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City Election 2017: Candidates Position on Cycling

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

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Everything Wrong with The Convention Center Cycletrack

Happy new year to everyone. As usual life gets in my way of writing, but I have settled on at least one story ever two weeks. Also as I finish writing this post, I would like to inform all of my readers of the lost to the local cycling community and a friend Matthew Ahern. He recently past away on Thursday due to a bad heart. He didn't so much helped to make the bicycling community as he worked to try to make San Antonio Real. I fell out of touch with him when he lost that house on Howard St in which he wanted to have as a urban farm.  San Antonio will miss you.

Also to keep this blog from being published, I got sick to the point that this screen was very hard to see and I was unable to walk around.  Bright screens hurt my eyes and since I've just recovered, It just now coming out.
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 Hey San Antonio, have you ever wanted a bicycle path like you heard about them having in Denmark or the Netherlands? Or what about the ones their building in Austin? Well have there is one right now along the frontage road of I-37 in front of the Convention Center.(Image 31-1).
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I notice the new cycletrack when I first saw the cut out in the concrete at the intersection of E Commerce and the southbound exit of I-37 back in 2013. (Image 31-2)  I normally see these cuts in sidewalks underneath freeway bridges for storm water drainage, but it's rare to see these things downtown and so big for that matter.  Now I was hoping that they would at least spread it out down E Commerce, but knowing the unofficial stance towards cycling, I knew it wouldn't happen.  I also knew that from the get go in 2013, that Transportation & Capital Improvements would have all the signals screwed up and bias towards everyone not in a car. Now don't get me wrong building this is having San Antonio move in the right direction, but it should have been built for people being the first priority, not the cars going by.  In my opinion, they build this to say we're doing something for cycling, now stop asking for improvements.  Everything I saw was built to make sure cars can go as fast as they possibly can and to have people feel inferior when you are on foot and bicycle.
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Now I'm going to point out everything both wrong and right with this new piece of infrastructure.  I'll be working my way from E Commerce to Cesar Chavez.  I will try to show as many picture as possible, but if any one wants to help me make a video on what is wrong, please contact me, via the links to the left of this page. 

Coming from E Commerce, just as you approach I-37, you'll start to see a shaded painted protected bicycle lane to your right.  As you come you enter the bicycle lane you'll come to a light crossing the southbound exit from I-37.  As you cross that exit, you come to a pole with a crosswalk button (they're actually called beggars buttons) that signals the bicycle light signal.  But you immediately see the problem with the button that suppose to activate the signal across Commerce on the other side of the pole out of reach because of a curb. (Image 31-3)  This is Failure one, why they didn't put on the side of the bike lane is beyond me.  What this action says to me, "is that I should be in a car, not on a bicycle."
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The next failure is that the bicycle light and the Crosswalk light isn't on at the same time and isn't on at the same time with green light for the cars.(Image 31-4) Another problem is that signal lights don't light up automatically when the green light is on for the cars going in the same direction as it is on at most downtown crosswalks.  Austin had it right when they put this sign up on the Lance Armstrong Bikeway for they didn't use any bicycle signals, they just used the regular crosswalk signal.  This light just happens to be on when the green light is on for the cars.(Image 31-5)


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Another problem are the large crowds during an Alamodome event.  Now the good news is that they don't head down towards Montana, at least most of them.  However, because there's lack of sinage, people walk along the path set up for the bicycles as well as the path set out for them.  Having some sinage down either painted on the path or put up telling people to stay right would help, not just on the path by the Institute of Texan Cultures, but would be great along the entire length.  Also having a orange stripe down the entire length of the path would help along with some Sharrows, a place where they would actually be useful. (Image 31-6, 31-7)
Again both at Market and Montana, the bicycle light isn't in sink with the motor vehicle light or the crosswalk light.  I'm expecting SAPD bike patrol to start handing out tickets to anyone running this red light.  All I can say to the person who timed these lights is thanks again for keeping San Antonio lame and for keeping the easier choice to use still be the polluting one.
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As the trail come to end end by the Institute of Texan Cultures, some signs have already been put up telling people and cyclist to keep to their perspective sides.  It would be nice for there to be two paths, but on the day I saw the crowds going to the Alamobowl, they simply avoided this part of the path.  I cannot say how it will be for Folklife. (Image 31-9)

