New Central Texas plan will outline walking, biking options

Active transportation involves using one's body to get around, including walking and biking.

Active transportation involves using one's body to get around, including walking and biking.

The Central Texas region has about 1,100 miles of bicycle facilities and another 1,500 miles planned. A new plan aims to connect those facilities and create a safer network for cyclists and pedestrians.

The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is undertaking the creation of the Regional Active Transportation Plan, which would be the first in Central Texas. The plan will also propose where to fill in the gaps with sidewalks and bicycle facilities and how to prioritize projects based on need and demand.

At a Tuesday open house, CAMPO Project Manager Kelly Porter explained the purpose of the active transportation plan is to create a vision for a "highly safe" network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities and amenities, including trails, bike lanes, benches and shade.

US 183 Kelly Porter (right) from the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization talks to residents Tuesday evening about proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities near US 183.[/caption]

“Bike lanes may not be appropriate everywhere so trails may be more appropriate in places,” he said. "Even in rural areas a nice wide shoulder might be good. It’s looking at context and also supporting coordination amongst all our jurisdictions.”

CAMPO is seeking public feedback on the active transportation plan. Eight more open house events are planned, and an online survey is open through Feb. 15. Residents may also add comments on an interactive map.

Jollyville Road uproar

A subset of the active transportation plan is a study of bike and pedestrian facilities and access along and near US 183 in Northwest Austin and southern Cedar Park. The Near Northwest Case Study will identify bike and pedestrian options that would be safe for all ages to use and serve as an example for other similar corridors in Central Texas.

Concepts proposed so far have included connecting existing bike facilities on Pond Springs and Jollyville roads and creating new connections on side streets instead of adding facilities on US 183.

Another concept would create five new connections crossing over US 183 for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. These would be similar to crossovers at Hancock Drive over MoPac in Austin or Park Street over Toll 183A in Cedar Park.

"Those short trips can stay on the local streets," Porter said.

This proposal could alleviate concerns from Northwest Austin residents such as Richard Faidley about the difficulty cyclists have with crossing US 183.

“People want dedicated facilities to get through,” he said.

However, one concept to remove a travel lane in each direction on Jollyville Road to incorporate more bike facilities has drawn concern from many Northwest Austin residents.

Ann de Rouffignac, who lives in the Laurel Oaks Neighborhood Association, said many residents in her neighborhood use Jollyville to get to their homes and travel through the area instead of using the US 183 frontage roads.

She said she would like to see a proposal emerge that would allow for both bicycles and vehicles on Jollyville that does not negatively affect either one. The Jollyville concept to remove travel lanes, she said, seemed to have been presented as a done deal.

“You can’t take one mode and give it to another an expect it to solve the problem,” she said.

Porter said these concepts are just ideas and not set in stone. Before any work would begin, he said the city of Austin would need to further study the concept and identify funding before construction. CAMPO also has a five-lane option for Jollyville that would not require removing any travel lanes.

“If they decide they want to do that they would have to do all the approvals and the funding; all we’re saying is here’s some options,” he said.
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.


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