By: Ben Wear, Austin American Statesman
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2010, 11:49 AM
The simmering dispute over turning Nueces Street or Rio Grande Street into a “bicycle boulevard” downtown has an official new player, Austinites for Downtown Mobility. The group is “circulating” an electronic petition on keepaustinmoving.org.
The formation of the group comes just before the City of Austin’s third and presumably final public forum on the boulevard concept. The forum will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Pease Elementary School. The city had said previously that the forum will include results from a traffic analysis of Nueces.
The idea of making Nueces something of a bicycle haven was included in a citywide bicycle master plan approved by the Austin City Council. However, that plan did not include details of what sort of changes might be made on Nueces to slow down or reduce traffic and thus make it more commodius for cyclists.
Business owners along Nueces, who says they were not notified last year before the council vote that such a change was in the works, have grown increasing restive over the past three months at what they say would hurt their businesses. In addition, property owners are concerned that cutting vehicle traffic and/or parking would lower their property values in the long term.
Cycling enthusiasts argue that having a bike boulevard could instead increase property values.
City officials, meanwhile, have guaranteed that southbound traffic will not be restricted, and say that a recommended set of changes won’t be unveiled until at least April. And they have offered Rio Grande, one block to the west, as an alternative. However, Rob D’Amico with the League of Bicycling Voters, which supports the boulevard concept, has said Rio Grande would not be an acceptable alternative because it is much hillier than Nueces.
This article can be found at the American Statesman: ‘Bike boulevard foes form opposition group’