City Election 2017: Candidates Position on Cycling

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Case for Free Bus Rides

As part of my City Election 2017: Candidates Position on Cycling I asked one question that stood out. Question 'I' is  the question about providing free bus rides to all citizens of San Antonio. It a question that I believe that we need to start answering for when it comes to the future of transportation options, well there's only one option for San Antonio and that's driving.

As I stated before in previous post, I said that we here in San Antonio consider driving a free thing to do. We attack the ideal of toll roads, we attack the ideal of getting rid of a vehicle lane to make room for a bicycle. We attack the very ideal of light rail, calling it a waste of money. Yet we never attack the fact we don't have money for roads, thatfreeways don't pay their way nor decrease the number of ozone action days we experience every year.  We call toll roads double taxation yet we never say riding the bus is double taxation. We paid for the bus service through a half cent sales tax and yet we are forced to pay to use the bus like paying to use a toll road. Let that sink in for a moment especially if you're anti toll road.

If you where to ask me 4 years go, I would have said that it was a bad ideal because of what happen in Austin. So what did actually happen in Austin when free bus rides were offered back in 1990? In 1990, Austin, Texas decided to make the buses free of charge. Things went well at first, but as the program went on, problems started to arises because people who wouldn't normally be able to ride would abuse the system.  There's a term for these types of people and they're called "problem riders." And after one year of offering free bus rides, they immediately institute a 50 cent bus fare.

I began to reconsider this when I heard what the city of Tallinn in Estonia was doing which was making the public transit free of charge and still charging the tourist.  Believe it or not, we do something similar here in San Antonio with the hotel/motel tax.  We charge tourist a tax to pay for our parks, and other improvements.  Some of the money that is going to pay back this bond 2017 and other previous bonds is coming from this tax right now. So why can't we do the same thing for the residence of San Antonio? 

So what did happen in Tallinn when they made the buses free of charge.  Well to use the bus free of charge, you have to be a residence which cost €2 to register.  There was no change in driving habits of people, but what they did see was a increase of rider from the most poorest areas of the city.  So far, they don't have a problem with vandalism or with more problem riders. 

So Why can't we do the same thing here?  My vision for free bus fare in San Antonio consist of paying a yearly fee of no less than $30 to no more than $100 per resident or household of San Antonio.  This pass will work like a regular 31 Day Pass, but will last 13 months, giving enough time for people to buy a new yearly pass. This pass will only be available to residence of San Antonio.  To qualify, you need at least 2 or three things.  They can be a pay stub or a your W2, an government issued ID, a CPS Energy bill, a SAWS bill, a lease to a property, or a property tax receipt from that Bexar County Tax assessor office. I envision having people from VIA setting up a table at VITA centers to register people.

Now this isn't the only strategy to consider. "Fare Free Zones" are places where people don't have to pay to board the bus.  Several cities use this to encourage people to use public transit mainly in their downtown area.  MATA has a fare free zone in West Memphis, AR (which I have actually used) and the UTA has several fare free zones in and around Salt Lake City, UT. For San Antonio, I could see fare free zones being transit centers or even parts outside of loop 410.

Today A 31 Day Pass cost $38.  If you don't think that's a lot of money for a struggling family then guess what, your doing pretty well.  That's up $4 from the cost of $34 when I last purchase one in 2015. (And no I still don't own a car.)  It means parents who use the bus system to say that their kids are still 11 yrs old when they're actually 14, (yes I have done it.) to people begging for bus fare on the bus.  And yes I have begged for bus fare on a VIA bus and I do donate my own money to help a person paying for bus fare when this happens.  And if you are wondering why I say that "driving is consider a free thing to do" then look no further at the cost of renewing your a car registration yearly.  According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, it cost $51.75 plus (and since I don't own a car and don't know this fee) $10 local county tax fee, plus $7.50 Inspection Fee.  Now that not counting the insurance cost, so lets go by the cheapest and we'll just do a one month because if you don't think that people here in San Antonio who are struggling financially are cutting corners, then you are doing pretty well.  For sake of argument, well say that insurance is $50.  The Last time I got a car inspected was $30.  Add it all up, $51.75+$10.00+$7.50+$30.00+50.00 = $149.25.  So if you don't take into account for the cost of gasoline, maintenance, and insurance which when you are poor, you try to avoid paying, basically it cost only $149.50 to drive around.  Compare that to a 31 Day pas, which according to the math, you'll buy 12 passes in one year 365/31= 11.77.  $38 per pass times 12 passes comes to roughly a cost of $456 per person. 

