CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Cyclist groups gather for the main reason of safety. They feel safer riding in larger groups.
Avid Corpus Christi cyclist Shirin Delsooz is looking for a change from the city. She has started an online petition for more safe bike lanes throughout the city.
“When it comes to cycling there is not a single area you can do in this city without fearing for your life,” Delsooz said.
Her biggest gripe is that the city’s lanes don’t line up with recommendations from the Federal Highway Administration. That design features a barrier between vehicles and bicycles. These are not regulations the city is bound to.
“They had a plan for a lot of bike paths," said Delsooz. "The renderings were great, but they didn’t really implement it. They did a kind of half-hearted effort.
Among other complaints, Delsooz said the paving is unsafe and uneven and there isn't enough width to the lanes.
In a study by lawnstarter.com, Corpus Christi was ranked 159 out of 200 for best cycling cities. They were ranked 111 in safety.
“I’ve been here for many years now and I haven’t seen any change," she said. "So, that’s why I decided I had to take matters into my own hands. Actually, what really prompted me was having a kid of my own and I want them to be able to have a place for them to cycle without fearing for their lives.”
Cyclists like Tom Tagliabue have been hit while riding. Tagliabue was victim of a hit and run six years ago. He was riding on Ennis Joslin Road crossing north over S.P.I.D. He doesn't remember the crash.
“I was hit and knocked over and had my head hit the side of the curb," said Tagliabue. "I was knocked unconscious. There was a student pilot from Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi here at the gas station. He came over took care of me.”
Tagliabue awoke later on in the hospital. The driver drove away and didn't stop. Now he feels like the streets are too dangerous to drive on. He's only rode on them once in the six years since the crash.
"I don't feel like the streets are paved well enough, that the bike lanes are wide enough, that there's a physical separation between vehicular traffic and bicycle traffic," Tagliabue said. "And that just makes it unsafe that I don't feel comfortable doing it."
Delsooz has already tried going to city hall. She said no one has been able to give her answers of where the problem is and how it can resolve it.
"We don't know exactly who the decision makers are because when I ask the city council members they tell me it's the director of planning," she said. "And when I ask the director of planning they tell me it's the engineering department. When I call the engineering department they tell me that no one's there and they don't have an email address."
City officials who would be able to comment weren't available on Wednesday. Instead assistant city manager Neiman Young gave us this statement.
“The City of Corpus Christi takes cycling safety very seriously and strives to design bike paths that are safe, functional and convenient to the cyclist, pedestrians and motorists. Our Vision Zero Program, in which our community is heavily invested, starts with the belief that everyone has the right to move safely in their communities and that system designers and policymakers share the responsibility to ensure safe systems for travel. In addition, as the City continues in its development of the 10-Year Parks and Recreation Master Plan (PRMP), increasing pedestrian connectivity and bicycle paths remains an integral part of our recreational strategy. We highly encourage citizens that want to have a role in the development of the PRMP to participate in the surveys and virtual town halls, which can be found here: www.cctexas.com/parksmasterplan [cctexas.com].”
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, this map details the city’s bike lanes. The blue lines represent what is planned and green represents what exists.
Delsooz has a website where you can find a link to the petition, a mock email to send to city officials and where group rides take place.