Tell City Council What You Think About “Distracted Cycling” ASAP

If you’re not much for reading,  just go ahead and email City Council and tell them why they need to remove “distracted cycling” from the proposed bill. Otherwise, read on. Tom Wald says it well:

All who support the BAC resolution on this matter,
Has anyone here emailed city council members about this?  It may be the case that everyone thought that everyone else was going to do it.  From talking with council aides in multiple offices, they aren’t hearing from anyone except a few leaders, e.g. Robin at BikeTexas, me, and someone regarding the BAC resolution.  And THAT IS NOT ENOUGH.  There is simply not enough of a show of public support to remove bicycling from the proposal at this point.
You can really just write an email as simple as, “Please remove bicycling from the proposed distracted driving ordinance.” Elaborate if you’d like to. The direct link to send an email to all city councilmembers and the mayor is: (It is Item #41 tomorrow.)
I’ve made a few calls and have sent the letter below to city councilmembers and the mayor.
His letter to City Council is as follows:
Councilmember Spelman,
The case has not been adequately made for including bicycling in this proposed ordinance.
The Distracted Driving Study Group recommendation (as given in the 7/28/14 memo from Michael McDonald) suggests that distracted driving is a substantial public safety concern, but does not make the case that distracted bicycling is a public safety concern. The study group recommendation also points out that City Council asked for a revisit to the motor vehicle provisions, but that the bicycle provisions were added into the recommendations at the whim of the task force. Finally, the study group recommendation in support of the distracted bicycling provisions does not give any reason for including those provisions except to say that “City Council was better-served” by such provisions.
I ask that you remove the distracted bicycling provisions from the proposed ordinance until the study group or city staff can provide evidence of a public health crisis (on par with the crisis from distracted driving) and evidence that distracted bicycling provisions would significantly solve this crisis (assuming evidence that such a crisis exists).
The PDR memo dated 7/18/14 speaks well to some of the concerns regarding the distracted bicycling provisions, including what would be lost by passing the provisions.
Thank you for your attention to this.
Here’s your one-stop shop for all information regarding this proposed ordinance and a way to contact City Council to tell them what you think.

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

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.


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

Nope, I’d say that bike lane is closed “behind”, not “ahead”

Riding south over the South First Street bridge today I see these annoyingly placed signs and have to snap a quick pic.

If you can’t see in the pic, the warning signs for construction – three in total – are all placed smack dab in the middle of the bike lane. So, as I made my way over the bridge, I pulled each sign all the way to the right so bikes could actually get past without having to veer into traffic.

But then I came across this and just had to laugh.

Closed ahead, huh? Ya don’t say.


CoA: Please Fix That Damned Dam (& a Proposal from Ghisallo)

Reading through the forums this morning, there was an interesting post regarding the Pleasant Valley Dam. If you’ve ever been riding the trail and tried to cross the damn out of traffic, you know how narrow the lanes there are. Suggestions have been made to move the big concrete barriers from atop the sidewalk down into the lanes for a “traffic diet”.

Chris Stanton, of the Ghisallo Foundation, had a much more innovative and appetizing design, IMHO. (If you’re not familiar with Ghisallo, you probably are – they’re the ones who clean up and beautify the underpass at 4th street, offered bike valet at Cinema East and have generally done a bunch of great bike stuff in Austin.) Continue reading