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Mellow Johnny's

2008-02-18 16:06:45.115838+00 by ebradway 4 comments

When I was in Austin, TX, last November, I was quite impressed at how bicycle-friendly the city was. Austin, like many tech/creative hubs, has dealt with insane rates of growth over the past two decades since I lived there in my teens. Add to that growth the fact that it's the Capitol city of a state known for oil and big trucks and you begin to understand my surprise!

Granted, Austin's Silver rating puts it below Boulder's gold. However, now that Lance Armstrong is settling in on a new career, Boulder might need to watch out!

[ related topics: Movies Invention and Design History Machinery Pedal Power Bicycling ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-02-18 16:26:48.717852+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oddly, Austin's bicycle friendly status was a matter of long discussion over on the Tandem@Hobbes[Wiki] mailing list following someone noticing the bottom picture on the left of this article about Ron Burzese's cycling. The subject line quickly changed to "cyclist suicide lane". Can you imagine riding down that narrow bike lane with vehicles relative speeds of 40-70 MPH coming at you from either side?

Generally it was chalked up to two things, first that it's not that Austin is so good, it's that the others are so bad, and second, that there's a lot of debate in the community over what constitutes "bike friendly", and traffic consultants brought in by cities to do stupid things like two way bike paths or mixed use paths still view "kids at 5-10MPH" as bicyclists.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-02-18 19:17:15.74966+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

When I lived in Austin, I would bike from the southeast to the northeast by way of the middle of town for my work commute.

Motorola was a bike-friendly employer with on-site showers and the like.

Mostly, it was a nice place to bike, but I did run into one pick-up driver who decided it was his place in life to run me off the road.

After a couple of run-ins with him, I changed my route.

Other than that, Austin is a great place to go cycling.

(And I'm not so worried about bike lanes. They weren't in most places I went. But that was 10-11 years ago.)

#Comment Umm, sorry, no. made: 2008-02-18 21:08:40.562549+00 by: spl [edit history]

I just moved out of Austin after living there for over four years, and I don't think it's so bike-friendly. Two people were hit and killed by trucks while I was there. I tried biking through downtown from home to UT several times, but there was no good route on which I felt safe. Close to campus or out on a highway like 360 (where there's a wide shoulder) are fine. But anywhere else is tough, in my humble opinion.

Now, I'm in the Netherlands (Utrecht to be specific). You should see what bike-friendly is! There are lanes everywhere! (And when I say lane, I mean a fairly nice width of road with a median separating it from the car/bus lanes.) Cyclists have their own traffic lights at busy intersections. You could pretty much say cyclists are first-class citizens. In fact, cars and pedestrians might well be considered second-class!

I finally bought a bike this weekend, so I'm on my way towards full integration with the Dutch, or so they say. I'm somewhat nervous riding it, because I haven't ridden in so many years and I don't quite know the rules of the road. But it's nice. I like being able to get around without the bus. (Don't get me wrong though, the bus system in most US cities doesn't even compare to this one. In fact, on the ranking scale, buses are probably 1.5-class citizens. ;) I'm looking forward to exploring the city in a more efficient way.

P.S. Note that I'm not comparing Austin to the Netherlands. I don't think it's even rational. I developed my opinion of Austin while I was living there.

P.P.S. If you want to see pictures, check out my Netherlands Tour gallery from when I visited here in July last year.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-02-19 06:24:46.946242+00 by: ebradway

Boulder's constantly dealing with managing speedy cycles and slow peds. I think the cops have even been known to give out warnings for not having a bell. Of course, riding in the city is very different from the surrounding countryside. And Boulder usually has a couple bike fatalities each year. Sometimes its negligent drivers and sometimes it's over-zealous bikers.

When I bike into CU, I take the trails and hate the 2-3 miles of roads I have to endure. Then I have to deal with pedestrians. I'm not sure if there's an ideal situation. Many of Boulder's side streets are laid out with the bike primary. But if you want to ride up the main streets, you do so at your own risk.

And compared to what Austin was like in the 80s when I lived there, it's quite bike friendly...