“Get yo’ bitch ass offa the road!” yelled the guy in the truck at me. That’s because I was in the middle of the narrow car lane, since there was no room for cars to safely pass me a bike lane or alternative road, and the sidewalks suck. I was in Southeast Austin, Texas in a neighborhood called Govalle (a Swedish, not Spanish word). It’s a less wealthy part of town near the airport that billionaire Elon Musk is transforming with a huge Tesla manufacturing plant. (Teslas are still cars, and they still pollute, albeit less than a standard gas engine car. And those lithium batteries are hugely wasteful to make, even if recycled.) Anyway, it’s a car-centric neighborhood. Traffic wasn’t heavy, so I chose to take the lane — which is completely legal in Texas. Anyway, it was not a pleasant interaction and it got me thinking about how and when to take the lane.Continue reading
Austin, Texas Bike Lanes and Sidewalks: A Few Updates
This makes my 10th post with a title including the words “bike lanes.” I’m generally a fan of anything that will separate cars from bikes and pedestrians, or in other words, will save my tuchus and that of other riders from being maimed or killed by cars. As a walker (not of The Walking Dead zombie variety — so far), I often use sidewalks when there are any. I also used them instead of biking on high traffic roads, so I don’t, you know, like, die. Several emails from the City about mobility improvement projects are clogging my email inbox, and with two personal examples, I figure it’s time for an update. Here are just a few of the many projects for intersections, bike lanes and sidewalks going on in Austin, Texas.Continue reading
Bike Austin Says the Healthy Streets Program Is Under Threat
An email from Bike Austin arrived in my in box recently. Forced to cancel events by the virus like many volunteer-run non-profits, they must do most of their work in cyber space. The email is about the take-over of certain streets by the Austin Transportation Department. Basically they set up plastic barrels and barriers that slow down cars and have signs instructing motor vehicles that the road is for local use only. The goal is to allow people to more easily walk, bike, skate, etc. with social distancing during pandemic times and maybe beyond. Is that such a bad thing? A Dude thinks not, I think.Continue reading
“Wassup, Killah?” and Other Random $hit People Say to Me on My Bicycle
Last night I was putting in some late night miles — 16.5 to be exact — to beat the heat and keep my stats up, you know, like I do. I approached a red light and came to a stop. Here’s what I wrote in my Strava ride summary: “Wassup, Killah?” Said the man at the bus stop, a descendant of Africa, pleasantly and with no malice, to the dude on the bicycle who is of the Caucasian persuasion. “I’m good, thanks. How ’bout you?” Also good. They then discussed how the weather wasn’t as hot as last night. The light changed, adieus were bid, and the dude rode on, an otherwise lackluster day made. “Huh, I guess I am kinda a killah on a bike!” He pedaled a little harder, his mph a bit faster. So yeah, that happened.Continue reading
15 YEARS NOT A SLAVE TO CARS!
This is my fifth annual post about being car-free since 1/25/2005. Technically I’m car-light, since I drove borrowed cars for a job for part of last summer also visited relatives over the holidays. On the other hand, I managed my best year ever combined and walking and biking – 5,633 miles.
I did that while on a bike that has 67% fewer gears and is 25% heavier steel (Sophie) than my old aluminum steed (Sookie). I’m no Greta Thunberg, but I do think reducing car use is a good thing. Not everyone can do it, but some people might be able to try it. That’s all I’m saying. Well, in this paragraph at least.Continue reading
Can Meditation Improve Your Bicycling?
We humans are always looking to improve, make progress, get ahead. If we can find a short cut, a hack, a trick, we’ll more often than not take it. The path of least resistance isn’t necessarily laziness either. There’s a fine line between sloth and smart. When it comes to cycling, whether you ride 5,000 miles a year (as I did in 2019) or 500, the easier the better. Mindfulness is all the rage now, although meditation has been around for thousands of years. So, can meditation improve your bicycling?Continue reading
Vision Zero ATX Wants to Stop Traffic Violence — But How?
Vision Zero ATX (www.VisionZeroATX.org) is based on an idea that came from Sweden:
Vision zero is the simple idea that every death and serious injury in traffic is preventable. People will make mistakes, but those mistakes should not lead to anyone losing their life or being severely hurt.
Simple, but not easy. So far this year (as of August 1st), 40 people have died on roads in Austin, Texas — the US’s 11th biggest city. Most are vehicles versus other vehicles. More than a few involve pedestrians. Just a few involve bicyclists. Compared to many cities, that’s not alot, but according to Vision Zero ATX, we can do better.
Bike Austin City Cycling Class at REI
Roads: They’re Not Just for Cars Anymore.
Who knew that the Texas Department of Transportation, the highway and toll road people sponsored classes for bicyclists? They’re also for car drivers to learn how to respect the rules of the road and vulnerable road users, i.e., dudes and dudettes on bikes. So on Saturday I saddled up and sauntered slowly downtown despite my ongoing allergies or whatever they are to get a little knowledge dropped into my mountain cedar-induced feverish brain. And I may have learned a thing or two. It turns out that you can teach an old dude new tricks. Not like, magic, or BMX, but you know, tricks. Continue reading
City of Austin Transportation Department Community Conversation: Data Doesn’t Lie
Bikes Came Before Cars & Will Be Here After Them, Too
Today’s post is about a meeting I attended put on by the City of Austin Active Transportation Department. They were reporting back on improvements to two streets in East Austin. The headline for me was that adding bike lanes and reducing car lanes from four to three did not increase travel time. In fact, travel time was decreased, because traffic signals were synchronized and optimized. This was measured with Bluetooth technology so it is not subjective.
Still, naysayers and disbelievers will convince themselves or anything to reinforce their narrow paradigm that only cars deserve to be on the roads. To me that’s just illegal, wrong and backwards. Such is politics. It didn’t matter to me when I just tooled around for short periods. Now that I’ve been out there biking over 13,000 in three years, saving my life and the lives of other people on bikes is more important. Continue reading
The Next Door App: Lost Pets, Stuff for Sale and Hatred of People on Bikes
People on Bikes and Lanes for Them Are Here to Stay
Today I was going to post about a Safe City Cycling Class, but due to cedar fever, my body was devoid of most energy. So I posted up in my bed to take an extended siesta. I’m still feeling as if I were run over by a truck, so bear with me. I hope to attend the next class on Saturday and report on that then. Looking around for a topic, I realized the Next Door War on Cyclists going on today would be a “fun” one. Not being sure about permissions and copyrights, I will just quote from there instead of put whole posts. When someone brings out the word “douche” and they’re not French or talking about a shower or feminine hygiene, let’s just say it gets pretty heated.Continue reading