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Opposition to Nueces Street Bike Boulevard bring up same misleading concerns at UTC meeting

Posted Feb 11 2010 3:18pm

Critics of bike blvd make factually incorrect statements in calling for delay or removal of bike boulevard. Plus an update on the free swim policy at Barton Springs Pool.

Tuesday nightthe City of Austin Urban Transportation Commission met to review the current progress on plans to create Austin’s first bicycle boulevard on Nueces Street. A group of property owners who oppose the project spoke in addition to members of the cycling community who spoke in support of concept. No new points of opposition were brought up but several previously mentioned points werepoints that have been addressed as factually incorrect yet are still being spouted by this group.

Included in the criticisms were:

  • parking will be removed (false)
  • automotive traffic will be prohibited (false)
  • street access to current properties will be removed (false)
  • emergency vehicle times will be impaired (technically true BUT fire and EMS consider these delays negligible for response time)
  • we don’t have the money (falsevoter approved bond money is already set aside for this project)
  • the bike boulevard will hurt businesses and property values will decrease (unproven PLUS all Austin and national data on traffic calming say the opposite.)

Although each of these issues have been addressed and correctedthe property owners are continuing to use these misleading statements to call for a delay or removal of the project from Nueces Street. What is most disconcerting is that two of the city selected property owner representatives for a committee to draft a compromise planScott Sayers and Susan Harrisused some of these discredited points in their presentations. How can we expect a good faith solution from the stakeholder committee if members are continuing to make these statements in public?

Earlier this weekwe saw a conspiracy theory floated against the cycling community by a business owner. He claimed we are all organizing through our blogs to ride more on Nueces Street to improve the traffic counts in a traffic study that is being done right now. Unfortunatelyit was pointed out that the days and time of the traffic counts were unannounced to protect the integrity of the data. AlsoI have not see a single cycling blog in this city suggest trying to skew numbers. Possibly are the bicycle counts higher than the opposition wants? Heyif you don’t like the resultsjust make things upright?

As I predicted earlier once Rio Grande was put into serious considerationproperty owners on that street express similarly irrational NIMBYism. Indeeda couple Rio Grande owners spoke at the UTC in opposition. We heard lots of people say how much they support cycling just as long as nothing is done to impede as much automotive traffic as possible. This seems truly patronizing and disingenuous. I believe you cannot create facilities that will encourage new cyclists to ride without a trade off in automotive traffic volume and speed.

The fact that the opposition is making wild accusations and repeating false statements does not bode well for finding a good faith compromise that will create a true bicycle boulevard and making these owners happy. I do not think the cycling community has much room to move here except to come out in strong support of a bike boulevard plan such as the League of Bicycling Voters proposal. The LOBV has an online petition supporting this plan you can sign online here.

City staff recommend ending 9:00 PM free swim at Barton Springs Pool

At Wednesday night’s Parks Commission meetingthere was a hearing to consider removing the 9- 10 PM nightly free swim at Barton Springs Pool to charging the $3 entrance fee charged during regular hours. The free swim at the pool has become very popular with large social bike rides causing a sharp increase in the number of people using the pool. This measure is seen as a way to offset staff costs and possibly reduce the numbers. Public input is being taken until February 25th. Anyone who wants to chime in with comments can contact the aquatics office at aquaticsoffice@ci.austin.tx.us.

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