When and why did you decide to become a Bike Austin member?
I became a member this summer after I started thinking about all my Austin cyclist friends who have been hit by cars over the years (while following all traffic rules and literally staying in their own lane), and I decided to channel all my anger and frustration into positive action by volunteering with Bike Austin.
What benefits or positive outcomes have you enjoyed as a Bike Austin member?
I didn’t actually become a Bike Austin member until after I began volunteering so they’re a bit intertwined for me. I think the best part for me has been meeting the people who have passion for making the roads safer for cyclists and partnering with them to achieve these goals. I’ve even met people in my own neighborhood that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise!
Why is Bike Austin important to the Austin cycling community?
I think this answer is two-fold. Austin’s location (urban + hill country to the west + flat open roads to the east) makes it perfect for cycling as a sport. And Austin is growing so fast that it’s a great time to build protected cycling lanes and trails into the infrastructure to help ease some of the car congestion that is only getting worse.
Why/how are donations important to Bike Austin’s Advocacy Fund and education programs?
Funds to Bike Austin Advocacy are key to helping grow our capacity for grassroots community organizing. This means being able to compensate more organizers to build grassroots power leading to better infrastructure throughout Central Texas for pedestrians and people on bikes. More resources for educational programs help equip people with the rules of the road and tools for safer rides.
What cycling story do you want to share?
Full disclosure: I’m not what anyone would call a cyclist. When I was living in Houston, I did the MS150 twice and then retired my padded shorts forever. But about 9 years ago, while training for my second MS150, my husband and I were on vacation and we wildly underestimated the time it would take to bike the Marfa-Alpine-Ft. Davis loop. We got a late start and enjoyed a quick ride to Alpine thanks to a tailwind, had a leisurely lunch and then we (okay, I) struggled up to Ft. Davis. A lot. We tried to race back to Marfa before sunset since we hadn’t packed our lights or jackets. (Such a rookie move- now I don’t even bike to the neighborhood library without my lights!) We lost that race and had to call 911 for assistance. On the way back to Marfa, the officer (rightly) lectured us about how we were wasting taxpayer money by being irresponsible and they had real crime out there in the largest county in Texas and he could be fighting it, but no, instead he had to drive us to the county line and didn’t we know how much gas cost these days? He wasn’t wrong and it was a humbling and learning experience on so many levels.
Side note: This vacation was actually our honeymoon. We’d eloped to Marfa and gotten married the day before this ride. Lesson #1 in our marriage was to learn from and laugh at our mistakes. Actually, that’s probably lesson #2. Lesson #1 was to be better prepared!
Anything personalized or fun about your experience as a cyclist and why Bike Austin has made this more possible, empowering, safe, groovy, etc.
Before we bought a home in southeast Austin, we lived in Cherrywood and I would bike to work downtown using only bike lanes (and a scenic shortcut through the capitol). We don’t have that level of accessibility now but I look forward to helping make it happen not just in my neighborhood but across the city through education and community partnerships.