April 14, 2010
The Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) supports city staff’s recommendation to enhance bicycle mobility on the Rio Grande and Nueces corridors. We recognize the challenges of balancing the passionate views of stakeholders on all sides of the issue and applaud the efforts of the Original Austin Neighborhood Association (OANA) leadership and city staff to find a compromise that will benefit downtown and the rest of Austin.
DANA recognizes the negative effects that reliance on motor vehicles has on our built environment, air quality, health, convenience, and sustainable economic prosperity. Accordingly, we support infrastructure that encourages other mobility options, including bicycles.
To make bicycle use a viable transportation mode, it must be safe, inviting, and pleasant for people of all ages. The staff proposal makes significant strides in this direction.
We believe the staff recommendation will improve bicycle mobility downtown by:
1. Reducing the number of stop signs along Rio Grande and Nueces, thereby reducing the amount of time and effort cyclists must expend to bike on the corridors.
2. Discouraging motor vehicle through-traffic by using traffic circles, speed cushions, and slower speed limits to increase motor vehicle travel times.
3. Placing dedicated (and some shared) bike lanes on portions of Nueces.
It is unclear what the net impact of the reduction of stop signs and the new traffic calming mechanisms will be on motor vehicle through-traffic. The removal of stop signs will tend to encourage through-traffic, but the new traffic calming mechanisms may more than offset this tendency. Going forward, we urge staff to monitor the through-traffic in the area and augment traffic calming if needed to discourage motor vehicle through-traffic. We also support any further enhancements to make Rio Grande and Nueces safe and inviting bike corridors.