A Better Way from Downtown to the Pedestrian Bridge is on the Way

I swear, it’s like every year the city gives or takes away my favorite way to get to the pedestrian bridge from downtown. This year, thankfully, it’s giving and not taking away.

No, it’s not that sweet, bike-only path, but instead Seaholm Drive, which cuts downhill from 3rd street (west of that rickety bike/ped bridge) to the part of 2nd street that you didn’t really realize existed. Simply put, we won’t have to ride down that terrible concrete barrier bike lane anymore and we won’t have to brave the skinny sidewalk on Lamar either.

According to the email from the city, construction should be complete around November 3rd (my birthday is the next day, in case you were wondering – and also when that underpass bike path has opened or closed over the past several years) with the makeshift bike lane on Cesar Chavez closing sometime after. The rest of those streets, including a bridge at Rio Grande and 4th, are slated for December 2015, with the 2nd street extension bridge and Bowie Underpass for 2016 Spring/Summer.

Check out what they have so far:

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Looking up toward Third Street

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…and looking down from Third Street

City Council needs to hear you voice your support ASAP! Deadline Thursday!

This week, City Council is meeting to decide on the fate of the Urban Trails Master Plan. So far, they’ve only heard from detractors, now they need to hear from the cycling community at large. Let them know you love things like the Walnut Creek Trail and the boardwalk, along with the various cycling trails all over town…and you want to see more!

The meeting is this Thursday. The hard part is there’s not a very specific time for THIS actual topic to come up (hopefully someone will be there and keeping everyone posted on Facebook), but there are things you can do:

1. Attend the hearing and help fill the gallery.
2. Sign up to speak in favor of the plan (Item #143).
3. Register your support in person at one of the kiosks at City Hall or at the Travis Co. Commisioner’s Court.
4. Send an email to all members of the City Council with a statement of your support. You can send a single email to every member of the Austin City Council.

Here’s a Facebook Event with all the info you need.

Remember, if you can’t make it, you can register your support any time before then.

Phase II of Pedernales Cycle Track Begins This Month

Bit of a copy/paste reblog here, but this just crossed the wire. It looks like Phase II of the Pedernales Cycle Track is about to be underway, bringing the track all the way from Canterbury up to Pleasant Valley – including, it looks like, a better connection to that sweet bike path you might not even know exists that runs all the way from around Webberville and Pedernales up to 14th Street.

Anwho, here’s all the details from Nathan Wilkes: Continue reading

Some YBP September News

Since I’m writing the Yellow Bike newsletter these days, I figure why not repost it here? So here’s what’s happening that might need your attention.

The Urban Trails Master Plan Needs Your Support!

That trail from Austin out to (nearly) Manor is awesome, right? And the boardwalk? Sure beats the sidewalk on Riverside!

Let the City know that you support Austin’s investment in bike infrastructure and that you want to see it continue and grow. How? By emailing city council or going to the Commissioner Courthouse at 700 Lavaca St on Thursday Sept. 25th. If you can’t make it on the 25th, you can still make your way down to City Hall or the Commissioner Courthouse and go to the agenda kiosk, find the Urban Trails Master Plan on the agenda, and register your support. Continue reading

Manor Goes On A Diet: Bike Lanes Coming From 51st to Springdale

I’ll admit it, I do love me some bike lanes. I don’t imagine they’re some invisible shield or anything, but there are some places, like Manor, north of 51st Street, where they really serve a purpose.

One such purpose is making it safe to go up hill. I hate trying to take a lane on an uphill stretch around a blind, often overgrown corner, and that’s exactly what Manor is down by Springdale.

So yeah. Sweet. The email just came through that this would be happening soon.

Bike lanes coming to Manor Rd.

Bike lanes coming to Manor Rd.

This will bring Manor to connect with Rogge and Northeast Dr., which both also have bike lanes, and nearly connects with Loyola, which crosses over nicely to that new Austin to Manor trail.

You can find out more and provide feedback at the open house that takes place at the Windsor Park Public Library on July 9th from 6 to 7pm.  You can also contact Neil Kopper with questions or comments  at 974-7166 or neil.kopper@austintexas.gov

Does someone need to get hit before CoA fixes Pleasant Valley?

