Keep Austin Moving: Austinites for Downtown Mobility

KeepAustinMoving.org is a group of Austinites opposed to the city’s attempt to reduce vehicle capacity on Nueces or any other commercial street downtown.

Recently the City of Austin passed the Bicycle Master Plan Update in an effort to attain Gold-level status for bike friendliness.  The cost of this plan is over $254 million dollars.

$254 million dollars at a time when businesses are struggling to stay open and citizens are tightening their wallets just to pay the bills.

$254 million dollars when the city is cutting services and turning out the lights.

$254 million dollars for the less than 2% of people who commute by bicycle.

While there may be parts of the plan that are well received, there are many others that are not acceptable.  One of the most notable portions of this plan is the proposed Nueces Bicycle Boulevard.  This ‘Boulevard’ has received a lot of attention recently only because the stakeholders along Nueces just recently found out that their completely commercial road is going to be put on a ‘road diet.’  This diet is intended to take up to 70% of the traffic off of Nueces and divert it to other streets.  A few things to consider about this plan:

  • No notice was ever given to the stakeholders along Nueces until after the Master Plan had passed and implementation was to start.
  • No economic impact study has been done, nor is the City going to do one, to see if there would be an adverse effect to businesses along these roads.
  • No property value studies were done to see if this would impact resale values, considering this may likely be the next large redevelopment in downtown.
  • The City did not do a traffic count in the area before passing the plan and one was not done until the stakeholders demanded it.
  • There is an average of 2 bicycle accidents a year on Nueces.  The cyclists there already get along just fine with the cars.
  • The City was so shortsighted that it never even considered the emergency services or the Travis County Courthouse and sally port that are located on Nueces when passing the plan.
  • There is no plan to make it mandatory for bicyclists to use this boulevard if it is built.  Chances are, all the traffic diverted from Nueces will still get in the middle of the cyclists on the other roads in the area.  It only makes sense that the cyclists would coast south on Rio Grande and ride north on Nueces.

Though the bicycle groups have a loud voice at City Hall, what they are saying just does not make sense.  They have used things such as ending childhood obesity and curbing air pollution as reasons why the businesses along Nueces should accept this plan without concern.  They are pointing to the traffic analysis and claiming that it will do nothing to affect vehicular traffic.  If this is the result, then why do we need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to do nothing?

The City has its priorities wrong, and spending $350,000.00 to build a bicycle boulevard, complete with an entrance arch and bike art, to do nothing to the traffic is completely ridiculous.