SG searches for alternative bike path near Blanton

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An Austin biker rides on the sidewalk next to the Blanton Museum Monday afternoon. A town hall meeting this morning discussed alternative solutions for bikers and bike paths for the south area of campus.

Photo Credit: Victoria Montalvo | Daily Texan Staff

Parking and Transportation Services hosted a town hall this morning to discuss the dismount zone around the Blanton Museum.

Under current restrictions, a dismount zone on Blanton Museum grounds does not allow for riders to ride their bikes near the vicinity. Biking on sidewalks is technically illegal on campus, and the space between the Blanton’s buildings is considered sidewalk.

The Bike Around Blanton project, the crux of the town hall meeting, was created after a pedestrian was hit by a biker outside of the Blanton Museum about a month ago, said Student Government vice president Ashley Baker. Because of the accident, a dismount zone was placed around the Blanton area requiring any bikers to get off of their bikes to cross the path, she said.

A Student Government task force consisting of SG liberal arts representative John Lawler and two other members will work to find alternative solutions to the dismount zone now that town hall has served as a brainstorming session, Lawler said.

The general consensus at the town hall was that the dismount zone is ineffective and most people don’t follow it anyway so there is probably a better solution, Lawler said.

The turnout was high despite the 8 a.m. timing and included graduates, undergraduates, professionals, Austin citizens and UT alumni, Lawler said.

“I was kind of being a ‘Negative Nancy’ at first, I couldn’t even believe that I was there that early,” he said. “There were some really creative ideas on ways to incorporate [a bike path] so that it didn’t have to be just this boring last-minute add-on.”

Some ideas were to create a bike path through the middle of the Blanton Museum area and make it into an art exhibit in itself by adding elements of modern art, Lawler said. The city has talked about making bikers shift their route a block down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard so that it wouldn’t be necessary for them to pass through the Blanton area, but that could add on ten minutes of commute time, he said.

“This is a rare example where SG is working to solve a real life problem,” he said. “A student came to us with a concern and now we’re working with PTS and real people to solve it.”

Economics sophomore Alex Alperovich said if the dismount zone isn’t being strongly enforced and it’s an inconvenience to dismount said that he would support riding there. The incorporated bike path would be a strong incentive to ride through the Blanton area, he said.

“That idea would actually be awesome,” Alperovich said. “I might start riding there for a reason.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 as: SG expands executive appointment requirements