Last night I watched as a small town City Council made a big step towards making their community more bicycle friendly.
Bee Cave, TX sits at the confluence of three major state roads, Hwy 71, FM 620 and FM 2244. One of the traditional training rides for roadies in the Austin area (the Dam Loop) goes through Bee Cave so weekends can get congested. The local bicycle club, the Lake Travis Bicycle Club, has a Tuesday ride that takes that route as well.
To relieve congestion at the confluence of the highways, Bee Cave recently constructed a four lane divided highway across the back of a beautiful new open air mall. The road, Bee Cave Parkway, is concrete, has curbs, 12.5 foot lanes and a 45 mph speed limit.
One good thing about this “by pass” is that there is no parking allowed.
Recently the city put up a number of “SHARE THE ROAD” signs showing bicycles. On two of the signs, one each way at the beginning of the parkway, the city added “BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE” signs.
Last night, August 28, 2012, cyclists gathered to hear a presentation to City Council with some pretty scary videos of close passes on the parkway. A number of cyclists presented to the council members including Robb Bush, Stanton Truxillo and a young racer who does 1,200 miles a month and placed 32 at the national time trials in his first year of racing!
What really impressed me was the willingness of the council to listen to the discussion and respond. The moved and passed, unanimously, a resolution to direct that 10 “BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE” signs be place along the 1.5 mile length of the parkway.
The discussion also included bike lanes, they have room but that may not be the best way to go on that road especially for riders in a group. Narrowing the lanes and reducing the speed limit were also discussed. The council members have asked for a more complete report outlining the options and costs.
People get up tight about reducing speeds but the difference in total time for a 1.5 mile stretch is only one minute between 35 and 45 mph. And that assumes you will be going that speed for the whole time. With starting and stopping the difference for the entire trip will be less than 60 seconds and it will make a big difference in the severity of a crash and will also give drivers more time to avoid cyclists.
Bottom line…be open, talk things through and work with your elected officials. Lets try reason before attack. There is a time to take to the barricades but we should be doing all the other things first. The difference between Advocacy and Activism.