(Sing to the tune of “Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves)
I”m biking in Austin, woohoo.. I’m biking in Austin, wohoo,.. and don’t it feel good!
Yes, I was down in Austin Texas recently for the South by Southwest Interactive festival and I got to do a little biking, and see a lot of bikes. It was my first time in Austin and it only made me want to get back there when SXSW is not going on, and really bike around the town.
I was happy to get out of the frozen wasteland that has been Chicago, but the weather in Austin was only really good on my last day – typical. Still, cold and rainy for Austin was still much much warmer than anything we’ve seen in Chicago for months so the weather didn’t really slow me down. Hey – I didn’t even have to wear gloves!
As I was walking to a session my first morning, I walked by a big tent promoting Late Night with Seth Meyers, and there were a bunch of folding bikes lined up too. I walked up and asked if they were renting bikes. They said “Yeah!” I asked “How much?” They replied “free, just return it by midnight.” I signed up and off I rode on this lovely Tern folding bike. A bit of an adjustment compared to my giant Dutch bike, but it handled beautifully around town and in traffic. My bag fit in the basket though I locked it down with the u-lock they lent me, as I don’t like throwing my purse behind me in an open basket. The bike was a little small for me, but very ride-able.
No doubt that a bike is the best transportation option in Austin during SXSW. Faster than walking and definitely faster than driving. Streets that were closed to car traffic were still open to bikes and pedestrians – very handy. And, Austin has lots of great bike infrastructure. Bike lanes, protected bike lanes, and a fair number of bike racks and bike corrals too.
I was not the only one biking around Austin either. There were bikes everywhere!
You might have heard that bike share had just recently come to Austin, and you would be right. I saw these red bike share bikes in many places downtown, though I didn’t have time to take one out for a spin. They were very popular during SXSW and Austin set a single-day U.S record for the average # of checkouts per bike on March 14th , with each bike being checked out that day an average of 10.1 times (That was not the same rainy day that I took this photo by the way).
I heard that many local bike shops have bike rental programs for SXSW, and I saw a fleet of black cruiser bikes and a couple of electric rental bikes too, all parked in various bike racks around town.
If you didn’t want to bike yourself around town, you could always hop on one of the gazillion pedicabs buzzing around downtown. Some were sponsored by the festival and were free, and many had iPads, bluetooth speakers, and even charging stations.
I didn’t get to bike everyday, but I certainly did enjoy the biking I did do while I was in Austin. If you have a chance to visit this town, you should definitely do it – I haven’t even talked about the food or the music! And you can experience it all while on a bike!