This isn’t a post to blame to City of Austin bicycle program – they’re doing great things. Or to blame any of the folks out there trying to make things better for cycling in Austin. It’s not really looking to blame anyone, but I do sincerely wonder – does someone have to get seriously injured or worse before the city fixes the Pleasant Valley bridge for cyclists?

Update: Looks like someone just got hit n’ run there the other day. Here’s a gofundme to help with their hospital bills.  And where did it happen? That shittiest part of Pleasant Valley, just south of the bridge where there’s no bike lane, no shoulder, and suddenly a 45-mile-per-hour speed limit for some ungodly reason.

With the new boardwalk open, we’re no longer talking about just folks on the southeast part of town trying to cross – it’s tourists and kids and likely every social ride in town for the next three months. (The Yoga Ride brought about 40 people down the boardwalk and over the terrible crossing yesterday.)

Note the bicycles taking up all avenues of travel...

Note the bicycles taking up all avenues of travel…

Things like Hike n’ Bike trails and boardwalks bring out the novice cyclists in droves. It’s great – they have a place where they can ride a bike and not get creamed by cars. And when they see that bridge, if they decide to keep going, they’ll take it nice and slow over the sidewalk, for sure. My concern isn’t for them, it’s for the transportation cyclists who aren’t going to wait for a family of five to waddle across or an entire social ride to pass.

As KUT notes:

People who use the bridge frequently call it a notoriously tricky crossing. The generally spacious hike and bike trail narrows to around four feet on its western sidewalk. Cyclists and pedestrians squeeze past each other with a chain link fence on one side, a three foot tall railing and water on the other.

“If there’s a runner, I’ve had it happen before. They wait for me to come through on my bike and then they keep running.” says Lydia Palazzolo, who crosses at least once a day.

Now, there’s going to be a runner far more often. Or a group ride. Or someone on one of those awesome yet supremely wobbly B-cycle bikes.  And that transportation cyclist is going to start taking the lane over a bridge with no room that empties into a high speed situation headed south or a similarly high-speed, congested, impatient (and uphill) situation headed north.

Bridges are somewhat notorious for being deathtraps for cyclists in this town. It’s where cars finally escape the downtown congestion and get to rev their engines and let out a little stress. Heck, pedicabs (though far slower than bikes, I agree) are made to take the sidewalk over the Congress Bridge and did the same over South First until the bike lanes were added because there were so many accidents.

What’s the speed limit south of the Pleasant Valley bridge? 45 miles per hour? So that means  you’re taking a lane in a situation where cars are common going 50+ mph and have often just left the congestion of downtown and are in no way wanting to wait behind your 15-20mph self.

Again, as KUT notes, “Once a plan is finalized it still needs to be funded –meaning a long-term solution to the bottleneck is probably years away.”

Well, a short-term solution is needed then. Those concrete barriers need to come off the sidewalk and into the lane to make room. Or a lane diet needs to happen to make room for bike lanes. (Maybe divert some of those novice cyclists over a sweet floating bridge?)

Years away isn’t good enough. This city is growing rapidly, as is that part of town, and cycle traffic is going to increase quickly. Let’s not wait for someone to die – there’s certainly no room for a ghost bike on that crossing too.

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Naaaaah’lins on a Bike

No, the title isn’t a typo. I know. It’s N’awlins for the initiated, but in terms of biking in New Orleans and reviews, I’d give it a big ol’ naaaaaaah.

After spending a couple days down in the Big Easy, I’m reminded of how good I have it here in Austin.

Sure, N’awlins may have stylin’ cruisers, with ape hangers and beads galore. It may have big ol’ metal cage baskets for cases of beer. It may even have a DIY pirate ship pizza BBQ bike (see below)… Continue reading

The second half of the Austin to Manor Trail is looking good [PICS]

Remember that sweet new bike bath from Austin out to Manor?

Last I rode a month or two ago, it stopped just past Loyola…or at least went to dirt. Well, today I rode on paved path almost entirely out to Manor. Here’s the route north of Loyola as it’s complete now:

(That one off-shoot seems to be a trail to the southern part of Johnny Morris, but I didn't really feel like following it.)

(That one off-shoot seems to be a trail to the southern part of Johnny Morris, but I didn’t really feel like following it.)

It is gorgeous. There’s one good sized hill heading through the park and some great farm houses and city views, not to mention fields of swaying grass. (I wonder if there’s an easy way to jump in the lake…?)

Anyways, here’s a couple more pics to whet your whistle… Continue reading