Saturday, October 25, 2014

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Zilker neighborhood gains dedicated bike lanes

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TWC News: Zilker neighborhood gains dedicated bike lanes
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On a Monday afternoon, South Austin resident Paul Mayo was able to take a stroll down Bluebonnet Lane with his 4-month-old daughter, Lilly.

The revamped road features better sidewalks and a dedicated bikeway.

"Having the road spikes or whatever those are--it makes you feel a little more comfortable knowing that it's established,” Mayo said. “A car is not going to try to come into that lane."

Before, cyclists and cars shared the shoulder on both sides of the street. It often meant cyclists had to meander in and out of traffic.

"One of the perks of living in this kind of neighborhood is we are close to everything,” Mayo said. “It would be nice to feel safer, to take advantage of the closeness."

The area is close to city centerpieces, like the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail and Zilker Park.

Nadia Barrera with the city’s public works department says that’s what the project is intended to achieve.

"It helps neighbors in that area get down to these regional facilities, but also people in South Austin will be able to come down safely and comfortably," she said.

Drivers will need to take notice when first driving in the area, some of the street signage has been moved. The dedicated bike lanes cut on-street parking for Bluebonnet in half--a change Barrera says drivers need to get used to.

"Every time we build a bike lane from now on, we are restricting parking within that bicycle lane," she said.

However Mayo says it's worth it--for him as a cyclist, a neighbor and a parent.

"That's a whole other lane away from the sidewalk as well,” he said. “It's another obstacle to get there."

The city says feedback from neighbors like Mayo will be crucial to improving what crews just finished here and as they plan future projects.

Officials with the Austin Independent School District encourage parents to also use a new sidewalk on Ann Arbor Avenue to avoid bottlenecks along Bluebonnet. Officials say extra crossing guards will be brought on to make sure students make it to school safely.

Austin Police and Public Works are hosting a back-to-school safety fair this Friday to recognize the new bikeway. It all starts at 10:30 a.m. at Zilker Elementary.

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