaction with cyclists. As of March, 2011 all APD officers have taken the APD mandatory training for “Bicycle and Vehicle Laws as it pertains to the Austin Police Department.” This course was created with the review of the Bicycle Program staff.

IMPLEMENTATION AND FUNDING

Objective 4.1 of the Bicycle Plan speaks to applying for and receiving funding for implementation of the Plan. Staff is required to apply for funding opportunities for which we qualify, and we have successfully done so. Objective 4.1 also requires “at least $2-3 million per year in funding starting in FY 2009-2010 until the next Bicycle Plan update or until Plan is fully implemented.”

In 2009, the Bicycle Program was awarded two grants for a total of almost $1m in Federal funding. These grant funds will be used to construct bicycle facilities and to create a safety and encouragement campaign focused on middle and high-school aged children as well as potential bicycle commuters. In 2010 City of Austin voters approved almost $45m in bond funding for bicycle and pedestrian specific projects (including the Boardwalk at Lady Bird Lake, sidewalks, and other improvements). The remainder of the 2010 bond package also includes multiple roadway projects that also provide bicycle and sidewalk improvements that implement our Bicycle and Sidewalk Master Plans.

LOOKING AHEAD

This summer the Neighborhood Connectivity Division has applied for almost $9,000,000 in federal funding to construct and implement $11,400,000 in projects and programs through the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, CAMPO. A public hearing for this funding opportunity will be on Monday, September 26th. The following are the projects which we have applied for: A Bike Share Program for the Downtown Area, Phase I and II of the Mopac Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge over Barton Creek, and North Lamar Sidewalk Improvements.

CAMPO Funding Timeline

9/12/11 
6:00 PM- Presentation to CAMPO Transportation Policy Board, UT Thompson Conference Center

9/13/11 
6:30 PM- Community Meeting – Lockhart Glosserman Room, 308 W. San Antonio St., Lockhart

9/14/11 
6:30 PM- Community Meeting – San Marcos Activity Center, 501 E. Hopkins, San Marcos

9/20/11 
6:30 PM- Community Meeting – Georgetown Council Chambers, 101 E. 7th, Georgetown

9/21/11 
6:30 PM- Community Meeting – 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325, Austin

9/22/11 
6:30 PM- Community Meeting – Bastrop City Hall, 1311 Chestnut St., Bastrop

9/26/11 
6:00 PM- Public Hearing – UT Joe C. Thompson Conference Center, Dean Keeton and Red River, Rm. 3.102

9/28/11 
2:00 PM- CAMPO Technical Advisory Committee Recommends Projects for Funding

10/10/11 
6:00 PM- CAMPO Transportation Policy Board Consideration of Projects, UT Thompson Conference Center

Public Information and Comment Period – Began September 1st
. Scored project applications and fact sheets was distributed to the CAMPO Transportation Policy Board and posted on September 1st . That will start the public comment period and an online survey will be available at that time.

Questions about the Master Bicycle Plan or City of Austin bike facilities? Contact Nadia M. Barrera, Bicycle/Pedestrian Project Coordinator at 512.974.7142 or nadia.barrera@austintexas.gov .

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