Annick Beaudet

Management information systems junior Kalyn Warnock finds a spot to park his bike near the McCombs School of Business on Thursday afternoon. Some city officials want to provide more bicycle parking options downtown in order to make the city more bike friendly. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Cyclists may soon receive more consideration from city officials regarding the convenience of parking downtown as Austin continues to strive to be a more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city.

An ordinance proposed by the city’s Planning Commission and Public Works Department amends Austin’s Land Development Code to redefine and clarify bicycle parking. The ordinance would clarify various parts of the code, including taking bike parking into consideration when modifying parking for motor vehicles for existing sites. It would also clarify requirements for bicycle parking locations from “as convenient as that of motor vehicle parking” to 50 feet or less from the entrance of a site, according to the ordinance.

During its meeting Thursday, the Austin City Council set a May 9 public hearing to hear further discussion from the community on the amendment.

Annick Beaudet, manager of the city’s Bicycle Program in the Public Works Department, said the amendment simply improves on current bicycle parking requirements rather than creating new ones.

“I’m improving the already existing requirements for bike parking — for example, how they should be placed — because the code is very ambiguous about how they should be placed,” Beaudet said. “We’re making it more clear on how to place them so they’re best used by cyclists in a convenient way.”

Currently, there are reduction incentives scattered around the Land Development Code, but Beaudet said consolidating them will allow developers to more easily implement less parking and further incentivize alternative transportation.

“This is so that any developer can go to one place where you have a one-stop shop for ways that you can reduce the parking required to do a new development that also encourage multi-modal transportation,” Beaudet said. “That’s really the heart of the amendment.”

Beaudet said the amendment has gone through smoothly so far, due in part to the thorough work of the Planning Commission Codes and Ordinances Subcommittee.

“The Planning Commission Codes and Ordinances Subcommittee has proven to be very effective in working through proposed code amendments so when they actually go to Planning Commission and City Council, they have been vetted through a community lens pretty thoroughly,” Beaudet said. “Because of that, I think we’ve worked through any sorts of issues and I feel like the ordinance is very well written.”

Pharmacy graduate student Angela Stermer said she does not have many issues parking her bike downtown aside from special events. If the amendments increase convenience of bicycle parking, Stermer said there will be a clear incentive for more people to ride bikes instead of drive.

“I think it will be an incentive to people who already bike or maybe are thinking about biking already,” Stermer said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily going to change the people who don’t consider biking, but if you’ve already started to consider it and it becomes convenient to park then it may influence you to ride your bike.”

City council members and Austin-area bicycle activists cut the ribbon to officially open a new bike lane on Rio Grande Street, part of the city's Green Lane Project designed to help implement new cycling networks around Austin

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Cyclists in West Campus received a new route that’s green, both environmentally and in color, that should help raise cycling’s profile in the city.

After years of planning, the Green Lane along Rio Grande Street in West Campus officially opened Monday, offering bikers their own two-way lane to protect them while cycling.

John Lawler, urban studies senior and former Student Government presidential candidate, said getting the Green Lane Project to become a reality took a few years in the making.

“At first Student Government and local businesses along Rio Grande were hesitant about this project because it would ultimately close down a whole lane,” Lawler said. “However, after many meetings and visual demonstrations, everyone eventually got on board.”

Austin was chosen as one of the six cities nationwide to participate in the Green Lane Project. Bikes Belong Foundation, the organization responsible for selecting the six cities, will work with Austin to develop and implement cycling infrastructure. In addition to the new bicycle lane, the City’s Rio Grande Reconstruction Project installed new bicycle racks, benches, landscaping and trash cans along the stretch of the Green Lane.

Annick Beaudet, Austin’s Bicycle Program manager, said being chosen to participate is an honor because Austin is being rewarded for their work over the past 20 years to ensure safe and accessible access routes for cyclists.

“Just in the past five years Austin has added more lanes and trails for bikers than the past 15 years,” Beaudet said. Rio Grande Street was chosen as the location for the first Green Lane because it was already under construction, Beaudet said.

“West Campus is also an extremely busy area and home to many cyclists, so designating its own lane will protect cyclists and ensure their safety,” Beaudet said.

As an avid cyclist, Beaudet said it feels good to see the growth of cycling throughout the city.

“Cycling is a remedy to the growth pressures of a big city,” Beaudet said. “I believe cycling is the best way to get around, and projects like this will push more and more people to take part.”

The Green Lane along Rio Grande Street currently extends from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to 24th Street, but within the next year it will reach 29th Street. Beaudet said more Green Lanes are planned for other parts of the city and will be funded through federal grants, voter-approved bonds and redevelopment funds.

Eric Bollich, an engineer within the Austin Transportation Department, said he enjoyed participating in the technical design and visual modeling of the project.

“During the planning process, a lot of effort went into vehicle simulation and designs to see if one lane would work well,” Bollich said, “and it was great to be part of a project like this that is so innovative.”

The ribbon cutting of the Green Lane coincided with UT’s Orange Bike Bikeapalooza, a day dedicated to educating students on bike safety through various activities outside of
Gregory Plaza.

Capt. Don Verett of UTPD said any event encouraging education on bike safety is necessary for our community.

“These events are there to protect our students, both cyclists and pedestrians, so it is good to have programs educating our community,” Verett said.
 

Printed on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 as: Two-way biking lane opens