Author of Blog: Daniel Day
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Tale of Two Protected Bike Lanes

I believe that you all have seen my meme (image 56-1) that I posted on social media showing the difference between Chicago bicycle signal light and San Antonio bicycle signal light. Now people will likely point out that is in Chicago, not Texas. Yes complete different states and cities and I completely agree. But what if I were to say that Houston bicycle signal light is also green while the motor vehicle green is also green?

I was recently had some time off in Houston, and while I was there I went to ride their famous protected bicycle lane on Lamar St. (Image 56-2) There I saw an original 12 ft motor vehicle lane turned into a protected bicycle lane. Now Houston stared construction of this protected bicycle back in February 2015.   It runs from Discovery Green to Sam Houston Park. Occasionally, I did see a car occupy the lane, but it immediately moved out of it. I also encountered a cab using the lane, but that cab driver also immediately vacated the lane after I blocked his path just like the stories from Brazil and Beijing.

If you want to know about San Antonio protected bicycle lanes, please click below to the post I wrote a while back.

Everything Wrong with The Convention Center Cycletrack

 The Latest Useless Bike Lane
When you put the two bicycle lanes side by side, (image 56.3) you notice many differences and not to San Antonio advantage. For one thing, the Lamar protected bicycle lane connects places and people use it. San Antonio on the other hand is placed out of the way so nobody is on it. Now that might change when more of Hemisfair gets opened up.  Also, the Lamar protected bicycle lane has its lanes marked out, San Antonio protected bicycle lane is less so. And the biggest thing of all, the bicycle signal light is timed so that it has a green signal for the bicycles, up to 10 seconds, with a red motor vehicle signal.(Image 56.4)

But here's the thing, comparing both bicycle lanes seems to me to be like comparing apples to oranges for the Lamar protected bicycle lane actually serves a function compared to San Antonio protected bicycle lanes which are basically "green smoke." If I were actually comparing apples to apples, I would be comparing a protected bicycle lane down Commerce or Market St to the Houston's Lamar St protected bicycle lane. Since we lack the political will to improve things I doubt that we'll ever see anything useful to improving the quality of life. Right now, we're focusing on useless ball park stadiums, complaining about useless sharrows and facing a growing city with a chance of getting federal funding cut off for transportation due to our bad air quality.

But before I go, there's some good news.  Apparently someone at TCI got the word about my meme and fixed one of the lights to where they are green when the car light is green.(Image 56.5)  However, it's for the set of lights parallel at E Commerce St.  Go check for yourself and never push the "beggars button."(Image 56.6)

56.1: The Meme I made that I posted on Twitter awhile back.  Check out @BikeSanAntonio's Tweet: https://twitter.com/BikeSanAntonio/status/722427338885980160?s=09

56.2: A bicycle commuter using the protected Bicycle lane on Lamar St in Houston, TX viewing west.

56.3: A side by side comparison showing the San Antonio Protected Bicycle Lane on the Left viewing South at Montana and Houston Protected Bicycle Lane on Lamar on the right viewing west.

56.4: Houston Protected Bicycle Lane showing how the Bicycle signal light is green up to 10 seconds before the motor vehicle signal light is green. Viewing West.

56.5: The current fix at Commerce and I-37 showing that the bicycle signal light is green along with the motor vehicle signal without pushing the beggars button to activate the bicycle signal.

56.6: a picture of the bicycle signal activation button that's at the corner of Market and I-37. In the field of pedestrian,  bicycle, and transit activists like myself, we refer to these buttons as "beggar buttobs"  because you have to essentially beg to cross the street or Stroad in safety.

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