What’s Up With Austin Bicycle Community Groups?

We’re deep in the heart of Texas and COVID-19’s fourth wave, with allegedly only two (2!) ICU beds available for an 11-county, 2.3 million person region. That news is real and dire, but somehow the beds seems to expand when more staff become available. But with the Governor Hey Abbott! getting infected with the virus himself this week, after his horribly out-of touch, anti-science, and anti-mask mandate law, it’s strange days indeed. Almost enough to write a follow-up to The Coronacles of Blarneya, Part II. Instead of that unpleasantness, it’s best to go outside and exercise those lungs in the fresh air and sunshine — the latter being the best disinfectant, after all. Anyway, it occurred to me to do a little update on a few of Austin’s community groups that help get butts on bikes.

Yellow Bike Project

Source: The Grease Rag, YBP

The shop that basically closed down due to the pandemic has slowly been reopening for a while now. Though not totally back to normal, you can now take part in most programs as before, with some reservations required.

For example, for $10, you can take the class Learn to Fix your Flat Tire on Aug. 30th, 6-8 pm. Bicycle Maintenance 101 is on Sep. 26th, 3-5 pm, for the same price. You can go by on Saturdays from 12-6 pm to buy parts or refurbished bikes, but you will still need that reservation. COVID protocol must be followed; i.e. masks and physical distancing. Open shops to work on your bike are every Thursday and Friday, 6-10 PM with limited spots.

They are in need of more coordinators if you’re willing to go through the training and volunteer an average of six hours a month. And of course volunteers to work on bikes. WTF Workshop (a supportive space for women, trans and femme folks) is back on the schedule, too. There’s also Earn a Bike, a program I was working on when Sophie the Fairdale came to me free in a raffle. Of course, they still take donations of bikes to be repaired, and cash money, too.

For more about YBP, see AustinYellowBIke.org.

Ghisallo Cycling Initiative

Source: Ghisallo Cycling Initiative

This group just turned 10 years old earlier this month. It is geared toward getting kids on bikes but has a number of programs for adults and seniors, too. It looks like they’ve expanded into San Antonio some, too. While I haven’t had much interaction with them since they shared an office with Bike Austin where I volunteered, hear they do good work.

Of course with the pandemic, they downsized, but still managed to pull off some programming. For example, last December, they delivered holiday cheer bags to seniors in the Golden Rollers program. They also distributed 1,200 Halloween Party Packs to kids all over East Austin. Each pack included candy, pedestrian and bicycle safety materials such as a reflective backpack, flyers, coloring books, and activity books, COVID-19 safety information, and toothbrush and toothpaste.

Some of their other programs will be back like Bike Rodeos. One that anyone can access right now is their Bike Film Festival, which began as a response to COVID. See the 2021 collection of short videos here and 2020 here.

For more about GBI, see Ghisallo.org.

Bike Austin

May be an image of bicycle, lake, tree and nature
Source: Bike Austin

Things at the local bike advocacy group have been a bit quiet. I occasionally get an email about advocating for a particular bike lane project the City of Austin is running or to Save Healthy Streets. Their Bike Rides page has three listings, and links to a few other groups. They are a signatory to a proposal to make Austin neighborhods more bike and pedestrian friendly called AustinLivingStreets.com.

For Education, you can get one-on-one lessons with a League Cycling Instructor, which is a great program I went through and very nearly finished before COVID hit. But they come at what for most is a hefty price, though. If BA is having any gatherings or events, I’ve not heard of them.

One thing they usually host around August 4th is a Hottest Day of the Year Ride. Due to COVID the last two years it didn’t take place. They suggest you can do it yourself by pre-hydating, riding any time in August, feeling the heat, jumping in water (we went to splash pads the year I went), and then promoting it on social media, if that’s your jam.

For more about BA, see BikeAustin.org.

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