The article was written originally for the Hilltop Views.
Bicycling has become a significant part of the Austin identity, as it provides locals an alternative mode of transportation and serves as recreation and exercise. In a move to rally round local bicyclists, the City of Austin has created the Austin Bicycle Master Plan, a means to create and promote the ideal environment for the friendly co-existence of bicycle riders and other transportation users in the area.
With the rising costs of fuel, the economic decline, and environmental concerns, many Austin locals have turned to bicycling. “Unfortunately,” imputes the Austin Bike Plan Petition committee, “Austin’s infrastructure has not kept up with this demand, forcing cars and bikes to share the same road space, at times in dangerous ways.”
The City of Austin says the plan is a set of goals, objectives and actions to be completed over the next ten years to transform Austin into a world-class bicycling city. These moves include facility development, inter-departmental and interagency coordination, public education, enforcement, promotional campaigns and supportive public policy, amongst other things.
Mayor of Austin, Will Wynn, says that “Austin’s Bicycle Master Plan is an effort [for Austin] to become the most bicycle friendly major city in Texas and make Austin a world-class city for cycling.” In addition to helping bike riders, Mayor Wynn says the plan will help the city reverse the “impacts of global warming.”
The Austin 2020 Bicycle Plan is an update of the existing Austin Bicycle Plan, which was completed in two parts in 1996 and 1998. The former bicycle plans’ goals are still pertinent, but are in desperate need of an update. The City of Austin says the new plan will present “a holistic and practical approach to achieve the vision of becoming among the best communities for bicycling. It provides the framework and actions necessary to build a bicycle system, including the bicycle network and supporting end-of-trip facilities, to develop the educational and encouragement programs necessary to promote bicycling as a safe and convenient way to travel and exercise, and improve enforcement of bicycle-related laws to create a safe environment for bicycling.”
Not all are impressed entirely with the plan. Elliott McFadden, organizer of the Austin Bike Plan Petition, explains, “On a positive note, the draft plan calls on resolving all vehicle parking in bike lanes by 2020, however it does not indicate what this resolution will be. There is also nothing in the plan about consistent enforcement of drivers who are at fault for hitting cyclists.”
Open house meetings were held on Feb. 26 and March 4 for Austinites to come voice their concerns about the Austin Master Bicycle Plan. Mayor Wynn says that the community’s input “was instrumental in soliciting public ideas in preparing for the plan.”
While there are still parts of the plan that may be changed for the better at a later time, the initial progress is hopeful, says McFadden. “A better Austin for cyclist is on the horizon, and we can make it happen.”
For more information about the plan, visit the City of Austin site.