Now if you want to contradict me in the comments below, go right ahead.  But if you fail to take into consideration that the average person who can't afford a car, lives primary from paycheck to paycheck and they're only looking at that $149.50 to pay per year to legally operate a car comparing to the $456 per year, then it's seem like a better deal. Just compare the travel times on google maps, with a car to that of VIA, especially since more blue collar jobs are outside of VIA's service area, then you begin to see why so many people who ride VIA says it sucks even though I pointed out how they really have their act together.  At the end of the day, it was Bernie Sanders says, it's more expensive to be a poor, and he's correct.

For more information on "fare free transit," please visit the wikipedia page, "Free public transport."

If we can find money for vacant sport stadiums, for sport teams that will never make San Antonio home, or anything else you believe is a waste of tax money, then we can definitely find the money to do this.  Now I know I'm going to hear the excuse "we don't have the money for this," but I know that I'm going to hear one or two ridiculous excuses.  If you follow news on VIA, just watch, you'll come across one that is just so out there, so nutty, it will be a good enough reason never to invest in a tool to fix things. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017


Sorry folks, You'll have to Wait until Tuesday, April 8th, to explain the questions......

Until then visit  City Election 2017: Candidates Position on Cycling

And Read: 3 Reasons You Should Vote

3 Reasons You Should Vote


Have you ever wondered why San Antonio is allergic to better bicycle infrastructure?  Why we can't have any useful infrastructure like Austin or Houston for that matter?  A friend of mine came across ilovesanantonio.org, a local voting resources by SA2020. At the bottom of the page (this is on my android) you come across statistics and this one tells it all. (Image 62.1)  It is the Average age of the people who vote which is 63 years old. 

Reason #1
Now your probably asking, why is this the reason that our bicycle infrastructure isn't useful. Well the older you are, the less likely you are going to be for infrastructure that doesn't involve cars going as fast as possible. If you don't believe me, take a look at the picture of who showed up to remove the S Flores bicycle lane. (Image 62.1)  The youngest one who testified against it appeared to be in his early thirties.

Reason #2
If you ever listen to the KunstlerCast, I recommend that you go listen to KunstlerCast #141: Interstate 69 with Matt Dellinger.  There you will hear the short story on why the main guy who is trying to build this freeway is well over 90+ years old.  During the interview, he notes an interesting fact, the people who are for the this interstate are over 45 years of age. 

Reason #3
Another reason you should vote is because today, young people have a disadvantage already placed upon them.  If you where born after 1990, chances are you are making less money than your parents at the same age they were.  This forces younger people to try to save money anyway we/they can.  Eventually people are going to try to use a bicycle or take VIA to get around, and when that happens, they're going to find that driving a car is almost the only way to get around.

So if you aren't registered to vote yet, I suggest that you click on this link:  https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/vrapp/index.asp and get to it pronto.  Because the only way we get bicycle lanes, a VIA system that don't suck, IS TO VOTE.

Click Here to Register to Vote:  https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/vrapp/index.asp Deadline is April 6 to vote in the San Antonio Municipal Election...

Early Election is Monday, April 24 thru Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Click here to find an early voting location.  http://nowcastsa.com/blogs/heather-dimasi/map-where-find-early-voting-polling-locations

Election Day is Saturday, May 6, 2017.

To find out where the candidates stand on the issues facing cycling in San Antonio, please click here.... bikesanantonio.blogspot.com/p/city-election-2017-on-cycling.html

The blog that explains my questions #ivotebikesa 2017

62.1: the sastistics that ilovesanantonio.org has on their site about voting.
62.2.  All the old people thanking Council Lady Viagran for removing the S Flores Bicycle Lanes.  Source:  http://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/rebecca-viagran-south-flores-council-vote_credit-iris-dimmick.jpg
62.3: VIA's new paint scheme. A bust traveling West bound in W Commerce St at Calaveras.

Friday, February 24, 2017

MPO Needs Your Input

Our Local MPO is asking for Input on proposals for bicycle and pedestrian facilities across the region.  They Are....

Hillcrest/Babcock Intersection Improvements: $1,000,000
Converse Greenway Trail:  $1,382,725
Ackerman Sidewalks and Bike Lanes: $1,742,763
New Braunfels Citywide Pedestrian Connectivity: $1,516,711
Zarzamora Pedestrian Improvements:  $5,000,000
Schertz Pedestrian Routes & Bike Lanes: $1,158,266
Seguin, Walnut Springs Trail Extension Project: $2,801,246
Alazan Creek Linear Hike and Bike Trail: $6,000,000
Martinez Creek Linear Hike and Bike Trail: $3,125,000

If you add all the amounts together, you get $23,726,671.  Unfortunately, there's only $15,000,000 available for projects. The Alamo Area MPO wants you to rank these projects as to which ones are the top 3 (click here) and here are those projects and the reason why I put them in the priority.

