Author of Blog: Daniel Day
New Post once a month.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Useless Bike Lanes

I never understood why we have bike lanes where we do.  When I see it, I wonder why do we need a bicycle lane there, after all, there's no traffic, there's no reason to have it here, but there it is.  I'm talking about the bicycle lanes that are down low traffic streets such as South Main Ave, and Pine St to name a few. 

I simply find it confusing because the traffic volume where the bicycle lane is make having a lane there not necessary.  And because there's no need for a bicycle lane, the people who live on these streets seem that it's okay to park in the bike lane. 


First up, South Main Ave from Caesar Chavez (formally Durango) to South Alamo. (Image 2.1)  Sit on a street corner such as Gunther or Arsenal, and count the number of cars going by per minute.  1 or 2 but you'll have to wait on average 5 minutes or so to see a car coming by.  The residence south of HEB and soon to be the future site of the HEB Grocery Store downtown simply don't care about the bicycle lane.  After all, as you pass by HEB corporate HQ, you'll see cones in the bike lane.(Image 2.2)  South of Arsenal, you'll see classic cars parked there, and I've always wonder, why we have these useless bike lanes.  A block away at S Flores St, you'll definitely see the need to put one in.(Image 2.3)
Second up, is Pine St on the city's Eastside.  The bicycle lanes goes from E Commerce St, which lacks a bicycle lane and needs a bicycle Lane to Steves Ave which could also use a bicycle lane/parking lane.  Again the question is asked, why is a bicycle lane even here when the traffic isn't.  As you can see, people who live along Pine clearly find it not to be a problem of conscious to park where there should be a bicycle. (Image 2.4)

The same with Elmendorf on the West side and other streets. When Google Maps went by, they took pictures of people putting out there garbage can in the bike lane not to be disrespectful, but to make sure it gets picked up and to keep the sidewalk clear.  (Image 2.5, 2.6)

If traffic flow is sufficient enough to require a bicycle lane, then maybe the city better slow down the traffic to 25 mph and add in infrastructure to physically slow down traffic like this speed hump with an island like this one in Austin.  (Image 2.7)

I've always wonder why we've put bicycle lanes down those type of streets and not on the other streets on where they need them like E Commerce, Hackberry, (Image 2.8) Steves Ave, S Flores, Caesar Chavez, and the number of other streets that force bicycles to go down the same lane as high speed heavy traffic uses.  It simply boggles the mind where the city of San Antonio puts them down. For me, there shouldn't be a bicycle lane here in the first place, there should be only a regular street and if the traffic is bad enough, speed humps should be installed.  After all, these streets are where there's residential housing with yards full of dogs, kids, barbeques and so on.  This is a great example on why we see signs all around that say "Keep San Antonio Lame" because our city leaders feel that it's okay to waste perfectly good tax payer money and put down bicycling infrastructure where it is simply not needed. 

Jeremy  from Critical Transit recently wrote about a blog about this called Transit Tip 14: Beware of Useless Bike Lanes and some of my advocate friends as well as I am guilty of this. 

"There’s a tendency among bike advocates to champion the delineation of a “bike space” even without any actual space being created. You know, “if there’s room for a bike lane” without changing anything else on the street."

Pine St from E Commerce to Westfall Ave, Pine St should have a series of Speed Humps with 25 MPH Signs.  As a matter of fact, our neighborhoods shouldn't be allowed to have vehicle speeds faster than 25 MPH.  If 20 MPH is good enough for a school zone, then it is good all the time where we raise our kids.  It should have neckdowns  (Video 2.1) at many of the intersections.  The street should look more like Grayson in front of the Pearl (Image 2.9) than a big and wide boulevard with a round about at the intersection of Porter, Aransas and Pine.  The Goal should be to slow down traffic, not create useless bike lanes.

The same should be done to S Main when HEB puts in its Grocery Store and Elmendorf on the Westside. 

Image 2.1: S Main Ave viewing North
Image 2.2: A Cone in the bike lane courtesy of HEB Security on S Main Ave viewing North.
Image 2.3: A Google Street view of S Flores St one block over from S Main viewing North.
Image 2.4: N Pine St viewing South.
Image 2.5: Truck parked in the bike lane on Elmendorf viewing South.
Image 2.6: N Elmendorf viewing south.
Image 2.7: A picture of a speed hump in Austin, Texas on an unidentified st. 
Image 2.8: A picture of the route 28 via bus on N Hackberry with two cyclist in the right lane viewing north.
Image 2.9: A Google Street View of Grayson St viewing East to illustrate the Neckdowns.

S.Flores St. Update:

From my friend George Longoria:  But to your point, Daniel, I agree that per my previous post on the subject, at this stage in the game, I’m afraid it’s all but a done deal. The proposed reroute moves the bike lanes over to Mission Road via Sayers and at that point, why even do that when you already have the Mission Trail? The end result will be another hodge-podge network of bike lanes that don’t efficiently go anywhere nor create any added value (read: impractical and underutilized like the Theo/Malone lanes and will eventually suffer the same fate).

