Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, July 6

I doubt that it will come as a surprise to you but Austin has a traffic problem. Given how fast this area is growing (I’ve heard figures as high as 150 people a day are moving into the area), there is no way to build roads fast enough to keep up with the growth of traffic.
This gives us all lots of opportunities to work on our patience. Mine needs a lot of work. The solutions to this congestion are mostly not very good. The quickest solution would be a major economic depression. People out of work don’t need to drive to work, and probably couldn’t afford the gas anyway. But that is a pretty drastic approach that none of us want to see!
A much better approach is to foster mass transit and alternate transit opportunities. The city has installed new bus routes and exclusive bus lanes. I hope that works and more people start using the bus for their commute. It is perfectly acceptable to come to church by bus. There is also a plan to bring rail into Austin, with all the debate over the route, the cost, the impact of building rail in the heart of the city, etc. And finally the city has encouraged people to bike rather than drive in order to help alleviate traffic.
I mention all this because several months ago the city installed a dedicated bike lane down Guadalupe Street, right in front of the church. In theory I am in favor of promoting bike travel in the city, but in practice there are sometimes other complications.
For us here at St Austin the problem is the interaction of pedestrians and bicycles. While bicyclists sometimes complain that automobile drivers do not watch for bicycles and respect them, in much the same way sometimes bicyclists do not watch for nor respect pedestrians. Specifically here at St. Austin, we have had a few instances where drivers parking in front of the church were nearly run over by a bicycle flying down the bike lane between the parking lane and the sidewalk. I also notice that pedestrians crossing Guadalupe at 21st street congregate in the bike lane, and occasionally there are near misses between bikes and pedestrians there as well.
So I am asking all of you to PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL when crossing the green bike lane in front of the church. Think of it as a danger zone, like a minefield, and be very careful. Bike ridership is predicted to increase, and I think we will see more and more bike traffic going by in front of our church. Please look both ways and watch out for the bikes. Stay safe. Thank you.
God bless,

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