2024BFRNT: South Congress (William Cannon to Stassney, northbound)

Second installment in the 2024 Bike Facility Roast N Toast series.

Location: South Congress, northbound, between William Cannon and Stassney (approx).

Implemented: Right now (2024)

Type: 1-way red sidewalk bike lane (up on curb)

Context: High density of curb cuts into auto-oriented businesses

Prediction when installed: Sucks rocks.

Experience as a cyclist: (See below).

This facility is one I encountered while it was near completion but still technically under construction. The previous condition was a fairly rough patch where the road is still in its old TXDOT configuration and the city hasn’t had an opportunity to add good on-street bike lanes (which exist both north and south of this stretch).

The area in question: Roughly between Stassney and William Cannon. There’s no recent enough Google Maps StreetView to show you but I’ll show older conditions once to get it out of the way:

Looking north, 2022 vintage, about halfway in between Wm Cannon and Stassney

So the old facility was mostly nonexistent to a very small shoulder. Which going southbound was fine as it’s a fast downhill; going northbound, ranging from riding in the small shoulder to going on the sidewalk (which I actually did in some spots, which should tell you how bad it was).

So anything would be an improvement, right? Well, sad trombone says otherwise.

First, they have only added something on the southbound side for now. Second, it’s a fucking red sidewalk. I took these pictures on a lunch ride specifically for this purpose; and I don’t have great recollection enough to precisely geotag but here’s the general idea. First, the ideal: a red sidewalk with no curb cuts. Seems OK, right?

Well, it ain’t all like that. Here’s a more representative view near where it starts

This is a disaster for everybody. For inexperienced cyclists, it leads them to a place where they think they can go fast, but at any moment, a car will pull into the facility to turn onto S Congress. Yes, they do. This one wasn’t even open yet but I saw it multiple times. And it’s even worse: the people who like to cape for dumb bike facilities will often tell you ‘advanced cyclists will just take the lane’. Sure, they will. In the meantime, beginner cyclist went too fast downhill and ran into the side of a car that pulled across the Red Sidewalk in order to get visibility to make their turn onto S Congress. “Too Fast” is very easy to accomplish when going downhill; the only way not to T-bone or be T-boned here is to restrict yourself to pedestrian speed, which is very hard on a downhill slope (even kids will do it).

But that’s not all.

I took the lane on my way back from the Great San Marcos Round Trip and proceeded to get honked at by multiple cars, even though I was going about 30 mph (remember, most of this is on a downhill and I had a tailwind), and even though it was obviously still under construction. What the hell do you think’s going to happen months later when it’s obviously complete and “advanced cyclists” are taking the lane instead of getting out of their way and using that expensive looking special bike thing over there?

Well, you might ask, whatever choice did they have? Well, I’ll answer quickly because it’s freaking obvious, an on-street painted lane like already exists north and south of here and which I have ridden successfully at high speeds dozens of times and never had to suddenly stop for a car turning across it (which, although theoretically possible, is thousands of times LESS likely because the bike lane is visibly part of the road instead of a sidewalk).

This facility ALSO is not going to attract any novice cyclists who wouldn’t have already either used an on-street bike lane or a sidewalk because the red paint doesn’t change the fact that this is a noisy, stinky, dirty, unpleasant place to ride. The curb cuts in/out of auto-oriented businesses aren’t suddenly going away. This decision to do this in place of a normal painted bike lane made things much worse for normal cyclists trying to get places, while doing nothing to attract the anxious cyclists who told you this kind of facility is what it will take to get them to ride and anything short of this is a war crime.

Hot buckets of garbage. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more of this on the way.

Comfort/pleasantness rating for adults: Ranges from 0 at worst to 5 in the no-curb-cut part

Perceived safety for AAA: 9

Actual safety for adult-speed cycling: 0 to 4

Actual safety for child-speed cycling: 0 to 4

How Right Was M1EK: 10 (when I saw it being built, I thought it would suck; and I’ve already seen multiple cars pull right across the thing without looking).

Encourages bad behavior: 0 (0 is the worse end; encourages cycling in dangerous conditions where only pedestrian speed is really safe).

A few more pics for ambiance follow.