City Vetted Bicycle Boulevard Plan With Cyclists First

in Nueces Bike Blvd

City Vetted Bicycle Boulevard Plan With Cyclists First

Austin ChronicleThe following article is dated Monday April 5, 2010 and, as stated by Rob D’Amico himself, the city vetted the project with his group before releasing it to the public. Mr. D’Amico also states that they have been involved in ‘negotiations’ all along. It is clear from this interview done before the plan has even been released that the cyclists have been afforded way more information than the business owners and other stakeholders.

The Austin Chronicle
Bike Boulevard: Dead or Great?
Lee Nichols, Mon April 5, 5:40pm

Tomorrow around 5pm, the city’s Public Works Department is scheduled to announce its recommendation on the proposed Nueces Street Bike Boulevard Project. But one person involved in the project’s negotiations may have killed the suspense: Rob D’Amico of the League of Bicycling Voters says the project is essentially dead.

But the city’s bicycle program coordinator, Annick Beaudet, strongly rejects D’Amico’s characterization and defends what she says will be a great project.

“Tomorrow there’s a staff recommendation coming out on what used to be the Bike Boulevard Project,” D’Amico ruefully told Newsdesk about an hour ago. “First they removed ‘Nueces’ from the name, and now they’ve removed ‘bike.’

“They’ve essentially abandoned the bike boulevard project and they’re going to come out with a staff recommendation that overall is pathetic, but has some good things, too,” D’Amico said.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” countered Beaudet. “This staff recommendation is responsive to stakeholder input while still creating an amazing bicycle boulevard, an amazing bicycle facility, to preserve and enhance bicycle mobility. … I am so proud of this recommendation.”

According to D’Amico, most of the traffic calming devices contemplated in the project will be installed on Rio Grande Street instead of Nueces, which Beaudet confirmed. Rio Grande was raised both by some cyclists and bike boulevard opponents as a better option than Nueces, but Nueces was the first choice of city staff and the Rio Grande option was vociferously opposed by LOBV.

As for his preferred Nueces, D’Amico said the staff recommendation will only add colored bike lanes from MLK Boulevard to 13th Street, “sharrows” (lanes that cars and bikes must share) from 13th to Seventh, and then more bike lanes from Seventh to Third.

Beaudet said “enhanced” bike lanes would be a better description, with coloring as a possible means of the enhancement. She also noted that in tomorrow’s press release, the city will highlight receiving an “international engineering award” for its sharrows.

“We’ve been negotiating with them all along and saying this is not acceptable,” D’Amico said. “They vetted it with us and the reaction was not positive. I haven’t met anyone in my circle that likes the idea.”

“I told [Beaudet] … ‘You’re essentially caving in to the argument that we need to preserve auto capacity for development and redevelopment, and by moving to Rio Grande and giving nothing significant on Nueces.’

“They’re coming out with language tomorrow that says, while Nueces was identified as a bike priority street and a bike boulevard, new dynamics looking at redevelopment in the future with Seaholm and all that would not make it compatible, that level of traffic volume would not make it compatible with a bike boulevard, which we disagree with, even without [traffic] diverters, which are not as dead as you might think.’”

Beaudet confirmed that language, but viewed it as a positive, not “caving.” (Many business owners along Nueces, while expressing support for bicycle mobility, worried that discouraging auto traffic would also discourage economic activity and redevelopment.)

“We started with a concept, and we went through this process, and we came out the other end with a better project,” Beaudet said. “I stand behind it.

“We’ve done our job as a bike program to provide good bicycle facilities in this area and we’ve also done our job as planners to serve the public interest in listening to all the other stakeholder issues and concerns and other things going on in that area related to development, related to economic growth, related to a lot of things,” Beaudet said.

“I hate to use this analogy, but there’s a lot of spokes in this wheel,” she added. “What I ask everybody, whatever side you’re on, that you read our report.

“With all due respect, I asked Mr. D’Amico to please reserve any comment until he read the full report, because what it does is it takes all of the issues and things we had to balance and puts them in context to each other.”

We’ll update here and in the print edition after the plan is released to the public.

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