We Want Bike Lanes on Speedway (and a Bicycle Master Plan)

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We, the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Texas at Austin, petition UT President Gregory L. Fenves to direct the appropriate department to add a separated bike lane along the Speedway Mall from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Dean Keeton Street.

A separated bike lane will reduce conflicts between students. UT’s 1999 Campus Master Plan, in which the pedestrian mall was first formally proposed, calls for a separated bike lane along the entire length of Speedway. The plan observes that “conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists will be resolved by creating separate bicycle lanes.” This language, and the bike lane itself, disappeared from subsequent iterations of the campus plan. The recent redesign of the mall has proven the wisdom of the original plan as both students on bikes and students walking find the shared space frustrating.

A separated bike lane will improve mobility for all students. As the university has expanded beyond the “40 acres,” travel time between classrooms, dorms, and other destinations has also expanded. With classes scheduled as closely as ten minutes apart, walking speed is often not fast enough. By creating a bike lane on Speedway, the university will enable students to cross campus in as little as two minutes. The twelve-minute walk from Jester West to Kinsolving is reduced to a mere three minutes when biking at a leisurely ten miles per hour. The university has taken a step in the right direction with free membership in the city’s docked bikeshare system, B-cycle; now it needs to follow through with proper infrastructure.

A separated bike lane will make students safer. Without a bike lane, students may be pushed to bike on San Jacinto Boulevard or Guadalupe Street, increasing the risk of a deadly collision with a motor vehicle. A separated bike lane will also establish greater predictability and clear expectations, making the Speedway corridor safer for walking students — particularly students with disabilities.

A separated bike lane will serve all students, even those who do not use a bicycle. A bike lane will better accommodate students using boosted skateboards, electric scooters, and other innovative transportation devices than the current shared space. More students biking means less demand for the university’s limited parking.

A separated bike lane will demonstrate the university’s commitment to a sustainable future. The university has promised, through its official Campus Sustainability Policy, to “improve the long-term quality and regenerative capacity of the environmental, social and economic systems that support the University’s activities and needs.” As transportation makes up a significant share of students’ expenses and their ecological footprint, the university should be doing all it can to reduce automobile dependence.

 

THE UNIVERSITY NEEDS A BICYCLE MASTER PLAN

Additionally, the university must address the policy shortcomings that led to the lack of bike lanes on Speedway. We call on the university to commission a Bicycle Master Plan that lays out a campus-wide vision for bicycling, provides a blueprint for incorporating bike facilities into future construction, and includes a timeline for specific infrastructure improvements.

 

For more information on the Campus Bike Alliance, visit facebook.com/campusbikealliance or email campusbikealliance@gmail.com



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