Where should a cyclist live in Austin?
March 28, 2011 8:25 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving back to Austin, but I'm not sure where to live. Partner will be working downtown and I'll be working in the campus area. However, since I've been gone I've really gotten into cycling and that weighs heavily upon the decision.

Most days I do training rides between one and three hours on my road bike, and I would like to find a rental of some sort where that's really easy to do. Ideally there would be nice quiet and smooth roads with a few hills but not too many, no major streets or intersections I'd have to get through, and a tolerable number of stoplights and stop signs. At the same time, I'd like the commute to work for both of us to be fairly reasonable. Any suggestions that would help me focus my search would be welcome.
posted by LastOfHisKind to Travel & Transportation around Austin, TX (7 answers total)
I moved to Austin about a month and a half ago. I live in the Oltorf/Pleasant Valley area near ACC Riverside. It takes me about 10 minutes to get to downtown via IH-35, and about 20 to get to UT. It's a hilly, residential area with a combination of apartments, condos, and single-family homes. My apartment is extremely affordable. I'd be comfortable biking around in the area; it's very safe. MeFiMail me if you'd like more info.
posted by xenophile at 8:39 AM on March 28, 2011

Not sure what your housing budget is, but the main places I see cyclists are on loop 360 (might be a bit of a ride to get to work), downtown on the hike and bike trail (expensive to live there, but convenient to campus), and Shoal Creek Blvd. from 45th to hwy. 183 (do-able to get to campus from the 45th end, but a good number of stop signs along that street. Also a pricey neighborhood). Hyde park might also be an option, though again, you're dealing with a grid of stop signs every block.
posted by Gilbert at 8:48 AM on March 28, 2011

I don't think you're going to be able to get all of the above in one location.

The roads to the west (toward Bee Cave) are better paved, are more likely to have decent shoulders, and are hillier, prettier, and more interesting. That's been the area of greatest development, so there are more stoplights out that way now. I've always liked riding on 360, but that's gotten so busy that I don't ride there much anymore (a friend having gotten killed riding there has only discouraged me further).

To the east (toward Manor and Webberville) the roads are flatter (though not flat), without shoulders, and are mostly chipseal instead of asphalt. But it's a lot faster to get out into the country from the middle of Austin when headed east. I live in east/central Austin (Cherrywood), and I need to ride through 5, maybe 6 lights before I feel like I'm out in the country going east. A lot more if I want to work my way through town, then Rollingwood, then Westlake to go on a westbound ride. If you want to focus on westbound rides, for maximum convenience I'd probably look for a place along Lake Austin Blvd, around Deep Eddy to , but that's not as fun a neighborhood for living in.

All of your eastbound rides are mostly going to be channeled through MLK or Loyola Ln from Springdale Rd eastward. For westbound rides, they're going to be channeled through Rollingwood and Bee Cave Rd, the Mopac feeder to the south, and at the north end of 360, Old Jollyville Rd. If you're very brave you can ride on 2222 between Mopac and 360 (west of 360 it's not too bad). That should give you some idea what will allow for convenient riding.

North and south are not really viable directions to go riding.
posted by adamrice at 9:07 AM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used to live on 360 just south of the Pennybacker bridge, and wouldn't recommend it for a commute location to downtown/UT. I currently live near xenophile and it's a better commute, but not a great biking area.

I'm not a rider myself, but have seen a lot of riders (in groups, usually) on 360 and its shoulders. Piggybacking on adamrice's comment, as a non-rider, the idea of riding on 2222 between Mopac and 360 kind of terrifies me. Avoiding that as a west side route would limit your options on near northwest neighborhoods, which would probably be the most convenient commuting option for the pair of you, unfortunately.
posted by immlass at 9:55 AM on March 28, 2011

check out the Manchaca area.
posted by kristymcj at 10:02 AM on March 28, 2011

I rode 18 miles in the denser parts of the city yesterday. There were perhaps a few too many stop signs and lights for it to be a "serious" ride, but I like urban riding. South of the river between 1st and Congress has a residential area that's all roundabouts, not stop signs, which is nice.

I live just on the north edge of campus. Biking in Hyde Park is generally pleasant and quiet but there are poorly maintained roads in many places and way too many stop signs. The farther north you go the more the suburbs get bike unfriendly. Whatever you do, don't go far north.

East side is nice but drivers there aren't going to be looking out for you like they might in Hyde Park. Not as many bike lanes, but on a quiet Sunday afternoon that didn't matter.

Downtown is actually super bike friendly IMHO. Lanes on most streets, drivers generally watch for you, and you can take the new bridge path over the river!

Stay off Lamar and 2222 unless you like impatient drivers, getting doored and having to move with cars going 40+ mph.
posted by slow graffiti at 12:57 PM on March 28, 2011

God, whatever you do, please don't be one of those people who rides on 360. It's incredibly dangerous, 2222 is too.

For y'all's commutes, you're probably going to want to live either downtown, North Campus, Hyde Park, or maybe Brentwood/Allandale/Rosedale. I live in Brentwood and can get to campus and then downtown pretty easily on my bike. There are bike lanes on North Loop and Duval, then you can ride through campus.

The Northish Shoal Creek area--specifically near Shoal Creek between MoPac/train tracks and Burnet, and between, say 45th and Anderson Ln. is somewhat bike-friendly. Shoal Creek itself has really wide bike lanes, as does a road called Great Northern. You see tons of serious cyclists out there, especially on weekends (or at least serious in that they have fancy gear).
You can't really do a good one-to-three hour bike ride in Austin without encountering traffic, lots of lights, roads with lacking bike space/lanes, or tons of potholes in the shoulder, no matter where you live. Unless you live in the country.

Actually, if you get really far out, like waaaay north Austin/Cedar Park, you can ride pretty well, because they're newer areas with much wider and better-maintained roads. The cars are not as friendly, but I grew up riding a bike out there and never had so much as a close call with a car. The fact that I was a kid helped, I'm sure, but I covered a lot of ground with no problems.

The east side is supposedly pretty bike-friendly, too, and has a lot of new bike lanes, but I don't have as much experience with biking in that area yet.
posted by elpea at 1:26 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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