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Saturday, April 22, 2006
Austin: Biking heaven, or mirage?
By Ben Wear and Pamela LeBlanc
“The design speed of a facility like (a trail) would be about 20 miles per hour,” said Robin Stallings, executive director of the Texas Bicycle Coalition. “You can get some good conditioning at that speed. But if you want to be real competitive, then you need to be on roadways. Lance Armstrong isn’t going to ride on a bike trail, unless he’s with his kids.”
But Stallings and other leaders in the cycling community say Central Texas could do much better in paving the way for both recreational bikers, bicycle commuters and serious cyclists. Stallings suggests that heavily used training routes like Loop 360 (Capital of Texas Highway), for instance, could have overhead signs reminding motorists that it is a preferred bikeway and painted markings on the pavement at tricky spots like the Bee Cave Road overpass to alert drivers where inherently vulnerable cyclists might cross their path.
For various reasons, most of those projects are months if not years from breaking ground. “Austin’s way behind,” Stallings said. “I would have to say that Dallas and Houston are ahead of Austin. It was only beginning in ’98 and 2000 that the city began allocating real money to this. And lots of major projects have been bogged down.”
Some projects have only now, after being on various plans for years, received a commitment for funding. Others, like the Armstrong bikeway, have been hung up by indecision over unrelated projects.
Stallings said Dallas and Houston have many more miles of bike paths and bike lanes than Austin.
For the full article, please visit the Austin American-Statesman.