The Transportation Department has a cool map that assigns a biking comfort level to all major streets around the city.
Green = high-comfort routes, blue = medium, yellow = low and pink = very low.
I definitely like the idea, but I’ve got a few bones to pick with the ratings. In general, I think way too many streets are being classified as “medium” level comfort.
For instance, if we take a look at South Central Austin, where I live, the death trap known as South Lamar Boulevard is colored blue. True, there is a bike lane, but it is unprotected and runs alongside a steady stream of vehicles traveling at upwards of 40 mph. Worse still are the cars crossing the bike lane to get back onto the street from the zillions of commercial driveways.
Any knowledgable biker would say that if you’re going downtown, you’d be much more “comfortable” taking South 5th. It doesn’t have any bike lane, but it’s a relatively quiet, residential street where there are far fewer cars and they are generally traveling much more slowly. It’s also very scenic and mostly shaded.
So it doesn’t make sense that S. Lamar and S. 5th have the same rating. I don’t know how I would rate them, but I know that the latter is clearly superior and the map should reflect that somehow.