Photo courtesy of Bike Austin via Instagram
Protected Bike Lane on Austin, TX's, The Drag
Guadalupe Street between 24th and MLK will feature Austin, TX’s, newest cycle track, providing a dedicated bicycle lane that is separated from motorized traffic for people bicycling through one of the most congested parts of Guadalupe. “Cycle tracks,” sometimes called “protected bikeways” or “green lanes,” are areas that protect bicyclists using a curb, landscaped buffer, parked cars, or other barrier.
The improvements are coming as a result of the 2010 Mobility Bond Guadalupe Improvement Project alongside Capital Metro's MetroRapid project. “The cycle track will make bicycling along Guadalupe more comfortable for people of all ages and abilities, and provide the adjacent neighborhoods with easy bicycle access to the University of Texas, businesses on the Drag, and public transit,” said Nathan Wilkes of the City’s Bicycle Program.
In the new configuration, bicycle traffic traveling southbound on Guadalupe will now be separated using a combination of parking spaces, bus stop platforms, and pedestrian islands. For bicyclists traveling northbound, the bicycle lane has been widened and will include a painted buffer.
According to a 2013 study, over half of Austinites are interested in bicycling to get around Austin, but are concerned about mixing with high-speed traffic. Cycle tracks, like the one on Guadalupe, help ease those anxieties, and attract more people to bicycling. Providing comfortable bikeways that connect with other bikeways, urban trails, and public transit will help expand Austin’s mobility options, and make bicycling an everyday part of the lives of more Austinites.
The City has worked closely with University Area Partners (UAP) to help make this project a reality. "UAP is happy that the bike lanes are being extended on Guadalupe. Physically separated bike lanes provide a degree of safety that is needed for the various skill levels of University of Texas riders. UAP has worked with the City in designing the plan, and will be continuing to work with the City for the ultimate beautification of Guadalupe Street," said Mike McHone, Vice President of UAP.
To aid the transition on Guadalupe, local non-profit group Bike Austin has partnered with the City to position "street ambassadors" in front of the University Co-op. The ambassadors will be present today beginning at 7:00am, and on Monday, October 21, 2013, beginning at noon. These ambassadors, including representatives from the Austin Police Department and Capital Metro, will be distributing educational brochures and speaking with people about the changes to the street. They will also be handing out bicycle bells and helping people install them on their bikes. This was made possible through a grant awarded to Bike Austin from the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department to create and distribute materials to educate road users about the change.
“New bikeway designs can be unfamiliar at first, but experience has shown that people quickly learn to navigate logical new layouts,” said Tom Wald, Executive Director of Bike Austin. “Our brochure and online educational materials will make it easier for people walking, bicycling, using transit, or driving on the Drag.”
Go here for a downloadable copy of the brochure and more information on cycle tracks.