Literally and figuratively, I’m always going somewhere. Today was partly virtual, in that my blog post 15 YEARS NOT A SLAVE TO CARS! was shared by TexBiker.net. It is an excellent collection of you guessed it! Bike news from around Texas. Thanks to Rick in Houston for doing that and for all he does! Another step in my diabolical plan to become internet famous. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah, sure Dude, whatever you say.
Vision Zero ATX held its first monthly meeting in a while at the Austin History Center. The small group is sponsored by a non-profit which has staff working on reducing all traffic deaths to zero whether they are people in cars, on bikes, by foot or even scooters. They are looking for volunteers to help rebuild their cause. Austin’s deaths increased last year, so there is work to be done to persuade city government to really allocate funds for better bike lanes and more. To learn more visit VisionZeroTexas.org.
This somber event first was commemorated in the United Kingdom in 1995, later expanding to other countries. Here in Austin, Texas, USA, those who died in the past year in cars, on bikes, or on foot, are remembered with speeches, flowers, a silent walk and exhortations to stop the epidemic of car-nage. Despite a very sore knee, I made my way downtown to join the 50 or so participants, pay my respects to the 70+ people who died since last November, and hope that I’m not on the list next year. While “only” three bicyclists died, that’s still three too many. Read their stories here: Anothony Diaz, Jessica Saathoff and Anthony Williams.
Every so often someone — always a car driver — gets on the neighborhood app called Next Door to bitch about bicyclists or biking infrastructure the City of Austin has installed. The latest is about some plastic bollards that make a semi-protected bike lane, narrower car lanes and additional concrete that is meant to be traffic-calming. It’s in what was designed to be a high-density, pedestrian and bike-friendly neighborhood. Named Mueller, after the former airport upon which it sits, it’s generally a safe area to bike. Except when you read what the aggressively bike-hating people are posting in Next Door. I wrote a previous post on this in January 2018. Now the haters are back, so of course I have a few choice words. (Of love – tough love.)
This gathering happened Sunday to commemorate an international day organized by the United Nations. It was a somber reminder that cars can and do kill. Not just people in other cars, but also people using bicycles and who are walking. Sponsored by Vision Zero Texas and a number of local organizations promoting traffic safety, the goal is to eliminate deaths from traffic. How to do that is the million dollar question. But the gathering gave a forum and a face to supporters of safer roads, and recieved some media attention as well. As a cyclist whose life is at risk on a daily basis, I have an enlightened self-interest in seeing this law pass. Here’s a short review of the second half of the event I attended at the Texas State Capitol.
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.
One of the themes of this blog is that bicycling is both a solo sport and then again, it’s not. You pedal your own bike, unless you’re chilling out on the back of a tandem. But from the people that made your bike, all the gear and accessories, the roads, the food, the beer… it’s all connected into part of what we tend to call “the bike community.” And by “we” I mean people, usually white ones, with the privilege to go to happy hours. (You could say opposing racism and xenophobia are also one of my sub-themes.)
But hey, don’t even white people who happen to bike deserve to live in a bikeable, walkable city that works well, and not get killed in the process? Yes! So when I heard that the advocacy and membership group A Dude is part of, Bike Austin, partnered with the Congress for the New Urbanism Central Texas Chapter (CNU-CTX) for their monthly gathering, I got myself down there to check it out. What follows is my short report, with plenty of pictures. Continue reading →
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.