Austin approves temporary bike lanes on Congress Avenue

The City of Austin has approved temporary protected bike lanes on Congress Avenue to allow individuals to bike more safely while maintaining social distance during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“Bike Austin is thrilled to support this crucial step in making bicycling Downtown safer for all ages and abilities during these difficult times and beyond,” said Adam Greenfield, Board Member of Bike Austin. “With ridership at a historic high, we've seen bicycling’s importance in addressing the challenges of COVID-19. We applaud City Council for making this historic decision.”

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On June 11, city council approved Item 51 that would allow for the creation of the bike lanes in downtown Austin. The initiative directs Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk to work with downtown businesses and stakeholders to establish temporary north and southbound protected bike lanes on Congress Avenue north of Riverside Drive. 

“Congress Avenue carries great symbolism as the Main Street of Texas,” added Councilmember Natasha Harper-Madison. “We ought to use every opportunity we can to demonstrate our commitment as a municipality to our progressive ideals, including making our transportation system safe for all users.”


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The item further directs the city manager to provide recommendations to city council for scaling down and/or retaining the protected bike lanes when social distancing is no longer required.

“With all of the development happening on an already busy Congress Avenue, a protected bike lane can vastly improve safety for our cyclists,” said Councilmember Sabino "Pio" Renteria. “And as a daily cyclist, I know that safer streets encourage folks to get out of their cars and use more active transportation.”

The item was sponsored by Councilmember Kathie Tovo and co-sponsored by Harper-Madison (District 1), Renteria (District 3), Leslie Pool (District 7), and Paige Ellis (District 8) in collaboration with community organizations. 

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“The Healthy Streets initiative creates more space for Austinites along the Congress Avenue Bridge for people to safely walk, run, stroll, and bike on public streets,” said Ellis. “A dedicated bike lane along a major arterial into the Downtown area shows the desire for better balance of all transit options while people are staying home and staying safe, and it’s a valuable option that I hope can be used longer-term in some capacity. Not only will it offer safe passage for bike and scooter users, but it will provide an alternative commuting option for shorter trips in and out of Downtown, resulting in less traffic congestion for both weekday and weekend users.”

You can see the full readout of Item 51 here.