A few days ago, District 5 City Council rep Shirley Gonzales
wrote an opinion piece for the Express-News about our autocentric infrastructure
and its literal impact on pedestrians and cyclists. To wit, Gonzales brought up a startling fact: Since she's been in office, there's been an average of one pedestrian death or serious injury per month in her district. She also highlights the high mortality and serious-injury rate for pedestrians and cyclists hit by motorists, which, according to her analysis was about 98 percent over a five year period.
The former Iron Man competitor herself enjoys walking and riding around her neighborhood and Downtown and is upfront about her personal connection to this issue. Her op-ed made clear that she's approaching the ongoing redevelopment of the City of San Antonio's master plan with more pedestrian- and cycle-friendly goals in mind. Good for her, because San Antonio desperately needs a committed advocate on the Council to ensure we're not just paying lip-service to valuing cyclists and pedestrians, we're actually walking the walk as well via improved sidewalks, more bike lanes, more functioning streetlights, stricter attention to car-pedestrian and car-cyclist accidents and better connectivity for sidewalks, trails, bike lanes and bike routes.
As it happens, a great place for city officials, the office of sustainable development (the COSA department in charge of bike initiatives) and the department of public works/transportation to start would be with this very cool interactive map by Strava. Strava is an app
popular with competitive athletes where you can track your walks, runs or bike trips via GPS. The company recently analyzed its users' data to form a global heatmap of the most traveled routes.
As Joseph Stromberg notes over at Vox
, because Strava is geared toward those who work out, this isn't necessarily a great indicator of where the most commuter cyclists and neighborhood walkers are, but, in terms of public safety, this could be a great tool to start determining the geographic allocation of resources. The most frequented routes by Strava users are highlighted in red, then dark blue, then light blue. You can view routes used only by cyclists or only by runners/walkers or both.
There's a lot to learn on this map. For instance, while, yes, the River Walk is frequently used, Broadway, McCullough, St. Mary's and Alamo also appear heavily used, (although, one should be aware in looking at this map that people frequently track marathon and cycling event data with Strava, which can make some event routes appear very heavily used on a regular basis). Fredericksburg Road is also surprisingly popular. If anyone needed proof that cyclists (and apparently some joggers, too) use 1604 on the North Side, it's right there.
On the West Side, streets around Woodlawn Lake seem almost as popular as the lake track itself, and both Commerce and Buena Vista see moderate-to-high usage near Elmendorf Lake. Similarly, on the South Side, several streets surrounding the Mission Reach appear to be used as well. Lastly, one can see that, in terms of the Green Way, the "if you build it, they will come"
approach appears to have paid off, especially on the East Side, where Salado Creek appears to provide the only viable route.
There you go, COSA, the data's there, the will is there, so get moving.