On Wednesday, Oct. 13, at the San Antonio City Council B session, the city manager and staff will present their recommended list of projects for consideration on the May 2022 municipal bond. After an extensive, public-led review and vetting process, $1.2 billion will be recommended for these projects, with voter approval in May 2022.
San Antonio’s bond only comes along twice a decade and our city can’t afford to miss it or wait for an extensive planning process. We need one fully connected pedestrian and cycling network that links to destinations both on and off our streets.
Without real action, more people will be killed on our roadways amid a surge in traffic accidents, San Antonio will continue to fall behind its emissions, public health, and transportation goals, and our transportation system will keep pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users disconnected while planning new car-only highways. San Antonio needs decisive action to correct these trends, and the 2022 bond is the place for it.
ActivateSA, a nonprofit that works collectively to implement new pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure through advocacy, consensus-building, and technical design, has proposed a set of projects to build an active transportation network serving every neighborhood and giving San Antonio residents the freedom to move however they choose. Our proposal is focused on four pillars set forth by the mayor and city manager: public health, climate resilience, equity, and connectivity. Few projects can check all four of those goals, but new pedestrian and cycling connectivity, parks, and open space projects come close.
ActivateSA’s proposed projects seek to complete the greenway “wheel” around San Antonio and send spokes out from downtown to booming regional centers such as Port San Antonio, Brooks, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, the Medical Center, San Antonio International Airport, and the Arena District. These links are integrated into existing plans such as SA Tomorrow, the Brooks Redevelopment Plan, and the Great Springs Project, eventually connecting the Alamo to the Capitol.
Our city is already working towards these goals. ActivateSA supported city staff on two Share the Streets pilot projects, San Antonio’s new transportation director is leading a redesign of our Bicycle Master Plan, adding a slow streets network, and supporting San Antonio’s Vision Zero program with substantial funding from the city budget. The city has also applied for a federal RAISE Grant to fund new trails on the West Side, connecting the West Side Creekways to the Ingram Transit Center.
Additionally, other governments in the region are funding new trail, bike, and pedestrian connections. Bexar County passed millions in greenway trail funding to be allocated over the next decade, and the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) just approved funding for new trails throughout the San Antonio region. This will go a long way connecting the entire city and equitably providing access to our parks network.
But these investments are not transformational unless they are fully connected — a network is only as powerful as its links. With county and AAMPO-funded projects, Parks and Recreation planned projects, and ActivateSA’s project slate, San Antonio will complete a citywide network that connects all 10 council districts, all 13 SA Tomorrow Regional Centers, and every major park and civic institution in the city. If a transformational project is defined by propelling an entire city forward and improving the lives of residents, ActivateSA’s proposed projects are truly transformational.
In a recent City Council B session, councilmembers agreed there’s a need to repair F streets, invest in parks, and complete drainage projects through the 2022 bond. ActivateSA has layered the proposed projects on top of drainage, F Streets, and parks projects to minimize overall costs and maximize their impact.
Building a single community center can transform a neighborhood, adding bike lanes may transform a street, but building a network that serves everyone transforms an entire city. It’s time San Antonio’s pedestrians and cyclists had a network to call their own.
David Bemporad contributed to this commentary.