#ivotebikesa

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

#ivotebike?

It's that time of year again, then the terrible ads saying how this guy is screwing us over comes over the airwaves and barrage telling us who to vote for.  But unlike elections past, I don't own a TV.  (Ahhhhh!)  And like elections past, I really don't see anybody out there supporting a more bicycle future.  We don't live in Austin, we don't live in Oregon, where the people and the people running for office are actually running on a platform of more transit, more bicycles, more pedestrians and less cars.  No, in San Antonio, it's just another useless election voting for the same people for the same policies and all of them at some level or another saying that they're against Toll Roads. 

Currently 83 miles up I-35, Austin is having their city council election right now.  Bikeaustin.org is currently asking people to pledge to vote for bicycle and Pedestrians friendly candidates.  Judging from what I've been hearing lately there, the City council regularly votes 11-0 or 10-1 on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and laws.  Meanwhile in San Antonio, S Flores is back to the speeding stroad it use to be. 

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Closer to home, District 2 elections are taking place right now to fill the spot that Ivy Taylor left as she took the reigns of mayor.  I spoken to all the candidates except one (Keith Toney) and asked them all if they would have voted for the removal of the S Flores Bicycle lanes.  All of them replied back to me as, "that was dumb" to "hell no."  I didn't ask this to Keith Toney and the reason why I didn't ask him is because he currently the Council Member for district 2 voted by the city council. Because of this, I wanted to ask him if  he knew of any thing about what I heard about the city giving bicycle racks to the council members a year ago or two.  He replied back saying he knew nothing of it.  I also asked him about putting bicycle lanes down Hackberry and told him that one of the reasons why they didn't get put down was because of the Churches along the way wanted to be able to park.  I send him an image (Image 25-1) that is above of a sign allow people to park in the bicycle lane during church hours and he ask me if this was okay and replied that this was okay.  So if any of you are registered to vote in District 2, I really have  know answer for you on who to vote for here, but all we can hope for is that these candidates don't repeat history.



At the end of the ballot, you'll come across State Proposition 1, a vote to move money recently received by the oil and Gas industry fracking their way in the Eagle Ford Shale and use that revenue to build and maintain roads.  TXDOT recently held hearing on removing dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.  Because of this, it is most likely I will not be voting for this prop.  Then again if I don't vote yes, chances are, that money will be gone entirely so damn if you do, damn if  you don't.  

Personally for me, I really don't see any local candidate that would push for the necessary change of rules that need to be changed for better infrastructure, but instead just make useless plans, plans that will not be followed and just collect dust.  I really have nothing to say about who to vote for except for the governors race.  Gregg Abbott is in a wheelchair and I personally don't trust anybody in a wheelchair that opposes great sidewalks or rules like the Safe Passing Bill.  

Images:
25-1:  Somewhere on the Eastside of Austin, there's this sign allowing church goers to park in the bike lane during church hours.  If someone has the location of this sign, please tell me. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Problems with Plans to Nowhere


At the last BMAC Bike Night meeting on October 6, I learned about several projects that wish to get priority funding like connecting the South and North Salado Creek Trails together through Fort Sam, the connections of the San Antonio Mission Reach to the Media River Trail, Via's sidewalk projects for bus stops and this one in particular caught my attention which was a Cycletrack down Floyd Curl Dr in the Medical Center which is #2 on the list. (Image 24-1)
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http://www.alamoareampo.org/TAP/index.html

Out of all the projects, this one is the most expensive and for one I can say, yes, it is needed down a Stroad like Floyd Curl Dr.  From what was explained to me, It would either by a one or two way protected bicycle lane like the ones you see in the Netherlands (Video below) from Huebner to Louis Pasteur.  It the most expensive of all  the projects which states it at $5.8 million.  And it's located in a place that I feel for certain will embrace the path built.  But here's my problem?  Why isn't it on Huebner, Babcock, Medical Dr, Wurzbach or Fredericksburg Rd?

It's a good question after all Huebner is a 7 lane stroad with cars that constantly speed above 50 mph; why isn't there a plan to put one there.  The Same with Babcock, a 7 lane stroad, but this one is sorta special, it goes towards town, it has an HEB, Via's Medical Center Transit Center and residential neighborhoods along it. But no, it's going here on Floyd Curl out of the way every ones way serving only about 3 or 4 hospitals and doctor offices that for the most part, the patients of these places are incapable of riding a bicycle. 

