Is Austin Really Bike Friendly?

3 07 2008

Once again, we want to mention that we just moved to Austin about three months ago. One of the reasons we decided on Austin was because it was billed as a bike-friendly city, one that is home to today’s most famous cyclist, in fact,  Lance Armstrong. I used to bike roughly 9 miles each way from my home in Brooklyn to my job in midtown Manhattan. I would ride my fixed -gear bike in the streets… weaving through the cars as if keeping up with them would make me less of a target. I have almost been crushed between two cars on a few occasions and have nearly collided with pedestrians who where jaywalking. But in the end… it was so much fun and I felt that New York City drivers, including the infamous cabbies, where always aware of the cyclists around them.

So when we arrived in Austin, we took to the streets with confidence and would commute from southwest Austin to, obviously, east Austin. I decided to take Ben White to Lamar and hit the east side after that, and that’s when I started to notice the ghost bikes. I also ran into a fellow fixed-gear rider who works at Performance Bikes on South Lamar, and he told me about his accident. Apparently he was hit by a car and now has to see the chiropractor multiple times a week. Occassionally, I would run into Jason  (who runs atxbs) on the bus and he would tell me about people getting into accidents almost on a weekly basis. I also read about a few people on txfixed who where hit by cars, one in particular who has been in a back brace for the last couple of months, and that made me rethink my idea of commuting. The Texas heat ended my bike-commuting dreams, but to be honest, I think that’s just an excuse, because I have come to think that Austin drivers could be the end of me.

Everyone said that New York drivers are worse then Austin drivers and that cycling in this city is much safer than in the Big Apple. Keep in mind some of these people have never been to New York, but that is beside the point. I say it’s much safer in New York for two reasons.  Firstly, cars are going at a much slower speed. When I took Ben White, cars where easily going over 50 miles an hour, and the same can be said for some of the cars on South Lamar. Secondly, the drivers there had cyclists ingrained in their brain as a part of the daily landscape… keeping an eye out for us.

Last Saturday, another cyclist was hit by a driver who says she did not see the cyclist because she was blinded by the sun… What kind of excuse is that? As a driver, you always run the risk of people walking on the streets, or cyclists, people on scooters and mopeds, and other cars, for that matter. You should always be prepared… they’re called sunglasses, people. Flip down your little visor, lady. It’s not that hard. If Austinites really want others to think of Austin as a bike-friendly city, then drivers have to pay more attention to who else is using the road.

The point of this is just to say, please, take some time to read about a real person that just had their life taken from them and is now a statistic.

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4 responses

3 07 2008
allen riley

nyc is definitely safer to ride in than austin. austin drivers act entitled to the road and have no idea how to safely and comfortably maneuver around a bicycle. merging all the way to the left and accelerating is pretty obnoxious behavior, folks. so is pushing me onto the sidewalk. vehicles belong on the road.

5 07 2008
Jason

You’re not bicycle commuting any more? Sorry to hear that man. The only way we’ll get people to notice us is more visibility, and that means more wheels on the pavement. Critical mass isn’t the answer but I like it because it gets people interested. The riding that’s done the other 29 days of the month is what really makes the difference.

Be safe, y’all.

5 07 2008
allen riley

i’m not getting off the bike for nobodies. i never said nothin bout that.

5 07 2008
JF

I think jason’s comment was directed towards me. I did quit because my job doesnt have any showers and the ghetto sink showers werent cutting it anymore. That and Chevy Suburbans going 50 with the driver on the phone scares me. I still ride but only in downtown and the east side.

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