Marcus Connolly / The Paisano
Since UTSA’s inception, the university has grown exponentially. The student population has increased; this means more cars traveling through campus. UTSA Boulevard has become a traffic-heavy area, which presents problems for local and student bikers. The fast-paced traffic creates a hazard for students who cross the road and ride their bike. Fortunately, steps toward improving student safety are in progress with the widening of UTSA Boulevard and new bike lanes.
The estimated $19 million project that should take about 2 years is funded through TXDOT, the city of San Antonio and the NPO, a federal funding metropolitan organization that takes federal funds and allocates them to local projects. The UTSA Boulevard project plans to widen the road to four lanes from I-10 to Babcock with additional new striping and added bike lanes. Still, additional bike lanes do not necessarily ensure safe conditions for local riders.
“Drivers (need) to slow down and follow the safe passing laws that say drivers must keep a safe distance between the car and the bicycle,” advised Councilman Nirenberg. “There’s a lot of speeding on UTSA Boulevard, there are congested parts, and people need to be real cautious because we know that UTSA is a growing area and there are residential communities in that area. We know the road will be under increasing demand, so share the road.”
In addition to the expansion of UTSA Boulevard, Nirenberg noted that new sidewalks around UTSA, safe roadway crossings and even better multimodal mobility is a foreseeable improvements to UTSA infrastucture in the future. Still, the university’s population will continue to grow, and Nirenberg has plans to create a thriving student-oriented community around each of UTSA’s campuses.
“I think everyone recognizes that UTSA is on a steep upward trajectory to become a premier institution, not only within the UT system but also nationally,” remarked Nirenberg on UTSA’s potential. “So I’m very interested in building an ecosystem around the university that is conducive to it becoming a Tier One school, and being a Tier One school means it must have great campus life for students, and great academic life for staff and faculty.”
Nirenberg plans to create an ecosystem around UTSA that will ultimately create a safer environment , which will allow students to not rely so heavily on automobile transportation.
Building local coffee shops, retail centers, and restaurants will create an ecosystem where students can have available resources within arm’s reach. Nirenberg hopes the future development of UTSA will attract new students and families to establish roots and facilitate the development of the northwest corridor.
Still, making UTSA more habitable and safer is done in small increments, and the UTSA Boulevard reconstruction project seeks to achieve the goal of safety and mobility that is more efficient. One of the councilman’s suggestions for achieving this is to create easily noticable, lime-green bike lanes for cyclists.
“We recognize that more and more people are choosing to use their bike to get to work, to get home, to get to class,” remarks Nirenberg on campus safety, “so it is vitally important, especially around a university, to provide safe bike paths for people, to give people options to live a healthy life and to reduce congestion on roads.”