Making Options Easier in Austin

Two new transportation developments came on line over the summer, and both should make it safer and easier for non-vehicular traffic to move around Austin. A new series of bicycle and pedestrian bridges that run next to South MoPac Expressway opened for use, and 12 bicycle signals in Central Austin are also up and running.

The bridges run parallel to MoPac as it crosses Loop 360 and Barton Creek. While the two bridges over Loop 360 have been complete for a year, the longer of the three bridges finally opened this June. The bridges, which connect to bike trails to the north and south, will allow cyclists who want to commute from Southwest Austin to downtown to do so without riding on MoPac next to vehicles. As the Austin American-Statesman points out, the trail and bridges “provide easy, protected access from Southwest Austin to Barton Springs, Zilker Park and the Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake. It’s now possible to bicycle in a protected lane or sidewalk from U.S. 290 all the way to the river.”

And in August, new bike-specific signals started operating around Central Austin. The lights, which are bicycle-shaped, give cyclists waiting at intersections a few seconds’ head start. The Austin Transportation Department, which is working with the University of Texas to study how well the new lights work, is hoping that the lights will give bikes a chance to be more visible to drivers turning into bike lanes. Giving cyclists a protected light might also help them feel safer, and in turn encourage more people to try commuting by bike.

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