Encouraging Austinites to saddle up

January 08, 2014

by Nikki Javurek, PeopleForBikes government relations manager

This year, the highlight of my holiday season wasn’t the food or the presents (although, let’s be honest, the cookies and gift cards definitely weren’t bad), it was being able to be a part of the launch of Austin’s new bike sharing system, Austin B-Cycle.

After months of logistical work and years of planning, Austin B-Cycle launched its first fleet of bikes on Saturday, December 21, 2013.  PeopleForBikes Vice President of Government Relations, Jenn Dice, and I were able to be part of the celebrations to roll out bike sharing in Austin.

Starting bright and early (well, not quite bright, because it’s still pretty dark at 7am in Austin, especially during the winter solstice), Jenn and I, along with a handful of awesome Austin B-Cycle and PeopleForBikes volunteers, got to be the first people to ride the red cruiser bikes as we moved them from the office where they had been built to the stations located around downtown. Overnight, Austin had received quite a bit of rain, but it turned to a tiny mist for a couple of hours while we caravanned around town on the B-Cycles. Riding bikes through the quiet city in the misty early morning was such an amazing experience because it gave each of us a little sense of ownership of this great system that will be part of changing the way folks get around Austin for years to come.

Our crew getting ready to distribute the last bikes on the morning of the launch.

After we rode all of the bikes to their stations, we went to the launch press conference. Initially scheduled to be held in a park near the Texas State Capitol along with an inaugural ride, because of the rain, it moved inside to the gorgeous GSD&M building. It was a great chance to hear from local leaders, including Congressman Lloyd Doggett, City Councilmen Chris Riley and Mike Martinez, David Rockwell and Craig Staley, strong leaders in bringing a bike sharing system to Austin. It was easy to see and hear the excitement that everyone felt for this system finally launching and all of the hard work from people throughout the community coming to fruition.

Congressman Lloyd Doggett speaks at the Austin B-Cycle launch.

Later that evening, PeopleForBikes sponsored a launch party to celebrate the outstanding work that the Austin B-Cycle staff did leading up to the successful launch and thank the volunteers, board members, community members and City of Austin employees that helped make bike sharing in Austin a reality. Held at BoConcept downtown, we were able to wrap up the day with good food, good company and the music of a local duo, Dawn & Hawke.

Sweet treats to celebrate an exciting day for Austin.

The Austin B-Cycle fleet, which has 110 bikes between 11 stations, will be expanding to 400 bikes at 40 stations throughout Austin by March 1, 2014, just in time for the SXSW festival. So far, in the less than three weeks that Austin B-Cycle has been open, riders have taken more than 2,100 trips, ridden 1,400 miles, burned 500,000 calories, and offset 11,900 pounds of carbon dioxide (if the trips would have otherwise been made by car). PeopleForBikes is proud to be part of it all!

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