Austin Gets the Gold

The League of American Bicyclists recently published its annual list of Bicycle Friendly Communities, and Austin shifted from “silver” to “gold” on this year’s list.Screen shot 2015-12-07 at 12.43.26 PM

How did we do it? The rankings take into account local laws, advocacy, and infrastructure. Austin’s 250 miles of bike lanes (more of 30 miles of which are protected), adoption of a Bicycle Master Plan, and bike sharing system Austin B-cycle are among the factors that helped us win the gold ranking.

“This distinction isn’t about bicycling, it’s about the benefits that bicycling brings to Austin,” said Rob Spillar, director of Austin’s Transportation Department. “It’s good for your health, great for your family’s transportation budget, and may be the quickest way to get around town. Austin’s commitment to bicycling is evident through the implementation of our recently adopted Bicycle Master Plan which will make bicycling safer, more comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities.”

There are other trends happening in bicycling beyond what’s noted in the rankings; nationwide, bicycling among women seems to be on the rise. And while it’s anecdotal, it appears that from central Austin neighborhoods to the CBD, more people are using bicycles to get around. That means that the groundwork helping Austin earn recognition like the gold status – laws, advocacy, and infrastructure – is indeed translating to more people choosing bikes as a mobility option. And that in turn means more road capacity and safer streets.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Austin, or any city, is necessarily a cycling utopia. There will always be rude drivers to contend with. If you’re a hesitant cyclist who is experiencing trying road conditions, there are ways to stay safe and make your ride more enjoyable. Check out the City of Austin’s Bicycle Program for information on routes. The Downtown Austin Alliance has information specifically geared toward downtown riding and resources. You can also get hands-on training from the bike professionals at Bike Austin.

photo via City of Austin

 

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