AUSTIN (KXAN) — Cyclists are being forced to dodge traffic, and drivers are unhappy about new bike lanes.
KXAN Traffic Anchor Erica Brennes looked at how the City of Austin is trying to balance the concerns of both groups while keeping the roads safe for everyone during upgrades.
Greg Anderson, aka Walkable Austin on social media, is one of the rare Austinites who gets around without a car. But not without frustration.
“The biggest challenge right now is wherever you see a sharrow — does it make sense for a 40-pound bike to share the road with a 4,000-pound Suburban? It’s a pretty scary situation quite often,” Anderson said.
A sharrow is a shared lane for a bicycle and a vehicle.
Anderson shared video of the bike lane on South Congress blocked by vehicles, forcing him to bike in the main lane of traffic.
“When you do have a non-protected bike lane that’s just protected by a strip of paint… and then you see FedEx and UPS and Amazon parked there. There’ll be three empty traffic lanes, one bike lane, and you see these vehicles parked there. We had to then go out into traffic lanes, and it gets a bit hairy out there. So, as we protect more bike lanes, those conflicts seem to go away, which is a lot of fun.”Video from Greg Anderson
Bike lanes with a curb, keeping cyclists away from the roads have popped up along Slaughter Lane. Crews are also putting some on Brodie Lane in south Austin — even more are coming.
“What we ultimately want to see is a safer right-of-way… that’s got infrastructure for all users in areas, and implemented in a manner that is safer than it was before, right?” Randy Harvey, a project manager with the City of Austin’s Corridor Mobility Program, explained.
Construction crews working on projects in that department are transforming other key corridors at Burnet and Koenig Lane and Lamar Boulevard and 55th Street.
Even though these projects could mean extra time in traffic, Harvey said it’ll be worth it.
“There is some level of frustration, of course… it’s changing the way that we have to do things. And increasing safety in these corridors, you know, for other users with a right-of-way, will come with some changes in our driving habits needed,” Harvey said. “It’s going to require us to slow down, it’s going to require us to be more attentive.”
In a report released in July, Austin Transportation’s Vision Zero Team said the areas where they’ve already made changes have seen a 31% decrease in crashes resulting in serious injuries or deaths.
For a full rundown of other projects the Corridor Mobility Program is working on, visit their website.