Okay, that’s perhaps a bit of an overstatement. Austin is not a biking paradise, regardless of what you’ve heard.
But the reason has to do with the point of this post. The city has gotten too big, too fast. We’re now at about 843,000, which makes us the 11th-largest city in the United States. The roads I enjoyed biking on when I took up the sport eight years ago are not as inviting as they once were.
Just on Sunday’s ride, I made a jaunt out to the southeastern part of the city, where it starts becoming rural — or, at least, semi-rural. It used to be, that once you got east of Interstate 35, buildings spread out quickly, giving way to small spreads of several acres. But this is what I saw today:
Yet another apartment complex going up. Now, we’re a poor city for mass transit, so most of the people who move into these places will be driving cars, which will add to the already horrendous traffic conditions. There are enough apartment complexes going up farther and farther from downtown, that our formerly nice biking roads are being increasingly crowded with motor vehicle traffic.
And if not apartments, houses are springing up, too. I headed for a well-known country club which had once been out by itself. Now, one of the roads leading out of the club’s neighborhoods has be extended farther east, into what had been previously scrub land. The new development has a golf theme, with streets like Boros Drive and Mickelson Lane, and the houses don’t appear to be anywhere near as nice as the ones closer to the golf course.
Occasionally, I have put my bike on the car’s bike rack, and headed some distance from home to ride in the country. I can still get in a 25-mile ride just cruising streets in my neighborhood, but suburban riding doesn’t give the same joy as a nice spin in the country. I think I’ll be driving to my rides a lot more in the future.
I feel your pain! Jacksonville FL is well known for our suburban sprawl. There are several good roads that i can take from home and ride for as many miles as i want but just getting to the country is a 20 mile trip. That’s why today i decided to pack up and drive to some nearby beaches (40 miles one way!). $3 to park at Big Talbot Island State Park, and a wonderful coastline ride up US A1A to Fort Clinch State Park located in Fernandina Beach FL. It was only 35 miles or so, but it does as much good for the soul as it does for the body.
Join the club. Next week I will begin my 53rd year of residency in Mid Jefferson County Texas. The area where I live use to be cow pastures and rice fields, and the road I live on was paved with oyster shell. Now I have a concrete, curbed, four-lane, drag strip running through my front yard. What use to be farm roads and lonely highways through rural areas, are now quasi supper highways that rival IH 10 in there usage. Plus, I have no memory of being chased by dogs on a bike when I was a kid. Now, however, it seem as though every neighborhood in the unincorporated areas of the county has at least one huge, vicious, powerful, monster mutt, that their irresponsible owners allow to run loose. Beaumont has built a few bike lanes, and a hike & bike trail, but I don’t benefit much from them. I’ve been wanting to ride to downtown, and go up the lane on Calder, but I would have to ride down one of those aforementioned supper highways, or ride through some of Beaumont’s high crime neighborhoods to get there — I’m not worried about the thugs, just the possibility some PCP freak might mistake my Trek for a fire-breathing dragon and shoot me — and I would rather ride my bike around rather than haul it around. Like the old song says, “I’m just livin’ on the outskirts of town”.