UT Austin says no current plans for bike lane on San Jacinto

Nine months after a Capital Metro bus driver hit and killed FOX 7 Austin employee and bicyclist Tony Diaz, the University of Texas at Austin has made no changes to the street there.

Tuesday, A UT representative provided an update on construction progress to the Bicycle Advisory Council. 

The council said construction on Red River Street is already driving additional bicyclists, scooter riders and cars to San Jacinto Boulevard at a time when there are more options than ever for students to get to and from campus. 

"Students today want to walk, they want to scooter, they want to ride their bike, they want to do anything but take a car," said Kathryn Flowers, chair of the Austin Bicycle Advisory Council. 

She hoped that would convince UT officials it's time to invest in safer options for those on two wheels. One area of particular concern is San Jacinto Boulevard. 

"San Jacinto is a crucial bike corridor and it's not a safe one. I ride it every day myself," Flowers said. 

In January, a bus driver crashed into Diaz, who was biking through the angled parking spaces on the side of San Jacinto on the UT campus. 
The Bicycle Advisory Council immediately asked UT leaders to make changes there to prevent another tragedy. 

"Unfortunately, the update, as I have seen it, seems to be that, at the moment, there is no change to San Jacinto," said Flowers. 

"You could remove parking on the street, at least partially, and put in a lane with no change to the traffic pattern. That is something we've recommended to UT," she added. 

"In my experience, people get pretty defensive about the parking that they consider 'theirs,'" said Jim Walker, a representative from UT-Austin who spoke at the meeting. 

Flowers said it's not simple navigating around buses and cars entering or exiting parking garages on San Jacinto and, if anything, she finds the road has gotten less safe for bicyclists as other construction projects get underway. 

"There's a lot of ways it could be made safer pretty quickly in my opinion," Flowers said. 

"What I hear you saying is that what we have on the ground needs to better reflect our concern to safety," said Walker. 

Still, while the council continues to make recommendations, so far the university has promised little action. 

"I think that some pressure from students would help. I think, if you're affiliated with UT in anyway, and you think that there should be more options for people safely walking, biking, scootering, getting around, that's something that you should absolutely weigh in on and make your opinion known," Flowers said. 



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