Just remember, those who don't attend the meeting tonight and are able to are Keeping San Antonio Lame. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Introduction and South Flores Success

Image 1.1
For years, I've wanted to fix the lousy infrastructure that we build for bicycles and for that matter, everyone that doesn't own a car. A friend of mine said that I should start an activist group, but my time with Smart Transit SA, (a pro-transit group) told me that we're all to busy to maintain a group, and most of all, most people that are interested, wouldn't know what to ask for or how to explain what is wrong with the current built environment. This is similar to what Steve Jobs said about the iPod.  He said that before he invented the iPod, people wouldn't ask for an iPod, but would have asked for a better CD player.   This blog is dedicated to pointing out the flaws, the idiotic designs that we have to deal with on a daily basis as cyclist and pedestrians and going to explain what could be done better to fix the current infrastructure. So instead of asking for a better CD player, those of us who are willing to be the voice for cyclist and a better San Antonio can now ask for an better iPod.

Also as a side note, this blog will be also reporting on the bicycling culture that exist here in San Antonio, Texas from time to time.  For right now, I'll be posting a story every Saturday or Sunday, so you'll get a lot of content in the next few weeks.
Image 1.2

Sometimes the city does something good, but seem to screw up a small section just to make sure that cars can go faster.  So far, in my opinion, the best thing the city of San Antonio has done has put a bicycle lane down South Flores St from Nogalitos to SE Military Dr.  For once, the city have finally put down a bicycle lane where one needs to be.  They even put up no parking signs along the street always keeping the lane readily available to use.  (Image 1.1)
Image 1.3
Image 1.4

 Two problem exist on the existing lane.  Problem one is the placement of the Bicycle Lane Ends sign (image 1.3)  which is obscured by a tree.(Image 1.4)   It should be placed one block south at Clay St. 

Problem two is the intersection of Probandt and S Flores.  Instead of actually keeping the bicycle lanes there, they decided to take out the bike lanes and put in a right turn lane going northbound.  You'll see this riding in the bicycle lane southbound, you'll come to a line cutting the bike lane (Image 1.5) and making way for the driving lane.  I don't know why they couldn't put up an sign alerting cyclist and drivers alike allowing cyclist to merge, but this is San Antonio, Keep San Antonio Lame.  If you happen to encounter this while riding your bicycle, simply put out your left hand like your about to make a left turn and merge as safely as you can, put your bicycle in the center of the lane until the bike lane comes again on the other side and go back into your lane.(Image 1.6).
Image 1.5
Image 1.6

And now the problem becomes more clear as your coming northbound on Flores.  As you come along, your bicycle  lane gives way to a right turn lane. (Image 1.7, Image 1.8)  If the City of San Antonio had any sense, they would have took the time out and had the bicycle lane go through the turn lane like other cities have done when doing the same problem including Austin, Texas. (Image 1.9, Image 1.10) They did this so cars, not people, not cyclist would have a quick way to leave the neighborhood (rolls eyes).  Probandt is the only street on the southside that connects to US90/I-10 freeway, no naturally, they need to make sure every one driving can get out of the southside as fast as they can. If you encounter this while riding your bicycle, simply stay in the right turn lane and treat it as you would a regular bicycle lane.  Simply wait for the light to turn green and continue as nothing has changed.
Image 1.7

Image 1.8
Image 1.9

Image 1.10

Lets give credit where credit is due, the city of San Antonio actually put a bicycle lane where the the bicycle lane was needed (WHICH IS NOT LAME) and not on some side neighborhood street like South Main Ave where there's no problems with heavy traffic, (WHICH IS LAME) which my next blog, next week will be all about.  The best of all, they actually put in no parking signs which is a very good thing and keeps the lane clear.  The only sad thing is that because several business fail to see how better S Flores is, the city is now considering removing the lanes.(Image 1.11)  I hope people will come out and attend this meeting, but we cyclist are just to few and we don't have the time or the effort to get out and tell how good this is.  I don't live in the neighborhood and I work when the next meeting is taking place.  If we lose these lanes, it will be so Lame.  So Transportation & Capital Improvements, please get rid of the bike lanes so you guys can KEEP San Antonio LAME. 

If anybody want to sign a petition to keep the lanes, please visit this website.  http://www.biketexas.org/advocacy/petitions/south-flores-bike-lanes
Image 1.11

Captions of Images. 
Image 1.1: viewing northbound, one block north of Theo.
Image 1.2: a before and after image courtesy of BikeTexas.org   http://y1nadlvtjcaexjuo.zippykid.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Picture-4.png
Image 1.3: viewing northbound, at S Flores and Nogalitos after the tree that obscures the sign
Image 1.4: viewing northbound, at S Flores and Clay St where the End sign should be.
Image 1.5: viewing southbound, before S Flores and Probandt, where the bicycle lane ends and gives way to vehicle traffic
Image 1.6: viewing southbound, after S Flores and Probandt, where the bicycle lane begins again.
Image 1.7: viewing northbound, before S Floes And Probandt, where the bicycle lane gives way to a Right Turn Lane
Image 1.8: viewing northbound, at S Flores and Probandt, where the bicycle lane is non existent but a painted barrier.  A bicycle lane should have been painted here along with the extra paint.  
Image 1.9: An example of a Right Turn Lane and a painted bicycle lane merging.  Bend, OR.  Source:  http://nacto.org/wp-content/gallery/2012_combinedbikelaneturnlane/combinedbikelaneturnlane_bend-or.jpg
Image 1.10: An Example of a Right Turn Lane and a Bicycle lane merge together in Billings, MT Source:  http://nacto.org/wp-content/gallery/2012_combinedbikelaneturnlane/combined-bike-lane-turn-lane-billings-mt.jpg
Image 1.11:  The posting from the city of San Antonio Transporation & Capital Improvement about the meeting of the S Flores bike lanes and possible alternative routes.