Parking a Trike or Two

Trikes take up more space than bicycles, at least more width. Finding a good place to park and lock a trike can be a little challanging but we have found some tricks that make trike parking easier.


Standard spacing for the standard inverted U racks is just a little tight for parking trikes. The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals has published guidelines on the best practices for bike parking. Regular bicycles are generally take up a 6 foot by 2 foot space. That gives spacing between inverted U racks of 24 minimum to 36 prefered.

In addition to spacing, the height of the inverted U should be considered. Many racks are too tall and interfere with the handlebars of trikes. Because trikes are heavier and harder to move sideways than bicycles, being able to move directly into and out of a parking space is preferred.

Here are two large adult trikes parked on one inverted U rack. Note that the back wheels are beside the rack and the front is angled to be able to lock the frame and a pedal to the rack. This seems to take up the least amount of space and allows other racks to be used as well. These racks are too tall and interfere with the handlebars causing some effort to get the trikes into place. It is possible that angling the inverted U racks at about 45 degrees would allow the trikes to park straight in reducing the skill necessary to park.


Here is a pair of trikes parked at a little different angle but with the same result. Locking on this rack was done nearer the back wheels with the back wheels inside the rack.


Using a cable lock for long term storage is risking the loss of the trike. A U lock is a better choice if it is placed so it is difficult to get something into the opening to pry the legs apart. We like to include the rack, the frame and a crank arm if possible. In the photo below you can see a good arrangement.


Long term parking should be inside. If you don’t have a storage space large enough and have to park in a public infrastructure then it is important that there be multiple levels of security. Video cameras that are monitored, a locked cage around the area and individual U locks on the bikes with solid inverted U racks generally cause someone to find an easier target.


Finally, when you want to secure your trike while you run into a restaurant or museum for a little while. Look for a place where people can see the trikes and then lock them the best way you can. Here is a picture of four trikes locked togeher around a light pole. Locking the wheels together is not the best practice for long term storage but it works for a quick run inside.


Take care of your trike and it will take care of you.

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Trike rides for Elders

Wow, I’ve just found the web site and the program to give trike rides to elders…FREE!!!

Ani and I just picked up two trikes and found a place to store them. First ride by Rob and Cynthia was a resounding success. We are working to make rides for recreation and errands a reality for older citizens who can’t drive and can’t walk to the grocery store or the park. 

We are creating a non-profit and could use help if you would like to provide contacts for companies or foundations that would like to support our effort. We will put in the sweat equity but we do have some major expenses for insurance and the capital cost of the trikes. 

Austin is the latest chapter in this growing movement and we are off and running.

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Diverging Diamonds are a cyclist’s worst enemy.


Diverging Diamond Intersections (DDI) are a recent innovation in intersection treatment to speed up the flow of traffic and reduce conflicts where two major highways intersect. DDIs are a very effective method to reduce crashes and smooth the flow of motor vehicle traffic.

Because of the geometry of a DDI, riding and walking traffic is difficult to accommodate and has raised controversy about use of this design.

Photo Above: Aerial photo of I-44 / Kansas Expressway Diverging Diamond Interchange in Springfield, Missouri.  First of its kind in the U.S.  Photo from Missouri Department of Transportation. Taken from

There are many variations of DDI that have been built in the last few years but all create problems for the reasonable flow of non-motorized traffic. The photo above shows (from lower right) a sidewalk with a crossing over an unsignalized right turn slip lane, a crossing to a center median walkway with barriers on either side, and then similar crossings on the far end. Consider the dangerous situations a person in an electric assist device or a vision-impaired pedestrian would face attempting to use this intersection. Consider as well a family with small children in a stroller.

