Score one for the NIMBY crowd in San Antonio.
City Council representatives have voted 10-1 to remove 2.3 miles of bike lanes on South Flores Street, which the local blog Bike San Antonio says is one of the few cases where the city put a bike lane “where one needs to be.” Council members apparently caved to nearby residents who claimed the bike lane caused traffic delays and complained about receiving insufficient notice of the changes.
The restriping of the two-way road, done during a resurfacing project, changed the configuration from four general traffic lanes to two, plus a center turn lane and bike lanes. City traffic studies found that that the bike lanes caused no impediment to motor vehicle traffic, while crashes declined somewhat. But that apparently wasn’t good enough for the majority of council, including Rebecca Viagran, who represents most of the area with the bike lanes.
The San Antonio Express-News editorial board said the decision was shortsighted and disappointing:
What we’re looking at is a failure of leadership from council, particularly from Viagran.
Not only is it a monumental waste of money to appease a small group of overreactive residents, but it also flies in the face of stated city goals to improve bike infrastructure, the urban core and promote better health.
A group of about 50 people on bikes took to the street last week in protest, the Express News reports. BikeTexas circulated a petition urging the City Council to keep the lanes, but the group noted, “It appears that the City is simply listening to whoever shouts loudest.”
Now the city of San Antonio plans to spend almost half its bike lane budget on removing the South Flores bike lanes and routing cyclists onto side streets, which will cost about $740,000.
The lone dissenting vote, Council Member Shirley Gonzales, defended the project passionately, according to the Express News.
“What I think is most important for me is we make a safe environment for all people,” she said.
Back in April, Bike San Antonio called the South Flores project the best thing the city has ever done for cyclists: “Lets give credit where credit is due, the city of San Antonio actually put a bicycle lane where the bicycle lane was needed.”