The advocacy and education organization with which I’ve volunteered over the last four years, Bike Austin sent out two recent messages about protected lanes on two major streets. Regular bike lanes are just painted lines on the road. As such, they provide only some protection from cars only if the drivers respect them. (Many do, plenty don’t.) Lanes that use some sort of barrier to separate cars and bikes offer riders protection. For many riders, that is the difference between riding their bike on the street or letting it collect dust in the shed. Because car drivers cannot be trusted, I’m generally for protected lanes, even when they aren’t the most fun or convenient. While they may not be as urgent as other issues, bike lanes can also be a matter of life or death.
Last month your faithful cyclist and semi-regular bicycle activist (moi) attended a City of Austin open house. Today they sent out a follow-up notice, and I’m sharing it with you. It has some interesting approaches to making this street safer, but they aren’t a done deal yet. We have to make sure Austin doesn’t give up and cede the road back to cars. Even if you don’t live here, you might find the way they (we) do things here to improve safety for walkers and bicyclists interesting.
Sorry, with coronavirus rearing its ugly head, even leading to the cancellation of South by Southwest for the first time in its 34-year history, I should say pedestrians. Walkers are what the survivors call the zombies in The Walking Dead. I didn’t get any good shifts and was going to sit out SXSW anyway, but I have mixed feelings about it. That’s because there are 0 reported cases in Austin. Well, let’s just hope there are more of us in The Cycling Alive group when it’s all over.
Today’s post was going to be about an article in Bicycling magazine. But it turns out it’s a re-run of something from September. Then I was going to re-visit my 2019 stats. But since that post went over like a lead balloon, I shelved that for another time (maybe). Then I figured I could provide reportage on the City of Austin opening a 2-mile stretch of Shoal Creek redesigned bike lanes. But I didn’t make it to the gathering, so what to write about? How about a bike ride I did with a cycling friend on Shoal Creek later in the day? Ya sure, ya betcha!
The rain stopped, clouds parted, and the sun came out on a winter Saturday in Austin. Fifty or so bicyclists gathered underneath the Browning Hangar, the first of its kind, a now refurbished WWII era structure built with wooden trusses. A sense of history was fitting for the somber purpose: to celebrate the life and commemorate the death of Merry “Cookie” Katheryn Daye. She was the fourth Austin Cyclist to die in 2019 in a crash, in this case a hit-and-run with a truck. We rode slowly and quietly to the crash site and had a gathering, and then returned. It was a fitting event.
The tragedy still hurts for the family members and strangers alike who didn’t know her but felt the pain and loss, even indirectly. This gathering was a step toward healing, community and preventing further senseless deaths. Perhaps, some justice will come out of this. That is why I initiated the idea for this ride and facilitated conversations to make sure it happened. At the end of the day, while the ride was a success due to no incidents and some media coverage, Cookie is gone. And that is just wrong, and it hurts. But her memory lives on.
[POST IN PROGRESS, MORE PHOTOS LATER]