A cyclist heading North on Broadway near Brooklyn Avenue checks backward for vehicles.
A cyclist heading north on Broadway near Brooklyn Avenue looks back to check for vehicles. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Bike San Antonio, a new local nonprofit advocacy group working to improve the city’s bicycle environment, has kicked off its campaign to install bike lanes with a physical barrier on Broadway Street.

A major cyclist corridor, the Broadway route must be made safe for the 8- to 80-year-old cyclists who frequent it. According to Bike San Antonio’s surveys, this is cyclists’ most requested project.

Proposition 1 of the City’s 2017 bond package allocates $42 million to redevelop the Broadway Street Corridor from East Hildebrand Avenue to East Houston Street. The plan is currently in the design phase, but preliminary ideas include improved lighting, buried utilities, and more trees, among others.

The most recent design of the three-mile project only allocates unspecified bike amenities to less than a half-mile south of Hildebrand. In contrast, Bike San Antonio envisions a complete street that accommodates all modes of transportation equally.

Broadway has the potential to develop into a true main street backbone of the city, and as such could become a symbolic representation of San Antonio’s character. The Broadway redevelopment is an excellent opportunity to showcase San Antonio as a city of the future that cares about the safety of its citizens and understands that more bikes on the roads is a good thing.

Therefore, designs for new developments must keep in mind how they will fit into the future fabric of the city and how they will serve future residents, not just current needs. It’s time for San Antonio to show it’s serious about improving air quality and the well-being of its residents.

We consistently hear that San Antonio wants more people to use bicycles, but the City has yet to build anything significant that shows it’s serious about Vision Zero and promoting bicycling.

Investing in bicycle infrastructure is beneficial for the city in many ways: Bicycling has been shown to improve people’s mental well-being and self-esteem, and can potentially be as effective as psychotherapy. Additionally, a new study found that cycling just 30 miles per week cuts the risks for heart disease and cancer in half. It also decreases air pollution and wear on the roads, which reduces municipal costs in the long run.

Broadway Street is a popular street for vehicles, cyclists, small businesses, and pedestrians.
A cyclists shares the road with vehicles on Broadway Street. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Among cities with more than 1 million residents, San Antonio scores lowest on walk and bike scores. With 100 being the best, we have a walk score of 38 and a bike score of 42. Especially for low-income citizens, commuting by bicycle may be the only option. Auto-oriented, car-dependent cities put those who can’t drive or afford a car at a disadvantage, and all citizens deserve safe, comfortable, and convenient ways to get around.

Installing a safe and connected bike network would increase bike usage, thereby decreasing auto traffic. Fifty-three percent of people surveyed for a recent study said they would like to bike more, but are concerned about their safety due to car traffic.

Broadway Street is a popular street for vehicles, cyclists, small businesses, and pedestrians.The current design calls for the bikeway to divert to Avenue B, but many cyclists prefer to bike on Broadway because it’s more direct. The majority of business entrances face Broadway, not Avenue B – which is essentially an alleyway where the dumpsters are kept and where the delivery trucks park to unload their goods.

A total of 247 people took Bike SA’s survey on cyclist safety in San Antonio. Respondents gave the city 49 out of 100 points, with 0 being “unsafe” and 100 meaning they feel “very safe” biking in the city. More than one-third of respondents reported having been in a crash while cycling. Seventy-seven percent of those crashes were auto-related, with 16 percent due to poor infrastructureOverall, a majority of respondents – 64 percent – want more bike paths and lanes. In a Facebook poll, Broadway was a top pick for a protected bikeway. See all results here.

The final public input meeting on the Boradway redesign will take place this fall, and Bike San Antonio will send out a message to those who have signed up once details are made public. To get updates about the plans, click here or visit Bike San Antonio on Facebook.

This article includes contributions from Daniel Day, a long haul truck driver who has commuted by bicycle in San Antonio since 2001. He’s the author of the blog Bicycle San Antonio.

Janel Sterbentz is founder and director of the bike advocacy group Bike San Antonio. She has a master's of urban studies and six years of professional transportation planning experience and also founded...