AUSTIN, TX, April 8, 2010 - By now everyone knows that the city has released its recommendations for the Nueces Bicycle Boulevard, now called the Downtown Bicycle Boulevard. The Tuesday release was the first chance any opponent to the plan got to review it. In contrast the proponents were briefed on the plan well before there was any outreach to the business owners along Nueces or Rio Grande.
There are two items that are most notable in the released plan. 1) The number of affected roads has doubled. One of our major concerns has always been the negative impact on the area if you divert traffic from one street to another. So in ‘compromise’ the city has decided to make traffic worse on two streets. 2) The cost has nearly doubled. We have always stated that the city needs to be more financially responsible, and now in ‘compromise’ they have increased the cost to over $600,000.00.
Since the release of the plan the League of Bicycling Voters (LOBV) has made some serious accusations to the media about the manner in which this debate has developed. Specifically they have accused those opposed to the plan of intimidation and harassment. They have stated that “Threats to a city official”, nasty letters, misinformation printed and spread throughout the area, and threat of lawsuits all have taken their toll.” These allegations are patently false and have no merit. There has been nothing put forth to back up these claims. It seems that they are upset because the business owners and stakeholders on Nueces and Rio Grande actually questioned their project and reasoning, and used their own numbers and statistics to interject some common sense to the process.
If there has been any negative behavior during this process it has come from the cyclists themselves. We have received hateful emails, personal attacks, and the sign vandalism has escalated to property damage. We have posted videos and pictures of some of the vandalism on our website keepaustimoving.org.
Now that the plan has been released we are in the process of reviewing the tools put forth and will reserve opinion until we are confident that what is being published is actually what will happen. The plan is very vague as to what traffic calming devices will be used. There is also concern that the Bicycle Master Plan states a benchmark as “Resolve parking in all bicycle lanes by 2020.” Since part of the Nueces/Rio Grande plan is to add bike lanes this is an issue that needs to be addressed. We will continue to attend the meetings to make sure that our concerns are heard and that we are fully educated on the process and plan as it moves forward.