AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Bike Austin and UT students are asking the university to install bike lanes on San Jacinto Boulevard after a bicyclist was killed there last week. January 28, Navy veteran and FOX 7 Austin employee Tony Diaz was riding his bicycle through the UT campus when a Cap Metro bus ran into him.
“UT really has been falling further and further behind in terms of its bike friendliness,” said Chris Riley, president of Bike Austin. Riley said it shouldn't have taken Tony’s death for the University of Texas to realize it's time to make the campus safer.
“We really need to see a sense of urgency on the part of the university to deal with what is obviously a very dangerous situation,” Riley said.
San Jacinto is already known as a major bike corridor with bike lanes on either side of the UT campus. “But through the University of Texas campus there are no bike lanes at all. There's just one lane of car traffic in each direction and head-in angled parking,” said Riley.
The road became even more popular as the university began redesigning the Speedway Mall.
“Since that's not very useful now, a lot more bikes are using San Jacinto. And UT fully expected more bicyclists to be using San Jacinto when they did that to Speedway, but they've done nothing to make San Jacinto any safer,” Riley said.
In 2013, the university approved a Campus Master Plan that included removing some parking and adding a bicycle path on San Jacinto, but construction has yet to begin. “We need to see action now. There's no reason people should be subjected to risks like this. We can fix this and the university really should,” said Riley.
Currently, the only indication that bikes can ride through the area are white markings on the road and now, with the addition of electric scooters on campus, there are more people than ever riding around unprotected. That's why Riley said steps need to be taken immediately to prevent what happened to Diaz from happening to someone else.
"Whenever there's a collision between a bike and a car, and a vehicle like that, the bike is going to be at a real disadvantage. and people are going to die," Riley said.
Bike Austin suggested several things the university could do while they plan for permanent construction of a bike path. Restriping the street and adding flexible reflective posts are some of the cheaper options.