Now the worse part of this entire construction and it makes me think that the person who designed it and signed off on it's construction cannot seem to use good common sense, i.e., an idiot.  It's not just a danger for people on foot, or on a bicycle coming off the path, but it is also a problem for future delivery 18 wheelers going to the New HEB that will be built at S Main and Caesar Chavez.  The HEB Warehouse is located at Loop 410 and Rittiman Rd.  From there any delivery truck will be heading south on I-35 and then to I-37 and be getting off at Caesar Chavez.  They will be turning in this terrible designed right turn lane tearing down the Do Not Enter Sign which has already been torn down by another vehicle, which I cannot determine if it was a car or a big commercial vehicle. (Image 31-10)
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As Any 18 wheeler using this turn lane, their trailer wheels will go over the sidewalk, and who know if it will hurt any people waiting to cross to the island.(Image 31-11) That waiting area to cross is so narrow and shouldn't have been built in the first place.  The way it should have been built was to have the sidewalk at least come out to where we have the island and no island be built, and from there be able to cross the stroad.  This is by far the biggest problem of the entire Cycletrack.  Now only will it cost a few million to rebuilt, I hate to say it but it will never get built until somebody gets killed walking or biking here.  That's the sad fact that if we were to make it safer, someone is going to have to die.  Chances are, they'll just make it safer for the cars speeding, not for anyone on foot or bike.  Also it would help if the people designing these things at least had to attend truck driver training class and obtain a Class A-CDL.  I think by having such experience, then we would see less terrible designs for both vehicles and people.  If your asking why was it built, so cars could turn faster.  As we have seen time and time again that faster speeds hurt people.  So if your ever walking by using this crosswalk.  Just remember, the car turning faster is more important than your safety on foot.  (Image 31-11)
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So lets see whats wrong.  One, lack of paint for keeping people to their proper sides.  Two, having the bicycle and pedestrian signals not in sink with the vehicle signals.  Three, having the beggars button for the bicycle signal, which in many cases is simply not needed hard to reach and push to activate it.  And finally, having the turn lane at Cesar Chavez.(Image 31-11)  If most of these things can be fixed, then that's great, but the thing that needs to be fixed the most is the most expensive problem and that's that right turn lane with that island at Cesar Chavez. 

Images:
31-1: Viewing North of the Convention Center Cycletrack just past the Institute of  Texan Cultures.
31-2: Viewing West at East Commerce and I-37 of the police cars parked in the bike lane.
31-3: Viewing West at E Commerce and I-37 showing the button on the other side of the curb of the bicycle lane.
31-4: Viewing South at E Commerce showing both the bicycle signal and the pedestrian signal not in sink with the vehicle signal in the same direction. 
31-5: Viewing East on the Lance Armstrong Bikeway in Austin at a digital sign telling motorist to yield to people in the crosswalk both on foot and bicycle.
31-6: Viewing South at Market where the bicycle signal is red and the pedestrian signal is counting down.
31-7: A group of people in the bicycle path approaching Montana where you see the pedestrian and bicycle signal in red while the vehicle is in green viewing south
31-8: A man in the Crosswalk crossing the Southbound I-37 Exit at E Commerce St showing how the bicycle signal is on while the crosswalk is off.
31-9: A sign asking people to share the path as it becomes one path at the Institute of Texas Cultures
31-10: A picture of the down Do Not Enter Sign and the Fast Turn lane at Cesar Chavez at I-37
31-11: A group of people wait to cross to the island at Cesar Chavez and  I-37