Federal Policy:

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) policy statement on accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians contains the following language:

“4. The design and development of the transportation infrastructure shall improve conditions for bicycling and walking through the following additional steps:

  • planning projects for the long-term. Transportation facilities are long-term investments that remain in place for many years. The design and construction of new facilities that meet the criteria in item 1) above should anticipate likely future demand for bicycling and walking facilities and not preclude the provision of future improvements. For example, a bridge that is likely to remain in place for 50 years, might be built with sufficient width for safe bicycle and pedestrian use in anticipation that facilities will be available at either end of the bridge even if that is not currently the case
  • addressing the need for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross corridors as well as travel along them. Even where bicyclists and pedestrians may not commonly use a particular travel corridor that is being improved or constructed, they will likely need to be able to cross that corridor safely and conveniently. Therefore, the design of intersections and interchanges shall accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians in a manner that is safe, accessible and convenient. (emphasis added)
  • getting exceptions approved at a senior level. Exceptions for the non-inclusion of bikeways and walkways shall be approved by a senior manager and be documented with supporting data that indicates the basis for the decision.
  • designing facilities to the best currently available standards and guidelines. The design of facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians should follow design guidelines and standards that are commonly used, such as the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, AASHTO’s A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, and the ITE Recommended Practice “Design and Safety of Pedestrian Facilities“.

The Utah DOT has a document that talks about DDI and shows the bicyclist and pedestrian accommodations that can be done. Exhibits from that document that define bicyclist and pedestrian design options are shown below.


In the design section is a table of Lessons Learned. The first item on the list is pedestrian fencing on both sides of the DDI.

IH-35 at FM 1431

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is currently completing construction on a DDI at IH-35 and FM 1431 in Round Rock, TX, just north of Austin, TX. It became operational on November 19, 2015 and is the second DDI to become operational in Texas. This DDI is still under construction and the limited sidewalks are blocked off and there are no warning signs associated with the pedestrian crossings.


A diagram taken from TxDOT presentation on the DDI at FM 1431 shows no accommodation for cyclists or pedestrians.



Pedestrians attempting to cross from north to south in the shopping complexes on the east side of IH-35 are not accommodated with the design of the DDI on 1431. The west side of IH-35 is currently not as developed as is the east side but it appears that there is no accommodation for pedestrians crossing on that side either. The sidewalk does not allow for crossing of the main travel lanes. Not all pedestrians are able bodied. People using an electric assist device or pedestrians with vision impairment are poorly served with the sidewalk as it is currently configured.


Moving from east to west the only sidewalk is on the right side of the bridge (north) and is narrow, high off the travel surface, has no barrier between the sidewalk and traffic, and is facing traffic coming from the west. It appears that this sidewalk may not meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for width or protection. It certainly does not meet the criteria that TxDOT posted on their website about this project.

“Other benefits of a DDI include:

  • Motorists are able to bypass the intersection without stopping at a traffic signal
  • Improved travel time because of additional “green time” at traffic signals allow more vehicles to pass through the intersection
  • Additional sidewalks increase safety and better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians” (emphasis added)

This crossing is similar to the “perimeter ped crossing” shown in exhibit 2.8 ddi pedestrian crossing from the Utah DOT document.



FM 1431 is a critical east/west crossing of IH-35 for cyclists. It is the only crossing of IH-35 between Old Settler’s Blvd and Westinghouse Rd a distance of 3.2 miles. It allows cyclists coming from the residential and medical areas to the east access to the Texas Hill County and Ronald Regan Blvd, a major cycling route. It also allows access to the bicycle facilities associated with US 183A that link with Cedar Park and Leander.

As currently configured cyclists traveling east on FM1431 will be riding on the shoulder in 60 MPH traffic. Approaching the DDI the shoulder disappears and cyclists are required to occupy the rightmost lane in 45 MPH traffic. No shoulder or bikeway is provided by the design of the DDI from the Right Turn Only lane leading to Austin, across the DDI to the shoulder that disappears for the Right Turn Only lane leading into the shopping complex on the east side of IH-35. While it is legal to occupy a lane at 45 MPH and will be done by advanced cyclists especially those in a group, for an individual cyclist or one who is less advanced occupying the lane at 45 MPH may not be a viable alternative.

Therefore, the design of the DDI has removed the west to east link provided by 1431 for most of the cyclists who currently use this crossing.

