Brad Sloan has had a motorized bicycle for years, but he said he never rides very far from his Northwest Austin home in Rattan Creek because he doesn’t feel safe.
“I would have a much longer range if I felt protected,” he said. “On McNeil [Drive], there is a bike lane, but it only goes half the length between Parmer and 183. That’s useless if it stops all of a sudden. I’m back out in the road.”
Sloan said painted bike lanes are not enough because distracted drivers could cross over into those bike lanes. He would like to see more protected bike lanes that use a physical barrier between cyclists and vehicles.
Plans were unveiled Thursday night that aim to improve pedestrian and bicycle access in the US 183 corridor and adjacent streets, such as McNeil, Spicewood Springs Road, Pond Springs Road, Jollyville Road, Lake Creek Parkway and near Cypress Creek Road in Cedar Park.
The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which oversees transportation planning and coordination efforts in the six-county Central Texas region, has been studying US 183 since the summer as part of the agency’s first-ever Regional Active Transportation Plan. It hosted two public meetings in October to gather input on early concepts.
CAMPO Senior Multimodal Planner Kelly Porter said US 183 is serving as a case study for the region, and the goal of the study is to show a balance of facilities for all users, including vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
“The case study helps us to really understand how certain best practices, how these goals and the vision could potentially be applied and work in an area that is very similar to how a lot of places in the region look and really understand what is appropriate for our region’s context,” he said.
CAMPO invited dozens of neighborhood groups and apartment complexes to participate in focus groups to help create the proposals. Neighborhood and homeowners associations that participated were from Anderson Mill, Avery Ranch, Canyon Creek, Hunters Chase and Milwood.
The proposals also consider the future expansion of US 183 between MoPac and SH 45 N to add two express lanes in each direction as well as filling in some sidewalk gaps on the frontage roads.
“There’s not a lot of ways to get places,” said Ian Lockwood, a livable transportation engineer with the Toole Design Group, which was hired to assist with the study. “You’re limited to a few routes. When the big highway came through a lot of those places were cut off, so we’re recommending reconnecting those connections.”
Future connections could be at Riata Trace Parkway, Pavilion Boulevard, Hymeadow Drive and Angus Road. Lockwood said it could be possible in the future to extend Pond Springs further south to Riata Trace.
“This area came out as an area that might redevelop sooner than others so we took the opportunity to reconfigure the streets to create a place,” he said.
Streets for all ages, modes
The US 183 case study proposal also outlined options to upgrade adjacent and cross streets, such as on Jollyville, Pond Springs and Anderson Mill Road, to include more pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
But one of those plans did not sit well for Doug Werner, who lives in The Mountain neighborhood off Spicewood Springs Road near US 183.
Werner said he did like some of the proposals that show how certain centers, such as those near the intersection of Pond Springs, McNeil and Spicewood Springs, could be redeveloped in the long term. A proposal showed how streets could be friendlier to cyclists and pedestrians if buildings were moved closer to the street and utilities and parking were in the back.
“My wife and I love parking at The Domain and walking to all the shops,” he said. “That would be wonderful.”
CAMPO staff will take feedback provided at Thursday’s meeting and refine the concepts. Porter said the public will then have additional opportunity to weigh in by early 2017.