You may have noticed more bikes on Austin roads today. That’s because it’s the annual Bike to Work Day across the country.
Today is the 57th Bike to Work Day, created by the League of American Bicyclists to advocate for paved roads and promote what cycling enthusiasts call the “pro-health and environmentally friendly” transportation.
In Austin, cyclists have more than one reason to celebrate. The city held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new bike lane along Barton Springs Road—complete with free breakfast and an inaugural ride with city officials like Council Members Mike Martinez and Chris Riley on bikes.
The city completed the $750,000 cycle track project this spring, which came from a 2010 $90 million mobility bond package approved by voters. Workers constructed an off-street cycle track for westbound travelers and an on-street bike lane for eastbound cyclists.
The Austin Cycling Association wants more commuters to turn in their car keys and opt for two wheels. Today they’re even offering some incentives for bike commuters: the organization has set up stations throughout the community with food, drinks, live music, bike mechanics and souvenir swag bags. Austin Cycling would like to see more bikes on the street, but it’s not to say that Austin isn’t already a cycling mecca.
Austin Cycling spokesperson Carol Reifsnyder says this year’s event is particularly busy. “We have had a ton--it’s been a really big year. Several of the sites have run out of bags—like Bouldin Creek and City Hall,” she said.
“A single person in a car is clearly no longer viable transportation, so we’ve got to find other ways to do that,” Reifsnyder said. “As much as we would like to have a major transit system, that’s going to be a long time coming and more expensive. The bicycle is one of the easiest and quickest options for dealing with traffic.”
As KUT recently reported, Austinites commute by bike four times more often than the national average. But for many, safety is a concern.
Jack Sanford, a program manager at Bike Texas, told KUT that cyclists know safety is an issue.
“We all hear stories of these people being hit from behind,” he said. “If we can separate cars from bikes and have everyone in their own travel lanes based by speed…more people would commute.”