5. Martinez Creek Linear Hike and Bike Trail:
    Cost:  $3,125,000
    Project Description:  Consists of 1.4 miles of 10 foot wide shared hike and bike trail along
    Martinez Creek beginning at Cincinnati Avenue and extending to Mario Farias Park.

 As a person who uses the linear Creekway for commuting and a person who violates the law that states such trails can't be used after dark, I am for the expansion of such trails.  These trails will only help the police go underneath and chase away the homeless that sleep underneath these bridges.  It

4.  Converse Greenway Trail:
     Cost:  $1,382,725
     Project Description:  Construct 1.2 miles of 10' wide concrete linear greenway trail between
     Converse North Park and Converse City Park.

If this trail is ever completed, it will serve a basic need of being able to connect two places. It will provide residence who don't own a car an alternative across Gibbs-Sprawl Rd (an aptly named rd by the way).  I don't know if Converse will ever allow this trail to be used after dark, but it would be really cool if they did.

3. Schertz Pedestrian Routes & Bike Lanes:
    Cost: $1,158,266
    Project Description:  Construct 10’ shared-used path. Construct 6’ sidewalks, including curbs, curb ramps, and drainage. Stripe 6-8’ bike lanes along two connector streets. 6.97 miles total.

When I wrote my post, Where 2 Live in SA W/O a CAR, I wrote it with the personal experience of not owning a car.  I'm always asked if other areas of Bexar County could be an area to live with out a car and my answer is only if there's proper infrastructure is available to be able to walk or to bike.  Schertz is such an area not only lacking basic pedestrian infrastructure, but VIA bus services.  I can attest with personal experience that the reason why VIA is so loathed even though they do a lot of things right is because many areas of San Antonio lack basic pedestrian infrastructure.  People would rather wait for a bus to go around a block than to walk there all together.  Having Schertz improve sidewalks and add bicycle lanes will help provide the residence with alternatives to go to the grocery story and compete with more walkable areas of San Antonio.  But take my advice Scherts, putting in protected bicycle lanes will help with the traffic problem way better than any painted bicycle lanes. 

New Braunfels Citywide Pedestrian Connectivity:
    Cost: $1,516,711
    Project Description:  Construct sidewalks, ramps, and other pedestrian-related infrastructure in the
    Seele Elementary School area and on key segments of San Antonio Street, Walnut Avenue, and
    McQueeney Road (2.2 total miles).

As a member of Strong Towns, I understand that improving sidewalks is the best investment that any municipality can make to receive the biggest return.  If you ever been to New Braunfels, you would know the community is lacking sidewalks. They could use some sidewalks. 

1. Zarzamora Pedestrian Improvements
    Cost: $5,000,000
    Project Description:  Install missing sidewalks, repair existing sidewalks, remove unnecessary
    utility poles, install pedestrian crossing infrastructure, implement ITS strategies, and perform road
    diets along Zarzamora Road and SW Military Drive (4.5 miles).

Out of all the the projects posted, this is the one that is number one on my list.  The project stretches from Fredricksburg Rd all the way to SW Military Dr.  It is a 4 lane corridor of speeding cars, impassable sidewalks on the west side.  It's also where VIA wants to put its next Primo route for the 520 is the second busiest route in the city. It is also no coincidence that the Diabetes Institue is located at Alazan Creek Linear Hike and Bike Trail or Hillcrest/Babcock Intersection Improvements.  Well the reason why I didn't list them is because our MPO now includes New Braunfels, Seguin and Beorne, so when deciding the priorities on this list, I thought of those places too.  If It was being San Antonio centrist, I would have made Zarzamore, Alazan and Martinez the top of this list.  Also the other reason why I left out the project in Seguin is because I don't know enough about the project at all to give my two cents.

Remember, all comments are due February 28, 2017.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

SA Doesn't Make The List/There will be no Bike Lane on Broadway.

Every two years, Bicycling Magazine releases their list of the 50 Best Bicycle Cities in the United States of America, and guess what, we're not on this list.  I can't say that I'm surprised at all because back in 2014 I predicted that San Antonio wouldn't make the list and Austin would be on the top 10 of that list. Well Austin is at number 7 in 2016. Back in 2014, it was at number 11.

