Bicycling

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Austin's roads are busier than ever, and there’s more than just cars and trucks on them. As more and more Austinites choose bikes to get around, where exactly are they allowed to ride?

It can be a little confusing knowing where it’s okay to ride your bike. For instance, you’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk in parts of downtown Austin. But when it comes to the road? Well, a bike is welcome pretty much everywhere. It’s right there in the Texas Transportation Code.

KUT

From the Austin Monitor:

Bicycle theft is an issue in every city, and Austin, with its enthusiastic cycling community, is no exception. Data that the Austin Monitor obtained from the Austin Police Department show that the number of reported bicycle thefts has increased slightly in the past year, though that corresponds with a spike in the average number of bicycles registered with the department every month.

From July 2014 through June 2015, there was an average of about 121 cases reported to the APD every month, a two-per-month increase over the previous 12-month period. During the same time frame, average monthly registrations increased from about 51 to about 79.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT News

Today is 'Bike to Work Day' in Austin (and across the country), with more than two dozen “fueling stations” offering free snacks and drinks to Austinites on two wheels. While the percentage of Austinites who commute by bike is growing, it still remains low relative to peer cities outside of Texas. On average, only two percent of people in Austin regularly use a bike to get to work, though that percentage can be much higher in parts of the urban core. 

Austin ranks 91st on a list of 154 cities nationwide for bikeability according to Walk Score, while the state of Texas is in the bottom half of states for bike-friendliness, according to the League of American Bicyclists. The state ranks 30th, up a few places from last year. While Texas has made some incremental improvements in cycling-friendliness, like a 'share the road' campaign and other safety improvements, there’s a long way for the Lone Star State to go.

Courtesy HNTB Corporation

Austin can sometimes feel like one giant construction zone these days.

Road projects have been adding to the noise and delays, but there’s a hidden benefit to all that new pavement — many of the new road projects and highway dollars in town also mean improvements for Austinites getting around on bikes and on foot.

Miguel Gutierrez, Jr./KUT

We've all felt Austin's growing pains: traffic, high rents, rapidly rising home values, and the higher property taxes that come with them. And we tend to drown these pains in queso and beer, so we're probably putting on some weight, too. But what if there were an easy way out of all of this?

Some Austinites, like Mike Melanson, have found one. "A congestion-free way of getting around, a way that doesn't cost me money, a way that helps my health," he says. For much of the last ten years, he's relied on a 19th century technology to move about Austin: the bicycle. 

DPA /LANDOV

From StateImpact Texas:

Rain or shine, in the light of summer or the early afternoon darkness of winter, under heavy sleet, unrelenting winds or drifts of snow, people in Copenhagen just bike. They bike in fur coats, they bike in suits and ties. They bike old, they bike young. They wheel their kids around on a cargo bike with a wooden box carrying the children up front, taking them to and from school; this is Copenhagen’s take on a minivan. People just bike, and after arriving in the city myself, I soon found out why: it’s usually the fastest way to get around. So I rented a bike, too.

Today, 60 percent of people in the city’s core commute by bike. In the greater Copenhagen area, over 40 percent do. “We see the same numbers [of commuting by bike] all year round,” says Copenhagen Environmental and Technical Affairs Mayor Morten Kabell.

“It’s not something that’s in Copenhagen’s genes, or that we’re weirder or stranger than any other people on earth,” Kabell says. “Every city can do this.”

KUT

Just as Austin has a thriving bicycling community, it's also home to bike thieves. Both groups stay pretty active. 

The city is perennially one of the worst cities nationwide when it comes to bicycle thefts, and the Austin Police Department wants to change that by beginning a program to register bikes, allowing the city to track stolen bikes and bolster reports of bike theft.

Riding Across Texas for 'Bikes & Books'

Sep 23, 2014
Nobelity Project

A pair of public radio heavyweights are off on a 720 mile bicycle ride across Texas, from Brownsville to the Red River, to raise money for bikes and textbooks for high schoolers in Africa.

NPR's John Burnett and KUT's Hawk Mendenhall set off from Boca Chica beach in Brownsville this morning. They'll end their trip in Sewards Bluff, Oklahoma on October 3rd. 

Ann Choi for KUT News

Editor's note: KUT is one of 13 founding sponsors of the Austin B-cycle program.

