AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Tuesday, the University of Texas at Austin leaders will meet with Bike Austin organizers to discuss the future of bike safety along San Jacinto Boulevard in what has been a deadly stretch of road in the past.
Officials are focusing on the stretch of road from Dean Keeton Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
It’s the same area where, in January, 39-year-old Tony Diaz was riding his bike while following all traffic laws. A Capital Metro bus hit and killed Diaz and the bus driver was charged with manslaughter.
Students and local organizations have called on the university to take action and improve safety along the road since then. Bike Austin calling it ‘Fix San Jacinto Now.’
“I really seek out the protected bikeways,” said Molly Hubbs. “If they’re not there, I am going to be on the sidewalk.”
Once a week, Hubbs travels along San Jacinto Blvd. to the university’s campus where she is currently working on a project.
Fellow bicyclist, Jason Story travels along the road a few times a week. Story said it’s his main route to get to work, but agreed the design of the road creates blind spots.
“Because of the parking, I am just worried for someone backing out into me,” he said. “That’s my biggest fear.”
While Story may not have a solution, he’s hopeful officials involved will.
“I don’t know what the best option is but I am sure they’ll figure something out,” Story said.
Officials with the University of Texas at Austin said if there is an update following this meeting they will release additional information.
Statement from the City of Austin:
“The Austin Transportation Department seeks to improve travel for everyone, including advancing our City’s bicycle network to improve safety and comfort for people riding bicycles. That work involves coordination with regional agencies and institutions, including the University of Texas, where control of the right of way transitions from one agency to another. San Jacinto Boulevard between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Dean Keeton Street is recommended for physically protected bike lanes as part of the City’s All Ages and Abilities Bicycle Network. As this portion of San Jacinto Boulevard was vacated to the University of Texas in October of 1952, per Ordinance 19521002, coordination efforts to make changes to this portion of San Jacinto Boulevard would be led by the University of Texas at Austin.”
Statement from Capital Metro:
“We value Austin’s cyclists and see bicycle infrastructure as an important part of Austin’s transportation network. This is why we offer amenities such as bike lockers and bike racks on our buses, to truly connect our systems together. We also ensure our drivers receive constant safety training, including on sharing the road with all users. At the end of the day, Austinites are just trying to get from point A to point B and we all have a role in ensuring it happens safely. “
Statement from the University of Texas at Austin:
The university appreciates the perspectives of Austin bike advocates.
Following an in-person meeting with representatives of Bike Austin and the Bicycle Advisory Council, we want community members to know that UT is committed in the long-term to delineated bike lanes on the new Red River. That construction process will take time. In the near-term, we are seriously evaluating solutions for the San Jacinto corridor.
While the university is constantly looking for opportunities to improve safety for all modes, we began reevaluating our San Jacinto plans earlier this year after Tony Diaz’s fatality. The reevaluation aims to improve the safety and efficiency of mobility for pedestrians, cyclists, transit and the other needs of the campus community. Over the summer we will continue to evaluate a full range of options for all of these important stakeholders. The guiding principles of that evaluation include improvements to pedestrian safety, better transit stops for traffic safety, and adding bike facilities for cyclist safety.