Does Austin Need a Bicycle Guidebook?

I got a notice about the new Austin Environmental Directory, and that got me to thinking. As I tend to think a lot while bicycling, this thought must have percolated in the back of my mind. When it was done reuminating, it spit this idea out. Of course, the AED is free, which would not be ideal for putting together a detailed account of all things cyclist in Austin. Although the eco book is free, A Dude would need to recoup the costs of his time and effort for creating it. So this is me thinking aloud about it. Come along for the ride!

The question has some merit, because there’s a lot of bike stuff to cover, as with any city with a sizeable number of bicyclists in the population. Off the top of my head here are the major categories:

  • Advocacy
  • Bike shops (duh)
  • Bike clubs and organizations
  • Blogs, podcasts websites
  • Businesses that are bike-friendly
  • Charity rides
  • Group rides
  • Infrastructure like bike lanes
  • City departments that interact with cyclists
  • Prominent bicyclists, racers and such
  • Trails
Product image for
Source: REI

There’s quite a lot of information to uncover about each of those topics. I’m probably missing some, too. Compiling it would be a big job. I know a dude who’s looking for one, if it pays cash money. I mean, Portland has a guidebook, so why can’t Austin? However, it’s mostly just a list of trails and routes. I checked, and there are a few Austin web pages with some rides. But nothing comprehensive. I envision something that visitors and residents alike can access, not just for routes.

Would anybody buy and read it? That’s a good question for a publisher, I suppose. It would probably be better off as a website. Then again, bicycling.info has some good, well, info. But much of it is old and the site is terribly clunky to navigate. Bike Austin has the advocacy information, mostly on their Facebook, however. And there are still plenty of people who don’t bother with Facey Spacey. (You might guess that I’m not a big fan.) The Austin Vistors Center has a few routes listed. But they also include some out of date links.

Texbiker.net
Source: Texbiker.net

A good example of a web resource is Rick Ankrum’s TexBiker.net. He includes Instagram submissions, tweets from Twitter, a log of rides and other things he finds from around the state. (Sometimes even things from me.) It’s not everything, but it’s pretty exhaustive. And I like the sourcing from riders. I wouldn’t want to duplicate it, but if it’s Austin-specific I don’t think he’d mind. However he does it as a labor of love and volunteer for free, as I do this blog. But at some point A Dude has to make some money. Maybe if I made it a subscription, ad-based sort of thing, it would pay for itself and cover my time and effort to create and then maintain it. But then you’ve got the promotion thing. And people can find bike shops and places to ride on their own.

So, do we really need it? Maybe. Is it a good idea? Probably. Would it make money? Probably not. Am I going to make it happen? Not without other people saying it’s a great idea, some incentive and plenty of help. But it’s a good idea and by putting it out there, maybe others will agree and something will come of it. Meanwhile, go ride your bike! It’s autumn and with the cooler weather conditions are perfect for biking (when not raining or too windy).

What do you think about an Austin Bicycling Guide?

Source: Triple Crank

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6 thoughts on “Does Austin Need a Bicycle Guidebook?

  1. Sounds like a good idea. I’d remove advocacy so that you can get grants from City, County, State, Feds?, Tourism Bureau, Chamber of Commerce… Should be online (print is expensive) and try to get advertising revenue. You would probably not “make” money at it. But there might be some revenue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will counter that by saying that a bicycling guide that does not include advocacy groups would not be worth the paper on which it is printed. (OK, you suggested not printing it so there is no paper cost.) If you are doing it for the purpose of generating ad revenue and are afraid of alienating the money with the word “advocacy”, I’d say it is a project not worth pursuing. If I know A Dude, I know advocacy has to be in there.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well said, and you’re right, that I do care about stuff. Kieran has a point too, but even if it’s only enlightened self-interest, occasionally trying to get the City gummint to do better by bicyclists is only logical. Some people are turned off by advocacy, or it’s not their thing. But as a resource they don’t have to do anything if they don’t want to. Maybe a subscription has an option which offers them membership in Bike Austin for an extra amount.

        This idea is still just that, and if it were to become real it might be just as simple as a tab for Advocacy, one for Shops, another for Routes, etc. But these days, getting struggling LBSs (local bike shops) to shell out money for something like this is probably a big stretch.

        Maybe it doesn’t have to be encyclopedic, and can start small. Like a tab on my site. I do like the paper idea too, to at least have at shops. It could have art! Like some photos of murals — there could be tour routes.

        Maybe I need to bring in more brains and eyeballs to think and look into it. For now, though, it’s more of a whisper of a wish of a dream. I gots to pay the bills first.

        Like

      2. Could work. Just easier to get government tourist grants without. You could list advocacy groups, but just keep advocacy out of the guides editorial content. Do the advocacy in a blog or source the guide links to. But I could be completely wrong and you might be able to fund raise on advocacy alone.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep, good idea. Do it. Would web based platform subscription with sponsorship from LBH, local Govt and corporate pay for your time and effort? An app with various difficulty/safety for routes would also be handy for those on the vo

    Liked by 1 person

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