Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bike Lanes: Not Just for Bikes Anymore

By Daniel Mottola
The Austin Chronicle
Posted on News: September 19, 2008 at

Are bike lanes for bikes or parked cars? The League of Bicycling Voters, a local transportation cycling advocacy nonprofit, posed that fundamental question recently when it came time to retool a well-traveled stretch of Exposition Boulevard, a hilly north-south arterial road dotted with homes, churches, schools, and businesses, running from West 35th to Lake Austin Boulevard west of MoPac.

The stated policy of the city's bicycle program is to implement no-parking zones for bike lanes when streets are scheduled for maintenance and restriping – which is now the case between Westover and Windsor roads on Exposition. City staff's recommendation, however, includes allowing parking in bike lanes overnight beginning at 7pm on certain segments, at all times except two three-hour commuting windows on others, and on Sundays on one stretch to accommodate church parking.

The LOBV objected in a letter sent to City Council, reasoning that while churchgoers' needs may be reasonable, residential parking needs don't outweigh "the benefits of providing effective and safe travel for bicyclists on a key arterial roadway." Bicycle Program project manager Annick Beaudet says Exposition's heavily residential nature is indeed cause for compromise and that the recommendations are an improvement since no parking restrictions currently exist on that stretch. She added that similar restrictions were recently implemented on Chicon Street in East Austin with positive results.

On Tuesday, LOBV President Rob D'Amico said, "The idea of a bike lane is to promote safe bicycle travel at all times ... especially at night when riding is most dangerous." He said the group would reluctantly support the city's recommendations but left open a possible future push to ban parking on the entirety of Exposition, 37% of which is already designated for no parking, he noted.

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