Author of Blog: Daniel Day

Monday, December 1, 2014

Green Lanes Aren't Enough

I've been hearing the news recently that W Commerce St out by OLLU are going to get some green painted bike lanes.(Image 28-1)  As these bike lanes are outside my map on where to live without a car, they should get the needed respect from distracting motorist, but don't count on it when you have to go around a Via bus stopped at a bus stop. (Image 28-2)  It's hard to find some data for green lanes and the only one I've found was a study in Florida a few years back.

It has been my experience that motorist do respect the green lanes more than just the white paint although the ones in Austin that I have rode in are at least 6ft wide. The problem with these lanes will not be solved by putting some green paint down, what needs to be done, is that these lanes need to wider.  Around 24th St, they're not even wide enough to be bike lanes at all.  For safe reliable bike lanes, they need to be 6ft wide, maybe 5, but these are barely 4ft which don't allow you enough room to get out of the way when a car passes. The reason why people are getting hurt using these lanes is simply because they're simply not wide enough which doesn't even provide room to maneuver out of the way of hazards that you might encounter while riding in these lanes.  Cars pass you with in 2ft as you ride in this lane, so I'm sorry to say, if you want to fix these lanes, you'll have to remove that center turn lane and put that space to the bike lane with green paint, then the bicycle lane will work properly.  

I'll give Shirley Gonzales credit for trying for she is basically the only one towards an alternative transportation future, unlike Ron Nirenberg or Diego Bernal, who claim they are but are all full of talk and lack of actions just like regular politicians.  So I say this with the rest of San Antonio Bicycling Community, thank you very much Shirley Gonzales for your hard work and may you please stay in office forever, at least one side of town will be bicycle friendly after you leave office. Although if you can, please try to change some laws, maybe some of these mistakes could be avoided in the first place.  Also the city needs to adopt NATCO standards and get rid of the law Sec. 19-66. Conformity with state manual, which forces us to use AASHTO standards, the reason why we have unsafe bicycle lanes in the first place all around San Antonio.  Keep San Antonio Lame.

Now when I first heard about the green bicycle lanes, I thought It was going to happen on the one way sections of W Commerce and Buena Vista, but for the foreseeable future, they're going to stay the same. (Image 28-3)  Now the following cross sections that I've posted (Images 28-3, 28-5, 28-7) are facing east.  I did all these measurements at the corner of W Commerce and Nueces nearby the Bazan Library.  Now the Sidewalk length isn't the same the entire stretch of W Commerce and Buena Vista, the roadway surface is.
In some of news stories I've heard, they mention Jose Carlos Macy death, but if anyone who's familiar with the circumstances of his death, will realize that is wasn't because of a stray motorist not paying attention, it was because two people were racing their cars down W Commerce, and second the tragedy was at the HEB by Zarzamora, not NW 24th St near OLLU.  Now I wrote about the tragedy that took place back in May, but I got something wrong about the size of the drive lanes which are not 14ft wide, but are actually 12ft wide. (Image 28-3)  Just by looking at the width of these lanes makes you think they're very wide and the way they manufacture cars today, it way to easy to exceed the speed limit. 
Personally, I don't ride in this bicycle lane because every time I'm crossing a major stroad like Zarzamora or Colorado, I almost get in a accident by drivers making left turns in front of me traditionally called "right hooks" which you can see the example of what almost happens to me when I ride in the left hand bike lane in the video above.  Also, it is ingrain into our society that slower traffic stays right, so somebody driving a car is more likely to expect a slow moving cyclist on the right hand side. Another thing, is the fact that these lanes don't provide much room and on any given day, you'll see someone parked in it. (Image 28-4)

Now if we're really interested in solving the problems with W Commerce and Buena Vista which is a current place where people reporting of car races, then the solution isn't painting the lane green but reducing the drive lanes to 11ft wide and putting the bicycle lane on the other side of the stroad.  Lets keep this bicycle lane on the left hand side, but instead of going with the direction of traffic, it goes against the direction of traffic.  Make this lane 6ft wide and use the two feet that we get by reducing the drive lanes by putting in a concrete median.  By doing this, anybody who has a grand ideal of using Buena Vista or W Commerce as a race way, they're in for a big surprise for when they're racing, they'll end up hitting the curb and damaging their car and hopefully, not the people who happen to be riding home on a bicycle. (Image 28-5)
One of the reasons that the bicycle lane got put on the left hand side was because Via complained about not having a place for their buses to stop.(Image 28-6)  Well, for all those who are worried about where are the buses going to stop, well here's the solution (Image 28-7) and it's nothing new for those who are frequent readers of this blog will know that the solution is a bus stop island just like the one in Austin on Guadalupe, just like the ones in the Netherlands
But don't count on this solution being built any time soon or in the foreseeable future.  You will never see this on the west side because our political leaders care nothing for the loss of life except for the person proposing the green lanes, Shirley Gonzales.  Also Via is looking at this particular Corridor for it's future light rail system which because the cars are simply more important, it will use up space for a protected bicycle lane, instead of the cars.  It is a sad fact of reality that San Antonio doesn't want a safer street, but a dangerous stroad.  The day that San Antonio sees W Commerce And Buena Vista just like the cross sections I posted is the day that pigs fly.  Keep San Antonio Lame. 

Speaking about recreation trails, there's an important petition going on right now to give people a choice in getting round town outside loop 410.  It is a petition to allow use of the Howard Peak Linear Creekways after dark.  As a person who constantly broke this law to get safely home after the buses stopped running, I can attest that the worse thing I came in contact with wasn't an ax murder, but a big ass spider with the entire web blocking the trail right underneath the Houston St Bridge by the AT&T Center.  I doubt that our city leaders will give into this because they're more serious about making sure cars have big dangerous numerous lanes instead of bike lanes, like Diego Bernal who spoke that a 1,000 miles of bike lanes where coming but when they repaved the stroads in his district, they failed to put them in or Ron Nirenberg who wants to plan for them and then leave the plan collecting dust.  I'm still going to sign it and I'm going to be publishing this petition after every story until we get a new city council in May.  I wish I wasn't right but I know for a fact that our mayor and city council will ignore this petition while people like me just go out an brake the law because I rather get a ticket, then show up on the morning news about another cyclist got hit or killed on the many stroads San Antonio.

27-1: main image for petition.

27-2:  The Spider Web I encountered around 3:30 AM back in July at the foot of the Houston St Bridge on Salado Creek Linear Creekway.

28-1:  W Commerce St of the bike lane next to the Valero to an entrance to OLLU looking west.
28-2:  A Via Bus stopped at the bus stop at the corner of 24th St and W Commerce showing how the buses have to invade the lane to make a stop.

28-3: A cross section of W Commerce at Nueces looking east on how it looks currently.
28-4: A picture of a car parked off the street and a car partially parked in the bike lane at Cibolo St on W Commerce looking West.
28-5:  A Cross Section of W Commerce at Nueces looking East if the bike lanes were put on either side while reducing the driving lanes.

28-6:  A Via Bus stopped at the bus stop across the stroad from the Bazan Library looking East. 
28-7:  A Cross Section of W Commerce at Nueces looking East if they had built a bus stop island. 

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