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Austin 2012 State of Bicycling Address

Austin 2012 State of Bicycling Address

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Report issued by Annick Beaudet, AICP Bicycle & Urban Trails Program Manager
Report issued by Annick Beaudet, AICP Bicycle & Urban Trails Program Manager

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Published by: Karl-Thomas Musselman on Jan 04, 2013
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City of Austin State of Bicycling Address
By: Annick Beaudet |
AICP Bicycle & Urban Trails Program Manager 
 December 2012 
his holiday season, on the heels of a much anticipated and celebrated  jump to a 2% city-wide bicycle mode split, I am inspired to begin anannual public communication on the State of Bicycling in Austin. I want not only to thank the community and countless City staff for thesupport and involvement that helped us arrive at 2%, but to also get 2013 off to a start with some excitement about what is on the horizon.
The long awaited 2%
First let me define the significance of the longawaited “2%”. This measurement is produced by theAmerican Community Survey, a service of the U.S.Census, and quantifies the number of people whoregularly use a bicycle for commuting to work. TheAmerican Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoingsurvey that provides data every year – givingcommunities the current information they need toplan investments and services. It provides a wide rangeof demographic data, which includes a “Journey toWork Table”.Many U.S. cities fall below 2% city-wide, whileothers like Portland far exceed 2% (7% for 2011). 2%could be a tipping point based on the information fromthe Portland Bureau of Transportation that separates bicyclists into four categories, as seen below:
We have seen that standard bicycle lanes and improved connections can attract bicyclistsfrom the “Enthused and Confident” category, and start moving the mode split towards 7%.The quantity and quality of Austin’s bicycle facilities installed over the last few years mimicPortland’s in the 1990’s, so perhaps we are on our way to that 7%. However, Austin is nowfocused on a new generation of bicycle facilities aimed at the “Interested but Concerned”category, with focus on the installation of protected bicycle lanes, or “cycle tracks”. We hopethis will keep us on the right track over the next several years, and perhaps help us realize our 7% sooner than later.
Building on the experiences of  past City bicycle programming,the last five years have beenmarked by record-breakingsuccesses in building a bicyclefriendly Austin. I’d like tospecifically mention three aspectsof that success:
Parking ModificationGuidelines “PMG”The Bicycle AdvisoryCouncilThe Support of the CityAdministration
How did we do it?
The approximate 30 linear miles of new and improved bicycle lanes per year, onaverage, have been a product of a successful planning process called Parking ModificationGuidelines, or PMG. The process is designed to administer a specific objective of theAustin Bicycle Plan, which states, “The Bicycle Program Manager will work on a case-by-case basis with residents, neighborhood associations, and the bicycle community todetermine local needs for parking and bicycle lanes.” Through this process, relevant Citystaff engages the community and discusses the idea of 
“complete streets”
The processallows us to adjust planned improvements based on customer feedback and create asuccessful project, and has been implemented on over 50 street corridors in the last 5 years.Another indirect, but important, aspect of this PMG process is the simple act of gettingout into the community and talking about bicycling. One of the things that stood out to mein reading
Joy Rides 
, by former Portland Bicycle Coordinator Mia Birk, is her advice aboutgetting out there and talking to people. That certainly wasn’t the only thing that started tomove Portland’s mode split numbers, but it definitely contributed. I feel strongly that thePMG process that has us out in the community talking to people about bicycle commutinghas helped Austin reach the 2%.

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