Austin's long-awaited bike share program kicks off tomorrow.

It's called B-cycle, and its inauguration will be small. Only 11 kiosks will be open around the downtown area when the program starts Saturday. That number is expected to grow to 40 by the spring.

Roy Varney for KUT News

Disclaimer: KUT/KUTX is a sponsor of  Austin B-cycle.

The wait is over: Austinites will have a new way to beat downtown traffic come December 21.

Austin B-cycle is launching Austin’s first ever bike sharing program. There will be 11 stations located throughout downtown and south central Austin. Participants will be able to visit a station, rent a bike, ride it and return it to any station.

There’s three tiers of pricing:

  • Day pass: $8. Bikes are free to rent for their first half hour, with a $4 charge for each additional half hour.
  • Seven day pass: $25
  • Annual membership: $80
Sebastian Herrera for KUT News

Update: While it was being used as soon as the concrete dried, today marks the official opening of the city’s latest “cycle track” – a protected stretch of bike lane on Guadalupe Street from MLK Jr. Boulevard to 24th Street.

“Street ambassadors” including representatives from Capital Metro and the police department will be present along the track to educate the public. They are located in front of the University Co-op today, and will reappear there on Monday. Oct. 21.

Non-profit Bike Austin has also launched an awareness campaign about the track. You can learn more about it here, and see a diagram of the cycle track below.

Roy Varney for KUT News

How do Austinites feel about the city’s bike lanes and bike traffic? The Neighborhood Street Study aims to answer this broad question by focusing on two Austin bicycling areas located around Bluebonnet Lane and Barton Springs Road.

Researchers from Portland State University and the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium have been commissioned by the Green Lane Project to conduct the Austin survey. 

flickr.com/rutlo

Update: A sprawling discussion on the Austin page of Reddit - prompted by a photo of bicyclists on I-35 - has renewed interest in this topic. Read on for more details. 

Original story (April 3, 2013): Despite general public perception – and all standards of common sense – it’s actually legal to ride bicycles on the state highway.

Recently, users on the Austin page of Reddit got into a heated discussion about the legality of riding a bike on Mopac, when one user posted a photo of a couple people doing just that.

votebikeshareaustin.com

With a launch planned for the end of the year, a bike share system is finally coming to Austin. And the city is pushing for public input for when the program rolls out at the end of this year.

Today, the city launched an online tool for citizens to suggest the best possible locations for rental kiosks. The Public Works department is also reaching out to Austin cyclists and stakeholders in public meetings.

Instagram user @happymercado

You may have noticed more bikes on Austin roads today. That’s because it’s the annual Bike to Work Day across the country.

flickr.com/EnvironmentBlog

Austin is full of bike lovers. But not everyone has the wheels with which to whip around town. Enter: bike sharing. 

Just not yet.

Annick Beaudet of the Public Works department tells KUT News that the program has seen “complications,” and that a launch planned for this spring – which would’ve coincided with May as National Bike Month – will be delayed.

Map Says Many Austinites Bike to Work, But Do They Feel Safe?

May 15, 2013
City of Austin

It’s no secret that Austin is a biking city. And while cities around the country are gearing up for National Bike to Work Day, riding to work is nothing new for Austinites: according to Census data, people here commute by bike four times more often than the national average. 

To prove it, the city released a map breaking down bike commuting by neighborhood. But while more people are pedaling to work, cyclists don't always feel safe on Austin roads.

KUT News

A new website supported by the City of Austin’s Public Works Department aims to connect experience bicycle commuters with those who want to give it a try.

The “Bike Buddy” website features an interactive map to help cyclists find others who are biking in the same area as they are.

KUT News

In celebration of Bike Month, the University of Texas at Austin is hosting Bike to UT Day.

Those biking to UT today can stop by one of the many Bike to UT Day kiosks throughout campus between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. to pick up a complimentary light breakfast. From noon until 3 p.m. today, Gregory Plaza will be celebrating with free pizza, t-shirts, tote bags, bike lights, maps and even a keg of root beer.

Austin Feldman for KUT News

The Austin Police Department is launching the first phase of a bike safety initiative today.

As Austin’s bicycling community grows – two percent of commuters are getting to work by bike – so does the need for increased education and awareness. Especially after a record year of traffic deaths.

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