Leander P&Z commission considers testing bike lane barrier system

Bicyclists ride alongside vehicle traffic.

Bicyclists ride alongside vehicle traffic.

Leander Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a recommendation for the installation of a barrier system between the bicycle and vehicle lanes at the intersection of Vista Ridge and Municipal Drive with Bagdad Road at its meeting Thursday night.

The recommendation will go to the City Council for consideration.

If passed by the council, a series of vertical poles will be attached to the border of the bicycle lane, along with a shorter, continuous solid barrier. The distance the barrier will run from the intersection will be decided by city engineering staff in the future, per the commission’s recommendation.

Leander Assistant City Manager Tom Yantis presents three options for a bike lane barrier to planning and zoning commission members. The option on the left was recommended by commissioners.[/caption]

Two other options were considered by the commission: a raised button that would allow a car to drive over it but still cause the driver to physically notice the barrier, or vertical poles without the short unbroken barrier.

The potential need for further separation than the existing painted line indicating a bike lane was brought to city staff’s attention by Leander ISD and Commissioner Marshall Hines, Assistant City Manager Tom Yantis said. Drivers move their vehicles into the bike lane to make right turns, putting bicyclists—including school children—in danger, Hines said.



Yantis said the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices discourages the use of barriers between vehicle and bike lines with the suggestion that they could be hazardous to bicyclists.

“We’re sort of torn from the staff level,” Yantis said. “We’ve got this guidance [manual] over here, [but] we know that other communities are doing this; they’re providing these barriers.”

Commissioner Uryan Nelson, who said he rides bicycles, said the barrier could create a safety issue because when drivers go to turn right, bicycles in the separated lane may go straight.

Commission Chairman Sid Sokol said he was concerned about legal issues and the city’s liability if there are injuries due to the poles. Yantis said the city’s liability is limited, but it could still be sued.

“If somebody runs into one of those [poles], it may be striking for them, but I contend that that is a dramatically less severe thing than them making that mistake with a child on a bicycle, and that is, I believe, a real risk at this point,” Hines said.

If instated, the intersection’s bike lane separators would be used as a trial to determine if they should be involved at intersections with bike lanes city-wide, Yantis said.

Commissioner Angela Means said she would prefer all three types of barriers be tested at the intersection rather than just the one selected. However, she voted to approve the recommendation for the vertical poles and continuous barrier.

Commissioners Jason Anderson and Laura Lantrip were not in attendance at the meeting Thursday evening.
By Abby Bora
Abby Bora started at Community Impact Newspaper in May 2017. After working as a reporter, she became editor of the Cedar Park-Leander edition in October 2018. She covers Leander ISD and city government. Bora graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. with a bachelor’s degree in media and communications studies.


MOST RECENT

Project Connect, Capital Metro's public transportation expansion plan, would include three light-rail lines running through the city and underground train stations downtown. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
Is now the right time to rethink transit in Austin? Local leaders respond to community questions about Project Connect

Austin City Council and the Capital Metro board of directors will decide June 10 on whether to adopt Project Connect—the plan to revamp public transportation in the area.

The flute section of the Rouse High School marching band from Leander performs in this 2017 file photo. (Courtesy Leander ISD)
Texas schools may begin hosting sports workouts, band practices June 8

The University Interscholastic League released guidelines for allowing sports workouts and marching bands to practice.

Williamson County Commissioners Court approved two grant programs for specialty courts during a special meeting May 26. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
Williamson County Court at Law 2 seeks grant funding for veterans and DWI/drug treatment specialty courts

The Williamson County Commissioners Court approved the grant applications during a special meeting May 26.

The Goodwater Trail around Lake Georgetown is one of two Texas trails with an International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic designation. This distinction means a trail is considered technically demanding, physically challenging and set within a landscape that is beautiful to behold. (Courtesy Paul Littlefield/Georgetown Cyclewerx)
Slaying ‘The Dragon': Goodwater Trail at Lake Georgetown draws adventure-seeking cyclists

The trail is one of only two in Texas with an International Mountain Bicycling Association Epic designation.

May 25 specifically saw 86 new coronavirus cases, the single largest one-day jump in the county during the pandemic. (Graphic by Community Impact Newspaper)
172 new COVID-19 cases in Travis County, two new deaths over Memorial Day weekend

May 25 specifically saw 86 new coronavirus cases, the single largest one-day jump in the county during the pandemic.

Renderings show plans for a transit station as part of Capital Metro's Project Connect. (Rendering courtesy Capital Metro)
Changes to Project Connect plan add $60 million to local cost estimate

Capital Metro Board Chair Wade Cooper called the upcoming June 10 meeting to finalize the technical aspects of the plan "one of the most consequential votes this board has taken in its history."

Members of the Dawoodi Bohra community have sewn more than 100 masks for essential workers and have donated them to The Mask Brigade of Williamson County. (Courtesy Mubaraka Malbari)
Austin Islamic community Dawoodi Bohra provides financial assistance, face masks during pandemic

The Dawoodi Bohra community of Austin has worked to provide financial assistance and offered support to first responders and essential personnel during the health crisis.

texas-reopening
LIST: What is open, closed in Texas and how businesses can operate

Texas openings are staggered with different opening dates and operating limits.

New Braunfels is the third-fastest-growing city in the U.S. from 2010-19, according to the latest census numbers. (Community Impact staff)
These 5 Central Texas cities are among the fastest-growing in the U.S.

Four of the five cities represent notable growth in Williamson County.

Three Leander businesses were awarded a total of $10,000 in city business grants May 21. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Leander awards $10,000 of COVID-19 business grants May 21

Three Leander businesses were awarded a total of $10,000 in city business grants May 21.