Vince Marotte rides his bike up to five times a week. His trips can go from 20 miles to 120 miles. The cyclist says lately the bike lanes he travels on are a mess.
“Watch out for those barrels,” he yells out to his group of cyclists Sunday afternoon.
“I think one of the bigger issues we’re seeing lately — especially in Austin because of all the growth — there’s a lot of debris in bike lanes because of construction,” said Marotte. “We have pretty skinny tires, so it doesn’t take much: a stick or piece of glass or some metal. Gravel is a big problem right now from the construction to give you a flat tire or cause you to crash.”
Knives, construction material and large rocks are what cyclists like Marotte say they are detouring around constantly.
“I think the debris gathers a lot especially after rain,” said Amy Campbell, who also rides a number of times a week. “It’s pretty frustrating. I feel like it is a safety issue.”
So who’s responsible for cleaning up these lanes? It depends on which city owns the stretch of roadway. Take Parmer Lane, which is a very popular road for cyclists. The city of Austin says typically a busy road like Parmer Lane gets swept monthly unless it has no curb. Then sweepers are sent out only if there’s a complaint. Bike lanes in residential areas are swept about every two months.
The Texas Department of Transportation also sends out sweepers. “We only assist municipalities with sweeping on highways within their jurisdiction, as time and budget allow,” said a TxDOT spokesperson.
Part of Parmer Lane also falls under the city of Cedar Park’s jurisdiction. A spokesperson said, “Our standard operating procedure to respond to sweeping requests along TxDOT highways is to contact TxDOT. It has been our experience for several decades that TxDOT typically responds in a timely manner.”
The spokesperson went on to say, “In the past, we believe TXDOT has swept Parmer Lane. That arrangement is currently being reviewed.”
They city encourages cyclists to use the app CP Connect 2.0 to report any issue on any road within Cedar Park city limits including the three highways TxDOT owns and maintains.
Cyclists say that more needs to be done especially around construction zones. There is a group of cyclists looking into starting a non-profit and providing brooms and garbage bags to help with regular clean-up.