San Antonio to Tear Out the “Best Thing” City Has Done for Cycling

Score one for the NIMBY crowd in San Antonio.

The blog Bike San Antonio called the South Flores Street bike lane the best thing the city had ever done for cyclists. Photo: Bike San Antonio
Bike San Antonio called the South Flores Street bike lane the best thing the city had ever done for cyclists. Photo: Bike 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.”

  • JamiRaNorton

    The lone dissenting vote, Council Member Shirley Gonzales, defended the project passionately, according to the Express News. http://0rz.tw/fM3Co

  • Flakker

    Whenever someone mentions “the community” my bullshit detector goes off. It’s become the default description of a nonspecific, undefined group that hypothetically supports whatever one happens to be talking about at that moment. Not to discount the very real possibility that “the community” is just selfish morons.

  • Rain__or__Shine

    Hmm, thanks for the info. I think I’ll buy some headphones now.

  • Anthony

    Of all the bummer news, the absolute biggest slap in the face is using the bike budget to REMOVE bike lanes.

  • KillMoto
  • KillMoto

    oops. Should not have used the brackets. Meant to say
    “cancels plans to EVER bring my tourism dollars to San Antonio”

  • DrunkEngineer

    Remember when San Antonio was awarded a Bronze medal for bike friendly city? Fun times…but I guess they will have to give that award back now.

  • nospam

    Streetsblog Remove this spam.

  • We did a similar traffic reconfiguration here in Fort Worth on a similar street – Magnolia Avenue – taking it from four lanes to two + turn lane + bike lanes. Magnolia was an up-and-coming street just south of downtown; now, it’s a star of the city. Business has grown exponentially, the street is slower and safer, and the bike lanes have caused zero troubles even with the new activity.

  • C Monroe

    The business and property owners should have protested turning back to the old 4 lanes. Look at close in the pictures that the business fronts are to the road. Bike lanes would have at least created a more buffer.

  • Um Dude, they the businesses wanted the lanes removed.

  • C Monroe

    I know that is what is shocking! Raise my insurance rates because cars zip along closer to my building! Keep my building under utilized because the road is design for cars and keeps slower pedestrian and bicycle traffic from my front door. Totally idiotic. Also if someone is stuck at a traffic light in one lane behind 5 or 6 cars, they have a better chance at glancing at your store than someone is stuck at a light in 2 lanes behind 1 or 2 cars. It just blows my mind. It is “We want 4 lanes because we are naive and want to hurt our businesses!”

    sorry about my rant.

  • traal

    How necessary are bike lanes on a 30 mph street?

    Maybe the bicyclists should concentrate on eliminating the city’s minimum parking requirements and other impediments to freedom and bicycling.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Do you want to get hit by a car doing 30mph? I sure don’t! 30mph arterial roads can be some of the most stressful and most dangerous to ride on without a designated bike lane. Plus how many drivers are actually doing 30mph?!?!

  • Indeed. One of our first road diets was on a “30 mph street” – although drivers were usually instead doing closer to 40-45 or more. Now, not only do we have bike lanes, but the car traffic has dropped in speed down to around 20-30 depending on the load. It’s made the *entire* environment of the street safer.

  • traal

    I would rather take the lane on a 30 mph street than a 50 mph road, wouldn’t you?

  • niceguy86

    I thought Toronto was the most backward city when they removed the bike lanes from Jarvis Street on the ground that they added 2 minutes to drivers over about 10 blocks.

  • SFnative74

    I’d rather have a bike lane.

  • SFnative74

    I’ve heard nice things about San Antonio. If I get a chance to go there (though I’m not inclined to visit places that act this backwards), no way will I go to any of the businesses on South Flores Street.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I’d rather have a bike lane too!

  • frank7041

    Democracy sucks

  • Florida Massacre

    If flow of traffic is over 35, you’re probably dead either way

  • Outcast Searcher

    With all the whining about the 1%, you’d think the liberals would be overjoyed at this.

    After all, if it improves conditions for the 99% who drive — what’s not to like?

    (Oh, I see. The 1% of bikers should pay MIND BOGGLING tax rates to pay for their bike lanes. Why do I anticipate a LOT of whining in response to such a policy? After all, ruinous tax rates (with no tax rate ever being enough) are only for those who produce the most jobs — at least according to liberals).

  • Outcast Searcher

    So buy a Prius and take responsibility for your personal decisions.

  • Outcast Searcher

    Would you pay all the costs inherent in building and maintaining it? No? I didn’t think so.

  • Outcast Searcher

    Learn to speak slightly coherently, and gain at least a slight measure of credibility.

  • Outcast Searcher

    And we have herds of purple unicorns at every intersection! Only in liberal land can the laws of economics be repealed if it “feels good” or is “politically correct”.

  • Outcast Searcher

    If bike lanes are the problem, then the bike land budget should remove them. It’s really not that complicated.

  • Not that I expect you to actually listen, given that you actually used the term “liberal land” with a straight face, but since we put the bike lanes in and removed traffic lanes, business on the street has gone up nearly 200% as of the most recent data I have. Seems like the “laws of economics” aren’t exactly on your side in this case.

  • C Monroe

    Okay, I didn’t proof read my statement. Is this better? Look closely to the pictures. The business fronts are up close to the road. Bike lanes would have at least created a buffer between the fronts and the roads.

    Now is that better. Do you feel superior with your credibility.

  • tirpakma

    This is disappointing, but San Antonio remains a great city for ‘slow and low’ bike-based living and tourism (leave your lycra at home) . . . if only there was a stronger public transport link from the airport to downtown. The B-cycle private bike share program is a fantastic way to explore the city, and biking is made easier by the topography and incredibly friendly car and bus culture here – at least, inside the 410 loop.

  • Garl Boyd Latham

    Would autocentrists be willing to pay all the costs inherent in building and maintaining the U.S. roadway system?

    No? I didn’t think so.

  • MaestroDon

    Removal should not come out of the bike lane budget, since it is not, in fact, being used for bike lanes. This will be a misappropriation of funds.

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