Cycle from here to there in one of the safest cities in the country.
It’s strange to think that at one time in her life, Austin was considered one of the most dangerous cities to bike around. Today, the city boasts a Silver Level rating from The League of American Cyclists, though we still have the Gold and Platinum levels to attain (shut up, Portland!).
Reducing its carbon footprint is only one goal that Austin officials have in mind. As the city continues to grow, stricter laws regarding motorists’ treatment towards cyclists are getting more and more attention. Dozens of cycling classes are popping up around town, and some initiatives even raise money to provide bicycles to schoolchildren in low-income neighborhoods.
But enough about initiatives. Where can you actually go biking? A favorite set of off-road trails lie in the Barton Creek Greenbelt where experienced bikers can follow the creek for miles of jungle-like terrain. At one point in the trail, you have to hold your bike in one hand and a chain in the other to keep from slipping down a steep incline.
If a more casual style of cycling is your thing, not to worry, the network of streets is like one big trail. With an increasing number of bike lanes and bike bridges, you can make the same route to work on your bike as you do in your car. Just about every restaurant has a bike rack outside, in case you want to burn off what you just ate. And if you think you can carry your groceries home without a fuss, Whole Foods will let you lock up and pump up before you head out.
One thing you might notice every now and then is a bike painted completely white, covered with flowers and leaning against a fence or a post. These Ghost Bikes mark places of tragedy around the city. They remind us of the constant need for bike safety, and of a joining spirit that continues rolling on two wheels.