As currently configured cyclists traveling west on FM1431 have the option of occupying the right most lane that leads across the DDI or taking the sidewalk. Occupying the lane in 45 MPH traffic is legal and will be done by advanced cyclists especially those in a group. For an individual cyclist or one who is less advanced occupying the lane at 45 MPH may not be a viable alternative.

Taking the sidewalk as it is currently configured requires traveling facing traffic on a raised narrow sidewalk with no barriers between the cyclist and traffic. A mistake on the part of the cyclist will mean a fall into oncoming traffic. TxDOT has indicated that cyclists using the sidewalk will be required to dismount and walk.


The access roads on both sides of IH-35 have traditionally been one of the ways that cyclists move north/south along the corridor. The current configuration of the DDI at FM 1431 has significantly increased the danger faced by a cyclist using this former route.

Previously the access road met FM 1431 at a traffic light. Cyclists would stop at the light and proceed across FM1431 on the green signal. Motor vehicles or cyclists turning right or left on 1431 would move to the proper lane and proceed with the green signal.

Cyclists wanting to turn onto the access roads to travel north or south from FM1431 would cross in the rightmost lane to the light on the far side, stop and wait for the light to change then proceed directly down onto the access road using the rightmost lane and shoulder.

Now, cyclists going straight will have to merge across two lanes of high speed traffic to be able to continue on the access road that leads under the FM 1431 overpass. On the other side the cyclist will have to merge back across two lanes of high speed traffic to right to the right as required by law.

Cyclists turning right are accommodated by the current design. However, cyclists turning left must merge across two lanes of potentially high-speed traffic to enter the Left Turn Only lanes.

Cyclists wanting to turn onto the access roads from FM 1431 are required to occupy the rightmost left turn lane that crosses the bridge and then merge with turning traffic coming from the opposite direction on FM 1431.


TxDOT has removed relatively safe accommodations for cyclists and pedestrians and has replaced the removed accommodations with limited, un-safe accommodations for pedestrians and no accommodations for cyclists.

The design of the roadways around this DDI has made use of the common way more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians effectively banning cyclists, pedestrians and persons with handicaps from access to the roadway.

Caveat: Construction is not complete and changes still to be made in the intersection could change the conclusions stated in this document. Currently there is no signage warning motorists of pedestrian crossings. Some pedestrian signal heads are in place at crossings and more are likely planned. A barrier between the sidewalk and motor vehicle traffic may be planned. However, these changes would not change the basic conclusion that the safety of pedestrians, persons with disabilities and cyclists has been significantly compromised with the DDI.

If you wish to see what traffic flow in this DDI looks like here is a short video taken on Friday afternoon December 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm. Traffic may have been heavier than usual due to the Christmas Holiday.

This document was prepared by W. Preston Tyree of cycleSMARTER is intended to open dialogue about the need to accommodate people who ride, people who walk and people with disabilities in all of our public roadways.


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Why advocates should wear helmets

At the risk of starting a helmet war…I want to make my position about helmets and their use by advocates very clear.

Recently one of the top bicycle advocates in our community rode in a community ride without a helmet. This ride was with city officials and was broadcast on two or three news channels. This article is in response to those actions and represents my thoughts on a controversial subject.

Advocates and Helmets

So why should bicycle advocates wear helmets?

Advocates tend to be mostly accomplished cyclists who are well able to avoid crashes. They represent all types of cyclists, including those who wear helmets and those who don’t. So why am I so adamant about advocates wearing helmets.

Because the people who make a difference expect it.

Whether we like it or not, advocates are role models, not just to the cyclists we represent, but we in fact do represent those cyclists to a broader public, including elected officials, law enforcement and the general public.

I believe we lose creditability when we don’t wear helmets; especially when we are in our advocacy mode talking to people who count and presenting our story in the media.

Just as I wear a suit to the capitol to visit my legislators, I believe it is important to wear a helmet when being an advocate.

I’m not saying that it is right or good or proper that people judge us by whether we wear a helmet or not. But I do believe that we are judged and lose some of our power when we present ourselves in public as advocates without the helmet.

