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.
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
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.
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.
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.