One of the themes of this blog is that bicycling is both a solo sport and then again, it’s not. You pedal your own bike, unless you’re chilling out on the back of a tandem. But from the people that made your bike, all the gear and accessories, the roads, the food, the beer… it’s all connected into part of what we tend to call “the bike community.” And by “we” I mean people, usually white ones, with the privilege to go to happy hours. (You could say opposing racism and xenophobia are also one of my sub-themes.)
But hey, don’t even white people who happen to bike deserve to live in a bikeable, walkable city that works well, and not get killed in the process? Yes! So when I heard that the advocacy and membership group A Dude is part of, Bike Austin, partnered with the Congress for the New Urbanism Central Texas Chapter (CNU-CTX) for their monthly gathering, I got myself down there to check it out. What follows is my short report, with plenty of pictures.
Envision Austin with Zero Traffic Deaths!
I may go more into this group at another time, but since a member of the City of Austin Transportation Department donated these babies (front and rear bike lights), I had to give them a shout out.
Basically, Vision Zero is a program that looks at overall design of traffic systems and ways to improve them. It began in Sweden and has spawned local chapters around the world. I chatted for a bit with Katie Deolloz, the Executive Director of Bike Austin. She pointed out that 32 people so far in 2018 have been killed total in Austin due to cars. That’s 32 too many!
For more about Austin’s effort, check out http://www.visionzeroatx.org. Thanks for the lights, Catherine and Katie!
I’ll Be CNU in All the Old, Familiar Places
While at the happy hour, I also had a chance to talk former Austin City Councilmember Chris Reilly. A long-time cyclist, advocate for transportation options in front of and behind the scenes, as well as a super nice guy. He talked about a variety of things with other folks from the Code Next land use battle going on at City Hall, the physical challenges from biking, semi-recumbent bikes, beer, New York, and the goals of the Congress for the New Urbanism. Vastly knowledgeable but approachable in a way that is sometimes missed on the current council, I really appreciated having the chance to pick his brain as well as just chat. Thanks, Chris!
The CNU is about designing cities the way they were before the advent of cars and highways — in ways that are friendly to people, not just cars, that build communities rather than divide them, and other things. I took a couple of shots of Mateo Barnstone who is the sole employee of the CNU on his awesome three-speed bike, the Guv’nor. As in Cheerio, Bob’s your uncle, and g’day mate. Oh, that last one’s Aussie, innit? A little London slang, why not?
Chris is a follower of A Dude Abikes, so if you aren’t already, be like Chris!
I also had a chance to meet Rich, a cyclist who owns several bikes and is also working on two long-term bike building projects, one a recumbent and the other a hybrid. A former racer, he’s interested in both groups and how to make Austin more accessible to people on bikes as transportation. He’s already complimented this blog, so here’s a shout out to you, Rich! Bike on, dude! There were other cyclists I’ve started recognizing and being recognized by like Dave Landers, a former Bike Austin board member and others I didn’t get to chat to. That’s ok, it’s not like I’m being paid for any of this. Yet.
VeoRides, the New Dockless Bike in A-Town
With the collapse of Ofo, the Chinese free-standing bike company famous for pictures of piles of bikes, VeoRides will replace them. The bikes should be rolled out next week. Katie introduced me to Matt Briggs, the brand new local manager. Like, it was his third day on the job kind of new. Kudos to Matt for showing up at a community event to get to know people in the “bike community.” Rich and I peppered him with questions, and I for one made sure to let him know that bikes laying around willy-nilly would be met with the appropriate response (derision and relocation of the obstacle, especially if in bike lanes)!
Matt seems like a stand-up guy and explained how VeoRides has worked in other US cities and is constantly working to improve its bikes and programming. They are hiring people to distribute the bikes where people request them through the smart phone application. It’s only .50 cents per quarter hour. The City restricts access to the Central Business District currently, so you couldn’t ride outside of that and stop the ride. Anyway, I came away with a greater appreciation for what they are trying to do. The “last mile” model of transportation, whether it’s bikes or scooters or something else, may pride itself on being “disruptive,” but at least VeoRides seems to be playing by the rules, unlike LimeBike and others. It remains to be seen if they all play fair and play well together from here out. Let’s hope so.
I had a horrible day otherwise, the kind where all kinds of things go all kinds of wrong. Waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Aches and pains, some that just may not go away and need to be “managed.” There was a lost key meaning I couldn’t walk a dog I was supposed to and then not getting paid for said dog walking. A borrowed car maybe needing service. Not getting things done at a reasonable hour because of such distractions. Not being able to keep up with the Tour de France, but I will get caught up. (Just don’t tell me anything about the stage results!) I thought I had a buyer for my trainer but then I didn’t. Didn’t eat well, or enough.
So I couldn’t bring myself to get a bike ride in, but that was good too, because I was sort of forced to take my first rest day since July 1. Tomorrow is another day, so we’ll see how it goes. There were some other good things, too. A friend had me come by to help with a project for 10′, and rewarded me generously. Thanks, Amanda! I forgot that I get triple minutes when I reloaded my phone card, so Schwing! to that! I did finish watching the World Cup the other day, though. The entire World Cup. Awesome!
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