Too far to bike? Tips to make it a part of your commute anyway

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Friday marks a day to ditch the car and hop on the bike instead for National Bike to Work Day. This is the 8th year Austin has taken part and 51 shops and restaurants will hand out free breakfast and coffee to celebrate those who cycle to work.

But with the majority of commuters using major highways like Interstate 35 or MoPac, finding a safe route might be a challenge. Bike Austin, an organization that advocates for cyclists, recommends using Google maps with the bike option to see what route is recommended. The city also offers a map that details which roads are the safest for cyclists.

"It's kind of like a ski map where it's based on comfort level. Like the trail at Lady Bird Lake is green, MLK is blue, and Oltorf is yellow — meaning don't do it," says Katie Deolloz, the executive director of Bike Austin.  "It's not super user-friendly in the digital format, but it can be helpful if you have time. We also have it in hard copy at city hall, B-Cycle and Bike Austin."

Deolloz also recommends using public transit in conjunction with your bike. For example, those who live in Leander can take their bike on the MetroRail and then bike from the stop to your destination.

"Cap Metro has done a great job with trains and buses and creating space where people with bikes can bring them on board the train or in front of the bus."

For those living in South Austin and are used to taking MoPac to work, there's a protected trail that goes from 290 to the lake. That trail is expected to eventually go to Hays County. Cyclist Jim Martindale rides it daily for exercise.

"It's safe and easy. I can go from Best Buy in South Austin to the lake."

The city of Austin has also installed 250 miles of bike lanes throughout the city. One of the model lanes is along Rio Grande that has a protected two-way bike lane. Intersections have dedicated traffic signals for bikers that are triggered by sensors when bikers or scooter riders arrive at the intersection.

For those interested in biking to work but are still concerned, Bike Austin recommends checking it out on your day off.

"Try it on a Saturday or Sunday, try the route out. Because there are going to be bumps or driveways, there are going to be things that you are going to notice from the position of being on a bicycle that you wouldn't notice if you were in an automobile."

And if you try it Friday, the fueling stations will be up and running from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m.


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