Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Upgrades and Revolution Part 1: The Airport Bike Lane

A post in 2 parts. Some time ago (to the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the comments section of the local paper) the city of Austin had some of our urban planners make the trip to Amsterdam. There was some meeting of minds, and here in our fair city upon their return, something remarkable is happening. They're putting in dutch-style separated bike lanes in some parts of the city that could DESPERATELY use the help.

Now for folks here who AREN'T from Austin, we are the 3rd-most congested city in the United States. We're also one of the smallest cities on the list of "most congested," which is it's own kind of special. If I leave my job in North Austin at rush hour, getting to my sister's house 19 miles across town is a 45 minute trip sitting in traffic, MINIMUM. Congestion relief is honestly one of the biggest challenges facing this city as our population continues to explode. 

See the other issue here is Austin has taken a very different course than most cities in Texas when the inevitable population explosion came. When it happened in north Dallas, the result was immense sprawl. Austin, however, is building up, not out. We're fitting so many more people into the same space and the result is Doctor Who-esque gridlock. 

The Red Line Trail is a proposed project for a trail that will parallel our metro-rail system from Leander to downtown Austin - if it's successfully completed the first thing I'd like to do is ride the full length of it. For the moment the first bit has gone in between the Crestview and Highland stations.

First thought: WHY CAN'T WE HAVE ONE OF THESE DOWN LAMAR?! Seriously. Here I am at Airport and Guadalupe:

And here's the Red Line Trail:

Facing southeast towards Highland Mall

Facing northwest - the greenish building is the Crestview station. There's a good pub in there, too.

Now, notice that there was actually a "traditional" bike lane along Airport and it's still for all intents and purposes there and available for usage. But I cannot imagine myself taking that option when something so obviously superior is obviously available.

This is technically not a bike lane, it's a multi-use trail for either pedestrians or cyclists. The location is brilliant, as Airport is a road that can be notoriously hair-raising to bike along. But it also has a lot of businesses and so on down it that I simply do occasionally want to bike to. Additionally, the Highland Mall is in the process of being converted into classroom space by Austin Community College, so adding transportation corridors into it now before it becomes an issue shows excellent foresight.

As you carry on southward, the bike lane along the actual road ends, leaving just the Red Line Trail.

All too soon though, the trail ends at Airport & Denson:

The neighborhoods surrounding this area provide excellent access - I approached it from the north coming down Guadalupe. From the west it could be accessed pretty easily from Justin, from the south via Guadalupe. To continue this ride I made the right at Denson, hooked back up with Guadalupe, and took that southwards, easy striking distance to Hyde Park, the Triangle, UT-Campus, and from there into Downtown. 

Overall I love this bit of infrastructure. It provides an entirely new and viable way for me to move in the city without worrying about traffic. It's brilliant, and I can't wait to see it when it's done.

1 comment:

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