My view on Bicycle Helmets

I wear a helmet every time I get on a bicycle…unless I get distracted as I did recently and started to do a trial ride on an electric bicycle with no helmet. I have fallen at least four times when my helmet cracked and likely reduced the injuries I sustained.

I recognize that helmets are designed to provide protection in a low speed crash and don’t offer a significant amount of protection if I get hit by a motor vehicle at high speeds. However, I also know that most bicyclist crashes that result in injuries requiring medical treatment are, in fact, slow speed crashes that don’t involve a motor vehicle.

I also know that there are numerous studies that show the health benefits of regular physical activity and more specifically the benefits of riding a bicycle daily.

In fact the health benefits out weigh the risks of riding without a helmet by a large margin.

I have ridden in Amsterdam and the countryside of the Netherlands. I was one of the few people riding with a helmet. I believe the biggest cultural difference that makes the crash rate in those countries one-tenth of that in the US is that almost every driver is a cyclist and every child is given traffic safety lessons from first to sixth grade. I am not sure that is a good reason not to wear a helmet but it works for them.

For adults, who can comprehend the complexity of traffic situations, I normally argue against mandatory helmet legislation (MHL). I can teach an adult to avoid most crashes.

I would rather see an adult riding without a helmet than not riding.

For children, who are unable to deal with the complexities of traffic situations, I normally speak up for MHL. I can rationalize requiring parents to put a helmet on a child because they are not capable of making good decisions in traffic. I believe the risk of not wearing a helmet in our traffic situation is higher for a child but

I would rather see a child riding without a helmet than not riding. But, I would rather see a child riding with a helmet.

Preston Tyree


Posted in Advocacy, Austin, Education, Equipment | Tagged | 1 Comment

Sometimes you have to ride in the dark…

My name is Preston and I am a bike light addict. One time my wife pointed out the three headlights and four tail lights scattered around my bike and body and suggested that I had more money in lights then in my bike. She was right. My excuse/rationale is that I really want to be seen when riding at night.

At the end of this blog is a review of a new lighting product from Magnus Innovation.

I have some strong opinions about lighting and reflective materials as a means of making cyclists visible, at night to other road users. Most of my opinions have been formed by riding a lot of miles in the dark but also by taking groups out to evaluate lights and reflective materials in over 50 LCI Seminars.

Head Lights

There are two types of head light,

  • one so a cyclist can be seen by other road users, primarily those turning left across the path of the cyclist and those turning into a roadway in front of a cyclist, and
  • one so a cyclist can see the road and hazards ahead.

Be Seen

A be seen light can be relatively low power, about 50 lumens will meet the legal standard in most states. Riding in urban areas generally makes the be seen light critical and normally doesn’t need a see light as the ambient light is high enough to be able to see most hazards. In my opinion a head light brighter than 200 lumens is overkill in an urban setting and can be aggravating for other road users. In this case brighter isn’t necessarily better.

Most modern LED lights meet the minimum standard for being seen. However, many of the smallest, simplest head lights use non-rechargable watch batteries (those little silver discs) which can be pricy. While many organizations give away cheap lights, after the initial battery dies I suspect very few of those lights ever get used again.


A see light is a different animal. It is hard to have too many lumens riding in suburban or rural areas or on off road trails. Over the years I’ve tried lots of lights and find that something over 600 lumens is good. I have hit a deer riding on a winding downhill in a suburban area. It came off the curb and was in the road before I saw it. With more light and a broader beam it is likely that I would have seen the deer in time to avoid it. A see light should start at 200 lumens and go up. Some modern lights are in the 800 lumen range. I believe this is too much to use in an urban area but works well out side of downtown.

The technology of lights and batteries has evolved to the point that most are LED of some form with lithium ion batteries. The older tungsten bulbs and HID use too much power and have been almost completely supplanted by LED with superior brightness and lower power draw. Many of the newer lights are also rechargeable using a USB cable.

The move to LED and USB recharging is making more and more lights available to people who need to ride to earn a living but who cannot afford the old technology and having to purchase and replace batteries frequently.This is a case where technology is supporting equity.

