Voters approved $3.3 million of bond funds in 2011 to address bike safety issues in the county, and the court appointed members to a Bicycle Safety Task Force to develop recommendations on how to spend those funds. The task force looked for gaps in the network and aimed to address obvious safety issues in multiple precincts of the county, BSTF member Erick Benz told commissioners May 3.
“A second grader riding to school has different needs from a recreational cyclist, and they need different facilities,” said Benz, who is also board president of local group Bike Austin.
Commissioners approved the list of recommended bicycle safety projects for 2011 bond funds on a 3-0-2 vote. The task force’s recommended projects included:
- adding bicycle facilities on Howard Lane to improve connectivity to Capital Metro’s Howard Lane bus station
- adding facilities on Bullick Hollow Road from RM 620 to FM 2769, including an additional 2-foot shoulder to provide a buffer for cyclists
- adding shoulders along Circle Drive from W. Hwy. 290 to Thomas Springs Road
- smoothing road surface for cyclists along shoulders of Southwest Parkway from Travis Cook Road to W. Hwy. 71
- adding a pedestrian hybrid beacon at Quinlan Park Road near Steiner Ranch Elementary School
- adding a pedestrian hybrid beacon at Johnny Morris Road at Daffan Lane
Additionally, Benz said the BSTF encourages the county to develop a comprehensive Travis County bicycle master plan and approve a position in its 2017 operating budget for a bicycle/pedestrian planning staffer. The court did not vote on those items.
Commissioners voted 4-0-1 to create a bicycle advisory committee. The court also approved a document listing potential projects for future county and city bond elections, including bicycle facility improvements in Austin and Pflugerville, with another 4-0-1 vote.
Commissioner Ron Davis abstained from each vote, citing financial concerns and adding that he wanted more feedback from Travis County Transportation & Natural Resources staff before making a decision.
Resident John Woodley, who said he is an advocate for disability access, stated the county could seek federal funding to make Americans with Disabilities Act improvements to the proposed projects.
“Some of the plans are to give an extra two feet of [space for cyclists],” he said. “I don’t think that’s quite enough to include people with disabilities who have to use a wheelchair, for example.”
Cyd Grimes, Travis County Purchasing Agent and property owner, said making improvements along Hamilton Pool Road—which were among the potential project candidates for future bond elections—would be too expensive and cyclists could instead be diverted into the existing cycling trails system. She added road development in the area would be difficult since it is designated as a preserve.
“We need to be very careful in these highly environmentally sensitive areas that you and the taxpayers have spent millions of dollars to make a preserve and a nice park,” she said.