‘The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.’ – John Howard
New transportation cyclists may choose their bike route based on their car route, but this may not always be the safest choice and a common phenomena occurs where the newbie is subsequently scared away from riding based on a terrible experience on their first try. Give yourself a better understanding of available bike routes by reviewing the maps below (downloadable PDF’s).
- City of Austin Municipal Bicycle Map
- City of Austin Regional Bicycle Map (coming soon)
Wait, are bike lanes really the best place to ride?
This is a good question. The best comprehensive answer can be found in this article by Phil Halmark, League Cycling Instructor.
For newer riders, or those commuting from the suburbs, riding for the whole duration of a commute may not (yet) be a viable option. This is where transit comes in as a perfect complement to your bike commute.
- MetroRail (North Communities to Downtown) The MetroRail runs all the way from Leander into the heart of Downtown. Bonus: Capitol Metro recently added an extended weekend schedule!
- Capitol Metro Buses (Greater Central Austin, Downtown, Flyer Routes) Capitol Metro is consistently working hard to make transit accessible to all Austin citizens. Visit their website for an easy-to-use trip planner, interactive schedule and map of routes, and information on discounted fares for seniors and students. Bonus: Text your start and end location and desired time of departure to 512.981.6221 to receive a text with the stop time and route number of a bus near you. And if you find a station, text the station number to this same phone number to receive the arrival time of the next bus. Super handy for those without the ‘smart’ phones!
- Intimidated by the thought of loading your bike onto the front bus rack? Check out this quick video tutorial:
- Note: A common thread of emotion Austin cyclists have is the sinking feeling of watching a city bus pull up with both spots on the front-mounted bike rack full. If your commute time falls on a ‘rush hour’, keep this in mind. Capitol Metro will be phasing in racks that can hold 3 bicycles, but only as the current ones age from wear.
Handy Resources and FAQs
No matter how well you feel you’ve prepared, questions and obstacles will inevitably come up when transitioning to a new mode of transportation. The resources listed below are fantastic primers to look over before buying a bike, planning a route, or perusing a local bicycle shop.
- Proper Education (for all road users) is crucial to a safe and enjoyable experience on the road. Austin Cycling Association offers Traffic Skills 101, which is an excellent class that teaches you how to drive your bicycle in traffic.
- Commute Solutions is an extremely helpful resource for those just starting out in transportation cycling. We strongly suggest that you pay this site a visit before you get out on the road.
- What kind of bike should I be riding? Well, what kind of riding will you be doing? Take a look at the descriptions of the different types of bicycles out there.
- What about all the stuff I need to carry? Read over this helpful introduction on racks and panniers. If you’re already familiar with the need to get some weight off of your shoulders this Adventure Cycling Association article goes over differences in these supplies in a little more detail, and provides a list of quality rack and pannier suppliers. If you think you are limited in the amount and type of load you can carry on a bike, consider cargo bikes, trailers, and check out this fun Flickr set to see what other people have managed to transport on their bikes.