Adam Rice

My life and the world around me

The not-Nueces not-Bike Boulevard

Dear City of Austin—

I think your heart actually is in the right place regarding bikes. You want to do right by bikes. But time and again, you’ve shown that when you apply bike facilities to existing infrastructure, the streetscape is such that the results are worse than no bike facilities at all. Beyond that, the fact that compromise apparently is valued not only as an end in itself, but as a higher goal than a good outcome (which is the nicest way I can say that you lack the courage of your convictions) means that good ideas get turned into bad ones. We saw this with Shoal Creek Boulevard, and now we’re seeing it with the Nueces Bike Boulevard.

The irony is that Nueces already feels like a de facto bike boulevard. It gets very little motor traffic and is a pleasant place to ride. When the project was first announced, I thought it was smart, a way to recognize and build on what already exists.

But the whole Shoal Creek Boulevard debacle taught us that the city prioritizes convenience for parked cars above bikes. I suppose the retreat from the original Nueces Bike Boulevard plan is slightly less appalling, in that it shows the city prioritizes convenience for moving cars above bikes. But it is still galling.

I don’t want to be that guy who complains without offering solutions. Here’s mine: Stop. Stop planning or announcing any bike facilities whatsoever. You just get our hopes up and then let us down.

2 Comments

  1. Adam, I went to all of the public meetings, and I want to say that parking was never an issue for the opposition. From the outset, the plan would have only elminated a few parking spots per block. Instead, the property owners claimed that making the street bicycle-priority would drive away customers. They felt that trading stop signs for traffic calming would make their places inaccessible to motorists.

  2. Chris—Right. Perhaps I was being unclear. With SCB, the city was prioritizing parked cars above cyclists. With NBB, the city is prioritizing moving cars above cyclists.

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