Gone are the days that to get on this list, all you had to do was build a bunch of hike and bike trails. Today, there's hike and bike trails galore stretching hundreds of miles. If you ever get the chance to visit a small town in Iowa, you are very likely to come across one. In southwest Ohio, there are several trails stretching from Cincinnati to to just north of Dayton, even to Columbus. Every city/town in the United States is basically copying Austin, Texas to improve their community.

A friend of mine ask me to ask you to help him get a list of bicycle friendly businesses so they could be asked to contact The League of America Bicyclists. If you know of any business that would like to be listed as a bicycle friendly business, please have them visit http://bikeleague.org/business.

Now if you ever read "Why San Antonio Don't Deserve Bronze," you would know how I feel about the League's grading system. Although having more bicycle friendly businesses would help to expand San Antonio standing, it will not be enough to make San Antonio make the list in 2018. If San Antonio is to be back on the Bicycling Magazine bicycle friendly list, we are going to have to build protected bicycle lanes. If this recent Rivard Report story on the Broadway is any indication, we'll never be on this list ever again.

In the report from The Rivard Report, "Renderings of a Reimagined Broadway," they show several concept visions of Broadway that will be built if the Bond is passed in May. Except for one cross section referred to as Upper Broadway Cultural Corridor, Tuleta to Allenswoth, (Image 60.2) all the cross sections lack even a simple bicycle lane.  Compare them to my cross sections that I did back in 2014, (Image 60.1) and you would see that I found plenty of space for a 6 ft protected bicycle lanes on both sides of Broadway including on street car parking/bus stop island.
Below, you'll find the cross sections that were featured on the Rivard Report story with my cross sections right below them. In Each and everyone of them, I show how there's plenty of room to put a two way protected bicycle lane. I'll be going in order, from north to south.

Starting at Hildebrand, we have a 100 feet to work with.  In the proposed rendering, you see a bicycle lane at either end.  Well this doesn't have to be for there's plenty of room not for just a two way protected bicycle lane, but also for on street parking. (Image 60.3)
The next one is from Allensworth to Tulet. Even though they have a 10ft protected bicycle lane, it is recommend by NACTO that bicycle lanes are at least 6ft wide.  I decided to add on street parking,  because there's plenty of room for that too.  And keeping with having trees in the turn lane, I did that too. (Image 60.4)
I don't know why they couldn't even add the protected bicycle lane that they started from Allensworth down to Josephine.  There's plenty of room for that too. (Image 60.5)
Any proposals that are made south of Josephine must be able to incorporate the yearly Battle of Flowers Parade.  In their proposal, there's no bicycle lanes.  But if we remove the center turn lane, we will gain the room to put in either bicycle lanes or a protected bicycle lanes with removable planters or barriers. Knowing the City of San Antonio, they won't do this. (Image 60.6)
As We go further south, again we see no proposed bicycle lane, nor on street parking, the reason why this part of Broadway had it's bicycle lane removed back in 2010.  Again this is where the Battle of Flowers parade goes down and taking that into account, we can have the protected bicycle lane with the removable barrier and what the businesses want, on street parking. (Image 60.7)
Even From Houston To 3rd, there's plenty of room for both parking on both sides of the street and a two way protected bicycle lane.  (Image 60.8)

If these illustrations that were featured on the Rivard Report tells me anything, it tells me that the City is not serious about Vision Zero,(#VisionZero) but are for making sure that driving a car as enjoyable as possible.

 The 73-page report by California-based design firm MIG and Parsons Brinckerhoff of Canada at http://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Final_Broadway_Corridor_Plan_web.compressed.pdf

60.1: My cross section featured in my Story, Streetcar Part III, No Need for Streetcars Down Broadway. Source for cross section:  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mEV5Yb_NRmY/VAExhNU_R2I/AAAAAAAAAvc/OMgqeqzEsCU/s1600/Midtown%2BBroadway%2BIdeally%2BBus%2BStop%2BWest.jpeg

60.2: Source of image https://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/upperbroadway-road-diet.jpg

60.3: Source of the top: https://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/upper-broadway-to-hildebrand.jpg, Source for the bottom: http://streetmix.net/BikeSanAntonio/63/allensworth-to-hildebrand-wparking

60.4: Source of the top: https://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/upperbroadway-road-diet.jpg  Source for Bottom: http://streetmix.net/BikeSanAntonio/71/allensworth-to-tuleta-wparking

60.5: Source for top: https://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/upper-broadway-road-diet-josephine.jpg   Source for Bottom: http://streetmix.net/BikeSanAntonio/72/josephine-to-tuleta-wparking 

60.6: Source for top: https://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/lower-broadway-josephine.jpg  Source for bottom: http://streetmix.net/BikeSanAntonio/72/josephine-to-tuleta-wparking

60.7: Source for top: https://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/lower-broadway-3rd-road-diet.jpg
Source for bottom:  http://streetmix.net/BikeSanAntonio/61/3rd-to-i-35

60.8: Source for top:  https://therivardreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/lower-broadway-road-diet_centro-MIG.jpg  Source for bottom:  http://streetmix.net/BikeSanAntonio/70/houston-to-3rd 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What The Source Failed to Mention.

