Forty bicyclists made the trip from the Austin City Hall Plaza on Cesar Chavez Street to an early voting site at the South Congress H-E-B on Thursday evening to support construction of more bike paths, trails and transit infrastructure in Austin.
The League of Bicycling Voters and the Austin Flyers Women’s Cycling organized the event to demonstrate support for Proposition 1, the local transportation bond issue on the ballot.
If passed, Proposition 1 would provide $44 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects, highlighting the creation of more bike lanes, sidewalks and trails throughout the city.
UT alumnus Griffin Davis, a former president of The Trail Foundation, said a lot of citizen input was considered in making the proposition.
“One of the things people wanted was a choice, an alternative to riding their car,” he said.
Davis said in a progressive city like Austin, where thousands of people commute to work by bicycle every day, the promise of alternative transportation is very strong.
“When you look at the greater issue, the roads-only approach doesn’t work,” Davis said. “We have to add additional options for getting people around the city.”
Eileen Schaubert, a League of Bicycling Voters board member, said the proposition is historic because it is the first time something significant is being invested in transportation projects other than the development of roads in Austin.
She said while the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 20 years ago, Austin’s sidewalk network is still not compliant.
“We need to complete our pedestrian trails and allow them to be usable by people of all abilities and ages. Our population is getting older and they won’t be able to drive in the same way, and we want them to stay active,” Schubert said.
The proposition has received significant opposition in recent weeks. A political action committee, Sensible Transportation Solutions for Austin, formed to oppose the proposition, with significant financial support from former Texas Monthly founder Michael Levy. Several East Austin neighborhood groups have also criticized the plan for focusing too much on downtown.
But at the ride Thursday night, Siobhan Jones, a pre-athletic training sophomore, said the addition of bike lanes will make biking around the city safer.
“I bike a lot and think that it becomes a safety hazard when the sidewalk ends, and you find yourself on the street,” she said. “Bike lanes can fix this problem.”