This video takes a close look at the bike paths in Corpus Christi, Texas. What’s the problem and what’s the solution?
In a city with more than a quarter million people, the bike situation is terrible. Most bike paths are paint on a road, gravel or they are shared with pedestrians. These new ones are very awkwardly designed. There is only one small decent bike path by the ocean. But other than that, it’s not a pleasant experience.
It looks to me that the city is not making new bike paths that follow the design guides from the Federal Highway Administration under the US Department of Transportation. These bike paths have a clear physical separation from the roads to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe and they are also smoothly paved. There are plenty of options in this guide Corpus Christi could have followed. But they didn’t. How did they get away with it?
This is Corpus Christi’s best and latest attempt at a bike path. This is the rendering, which is okay. But this is what it actually looks like in real life.
Look at this. First of all, there is no physical barrier protecting pedestrians. The rubble strips prevent cyclists from swerving onto the sidewalks, but how does it prevent pedestrians from wandering onto the bike path? This is really dangerous.
Moreover, the concrete slabs with gaps are designed for pedestrians, not for wheels. This is not good for smooth rides. Could you imagine gaps like these on roads that cars drive on? There would be a major uproar. When I mentioned this detail to people at the city, those that got back to me said this was acceptable and they felt that it was in compliance with the Federal Highway Administration.
Also, at every single block, these bike paths merge onto sidewalks. It’s awkward to swerve a bike like this at every block. I thought the whole point is to separate pedestrians from cyclists, so what is the benefit of merging the two at every block? In most states, it’s illegal for bikes to be on sidewalks. Also, look at the curb. My bike trailer holding my kid hardly fits and could hit the curb easily. This definitely isn’t built for families. Why spend all this money if it can’t be constructed correctly in my opinion?
Why didn’t they just follow the rendering? Who designed these finalized pseudo bike paths?
I asked around and got no answer.
San Antonio has these bike paths style correctly implemented, but not Corpus Christi.
From what I know, how it works in the city, is that the MPO (which is the metropolitan planning organization) made plans for bike paths but it’s up to the city as to how they are constructed. There is a huge 134 page plan they made with the renderings you can find on coastalbendinmotion.org. What was the point of making these plans if the city didn’t want to follow them?
Corpus Christi was recently ranked at the bottom of the list for bike cities at #159! Even McCallen, Texas beat Corpus Christi on this list.
Corpus Christi may seem like a small city but it’s actually bigger than Orlando, Florida in terms of population and it is not that far off from Miami. Yet these cities all have miles and miles of safe and smoothly paved dedicated bike paths and they were ranked much higher.
This city accommodates other communities, skateboarders have a skate park, disc golfers have disc golf parks, and even dogs have dog parks. But not much with the cyclist in mind. Just half hearted efforts and theater.
The demand is there, 1 in 3 Americans own a bike. Look at the bike rack on a random day at this local school. Every garage I peek inside has at least one bike for a kid. So clearly there is a big community, especially with children.
Some of you might be saying that this city has other priorities. Like what, the homeless people? How do you think homeless people can get to a job or amenities? Walking miles is not always viable. There are people who can’t afford a car or people who have lost their license. A bike is an important mode of transportation. It’s a fact. Bike paths are a factor for improved local health and local wealth.
The city will say they care for cyclists. There are air pumps at some bus stops, lots of bike parking and all the public busses have a bike rack. That’s nice. But is this just theater? What good are all these features when there are limited options as to where you can ride your bike?
So why won’t the city make a good bike path following the design guides from the Federal Highway Administration? Is it complacency? Or is it a lack of competency? Is it a lack of money?
I contacted the city council members and only one got back to me on this matter and told me to contact the Director of Planning and Environmental Services. So I contacted the Director of Planning and Environmental Services and he said to contact the Engineering Department. I contacted the Engineering Department and couldn’t get past the receptionist and there is no email address on the website …. Do you see how things get tricky in this city?
This would be the perfect city for cycling. It’s sunny, it’s flat. The nicest place to cycle is definitely by the water. But there needs to be more, especially connecting people to amenities.
Let’s push the decision makers to do the right thing. Here is how you can make a difference!
- The easiest thing to do is sign this petition. It’s gotten hundreds of signatures so far. You can find the link to it below.
- Send an email to your local city council member, the city manager and the mayor. I provided a sample email you can copy and a link so you can find your city council member.
- Make a public comment at the city meetings. It’s really easy to do. The instructions are clear on the city’s website. I will provide a link to that below.
- Buy merch. Let your community know with a tshirt, hat, car sticker and more.
- Share the message, share this video.
The only way change happens is when everyone does a few of these things. Already this cause has been getting attention in the media. The more pressure, the more you increase the likelihood for positive change.