Cycling on the up in San Antonio, Texas

New ordinances, awareness campaign and bike-share plan

San Antonio is making significant strides toward becoming one of the most cycling-friendly cities in the state of Texas. 

The bustling metropolis has enforced two cycle-safe ordinances, launched a cycle-awareness campaign called Get Cyched and will offer a bike-share programme as early as January 2011.

“There has been a frustrated constituency of riders out there,” said Julia Diana of the San Antonio Office of Environmental Policy. “I think it was an alignment of stars because our current city leadership sees how cycling makes a city sustainable from so many standpoints.”

“It improves air quality and increases tolerance for alternative forms of transportation, which provides choices for people to move around the city. It also promotes active transportation, which impacts public health in a positive light. These contribute to a cool and cutting-edge city that attracts cool and cutting-edge people, and every city wants to be that.”

The new Safe Passing Ordinance implemented by San Antonio City Council says cars must provide 3ft  when passing cyclists (6ft for trucks). The Bike Light Ordinance requires all cyclists to use a rear light and reflector at night. Failure to comply is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a US$200 fine.

“The passing ordinance was attempted to be passed at the state level recently but at the last minute it was vetoed by the Governor,” Diana said. “Many communities throughout the state were rightfully upset that it got so close to being passed but didn’t make it.

"We were fortunate that our city leadership was interested in putting a local ordinance in the books. It essentially re-stated what the state ordinance said. There is a lot more tolerance on the road and I’ve seen more cyclists on the streets.”

The Office of Environmental Policy’s Get Cyched campaign depicts all ages and types of cyclists using local cycling facilities. It is a six-month outreach initiative that includes radio, internet, print and outdoor advertisements that are intended to encourage the public to get out and ride their bikes.

Furthermore, San Antonio is scheduled to launch a bike-share programme called B-Cycle in January. The Office of Environmental Policy and its Bikes Program are weighing up possible locations for each station. The scheme will be federally funded from the Department of Energy’s stimulus funds along with a grant from the Centre of Disease Control and Obesity.

“Bike-share systems are catching on in other cities right now,” Diana said. “We'll roll ours out early next year with B-Cycle. We're in the site analysis phase of that project and hope to place an order pretty shortly here."

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