Reflective material on the front of the bike or the rider has some use, but like reflective materials on the sides, it generally is not effective in allowing a motorist or other road user to detect and recognize a cyclist at a safe distance. Lights in the front are crucial.

Tail Lights

Tail lights have one purpose; someone coming up from behind can see the cyclist and recognize that it is a cyclist in time to avoid a collision. Tail lights don’t have to be bright but they do have to be placed where they convey the proper information. Two similar red light placed side by side gives the wrong information. It looks like a car a long way away.

Stack your tail lights. Place one low on the frame, one under the seat, one on the rider at the waist and one on the helmet. Have at least one of your lights blinking but most of them solid.

Reflective material on the back of the bike or the rider is very effective in allowing a motorist or other road user to detect and recognize a cyclist at a safe distance. But, all reflective material is “retro-reflective” which means it only bounces light directly back to the light source. If a motor vehicle is behind you then the reflective material should work. But if the road is curvy or hilly, the reflective material is not nearly effective.

Most people who go through the night ride on an LCI Seminar ride away planning to get more light but lots more reflective materials.

Blue Lights

Many states allow the use of blue lights on the back of the bike. Blue lights are generally three times as visible as a red light of the same power which is the reason they are frequently used on emergency and law enforcement vehicles. In states where blue lights are legal they are a good option on the back of a bike.

Full disclosure: I have a financial interest in a company that sells blue lights.

Product Review

Magnus Innovation Vision II

When a start up company in Austin presented a new light I was pretty ho hum about looking at something “new”. But I agreed to review the light and talk about it, the good, the bad and the ugly. Full disclosure, the company presented me with the first example of their new light for review. I didn’t purchase it.

The company is Magnus Innovation and the light set that will be available later in 2015 is marketed as Vision II. And it is a light set. In the good looking box is lots of fun stuff. A head light with mount, an extra battery for the headlight, two tail lights with unusual mounting systems, a converter and micro USB cable with dual outlets. One other nice touch is a wrist strap that can be attached to the back of the head light if it is used as a hand light.

Here is the technical part. All this information is from specs on the Web site.

  • Head Light: 5 Modes: High Beam (860 Lumens up to 1.5 hours), Medium Beam (400 Lumens up to 2.5 hours) Low Beam (180 Lumens up to 7 hours), Breathing Flash (90 Lumens up to 16 hours), and S.O.S. Flashing (Hold for 3 seconds)
  • Tail Light(s): Aircraft Aluminum Rear LED Tail Lights with Built-In USB Rechargeable Port (25 Lumens, 3 Modes: Fast Strobe, Slow Strobe, Steady)

Now the results of usage.


The head light has a good mount that is widely adjustable. It consists of a long threaded strap and a circular piece that tightens it. This offers a great “quick” adjustment as the circular piece can be removed, the strap tightened and the circular piece replaced and screwed tight. It also offers a downside. If you lose the circular piece you can’t tighten the mount. The mount allows the headlight to move side to side about 45 degrees. It is also easy to push the light into the mount and to pull it back out and once in it is held solidly.

The tail lights have a dual mount. One mount is a simple clip so the light can be used on a backpack or belt. In the box is a couple of flexible straps that can be slipped into the clip and then wrapped around a seat post or other tube. The outside of the clips is sculpted so that when its wrapped around a seat post it can be positioned to point straight back. The downside of this sculpting is that mounting on a horizontal bar means the light doesn’t point directly to the rear.


The recharge port on the headlight is a micro USB on the opposite side from the power switch and is covered well by a flap that is well anchored to the headlight. The headlight has a single removable, lithium ion battery. The battery is a 18650 2600mAh at 3.7 volts and a second one is provided in the box with the light. This battery is available on-line for about $10.00. There are higher capacity 18650 batteries on the market but I haven’t tried any of them. I’ll ask Magnus Innovation if higher capacity gives more life.

The on/off button has a ring that lights blue when it is charging and goes out when it is fully charged. Nice touch.

