AUSTIN, TX, February 18, 2010 – Austinites For Downtown Mobility, an affiliation of business and property owners in the western sector of Downtown Austin, released its website today to voice concerns over the City of Austin’s plans to convert Nueces Street, or possibly Rio Grande, into a Bicycle Boulevard.
The website, keepaustinmoving.org, hosts information about the issue and provides a petition for those opposed to the concept to sign.
In June 2009 the Austin City Council adopted the 2009 Austin Bicycle Plan Update, which is now an ordinance being implemented by City Staff. A component of the Bicycle Plan includes the conversion of Nueces Street into a Bicycle Boulevard. The concept of a Bicycle Boulevard is to calm and reduce traffic to create a streetscape where cyclists have priority on and unrestricted use of the road.
The City did not provide notice to Nueces Street property owners of its plans to change the function and carrying capacity of the street before adopting the Bicycle Plan in June of last year. The stakeholders were subsequently invited to a public meeting in December to participate in a City exercise to plan the look and design of the Bicycle Boulevard.
“This element of the Plan was not properly vetted by the City. They never spoke to the businesses or asked the property owners along Nueces Street how such a drastic conversion might affect them,” said Monica Thomason of eLawSoftware, a business located on Nueces. “Investments we’ve made in our companies, employees and property have been entirely disregarded. As a result, we’ve organized to voice our concerns and shine some light on what we believe is Bad Public Policy. Reducing mobility anywhere in this vibrant sector of downtown will marginalize our businesses, decrease property values and have a negative effect on future redevelopment opportunities.”
KeepAustinMoving.org emphasizes that its efforts are about maintaining mobility in downtown Austin, not about getting cyclists off the road. At a time when 95% of commuting traffic is done in a motor vehicle and the community is demanding mobility solutions to Austin’s congestion, it is both counter-intuitive and counter-productive to be reducing roadway carrying capacity to prioritize cyclists, which make up an estimated 2-3% of commuters.