In spite of a push by cycling enthusiasts, the city isn’t switching gears and adding bike lanes to narrower portions of Broadway downtown.
Many riders want to see dedicated bike lanes from Houston Street to Interstate 35 as part of the city’s planned $42 million remake of Broadway.
But city staff and other officials said that stretch of Broadway is too narrow to include bike lanes alongside proposed dedicated bus lanes, on-street parking, and wider sidewalks with shade trees.
“We’re not confident they can be safe on Broadway,” District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Havrda said during a recent discussion.
In a unanimous vote, the City Council has approved a $6 million funding agreement with the Midtown Tax Increment Refinance Zone board to advance bike lanes on Avenue B and North Alamo Street, which parallel Broadway.
“The focus of the Broadway and Avenue B and North Alamo Street design has always been to create a pedestrian-focused experience,” District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño said in a statement. “This design is the safer option for all as it provides wide sidewalks, protected intersections, and two-way protected bike lanes in addition to other safety and aesthetic amenities.”
Treviño represents the area.
Local cyclists aired their grievances on the Bike San Antonio Facebook page.
“I would ride more often by myself if San Antonio had more protected bike lanes,” one man said. “Such a shame that a city the size of San Antonio has a second-rate infrastructure.”
“We all need to ride more,” another cyclist wrote. “The more people riding, the more everyone will see the need for more bike lanes.”
The controversy surfaced a week before the council vote, during a meeting in early November. At that session, a majority of the council’s Transportation and Mobility Committee members failed to support sending to the full council a proposal that would have included bike lanes on Broadway between Houston and I-35.
The discussion sometimes became heated.
Pape-Dawson Engineers President Gene Dawson Jr. presented four conceptual design options. He said vehicle traffic on the downtown portion of Broadway has risen 4.2 percent since 2012.
Many cycling advocates at the committee meeting favored one option involving protected bike lanes in both directions, four traffic lanes and 11-foot sidewalks, but no parking for cars or loading for buses.
But other city leaders and staff favored an option that calls for four traffic lanes, 11-foot-to-17-foot sidewalks, and spots for ride-hailing and bus loading, but no bike lanes.
Instead, that design set aside dedicated bike lanes on North Alamo and Avenue B.
Committee members such as Chairwoman Shirley Gonzales of District 5 and District 7’s Ana Sandoval asked to send the issue to the full council.
They also felt city staff was biased in what they saw as an anti-bike-lane presentation.
“I have a level of discomfort with the designs you’ve brought us,” Sandoval said at the meeting.
Treviño has defended the push by city staff and consultants to go with the no-bike lane option, saying it arguably is the safest design to accommodate most modes of transportation on a narrow, busy stretch of Broadway.
Treviño at the meeting said deviating from a consensus on that design would “send a terrible message about how we handle the process.” He added the “complete street” plan still emphasizes bike lanes on Broadway north of I-35.
Havrda echoed Treviño’s sentiment at the meeting: ”I can’t see bike lanes anywhere other than on Avenue B.”