It's the same thing I wrote about in June 11 posting "San Antonio Don't Deserve Bronze," for what I stated is that for the most part, City of San Antonio considers cycling a recreational activity and fail understand that bicycling can serve everyday people shopping, paying bills, working, connecting people homes to their jobs and businesses that they go to.  When the protected bicycle lane along Floyd Curl is build, you'll still be more likely to drive your car to the HEB on Babcock, then to go there by bicycle, as is you'll still be more likely to drive to the restaurants along Fredericksburg or Wurzbach.  What it will connect is a park at the corner of Sid Katz Dr to the hospitals along Floyd Curl. 

I want to see stuff like this happening in San Antonio, but here's my beef, I want it down the stroads that are needing protection first, that connect everyday people with the ability to choose a bicycle over a car in going to the grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses along the way.  Putting bicycle infrastructure down side streets and not the main stroads sorta reminds me of separate water fountains that we learn about in school that were around for Jim Crow because lets face it, you're pretty much considered a second class citizen when you are force to live without a car in San Antonio.  Lets face it, I'm not the only one noticing the bias towards automobiles when it comes to transportation improvements.

So when I filled this MPO Pick your projects online survey, (Image 24-1) I picked three projects that I believe that is beneficial to the future of San Antonio and yes, I have every right to be criticized for picking a project that for the most part is recreational.  They are the Salado Creek connection through Fort Sam (#3), a path I've constantly used after dark breaking the law using the trail for commutting.  The other project is Via's MyLink Pedestrian Transit Plan, to build sidewalks on Fredericksburg, US 281 and Roosevelt for the purpose of providing some type of ADA accessibility between the bus stop and the near by businesses (#10).  I also picked the Safe Routes to Schools: School and Transit Pedestrian Infruxtructure Improvements (#4)  I hope that as they build these projects, they'll consider installing protected bicycle infrastructure along, but chances are, it ain't going to happen because cars are simply more important than a person choosing to help create an Ozone action day. 

I want to encourage everyone to visit this website and pick your own projects (Image 24-1) and you'll have to make sure that all the  projects you pick are under $11 million dollars.  Everyone has until October 24, 5PM to do this online survey, so please get to it. 

I have other issues such as #7 McCullough Corridor Improvements in which they're not providing any bicycle lanes along the project.  After all, that space is needed for cars to make a faster left turn and not a protection of a human being on a bicycle keeping the air clean.  Hope the other projects I pick do the same thing. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Where 2 Live in SA W/O a CAR


A few years ago, I designed a map on where you should live in San Antonio if you want to live without a car and this is what I came up with. (Image 23-1)
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How I came up with the map.

Back in 2008, a friend of mine asked to be a sub director of a group on meetup.com because I knew of a lot of independent place on the south side.  While a member of this group, someone told me that the to some people, they consider everything south of Hildebrand the South side.  Personally I considered this in insult, but no matter, it gave me more independent places to choose from.  As I met more people from the far north side, it became more evident on the disconnect I personally had.  There was this one vegan lady who drove a smart car, and a big supporter of PETA.  She claimed that she was being an environmentalist by not eating meat, and driving a "smart car, but  she lived over the "Environmental sensitiveness" Edwards Aquifer Recharge zone not realizing that her dog poop was ending up in our drinking water.  It's funny, I don't live over the recharge zone or produce any greenhouse gas while riding my bicycle, but she does through her internal combustion engine.  This made me realize that you should be living inside the loop (Loop 410) if you wanted to live without a car.  My short experience with her and her companions made me realize that there was a lack of culture that San Antonio is famous for out side loop 410

The more I thought about it, loop 410 was pretty large, and even then before I reached the loop, I got harassed more and more on my bicycle, like telling me to get on a non existent sidewalk or even better, telling me what I was doing was illegal for which if they ever read their drivers manual issued by DPS, it will tell you , I'm pretty much a car under the law. During that time I came to the realization that if you happen to live in a grid street area, your more able to find an alternative safer route to ride your bicycle on. It was around this time, that I realized where I got on the bus, and where I got off the bus to ride my bicycle, and then it became clear.  I would first choose a bus when I was south of Southcross, or north of Hildebrand before I decided to get on my bicycle and ride it.  By early 2010, the map came together after I realized that with in the drawn area, you can find more than one bus to get to downtown on, and thus, it formed into what you see today.  It was then I realized that if you live south of Hildebrand, north of Southcross, east of Cupples, and west of  Walters, you could comfortably live without a car in San Antonio.

