A Guide to Biking in Austin, TX

Along with breakfast tacos, live music, and bats, bicycles are becoming part of this independent-minded city’s urban culture.

Austin, TX’s, fit populace lives outdoors and has discovered bikes are a way to explore their compact downtown and avoid traffic congestion – especially when getting to the weekend festivals. Even on the most scorching summer days, you will witness Austinites on bicycles downtown in the Texas capital: legions of colorful pedicabs ferrying bar hoppers, Lycra-clad road cyclists headed to the city’s hills, and locals rolling down an expanding network of bike lanes.

The city’s treasure is the 10-mile (16 km) Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail: a crushed gravel path ringing downtown’s Lady Bird Lake. The trail now boasts a gleaming new boardwalk. Or escape the city on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail, a 7.3-mile (11.7 km) bike path that leads through lush wooded glens, along ravines and fields of wildflowers, and climbs to a point offering a vista back over the city.

One of Austin’s premier live music venues, The Mohawk has indoor and outdoor space for local and touring bands.  Photo by Bill Oriani

One of Austin’s premier live music venues, The Mohawk has indoor and outdoor space for local and touring bands.
Photo by Bill Oriani

MEETS

Ride in a Thursday Night Social Ride or one of the theme rides on nearly every night and day of the week, see live music on Red River Street and the Eastside, watch the bats emerge from the Congress Avenue Bridge, swim at Barton Springs, shop and eat along South Congress Avenue, spend a Sunday Funday on Rainey Street, or frolic at the Austin City Limits Festival or at Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Popular attractions include the Texas State Capitol building, University of Texas at Austin, Laguna Gloria, Mount Bonnell, LBJ Presidential Library, HOPE Outdoor Gallery, Lady Bird Lake.

This is a funky Indian restaurant called G'Raj Mahal, 73 Rainey Street. Rainey Street is a popular, new nightlife street just on the edge of downtown with old bungalows converted into bars and restaurants. Photo by Todd Savage

This is a funky Indian restaurant called G’Raj Mahal, 73 Rainey Street. Rainey Street is a popular, new nightlife street just on the edge of downtown with old bungalows converted into bars and restaurants.
Photo by Todd Savage

SLEEPS

Heywood Hotel, a converted bungalow on the bike-centric Eastside, offers free bikes to guests who want to explore the neighborhood’s burgeoning restaurant and bar scene. Hotel San Jose, a stylish enclave off the eclectic shopping street South Congress, offers rentals of PUBLIC bikes to guests. Hostelling International Austin is perfectly situated along the lakefront bike path.

At Congress & 11th, with Austin B-Cycle bike share & the Texas Capitol building. Photo by Tom Wald

At Congress & 11th, with Austin B-Cycle bike share & the Texas Capitol building.
Photo by Tom Wald

STREETS (rental)

Austin B-cycle, the city’s bike share system, operates 40 stations that link most of the city’s major attractions. Rent bikes for the day at Austin Bike Rentals and Tours, Barton Springs Bike Rentals, or Rocket Electrics.


After a dozen years living in Amsterdam, Todd Savage can ride a bike in the rain holding an umbrella, a skill not so handy since he relocated last year to Austin. He is a freelance journalist, publisher, and board member at Bike Austin, the city’s education and advocacy organization.