Friday, December 27, 2013

Upgrades and Revolution Part 2: The Drag

This is a bit later than previously anticipated - I apologize, I got swamped. Now, to business. People for Bikes recently declared the 10 best protected bike lanes in the U.S. Check out number 3! BAM! That's us! Reading that article is honestly what prompted me to go photograph the new infrastructure so without further ado, the rest of my ride.

After I pulled off the Red Line Trail around Airport, I dipped into the neighborhood, connected up with Guadalupe and headed south. Right off the bat I saw something I'd never seen before. A bike shop!

This is Monkey Wrench Bicycles, the smallest, localest shop I have ever been in, hands down. A very helpful one, at that! About a week back, my bike had gotten knocked over and the front fender had literally bent back on itself. The fine folks at Monkey Wrench bent it back with a pair of pliers and sent me on my way, free of charge. The fender has a bit of character to it now, but it's back in business. They had KHS in stock but after inquiring, can order whatever you might need.

Guadalupe has at least SOME form of bike accomodation all the way down. As it gets busier and more dangerous, the accomodations change to account for the level of travel.

Just north of Rio Grande 
That said, there's one area that the infrastructure gets a bit....dodgy. It goes from the striped bike lane, goes green over the transition to Rio Grande, then becomes a lane with cars and buses. It does include Sharrows, but in the land of student drivers I trust those about as far as I can throw them. 
Because, for all you who are unfamiliar with Austin and her fair traffic is DENSE. I would (without any factual knowledge of whether or not this is true) hazard to call it the most densely populated city in Texas. However, the infrastructure available has not caught up with the population. Consequently, our traffic is absolutely heinous and the further you go towards downtown, the dodgier it gets. Sharrows are....laughably insufficient for safety down that way.

While this doesn't really tell you the scale of things, this is a small taste of what you're dealing with.

But then at 24th St, something absolutely magical happens

That right there friends, is a legit separated cycle track. Call it Amsterdam-style, a separated bike lane, a cycle track - who cares. It's a place to go down the road and you're physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by a line of parked cars. The bus stop is set on the traffic side of things, so you don't even have to share that. It's amazing. It's everything I hoped it could be and more. I'll just put up the photos and let you join me on my cruise through the Drag towards downtown.

Visiting an old friend
One little bonus issomething I've heard called the "Copenhagen left," though whether it comes from Copenhagen, I'm not sure. Basically, if you're approaching an intersection and need to make a left, you proceed through the green and stop in this box. Then, when the direction you need to go receives the right of way, you proceed in that direction. It sets up the intersection so a bike can successfully and efficiently make a left without changing into the motor vehicle lefthand turn lane. Neat, right?

I swung north, and visited another central Austin friend:

Then stumbled across a lovely surprise! Another fancy bike lane, this one on Rio Grande!

This one, while not as elaborate, is still incredibly helpful for getting downtown a bit further west between Guadalupe and Rio Grande and when combined with the very southern end of the Shoal Creek Trail, makes it easy as pie to access Cesar Chavez, The Lance Armstrong Bikeway, 4th St eastward - basically all of downtown.

After this, I lost the light. So I hit the pub with a friend, shared a few beers, then eased on homeward for the day. For the record, I took Woodrow. It does also have a bike lane.

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