The tail lights screw apart from the mount to expose a USB recharge port. This port is a micro USB. It doesn’t appear that the battery can be replaced in the tail lights. Tail lights glow red under charge and go out when fully charged.


The cases for the headlight and the tail lights are all black aircraft aluminum. All of the threaded pieces have a rubber O-ring to insure that the seal is tight when screwed together.


The four main modes on the headlight are sequenced well for urban riding. Low beam, one click to a medium beam, one click to a high beam and finally a click to the “breathing” mode. The breathing mode is a nice version of a flashing mode with a bright light and then a duller light pulsing or “breathing” which overcomes the problems with traditional flashing lights.

Turning the light on or off requires holding the button down momentarily. The button has a blue lit ring around it when it is on so it is easy to see to change the modes.

To turn the light to “SOS” requires holding the button down for about three seconds. This mode would get my attention if I was looking for you.

I ride routes in Austin that go from well lit to pitch black (trail) and the ability to switch easily from 180 Lumens to 860 Lumens in my headlight with a double click means I don’t need to invest in and carry multiple lights. Add in the fact that I can easily remove the light and use as a hand light or put it in my backpack to keep it safe and I am ready to buy one of these sets.

The two tail lights are really bonus items but add a lot to the value of the light set.


Magnus Innovation has nailed it. They tell me that the box will retail in the $104 to $135 range on amazon when it is available. With all the parts and pieces in the box the price is going to be very competitive.

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When is running a Red Light OK?

I’ve been enjoying my time downtown but also have been much closer to the action when it comes to cyclist behavior. I have put up a short (minute and a half) video with a couple of red light running situations I saw in the last week. I admit one set was in the car but the last one was waiting for a bus.

Your mission if you choose to accept it is to complete the poll at the end. Here is the set up.

The video shows a trio of intersection with two riders who both technically run the red light not once but twice. Neither rider ran the middle light so I fast forwarded through that one. The last rider technically ran a light on his own. As an aside the rider with the yoga pad is riding a single speed or fixed gear. A slightly lower gear ratio would really make starting simpler, particularly up hill. Lane position is not bad in most cases. Austin has some unique striping and the intersection at San Jacinto and 6th Steet is one of the weird ones. Two right turn only lanes and a sign in the left most right turn only lane says “Except Bicycles”.

So, you are a law enforcement office who observes these actions and you have three options:

A, you’ve got better things to do so ignore it,

B, stop the cyclists and give a warning or

C, stop the cyclists and give a citation.

Here is the video with music by the Bee Gees titled Staying Alive, which incidentally is the proper beat to do compressions if you are having to resuscitate some one.

So here is the poll:

Respond with a number (1, 2, 3) for the three different cases of running the light and a letter (a, b, c) for what you as a law enforcement office would do. By the way, if you are really a LEO let us know that as well. So here is what it might look like…not to bias you in any way.

1 – c

2 – a

3 – b

Not sure I would actually vote that way so you do what you think is best.

I’ll let the poll run for a week and then report back on the results.

Finally, was any of the technically illegal acts portrayed in this video dangerous?

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Railroad Tracks need to be crossed at right angles

We recently looked at some crossings on the Cap Metro Red Line Metro Rail with the intent of determining which ones needed work to make them safe for cyclists. When rails cross perpendicular (at a right angle, square) to the line of travel it is relatively easy for a cyclist to traverse them safely. However, as the angle begins to change then a cyclist crossing the tracks has to begin to take some precautions. This is particularly true when the tracks and road are wet. Turns out the Metro Rail line is a good case study with some widely varying angles. There are two ways to deal with angled crossing; the first is to have the cyclist veer into traffic before or after squaring up to make the crossing, while the second is to add pavement to the side of the crossing so the rider can make the crossing square to the tracks but use the pavement to either set up the crossing or to recover after the crossing depending on the angle. I know that is confusing. Take a look at the diagram and you can see that a simple addition of pavement makes the crossing much safer for the bike rider and less harrowing for the motorists as well. RailRoad Crossings

The two photos show Rosewood Avenue as it is crossed by Metro Rail. Steep angle suggesting that a bike rider may want to swerve out into traffic to cross back to the right. It would be easy to place a small patch of pavement on the right side after the tracks so a rider could turn to the right, cross the track and still have pavement to turn back into the roadway. This is a route that many children take to get to the parks in the area. (Thanks to Christopher Stanton for pointing out this crossing.) Photos courtesy of Google Maps.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 10.53.32     Screenshot 2015-07-03 10.54.03

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Trails, Urban Trails and Roads.

