Austin, Texas: North Loop Blvd. (Part 1)

North Loop Blvd. east of Guadalupe Street friendlier to bicyclists and pedestrians or to automobiles?

Bellow google maps of area.
North_loop_blvd_google_map

Large green area is the Austin State Hospital Cemetery followed by commercial area east of it, right side.
North_loop_blvd_google_map2

Below picture shows the North Loop commercial district, a popular destination during weekends and evenings.

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Existing conditions of North Loop Blvd. mainly east of Guadalupe Street consist of three 11-foot wide automobile lanes and 4-foot wide bicycle lanes on both sides.  See graphic below:
North_Loop_Blvd_2Lane_Conversion_crop_exist

North Loop Blvd. is a popular route for cyclists, see videos below and under References.  It is also busy with parked cars, area cyclists visiting local businesses, and walkers.

City of Austin staff presented the bicycle master plan at a NNA workshop.  Information provided was blogged at following http://gonzalocamacho.com/2014/02/10/northfield-neighborhood-urban-development-conversation-presentation-5-of-8/. It indicates three proposed improvements, #2 “Build high-comfort protected bicycle lanes along north Loop and 53rd connecting to 53rd 1/2.”  From a cyclists point of view, two reasons the idea of “protected bicycle lanes” are troublesome:

  1. The north curb has many driveways and the business district areas is a continuous flush curb with parking.
  2. The transition between 53rd and 53rd 1/2 directs bicyclists to crossing existing rail tracks at an angle other than 90% which can be very dangerous to cyclists and rollerskating.

Considering the following expectations for North Loop Blvd.:

  1. Neighborhood street that is inviting to walkers and family activities.
  2. Provide access to local businesses.
  3. Provide a relative safe environment for avid cyclists that feel comfortable using car lanes and allow less proficient cyclists to use sidewalks.
  4. Provide a future vision for the area since many single family homes are rentals and eventually these maybe reconstructed into multi family complexes like the Koenig apartments under construction (210 apartment units) or Waller Creekside Apartmenst on 51st Street (139 apartment units, rent from $1,215 to $2,350).

Based on the above, the following cross section is proposed: two 15-foot wide car lanes shared with bicyclists and widen sidewalks on both sides by 4 feet.

North_Loop_Blvd_2Lane_Conversion_crop_prop

References:
Excerpt from http://tex-mux.wikidot.com/urban-legendsAustin State Hospital Cemetery: There’s this lovely place called Asylum Avenue (fitting?), which is now a stretch of Guadalupe (downtown and the UT campus are covered by Guadalupe). It was named so for the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, founded in 1861, but now it’s the Austin State Hospital. The cemetery was moved and most of its bodies reinterred at 51st street. Thousands of the deceased here were patients of the asylum. The place is sobering and somber, and actually composed of stretches of empty space. 3,000 patients were buried in a shroud and marked with wooden sticks, which of course were lost to time. Those patients who were buried in a pine box were given their patient’s ID number rather than a name. Graves older than 1998 have no names or dates of birth and death. There is a morbid section of the cemetery actually dedicated to just body parts thanks to the autopsies conducted by the hospital.

One comment

  1. […] Part 1 posting found at http://gonzalocamacho.com/2015/05/02/austin-texas-north-loop-blvd/ […]

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