Exception on the map:

Now there are some areas that are inside my little square that I really don't recommend living in like River Road, Roosevelt and Southcross area, and the neighborhood between Hackberry and I-37. Outside my little map, Government Hill, South San, and Mahncke Park just to name a few.

River Road by default of TxDOT and USDOT, decided to cut off a beautiful neighborhood with the building of US 281.  It's pretty much a gated suburban community and although it is close to downtown, I don't recommend it because the Albertsons grocery store has been replaced with a YMCA and during any given day, your nearest bus stop is either on St Mary's or Broadway. 

Again, this area of Southcross Blvd and Roosevelt Ave is an area where even though industry is nearby, there a lack of safe bicycle facilities and even though the Mission Reach is in this area, I don't include it because much of it is in a flood zone. 

Mahncke Park and Government Hill is also an area I recommend that you avoid simply because that if your unable to find a place close to Broadway, you'll be leaning to owning a car sooner rather than later.  This is due to much of the area being without frequent bus service.  Although parts of Government Hill East of N Pine is has the 20 serving it, I took it off of the area simply because the 20 is more of a cross town bus than a downtown bus and downtown buses go to the places where you can connect with the most buses.  

Relations to Bicycle Culture.

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If your ever on your bicycle, you'll notice more bicyclist with in my square rather than outside of it and even better, more Frankenbikes inside my square than outside my map.  Yet there's virtually no bike lane to speak of. Now that's "sort of" changing of course, but so far what I'm seeing is trying to avoid the inevitable of putting down where they are needed the most and most of all, taking out a vehicle lane for a protected bicycle lane also known as a cycletrack.  And what I'm seeing get put  in lacks certain paint and signage to make it work. 

After talking with a naysayer of the S Flores bike lane and reading a story on little plastic thing that Starbucks gives out to some customers who are driving made me realize, we're focusing on the wrong places to put down bicycle lanes and Cycletracks.  Yes, they're needed at those places, but lets face it, if they're put in and around the Downtown area, they'll serve more of a use than ever being put on Culebra outside loop 410 or even worse, down a street that don't need it.  Since the city of San Antonio isn't serious about bicycling, but about driving, enjoy getting stuck behind a stinking car.  (Image 23-2)  It does make me wonder if there's an element high up with in the local political pyramid that don't want a role for the bicycle other than recreation.

Images:
23-1:  My map of where you should live without a car.  If you want to make one of your own, I recommend that you use yahoo maps instead of Google.  Make sure you put down that these are walking directions and they are...http://yhoo.it/1F7QFuy
Hildebrand at Broadway
Club Dr at Wilson Blvd
Cupples Rd at Brady Blvd
Brady Blvd at S Zarzamora
S Zarzamora at W Southcross
E Southcross at Gevers St
Gevers St at Walters
Walters at Sherman St
Sherman St at N Pine
N Pine at Josephine
Josephine at N Alamo
N Alamo at Broadway
Broadway at Hildebrand.

23-2:  A Family stuck behind traffic on Houston St at Presa looking East back in October 2012.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Another Useless Bicycle Lane

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As I continue to write this blog, I constantly show how the City of San Antonio and it's political leaders aren't interested in providing anything in the way of transportation improvements unless it has at least 4 wheels, an internal combustion engine and helps keeps the myth going that global warming is a conspiracy. 

Back in April, I wrote the post Useless Bicycle lane, showing how three bicycle lanes in the city are completely useless in providing actual protection.  They were S Main Ave, S Pine St, and Elmendorf St on the west side.  Since my publishing of that story several things have changed and I can add two new ones to that list which are Village Parkway on the Far West Side, and Diana on the East Side. 

