I haven’t done one of these roundups in a while. Because, coronavirus. My last one was in May. Inspired somewhat by BikingInLA and TexBiker.net, a roundup hopes to serve up some useful tidbits of happenings around town in the bicycling world here in Austin. Sometimes, it’s news about infrastructure, not so sexy, but important. And other times it’s even sobering and sad, like the senseless suffering and death of a cyclist who was hit by a car (the first of 2020).
I suppose that last one is fitting, given that it’s the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima Day and Nagasaki Day on the 9th. These tragic attacks remind us that the United States is the other country to ever use nuclear weapons, at great human cost. A Dude says nukes must be abolished before we can ever have peace. There’s a treaty that only 40 countries have signed and shamefully, the US in not one of them. Alright, sermon concluded. On with the way more fun and much less important Austin bike news!
In general, lots of people have (re)discovered bicycles during the lockdown period and since, with the lessening of restrictions in Texas (for better or worse — definitely worse). Meanwhile, most of the bike shops are still low on inventory and behind on repairs. Group rides seem to happen, like the Black History Social Bike Tour I attended (along with about 500 people!), but more like a few friends who know each other.
Bike Night at COTA and The Driveway Series
However, two events are worth noting. While it’s shuttered for July and August, Bike Night at COTA (Circuit of the Americas — a Formula 1 race car track) will re-open in September. A bit east of Austin, the 3.4 mile track has a beast of a hill at the beginning. I hit my highest speed every on Sophie the Fairdale coming down it — at a screaming 50 miles per hour. It’s a fun event when you don’t have to wear a face mask while you’re riding. There’s a charge to register and coronavirus / COVID-19 safety protocols are in place. Beers and burgers are available after. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been, due to the demise of Sookie the Fuji, but maybe I will get back there one day.
The Driveway Series is a nationally known set of races organized by Holland races, who also run Bike Night. Sometimes pros show up like Lawson Craddock. I’ve spectated a few times, and it’s fun. But not as fun as riding your bike. I missed the window on becoming a racer in my 20’s, though there are age and speed levels, it’s not my cup of tea. Or shall I say, I don’t feel the need, the need for speed. However, they’re back in business with new protocols — like no fans. This Velo News article is a good summary of how they’re dealing with the pandemic. Someday they’ll welcome fans back and it’ll be a scene to be seen at. (I know, don’t end a sentence with a preposition.)
First Cyclist Fatality of 2020
Normally this sad news would get its own post. But there’s no more information to be found yet. When there is, I’ll write about it. Even though it sucks doing so. I don’t want to be like BikingInLA, which has a fatality (or several) in every post, it seems. In this case, I have to wonder what the hell the rider was doing on that stretch of road out by the arport, with tons of construction going on. We don’t know who’s at fault and finding out is very hard unless there’s more news coverage or you’re a relative of the victim. And of course a better question to ask is “Why the hell wasn’t there a bike facility there?”
Hottest Day of the Year Ride
Bike Austin does this but this year it’s a “do your own ride and post to social media about it” affair. Again, due to the ‘rona. In 2018, I went to the 9th edition and actually enjoyed it. The ride is not too hilly, long or fast. It’s family friendly for the most part. And it stops at splash pads and a pool. I recall helping play sweeper and supporting some slower riders and a few with mechanicals. If you want to participate by yourself or others in your household, and can post to the networking sites, here is Bike Austin’s Instagram link. A dude’s not on there… yet, so far resisting the evil clutches of data-hungry Zark Muckyouberg.
Other news from Bike Austin at this link includes places you can go do your hot ride:
Austin Black History Tour – Click here to see the map of the Austin Black History Tour route to 12 different sites created by Talib Abdullahi. It’s 8.46 miles to honor George Floyd, killed by a racist murderous cop in Minneapolos. Click here to learn more about the tour.
Temporary Bike Lanes on Congress Avenue — The Austin Transportation Department has installed temporary protected bicycle lanes on Congress Avenue. Click here to learn more about the Congress Ave. bike lanes.
New Bike Lanes on Shoal Creek — The final segment of bikeway installation on Shoal Creek Boulevard is now complete! To stay updated on the project and view maps, click here.
Well, that’s all for this roundup, but that’s quite a bit, actually. Despite the PANDEMAPOCALYPSE, there are still some cool things happening in Austin, Texas involving bicis, bicycles, bikes, biking, cyclists, and rides. But there’s also plenty of room and need to makes things safer by building more sidewalks and bike lanes, so we prevent deaths like the one above.
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