Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mr. Wear Bikes to Work

Ben Wear, Statesman's transportation columnist decided to bike to work in honor of Bike Month. In the past he has been lukewarm on bicycle improvements, so I believe this was a big step for him. By his own admission he was "woefully unprepared", and indeed I think he was--just not in the same way.

Ben and his companions started from his home in Rollingwood, an affluent part of Austin with little bicycle infrastructure. They then crossed Mopac (a highway) right behind a shopping mall, which should tell you they were in a very car-centric part of town. Then they proceeded to Congress Ave. and Statesman headquarters, making for about a 5-mile trip. Wear noted the danger in crossing the highway and other parts of his journey, which brings me to a very important and little talked about point in all of this Bike to Work nonsense---PLAN YOUR ROUTE FOR A BIKE, NOT A CAR.

Ben had a hard time, but not because he didn't have a backpack, or a proper helmet, or even his own bike, it was because he didn't plan his route. He took his default car route, and paid for it in dangerous crossings and an uphill ride. If you decide to bike anywhere, make sure you are familiar with the area, and realize the safest way may not be the most obvious way. If I was trying to get out of Rollingwood, I would probably try and see if there was a bus or neighborhood route to get me through this infrastructure-poor part of town. In my own commute, I ride through the Bike/Ped bridge and down S. 5th to get home, although I could also take Lamar. I choose the other route because there is less traffic and lights. The tradeoff is that it is an uphill ride. Planning your route can save you a lot of headache, possibly your life, and make your daily commute enjoyable.

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