Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Riding the Bus

I've taken to riding the bus to work with my bicycle. With me spending around $100 on gas a month it made sense. It was a little difficult at first since you have to lift your bike onto the mechanism that holds it in place on the front of the bus. (Let's just say I don't spend my free time lifting weights) However, once I got it down it was pretty nice, and I get to work relatively sweat free.

Using a bicycle in conjunction with the bus gives you more options. Technically for me to get to work on foot alone I would have to make two transfers, with a bicycle, I can simply cycle over to the direct bus line. As soon as I finish pimping out my bike with a rack where I can stash my purse, it'll be a very nice commute.

I have to commend CapMetro, I really can't think of any way to make it easier to take your bicycle, other than doing the heavy lifting for me.  Buses are only equipped with two spots, so if it is already full, your out of luck, as I was yesterday. Several bus lines go by my work though, so even if I couldn't pedal home and take my car, I would still be able to get to work in a timely manner. However, I rarely see one, much less two on the buses around town. A problem for the future, and a good one to have. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Bikeway

I heard there was a new cycle track here in Austin somewhere along Red River, but hadn't seen that yet, my sole reason for going to that part of town being a need for German kitsch at Scholtz Garden. However, I caught a glimpse of it on my way to the ciclovia. 

It runs along the commuter rail on 4th street, and is meant to provide a way to cross I-35. That intersection presents the one and only fault I found with this project.

That is the I-35 access road, which you must cross to continue on the bikeway. There is no light, no nothing. It is you against the fifty or so cars coming continuously, so good luck finding a gap to cross the street. I finally said to myself, "Grow some balls" and went. In an otherwise good plan, why did they place the crossing here, where there is no stoplight? Really, for safety's sake, it might make sense to cross over one block and cross at 5th or 6th street.  On the other side you come to this weird intersection where not only do you have to watch for access road traffic, but cars turning right from a side street. Its hard to explain the exact layout.

Here is a picture of the "pretty side" of the bikeway.

I'm glad Austin is building things like this. However, sometimes I just scratch my head with some of the odd layouts you come across.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Austin Ciclovia

Austin held had its first ever Ciclovia as part of Bike Month. City officials shut down E. 6th street, and let the locals loose to do as they pleased. (Family-friendly things-that part was heavily emphasized in the paper.)

I went down and checked it out, arriving on the tail end of it around 2. I'm hoping that is why there weren't too many people, although those that were left certainly made up for their lack of numbers with personality. Here are some pictures.

Something you hardly ever see in Austin- little kids riding their bicycles on the street.

Aww training wheels. Remember those?

I sincerely apologize for this unflattering shot. But, you hardly ever see women riding those kinds of bikes, so I'm including it.

This is as crowded as it got while I was there.

Riding it backwards---Oh yeah I'm cool.

Along with the fun of riding your bike in the street safe from 2 tons of metal, there was also food, music, and a farmer's market. (Those seem to be almost standard festival fare now, like Ferris wheels and funnel cakes.) An Asian beauty contest was going on too it seemed-- I got there in the middle when they were posing in front of the bluegrass band. 

I hope the Ciclovia was a big success and Austin will continue to hold these kinds of events around town. Looking at pictures of other ciclovias held around the world, our crowds paled in comparison. I enjoyed it though, because it takes you back to when you were a kid and you just road your bicycle for the hell of it, up and down the street. By the way, anyone else think Ciclovia was the name of some prescription drug at first?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Bike!

My new baby.
1980's Azuki road bike, beautiful blue color.
So far so good, but I want to put a rack on it and maybe a basket. I felt like I was flying when I rode it the other day, but it did take me a couple of tries to become adjusted to the road bike posture. I can actually lift it, which will come in handy if I ever want to take the bus.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In the Middle of Chaos

Been off the grid for awhile since I didn't have internet. Thank you At&t, I have spoken more to your customer service reps than I have to my own family.

Anyway, I snapped this on my way home. It was taken at Lamar@ Manchaca during 5:00 traffic. Brave, foolish, law-abiding- all of these words could describe the cyclist. He acted exactly as if he was driving a car, even though that meant being in the middle of fast moving traffic, a position very few people would like to find themselves in. Most people would ride through on the crosswalk, myself included.

This picture exemplifies the problems cyclists face on many Austin roads. The law demands you behave as a vehicle, with very few exceptions. However, to conform to societal attitudes about what is "safe", many people behave differently. This gray area causes confusion among cyclists and drivers, as everyone operates within their own vision of the proper and safe way to cycle. Then, there are those that bend, or more accurately, break the law with the justification that it is safer for them to do so. Or, even more annoyingly, that it is just too inconvenient. (I'm looking at you, people who don't want to stop at stop signs.)

Certainly, there are some laws that shouldn't apply to cyclists, and of course, there are others that everyone needs to follow to maintain a level of courtesy and respect on the road. So where do you draw those distinctions? I, like every other cyclist on the road, have my own version of the "right" way to do things. I'm sure not everyone agrees with how I ride and judges me for it, and God knows I do the same thing. So what is the solution? More cyclists on the road for sure, since peer pressure would curb more outrageous behavior such as running red lights. (We have horns in our cars for a reason.) Increased scrutiny from knowledgeable legislators would be a plus too, since much of that gray area is a result from half ass laws. In the meantime, riding in your bicycle in Austin means operating in a gray area where right isn't always clear and being wrong could mean you and your bicycle in a twisted mess.

Fun fact: I know that guy. I'd know those dreads anywhere.