On the right track: UTSA’s progressive bike lanes

In 2012, Bike magazine ranked San Antonio 47th on the list of top 50 bike friendly cities in America. However, San Antonio has failed to make the list in successive years, highlighting the need for bike infrastructure reform.

In May, San Antonio City Council representatives voted to remove over two miles of bike lanes from South Flores Street. Local residents claimed the bike lanes were a hindrance to traffic.

In the 450-square-mile Alamo City, bike lanes are hard to come by.

However, UTSA appears to be bucking the city’s downward health trend. The university — working with the City of San Antonio — started the 2014 semester with newly added bike lines on Valero Way. The lanes line both sides of the street, eliminating vehicle parking.

In addition to adding bike lines on Valero Way, UTSA has begun to work with the Texas Department of Transportation to widen UTSA Boulevard. The project will improve the traffic-heavy road which, when completed, will have two lanes in both directions, a center lane, turn lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks and other pedestrian pathways. The project is slated to begin this fall.

UTSA’s bike lane expansion spearheads the city’s plan for infrastructure growth over the next 25 years. Included in the city’s plans are strategies to improve city health by tripling the amount of bike lane surface in the area.

Now that bike lanes have been added close to campus, the university must work on continuing bike safety. The absence of bike lanes on Hausman, Roadrunner Way and Babcock — all streets that house off campus student apartments — should make bike safety a university priority.

According to university statistics and the College News and Education website, approximately 12 percent of UTSA students live in college-owned, operated or affiliated housing, while 88 percent of students live off-campus. Based on these statistics, approximately 3,360 students are at risk if they choose to bike to class without safe bike lanes.

These students compete with the 88 percent of students who commute — a figure just under 25,000.

Additionally, a recent poll on the UTSA Today website showed 28 percent of UTSA respondents drive less than five miles to campus everyday. The addition of bike lanes will be a welcome alternative for students who not only want to save gas but also want to avoid the traffic while keeping fit.
While these statistics seem pressing, UTSA has done a remarkable job working with the city to install bike lanes along Valero Way. Despite San Antonio’s struggle to maintain its bike lanes, the university has improved bike safety in a short time and appears poised to stay on track to improve university health and safety.