Multi-year project to add bike lanes around city

The city is working on a 20 year plan to add close to 100 miles of bike lanes to increase safety both for cyclists and drivers.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 11:56 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Drivers in central Laredo may have noticed construction crews over the past three weeks around the Santa Maria Avenue and Chicago Street area.

That’s because the city is working on a 20 year plan to add close to 100 miles of bike lanes to increase safety both for cyclists and drivers.

KGNS sat with the city’s planning director to talk about the future of the project.

”Where we have streets that are wide, why not make them a little less wide and then provide a safe place for people to get around on their bicycle?”

In just 10 years, Laredoans can expect a connected network of 70 miles of bike lanes and trails, and in 20 years, another 55 miles.

The Laredo and Webb County area Metropolitan Planning Organization developed an active transportation plan to assess the needs and wants of Laredoans when it comes to walking, bicycling, and riding public transit.

Out of nearly 2,000 survey respondents, including those who ride bikes and those who don’t, about 87% said the city needed more bike lanes.

”Why do people bicycle less here? Part of that is cultural, but part of that is because they don’t feel safe.”

The existing bike lanes are mostly unconnected, which is another reason for the lack of bike riding, according to the city’s planning director Kirby Snideman, who is also the MPO director.

”One thing you might notice is that all the bicycle lanes are not connected. If we complete all those in the next 10 years, we will go from our longest connection being four miles to 70 miles of connected bicycle lanes.”

The proposed bicycle network will happen over three phases, the 10 year network, 20 year network, and buildout network.

The 10 year project is expected to cost around $19 million, which is significantly lower than the Texas Department of Transportation’s $763 million construction plans for the Laredo area.

Snideman says there has been some resistant to change as well as concern among residents during the construction of the Santa Maria bike lanes since the turning lane was temporarily closed off.

”We’re not talking about forcing everyone to ride bikes. All we’re talking about is giving people options.”

The project along Santa Maria Avenue will be complete by the end of next week once crews re-stripe the roads.

Snideman says the next project will be a connected bike trail between Zacate Creek and Chacon Creek.

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