Support protected bike lanes on Shoal Creek Boulevard
Shoal Creek Boulevard between 38th Street and Hwy 183 (map) is a crucial 5 mile north-south route for people on bicycles going between north and central Austin. However, the street’s current shared parking-bike lane forces people on bikes to regularly veer out into the traffic lane, risking being hit from behind. This dangerous arrangement especially prohibits more vulnerable users, such as children and the elderly, from bicycling Shoal Creek.
Inspired by the vision of a world-class bicycling boulevard that’s safe for all ages and abilities, Bike Austin has campaigned for several years for protected bicycle lanes on Shoal Creek. Thousands of people and over a hundred businesses have signed our petition and support continues to grow.
The Dream of a Big Loop
Recently, the Shoal Creek protected bicycle lane campaign has become even more exciting with the emergence of The Big Loop, a proposed 30-mile system of hike-trail trails that connects the Walnut Creek Trail, South Walnut Creek Trail, and Ann and Roy Butler Trail. The Big Loop would be an incredible bicycling facility and can only exist with protected bike lanes on Shoal Creek Boulevard.
Across Austin, the community has been getting inspired by the possibility of protected bicycles lanes on Shoal Creek linking into The Big Loop. Says Rollie: “I turn 70 this winter and I still use my recumbent trike for recreation and errands like grocery shopping. I could do even more with a protected bike lane on Shoal Creek. I love the idea of a big loop.” Parents are excited for safe conditions for children: “I Just rode with my son 2 miles along Shoal Creek for his first day of school at Lamar Middle School”, says Emily. “It’s not a safe route to school at 7:45am. I hope protected lanes will help solve the problem, especially near 2222 and Shoal Creek.” And Julie reminds us of Shoal Creek’s city-wide importance: “Shoal Creek… [is] the primary way I get from NW Austin to downtown and other parts of the city. This impacts people in other zip codes too!”
Bike Lane Design: Still In Play
Recently, the Shoal Creek Conservancy (SCC) released its Vision To Action Plan, recommending a 2-way protected bike lane on the west side of Shoal Creek, similar to the bike lane on Rio Grande through West Campus. Nationwide, the 2-way design has a solid safety record and on Shoal Creek would involve the removal of only the west side parking lane, as opposed to protected bike lanes on both sides of the street, which would remove all parking.
However, everything is still in play regarding the final design; our only non-negotiable is that the lane be protected, which is the only facility safe enough for all ages and abilities. One-way, two-way, or something else – what do you think? However, it’s important to point out that none of SCC’s proposals involve removing trees, private land, or retaining walls, as some neighborhood rumors allege.
We Need You To Win This
At last, the City of Austin has heard our call! On December 12th, the City held a listening lesson to collect the community’s safety and mobility needs on Shoal Creek. If you couldn’t make the meeting, complete the City of Austin Shoal Creek survey and say “I want protected bike lanes on Shoal Creek!”
A protected bike lane on Shoal Creek would be one of Austin’s most wonderful bicycling experiences (and it would only improve the walking experience too!). Imagine one day seeing a procession of children, older folks, commuters, visitors, and local residents on bicycles enjoying a safe world-class ride on Shoal Creek, part of a stunning hike-bike network that wraps around Austin. If we all speak up for and win protected bike lanes, the rewards will be reaped for generations to come.