Wanted: better bike data

The city is riding blind.

Wanted: better bike data
Stardust Vintage on S. Lamar. 

Back in 2014, the city of Austin published the Bicycle Master Plan. The plan presented a vision for building an All Ages And Abilities Bicycle Network, described as "a system that can be enjoyed comfortably and safely by anyone, whether they’re a beginner or experienced, whether they’re 8 or 80 years old."

The plan recognized that a comprehensive bike network would require a variety of infrastructure:

  • Urban trails, which are completely separate from roads, and are somewhat akin to bike highways.
  • Protected bike lanes, which provide a physical barrier between cyclists and cars on roads
  • Quiet, neighborhood streets where car traffic is sparse and slow

As part of the plan, the city conducted a survey on people's attitudes towards biking and divided the city's residents into several cycling profiles. Below is lifted (but abridged) directly from the plan:

  1. “Strong and the Fearless” will ride regardless of roadway conditions. In Austin, this group accounts for 1 to 2 % of the population.
  2. The “Enthused and Confident” are comfortable sharing the roadway with automotive traffic, but they prefer to do so operating on their own facilities. They appreciate bicycle lanes on busy streets. In Austin this group accounts for 15 % of the population
  3. The “Interested but Concerned” is the largest demographic and are those who are curious about bicycling but concerned about their safety due to motor vehicle traffic on busy streets. They like riding a bicycle, remembering back to their youth, or a recent ride, and they would like to ride more. But, they are afraid to ride. They get nervous thinking about what would happen to them on a bicycle when a driver runs a red light, or guns their cars around them, or passes too closely and too fast. In Austin, this group represents 39 to 45 % of the population.
  4. The “No Way, No How” group is not interested in bicycling at all, for reasons of topography, inability, or simply a complete and utter lack of interest. In Austin, this accounts for 39 to 44 % of the population.

Protected or perilous?