SAN ANTONIO – The 14-mile trek from Southtown to around the San Antonio Missions is described by local cyclists as a common route for people leaving downtown on two wheels.
Late this summer, journalist Alvin Holbrook and a group of cyclists allowed KSAT to tag along as they navigated the circuit. The route was not without complications.
“Yeah you’ll find like a new bike lane and that type of thing, but you’re also going to find a busy, five-lane road with a 40-mile-an-hour speed limit. You’re going to find roads that are poorly kept, be it with glass or metal shavings or just potholes,” said Holbrook.
Broken glass, overgrown vegetation, a makeshift construction ramp, trash receptacles and parked cars are among the bike lane hindrances cyclists have encountered recently during the ride.
A section of the route along White Avenue includes several blocks where cyclists are forced to move out of the bike lane into the street, due to cars parking in the bike lane, particularly during evening hours.
Despite eight separate signs informing drivers that there is no parking allowed and that their vehicle can be towed, KSAT could find only two vehicles that had been cited for parking along the street illegally.
Just blocks away, on VFW Boulevard, a makeshift construction ramp had been built into the bike lane.
City officials last week confirmed the ramp, built as a construction entrance to not impede traffic to a nearby library and YMCA, was in the process of being removed by the contractor at the site.
“We’re not necessarily seeing the will or the resources that are put in to making sure that those can continually be used into the future,” said Holbrook, when asked by KSAT about bike lanes specifically.
Holbrook also raised concerns about the overarching issue of connectivity, pointing out that key parts of the city do not connect to other key parts of the city for cyclists.
“Oh, we’re aware and they’re exactly right. We have some really great facilities in San Antonio but they do just abruptly end,” said Harley Hubbard, San Antonio Transportation Department Assistant to the Director.
Hubbard said a 2011 bike plan laid the groundwork for cycling infrastructure in San Antonio and officials hope to fix the gaps as part of a bike network plan scheduled to be presented to City Council in the spring of 2025.
“So that cyclists can go from one facility to the next without feeling a change or difference in safety,” said Hubbard.
Hubbard said the Transportation Department is wrapping up an existing conditions report, which should be publicly available by the end of the year, and is currently gathering public feedback in the form of surveys as well as taking part in community outreach events in each council district.
“You know some roads have come up commonly that need improved safety. Some roads have come up that need improved maintenance. And a lot of people that really want to cycle more for their daily needs and just don’t feel safe to do so yet. We’re hoping to fix that with this plan when we present in April of 2025 to City Council,” said Hubbard.
“We are listening. We have ears to the ground. There’s a reason this bike plan is taking two years and it’s because we are going through a very rigorous public outreach process,” said Hubbard.
Robert Reyna, a Public Works Department assistant director, said the city approved funding in the most recent budget cycle to purchase a four-foot-wide sweeping vehicle. The sweeper will be used to drive through and clean bike lanes.
Reyna said the department will also create a bike lane sweeping plan.
He said people who see issues in city bike lanes, such as broken glass, can file a report by calling 311.