As a skilled and experienced cyclist I am capable of riding on pretty much any road. I’ve got video of riding in high speed traffic and the motorists doing just what we teach, waiting or moving to the other lane. But sometimes I like to get out of traffic and ride the trails particularly when they shortcut the trip.

Austin has both Trails (partially paved and primarily designed for recreation) and also Urban Trails (10-12 feet wide concrete and designed to connect other facilities like roads). I am living downtown and find myself using my cargo bike for most trips. With 20 inch by 38 tires, this bike is comfortable on most surfaces. It works a lot better than a skinny tired road bike on trails where water creates gullies and piles of loose gravel.

Two good examples of “useful” trails have saved me miles in traffic recently.

Pleasant Valley Road theoretically provides a great north – south route across  the East side of Austin  Unfortunately, it has a few discontinuities where a section deadens into a green space or the road changes its name. For motorists, the dead end can be a problem but the City has pushed an urban trail through as a connector as can be seen below. Other urban trails in Austin are beginning to make a significant difference in the commuting habits of people coming into town from the eastern and western suburbs. The final connections are not complete but we’re working on them as well.

Screenshot 2015-06-30 09.54.27

During a social ride for Bike Austin we finished at a real Texas honky tonk bar (Buzzkill, and after a few beers and a big plate of BBQ chicken I was feeling pretty good. Had my cargo bike and it was getting dark but I had some decent lights. Decided not to take the arterial which has lots of traffic and some of those drivers may have been drinking too so I jumped on the trail leading to the boardwalk in Lady Bird Lake. As you can see by the Google Maps rendering, the trail was the shortest in both time and distance and crossed under every bridge that crossed the lake. The boardwalk at night is beautiful and presented a great view of Austin and took me out over the water for a good portion of the trip. Good surface. The rest of the trail is primarily decomposed granite and after the recent rains was a little carved up but passable. Had to stop and walk as I went under the Congress Avenue bridge where people were congregating to watch the famous Austin bats come out. As you can see, in 3 miles I had a 36 foot elevation gain. Most of that was climbing out of the river to get back on the streets.



Screenshot 2015-06-30 10.12.04Screenshot 2015-06-30 10.12.19So the answer is, as in most things having to do with traffic and bicycles, it depends. Urban Trails and even natural surface trails can be an important part of the urban transportation grid. It depends on how they connect and how a person riding a bike uses them.




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Dangerous, redux

After someone asked about the front view I rode into town on the same route with a short detour to have lunch with Miller Nuttle of Bike Austin. Here is the front view of riding in Austin at 11:00 Tuesday morning.

Couple of questionable turns by cars and buses and an EMS truck had us pulling over but on the whole, pretty simple.

Remember, this is at four times the normal rate so the pedestrians look like Keystone Kops. If you don’t get the reference, you’re young enough to Google it.

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Downtown is dangerous

When people find out I ride downtown they generally look at me funny and then tell me they would never ride downtown because it is too dangerous. Just to see if it really was true I put my trusty GoPro camera on the back of my cargo bike and rode from my apartment to the Bike Austin office. This video begins at the bridge over Shoal Creek and then traverses in order,

Third Street, San Antonio, Fourth Street and finally Congress to the alley between 10th and 11th streets. I sped it up 4 times because it was really boring. Boring traffic is good traffic but it makes for really terrible viewing. I stopped at the Post Office between 8th and 9th and moved over to let a taxi driver turn right. He was duly appreciative.

So, I’d love to hear comments on how dangerous and terrifying you find this video.

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