I think a lot of you are asking what constitutes a Useless bicycle lane, and this is how I come to figure out that conclusion.  The first thing I go by the Dutch principal which you can see below this paragraph in this video explaining when and where you put one and a quote of Jeremy of the Critical transit blog Transit Tip #14 which states: "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". When the Dutch put down a bicycle lane (and they do just like us Americans) or a cycletrack, they put them where they are needed, like places where cars go faster than 30 KM per hour. For us Americans, that roughly 20 Miles per hour.  There's a reason why nearly all school zones are 20 miles per hour, because that is the safest, fastest speed possible to prevent collisions and reduce harm when collisions occur.  The Dutch put those 20 mph zone not just in school zones, but down residential streets.  You also see 25 MPH in the neighborhoods of Terrell Hills and Alamo Heights, which makes me think they sort of get it.  

The  Improvements

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Back in July, S Main Ave (Image 22-2) got a new paint job, and this time taking into account of the parking occurring on the street.  Before, they had a bicycle lane with parked cars, (Image 22-1) now there's a bicycle lane, a parking lane, and smaller drive lanes.  It's not perfect, but it's better than the last time.  I call these type of lanes, Double Edge Swords for you have a space to ride, but when a parked car and a vehicle is passing you, you have no escape route.  So if your ever riding down S Main or any other street with this type of paint job, simply ride in the parking lane when there are no parked cars and treat it like a buffered bicycle lane that is currently popping up all over Austin. Take it from me, you'll feel better in doing so, and safer. 

Elemndorf out by Woodlawn Lake also got a small improvement, that of a 25 MPH sign and as I was riding down it, I notice that most of the cars were following it too.  The bicycle lane with parked cars in it is still there, but the wasted paint it's fading day by day. 

New Useless Lanes

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Village Parkway on the far west side off of Culebra Rd is one of these useless bicycle lanes. (Image 22-3) With cars not just parked in it, but it is down a residential street where cars should be traveling at 20 mph instead of the 30 mph posted. To add a touch of stupidity to this useless lane, the neckdown at the corner of Cross Springs and Village Parkway (Image 22-4) was poorly built. You would think that if the city of San Antonio is going to build a traffic calming device, they would do it right in the first place and actually calm (slow) cars, but no, they did not.  You see the ideal of having these neckdowns is to slow vehicles while making right turns. 
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Now I wouldn't be complaining about the neckdown along with the bicycle lane, (Image 22-4) but since they build it with rainwater runoff being more important than having adequate protection of the cyclist.  Common sense should have told the idiot who designed it that cyclist and cars don't mix and should have had a 5ft opening through the neckdown. Or better yet, realize that the bicycle lane is useless in the first place and build the neckdown out to the place where you see the outer stripe of the bike lane, but no, they had to reroute the bike lane around it bring it into close contact with impatient drivers. The good news about all of this is the bicycle lane on Culebra and although I think removing the right traffic lane and putting down a protected cycletrack would be better, it's better than nothing. 
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Diana on the East side has one of these useless bicycle lanes. (Image 22-5)  It's a very wide street and does nothing for safety of the pedestrians or cyclist.  It does however provide a small space for people walking along the east side of the street because the city felt that not having a sidewalk would help people not fall into the ditch that runs along side Diana.  There's barely enough traffic along this street to really warrant the width of the street or the bicycle lane there except when the school is ending or starting the day. This bicycle lane doesn't need to be on Diana, but should have been placed on Rigsby where the fast moving traffic on that stroad should have a least a bicycle lane or better yet, a protected cycletrack

The solutions that I come up are something that the city cannot do because that would slow down cars, and we just can't do that.  One of these solutions is changing the law that forces the CMI people to use AASHTO standards which are great for long distance interstates instead of the NATCO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) standards that were developed for urban areas and looking in there to determine how wide the street needs to be because this road surface needs to be narrowed with wide sidewalks along both sides with planted Pecan trees between the sidewalk and the street. This would do wonders for the property values and provide shade along the street along with 25 mile per hour signs would also do good.  Maybe a parking lane along the elementary school and the city park would also be good instead of a useless bicycle lane. 

Now there are others that I've been considering to be useless such as SW 19th St, Timberhill, Rittiman, and even Semlinger Rd, but I'm not yet to declare these useless because traffic volume is just enough to consider their need, but what's the point, after all people consider this space to better use by parked cars than a space for a cyclist to be.  Keep San Antonio Lame. 