On January 4, 2017, TPR The Source had a show called,  "Is San Antonio 'Stuck Behind The Wheel'?".

They had 3 guest....

They also had two reporters as well

Through out the entire show, they mentioned some solutions like managed lanes, passenger trains and car pooling, everything else other than bicycling and walking. Below are my impressions of some of the guest and what they talked about....

Ray Lopez
It's funny how they had a guy on who voted against the multimodal system he so championed. I remember meeting him for the first time at this event at the Pearl I think back in 2012.  He described rail as part of this 'multimodal system.' He described it as people would get in their cars and drive to the train station and hop on the light rail, then they'll take a bus or a rubber tire trolley to their final destination.  What I heard was, "you get in to your car, then you park, then you get into this bigger car to transfer to this ugly car to your final destination.' I doubt that his ideal would come to fruition because even he refuses to take the bus to pick up his kid from school because he would have to wait for an hour for the next bus.  Doubt that others are willing to do the same even with a train.

Comparing Dallas to San Antonio
The one thing that got on my nerves is that these people couldn't stop comparing what they have in Dallas, to what can be accomplished here in San Antonio.  That's because DART put it's light rail down old railroad right of ways.  Houston is a better example of what will happen if they ever put in light rail which is right down the middle of the street.  The thing about Houston is that they have these wide streets which I refer to as stroads (see video) to be able to put down these rails without really impacting vehicle lanes.

Another thing that they didn't talk about is that the light rail in Dallas really fails to get people out of their cars.  What it does do, it keeps people who can't afford cars from needing to buy a car. When I rode the DART system two years ago, the people I met and talked to seem to have money. That if they lived in San Antonio, they would break down and buy a car. But because the DART system works like a 'glove', they don't really feel the need to buy one.  If you want to know why people aren't using the rail in the DFW area, I ask you to go back and read Doing Commuter Rail Right Part I.  Apparently even if we get rail, we won't be operating it well either.

SA Traffic Jam Future
You got to love the doom and gloom predictions that Linda Alvarado-Vela along with Ray Lopez put out through the entire show on how 1.5 million more people are coming to San Antonio in the next 20 years and they all are going to drive. To be honest, I don't see that many people moving to San Antonio. I'll be surprises if 500,000 more comes to Bexar County. Let me tell you why their predictions are wrong.

There's No Money.
With all the solutions they put forward, they left out the fine print, no money for said projects. Adding a vehicle lane or managed lane to the freeway, building a light rail network, all cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Take into account for TxDOT lacking money for basic road maintenance, and you come to realize how screwed we are. You'll hear from the Toll party on how we have the money to fix the problems with congestion, telling you how this politician or that politician is stealing your future away by supporting toll roads. Or you can accept reality that the reason why the MPO and TxDOT were looking to toll roads as a solution was because they saw the budget shortfalls of today coming back at the turn of the century. It is because of the Toll Party efforts that we don't have light rail nor managed lanes on any of our freeways. To say they (our political leaders) are against driving leaves our a simple fact that they to drive cars and like you don't want to be stuck in traffic.

For the record, I do agree with the toll party on public/private partnerships, they tend to screw everyone for profit.

Alas not Least
The one thing that I have dedicated this blog for is the cheaper solution such as bicycle lanes and protected bicycle lanes. I'm also a big supporter of rail transit which isn't cheap and constantly inform people through this blog how it's better than buses. But at the same time, I don't misinform you about such realities of how said systems would work and won't be as advertised. But let's lay out the most obvious fact of all that is not mentioned anywhere, which is our congestion is a sign of our city being a successful place to live. Now before you accused me of wanting to be stuck in a traffic jam, I like you don't want to be stuck in one.

 I cannot help the fact that we live in a city where those in charge refuse to provide alternatives and only 3% of the population shows up to vote in city elections. Those 3% of people ate against bicycle lanes calling it graffiti. Since the majority of local citizens aren't showing up at the polls, we'll we deserve to be stuck behind the wheel.