After seven years of planning, a project to add the first official dedicated bike lanes on the eastern edge of UT’s campus is underway.
Protected bicycle lanes on Manor Road, from Clyde Littlefield Drive to Dean Keeton Street, have been a long-standing recommendation from the City’s 2014 Bicycle Plan. The City was able to move forward on the project following the 2016 Mobility Bond Program, said Laura Dierenfield, a active transportation program manager within the Austin Transportation Department.
“We did a big participation process in the summer of 2017 called Walk + Bike Talks,” Dierenfield said. “This project is certainly one that was of a high need, and we were able to take it up soon thereafter with a public process and then work out how best to address the needs of people using the street.”
Jeremy Hernandez, bicycle specialist for UT Parking and Transportation services, said in the past, sharrows, or lane markings used on roads too narrow for separate bike lanes, have been added to campus roads.
Parking and Transportation Services has been working with the Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Austin on this project to provide campus connection with bike lanes from the east side, Hernandez said.
“The project was always planned to eventually add lanes,” Hernandez said in an email. “It will eventually continue and connect to Manor Road under I-35.”
Once completed, the bike lanes are estimated to cost approximately $73,000 for painted lines and plastic delineators along the road to physically separate the lane from other traffic, according to the project website.
Dierenfield said the Austin Transportation Department will decide the level of separation for bike lanes based on how heavily utilized the area is.
“This connection on Clyde Littlefield and Manor offers really important East-West connection for all ages and abilities,” Dierenfield said. “What we’re looking to do is try to provide that level of comfort to all people who are biking, scootering and getting to and from campus along that route.”
Tristan Heinen, a member of the Campus Bike Alliance and the City’s Bicycle Advisory Council, said while this bike lane connection is nice for those cycling in that area, there still are not any safe biking connections for students living in other areas.
“It doesn’t provide a connection for where the bulk of students live,” Heinen, a biology senior, said. “There is no safe bike route from West Campus to the UT campus. Not enough students use this route to make it a high priority for UT.”
Heinen said he would like to see the University also put more effort into adding bike lanes on busier campus roads, such as San Jacinto Boulevard or Speedway.
“With the new lanes, you get a safe biking facility for two minutes of your ride, and then you’re sharing with buses and traffic again,” Heinen said. “It just feels a little bit like they’re checking the box on having bike lanes without actually taking a systemic and University-wide approach to the safety of students.”