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November Update from City of Austin on bike infrastructure improvements

Posted Nov 19 2009 10:01pm

Sharrows, bike boxes now installed and being tested in Austin

Editor Note: As an update to the passage of the Master Bike Plan, Annick Beaudet, the Bicycle Program Manager with the City of Austin in Department of Public Works, has provided this update on the implementation of the plan.


Colored bike lane on Dean Keaton East of IH 35.

It is my pleasure to write about my experience riding the new facilities recently installed as part of the City’s experimental bicycle facility study, in process and in partnership with the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research.

This past Sunday I headed out on an urban tour of many of our new bike lanes and of the new, experimental facilities.  I’ll note that two of my fellow riders were beginner riders, so it was a perfect opportunity for direct input on how new bicyclists would react to both the new bike lanes and the other facilities.

Sharrows being painted on Guadalupe St downtown.

Sharrows being painted on Guadalupe St downtown.

We headed north from Barton Springs Road and Lamar Boulevard, through Town Lake Park, across the Pfluger Bridge, along the Town Lake Trail and the Lance Armstrong Bikeway to downtown.  In downtown, we took the new Shared Lane Markings, or Sharrows, along Lavaca Street to Martin Luther King Blvd (where there are new bicycle lanes), to Red River Street, and then to Dean Keaton Street.  On Dean Keaton, the green bicycle lanes made a positive impression on us all.  Wow, what a difference.  We headed north on Speedway to 43 rd Street, experiencing the Bike Box at the intersection of 38 th Street and Speedway (where we all made a bet of how many bicyclists travel through that intersection on a daily basis, the guesses ranged from 400 to 2750, UT will be giving us those counts at the end of the study, so stay tuned for the answer).  Like the talk on local bicycle forum web sites, we also debated a few minutes as we waited for the light, on how to use the facility. We found that we all had different riding styles and behaved differently not only as we rode along the road, but also at intersections.  It is my hope that with better facilities added to our toolbox in the United States, more bicyclists will begin riding, causing motor vehicle drivers to expect to see bicyclists in the roadway.  Eventually everyone will get better at understanding how to share the road

I’d like to give a shout out to the staff in not only the Bicycle Program, but the Transportation Department (ATD), and the Parks and Recreation Department (PARD).  Both departments have been working very hard this year to help our City to become more bicycle-friendly.  With the assistances of PARD we will be piloting a mirror at the Shoal Creek Trail and Lance Armstrong Bikeway intersection, to further ameliorate the improvement made at that location recently

One of the first bike boxes at 38th and Speedway.

One of the first bike boxes at 38th and Speedway.

In 2009 the City of Austin installed 20.7 miles of parking free bicycle facilities, more than doubling the 8.1 miles we installed in 2008.  In the third quarter of 2009 alone we installed 8.5 miles of bicycle facilities exceeding the total for any previous year.

Last, but not least, I’d like thank TXDOT staff in the North District Office  who recently  made some incredible context sensitive improvement to the Barton Springs Road and Mopac area ( they extended the City’s bicycle lanes and added sidewalk along the frontage road from Barton Springs Road to RR 2244).

Have a wonderful winter, do some long rides in the cool weather, commuter more, enjoy the holidays, be safe, and let’s continue to work together towards a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community.

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