Friends of Hyde Park supports a safe, family friendly, All Ages and Abilities Bikeway Network. We believe that local mobility projects like the two projects for the biking network on 46th-47th and Bennett-Middle Fiskville in North Hyde Park are a critical part of developing this network. However, we don’t believe these goals are achieved by the proposed preliminary designs. Some of the proposed changes may make these areas more dangerous for biking and could be worse than no changes. As a city, we need to be designing our bikeway network for the safety of families that bike on these streets instead of designing the streets to garner the fewest complaints from those who like to drive quickly on these routes.
The City of Austin’s proposal on this project does include helpful intersection treatments, such as the major intersections at the Triangle and at the East end. However, the proposed traffic-calming measures need to be seriously reconsidered. The speed humps/bumps being considered on every block are often as uncomfortable for people on bikes as they are for drivers. They can even be dangerous, creating obstacles that can make cyclists fall or often causing cars to swerve to avoid the humps and endangering cyclists in their path. At night speed humps might not be as noticeable for cyclists, which can also add to the safety concern.
Ideally, streets on the All Ages and Abilities Bikeway Network should be required to have separate bike facilities with protected bike lanes on or off the street, especially in higher traffic areas. If that means removing parking on one side or both sides of the street, narrowing the street, or removing driveway cutouts where the protected bike lanes are, then that needs to be incorporated, if we are serious about creating a safe biking network. In the absence of protected or separated bike lanes on lower traffic streets, we need to make these routes safe for children and families by reducing the speed of cars to 20 MPH or less. If bikes are going to be forced to share space with cars on these streets, there needs to be chicanes, bulbouts, neighborhood traffic circles where appropriate, and diverters, which are more bike-friendly ways of calming traffic. Adding sidewalks for pedestrians on these routes should also be a requirement.
We are very concerned that implementing these minor and possibly, in some cases, unsafe changes would mean the City of Austin would mark these sections of the All Ages and Abilities Bikeway Network as “complete.” This may mean these sections of the route would be less likely to be upgraded in the foreseeable future with higher safety standards until all other sections of the route in the city are also marked as complete, leaving these sections with a substandard network. If our recommendations can not be completed fully, it would be preferable to reduce the physical scope of the project to a smaller area in order to achieve a safer street in those smaller areas or increase spending on the project to complete the route appropriately.
Information About Friends of Hyde Park
Friends of Hyde Park is currently the largest neighborhood association in our neighborhood with over 500 current members (approximately 50% renters and 50% homestead homeowners). Friends of Hyde Park advocates for more affordable housing and a more walkable, bikeable, inclusive, environmentally sustainable, and transit friendly neighborhood.
Board of Directors of Friends of Hyde Park