Images:
22-1: A picture of S Main Ave looking north back in April, 2014
22-2: A picture of S Main Ave looking north back in August, 2014
22-3: A picture of Village Parkway looking west
22-4: A picture of the neckdown at Cross Springs and Village parkway looking east.
22-5: A picture of Diana looking north.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

San Antonio Barely Makes the List

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Every two years, Bicycling Magazine creates this list of the 50 top bicycle friendly cities in America published in Oct 2014. We're down to #48 (Image 21-1) from #47 back in July 2012 (Image 21-2).  83 Miles north of us, is the Weird city of Austin, and they're also on the list at #11 from #13 back in 2012 (Image 21-3).  Another blogger recently wrote about this in Fit In S.A. saying quote: "The completion of the Mission Reach is one of the reasons San Antonio made it onto the list." That's the only reason why we're even on the list folks because of a "recreational trail" and with B-cycle serving it.

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Don't get me wrong I love the Mission trail, but unlike back in 2012, Bicycling Magazine also mentioned the bicycling community quote: "An emerging cycling-friendly vibe fueled by 1,700 miles bike network of lanes, paths, and sharrows."  What the hell happened, oh, that's right, the City council voted for the removal of such a system with only one member, Shirley Gonzales voting to keep it.  Also happened was that Boneshakers got it's property cut off by the San Antonio River Authority, and they went out of business at their river location and their Hays Street Bridge location. Cars still park in the cities only cycletrack on Avenue A, and to top it all off, the city don't give a damn about cars parked in your bicycle lane.

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But I don't think it is because of our expanding B-cycle or a completed recreational trail that we made the list, in my own opinion I believe it is the fact that San Antonio has a rich bicycle culture.  It is you the people who come out to Frankenbike, Downtown Highlife Bicycle Club Ride , the Zombie ride, and all the other rides in San Antonio.  It's bicycle groups like The Wild Dawgs, the Street Ratz and many many more.  It's those who get on their bicycle or as I like to say "put the fun between your legs," and ride everywhere just because.  You see it every First Friday with people just riding down S Alamo and going to the bicycling friendly places like Alamo Street Eats, and other bicycle friendly places like the Bottom Bracket Social Club.

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It's funny as I look back at our position of #47 and see an echo of it through the Tweet of Diego Bernal of District 1 claiming how San Antonio is planning to 1,700 miles of bike lane (Image 21-4).  Just like Ron Nirenberg saying how we need a plan to improve transportation in San Antonio, it goes to show you how useless it is to have a plan if your not willing to follow through. 

Recently, Several Stroads where recently repaved in District 1 near downtown.  Here on Colorado St, they finish repaving it and repainting it (Image 21-6).  According to the Bicycle Master Plan, Colorado St from I-10 to Caesar Chavez (Image 21-5) has a plan for a road diet similar to what was done to S Flores. But as you can see in my recent photo of the place it has the same configuration that makes a stroad a stroad.  Hey Mr Bernal, where's the bike lane that you promised? (Image 21-4) 
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21-6

But lets face the reality here, San Antonio is too stuck behind the wheel of a car to ever envision a Netherlands network of bike paths and Cycletracks or ever have light rail transit.  Although the city is constructing a cycletrack in front the Henry B Gonzales Convention Center along I-37, chances are it won't be used like the city ever intended because there's no signs, sharrows, or painted green like you would see on a similar path in Austin (Image 21-7).  If things don't start changing, we will not be on the Bicycle Magazine list come 2016 while I'm betting that Austin will be comfortably in one of those top ten positions because they're committed to building more bus stop islands like this one on Guadalupe St (Image 21-7).  Keep Austin Weird, Keep San Antonio Lame.
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Images:
21-1:  A picture of the Bicycle Magazine October 2014 rating of San Antonio, TX as #48 of one the top 50 Bicycle  Friendly Cities in the USA.
21-2:  A picture of the Bicycle Magazine July 2012 rating of San Antonio, TX as #47 of one the top 50 Bicycle  Friendly Cities in the USA.
21-3:  A picture of the Bicycle Magazine October 2014 rating of Austin, TX  as #11 of one the top 50 Bicycle  Friendly Cities in the USA.
21-4: A Screenshot of my Facebook Re-posting of Diego Bernal's FB posting of how San Antonio has 1,700 miles of bile lanes planned and my friends response to his comment.
21-5: A Screenshot of page 28 of the Bicycle Network PDF of the Bicycle Master Plan.
21-6:  Colorado St Looking North one block north of Martin St.
21-7:  The Bus Stop Island on the Guadalupe St Cycletrack in Austin, TX.