Urban Trails Master Plan Q&A With Austin Transportation Department Head Rob Spillar

Screen shot 2014-11-03 at 1.47.48 PMQ: How will the review draft of the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan and the Urban Trails Master Plan tie into ATD’s Strategic Planning?

A: The review draft of the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan includes the Tier I Urban Trails as part of their short-term network. By coordinating the development of the bicycle and trail networks, the City of Austin will create infrastructure that accommodates all ages and abilities. Through the planning process, we found that the majority of Austinites (85%) prefer to ride bicycles on a path or trail that is separate from a street.[1] With this data, we now have a greater understanding about the psychology of the average bicyclists, so we understand how to design systems that accommodate their concerns and make them feel more comfortable choosing to ride or walk rather than drive.

Q: How do you measure success with a bicycle network?

A: Successful bicycle networks improve bicycle safety and make bicycling more convenient, comfortable and accessible to more people in Austin. Our efforts to improve bicycle safety include the addition of protected bicycle lanes and ongoing promotion of education and safety messaging to the community. The City created and/or improved 47.1 miles of bicycle infrastructure from October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014. Other important indicators are the regular bicycle counts we conduct at locations throughout the city. The most significant location is the City’s Lance Armstrong Bikeway at Waller Creek. Since December 18, 2010, more than 1 million bicyclists have used the path.

Q: What can you tell interested stakeholders about the process for prioritizing, funding, design, and construction that the various projects call for?

A: The City of Austin began this process by collecting bike and trail projects from Neighborhood Plans, the Bicycle Master Plan, Imagine Austin and the Parks and Recreation Department Long Range Facilities Plan. Staff used that information and presented it at public meetings to gather further feedback. We used this feedback and best practices (national and international) to prioritize the City’s greatest bicycle infrastructure and safety needs. The Plan is currently scheduled for discussion and possible action at the Nov. 6 City Council meeting.

[1] Movability Austin’s research shows that drivers prefer separated facilities as well, so this new design is a win for everyone!


image via City of Austin

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