The city takes an intermediate step in the construction of the cycle network

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This month marked a milestone for cycling in Austin: the city’s cycling network for all ages and abilities reached its mid-point completion point, making bike commutes more comfortable and longer. practice.

So far the AAA Network includes 215 miles of cycle paths, 100 miles of which have been built since 2018. Although construction of the 400+ mile network is currently slightly behind schedule due to pandemic delays, the city still expects to finish ahead of schedule. schedule by 2025, according to a Press release.

Laura Dierenfield of the Austin Department of Transportation told the Austin Monitor that the main objective of the plan is to “open the envelope of interest” to as many people as possible – especially those who do not feel comfortable cycling on busy streets or in busy streets. painted cycle paths.

Getting more people to cycle will play an important role in achieving the city’s mobility and sustainability goals. By 2035, the city aims for 50% of people to cycle, walk, scooter, transit, carpool or work from home rather than driving alone in their cars. In 2019, 74% of Austinites drove on their own to get to work.

The city specifically hopes to multiply by 5 the modal share of cycling. Bicycles only accounted for 1.4% of the modal share in 2019, although that percentage may be slightly higher now, given the global bicycle boom since the start of the pandemic.

The progress made so far is largely due to the adoption of transport obligations in 2020, 2018 and 2016. The AAA network dates back to 2014, when city council adopted the Austin bike map.

However, the AAA network plan is not without its critics. Bike Austin president Chris Riley made a statement from the group’s board of directors saying the city is prioritizing “facilities that are easier to build but less useful” on the outskirts of the city instead of building ” the most frequently used downtown network that will enable Austin to meet its modal bike sharing goals.

“Among the installations planned for 2014, there are many important segments on which there has been no movement at all,” the Bike Austin board wrote, showing the planned bike paths on Fifth and Sixth Streets between MoPac Expressway and Interstate 35 and on Trinity Street between Lady Bird Lake and the Capitol as examples. “With only four years to the AAA network’s target date for 100% completion, there is no timeline to complete these segments, or many more.”

Bike Austin also felt that the facilities built so far in Austin “fell short of the standard of infrastructure built in major cities” such as Vancouver, San Francisco, Paris or Seville.

The AAA network includes a range of cycling infrastructure that the city considers comfortable for most users: cycle paths protected by concrete barriers, flexible plastic poles, concrete planters or buttons; neighborhood bike lanes, which use speed bumps and other devices to help cars slow down on neighborhood streets; urban paths, which are completely separated from the streets; and shared use paths. Painted cycle paths, said Dierenfield, “are generally not considered a facility for all ages and abilities.”

Dierenfield said the city is deploying the AAA network “in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible” and that larger and more robust facilities are planned after 2025 as part of a “continuous iterative process”.

Community members can comment on the latest long term bike planning via ATX Walking Bike Roller, the city’s new active mobility plan slated for adoption in 2023. Although the first cycle of community engagement for ATX Walk Bike Roll ended on September 26, there will be at least two more periods of public engagement, the next scheduled for spring.

Photo made available via a Creative Commons license.

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