A while back I mentioned an important victory for bicyclists in Austin, Texas. It was the decision by the City, after the input by citizens, to add protected bike lanes to Shoal Creek Boulevard, a major road used by people on bikes. Today they sent notice that that process has begun. Additionally, it’s pretty hot in Austin, and that’s making biking hard if not downright unpleasant for for many people, self included. So we have the good, the bad, and well, if you’re hot and sweaty enough, that also covers the ugly.
Power By and To the Pedal People
The good thing about these bike lanes is that they will hopefully make biking this corridor more attractive to less experienced cyclists. Currently, cars park on both sides of the street – in the bike lane – and you have to dodge in and out of the bike lane to avoid them. Cyclists will still have to avoid cars parking in driveways, of course. Bike lanes by themselves are not magic — they still require constant vigilance and safe, defensive biking. For example, runners will insist on using the lanes and there may be more debris because it’s hard to clean these lanes.
There’s no perfect solution. If I owned a house and more cars than fit in the driveway, I would not enjoy having to park across the street. But I don’t, and I’m not too sympathetic to those who objected to this. Surely they knew it was a street many cyclists used when they bought the house. Or if they’ve lived there forever, they will hopefully understand the value that bike lanes add to a city … and also to their property values. How it was was not sustainable though.
In any case, it was not just a vote of the property owners, some of whom were for the improvements. It’s not a perfect solution from a cyclist’s viewpoint, either. Having to go in the opposite direction of the flow of traffic, as one of the two side-by-side lanes will, is also not ideal. When everybody is unhappy, albeit in varying degrees, you know you’ve got a good project. Even if it causes some inconvenience, if it increases safety, I’m all for it. Thanks to Bike Austin members, who like me also advocated for the Mobility Bonds that are paying for this, this long-debated project is finally happening.
Some Like It Hot, But One of Them I’m Not
Obviously if one has a choice, morning and evening are the best times to go out. Or if you don’t mind the boredom of using a trainer or stationary bike, and have the right technology, you can count all those miles on your Strava or other fitness application.
But when you’ve got to get somewhere and it’s the worst part of the day, when you’re 14+ years being car-free like A Dude, you either take the bus, hope you get a ride, or suffer through biking. I’m pretty sure I overdid it a few weeks back, and that with some other things has caused me to reduce my riding. That stinks but if you want to be on the bike for long-term, you have to take care of yourself, and sometimes that means not biking as much or at all.
Recently I wrote about surviving the summer heat on a bicycle, but man, it’s the hottest part of the year and sometimes no matter what you do, it’s just no fun. And quite possibly dangerous or even life-threatening. With the forecast showing 100+ degree highs — and 110+ degree heat index aka “real feel” temperatures — there’s not much relief in sight.
Depending on your conditioning, where you grew up, and tolerance, you may not have much of a problem. For me it’s the humidity, and the sweat not evaporating. It’s most noticeable coming out of an air-conditioned building. I tend to make many stops like at grocery or convenience stores. who are usually nice about letting cyclists refill their water bottles. The damp heat wraps itself around you like an electric blanket doused in sweat. Not fun. And yes, I believe the vast majority of scientists who say that global warming is making the earth hotter.
Be safe out there, drink more water than you think you need, use that sunscreen, hats, and so on. Live to bike another day. Someday, it might even rain again!
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