New Mobility Study: Considerations for the UTSA Downtown Campus and Community
Herrera, Jose Antonio
Pena, Gilbert Jr.
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This New Mobility Study addresses rapid technological changes in transportation and communication technology, tailored to the context of downtown San Antonio. Graduate students at the University of Texas at San Antonio in Urban and Regional Planning reviewed the existing context of the UTSA Downtown Campus area in light of new mobility concepts, leveraging recent research to guide ideas for the location’s future. Students performed field studies, integrated urban planning concepts, and recommended potential transportation solutions under the guidance of their professor. This study offers recommendations regarding public transit, bicycling, curb utilization, e-scooter and pedestrian modes that can inform the university and city’s next steps for the area. The UTSA team suggests the city, university, and local partners should view both existing policies and new proposals through an equity perspective. Existing conditions reflect past planning for driving cars for most trips, but with a well-connected street grid and generous right-of-way that could support advancements for other modes. Student researchers measured streetscape noise levels averaging 36 decibels along pedestrian-oriented sections of Houston Street. Bus transit speed averaged 16 mph on the Via 100 Primo, comparable to automotive speeds. Non-motorized pedestrian traffic (115 per hour) and bicycle traffic (11 per hour) on South Flores is substantial, despite limited infrastructure. Opportunities include leveraging new mobility options to use the street space to improve access while decreasing crashes. Risks include a decline in downtown’s vibrancy and equity from failure to anticipate challenges, such as people using autonomous vehicles to live further from their workplaces and schools, and jobs such as truck and taxi drivers being replaced. Some key recommendations of this study include: • Prioritize existing public transit services as a key for mobility for all. • Rapidly build bicycle infrastructure to sustainably and safely support growth in the area. • Reconsider curb utilization to begin planning for a more shared, autonomous future. • E-scooter and pedestrian interactions require urgent attention, focusing on sidewalk improvements and micromobility policy improvements. Maintaining and improving pedestrian access is key for the downtown San Antonio area and should be central in any new mobility initiative. As the city advances with new mobility approaches, community-engaged research can help anticipate challenges and create better mobility for all.
This report was a compilation of deliverables from the Fall 2019 semester of Transportation Planning at UTSA, URP 5433.
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