Bike Tours by Bike Share

The USA Today has posted an article about using bike share programs for touring cites: Great Urban Rides:  Bike-share Itineraries for Visitors.

They have a paragraph or so for New York, Boston, Chicago, D.C., San Francisco, Columbus, Toronto, Chattanooga, and Portland.

It’s a great idea, particularly for the “accidental” tourist who may have a very limited time window to explore.  We’d definitely add BTBT’s San Antonio ride to the list.  For that matter, any city with bike share is a candidate.  If you have an hour or two free in a new city, check it out!

World’s Shortest Bike Tour?

aus_brewery_tour1This past Saturday, three breweries in Austin sponsored the Brewery District Bike TourAdelbert’s Brewery, 4th Tap Brewing Co-op, and Circle Brewing comprise the self-proclaimed “official-ish brewery district”  (I think Austin’s east side could make a similar claim).   Of note, Colorado based Oskar Blues is opening a brewery in the same area, any day now.

The breweries are situated in a light-industrial/warehouse ecosystem that grew to support IBM’s manufacturing operations in the 70s and 80s.

The tour took this GRUELING, 1.3 mile route :

aus_brewert_tour_mapRiders to were invited to buy a beer at each stop, in exchange for a collectible Bike Tour aluminum water bottle.   A group ride would have been impractical considering congestion when arriving at the breweries, so the organizers suggested “riding in packs”.  The turnout felt a bit light to us.  Nevertheless, we chanced into meeting up with friends (the founders of The Brewtorium) and spent an enjoyable, albeit muggy Saturday afternoon.

aus_brewery_tour2Once Oskar Blues is open, we expect to see future similar events.  BTBT has a few suggestions:

  • Throw a few free T-shirts to some volunteer tour leaders.  “Packs” could depart every 30 minutes or so and rotate between the breweries.  The leaders could do a quick intro to each brewery while the riders are queuing up to be served.
  • Some additional bike racks or valets would be helpful for bike security.
  • Sponsor a “ride to the tour” departing from central Austin.

Anyhow, at 1.3 miles, we think this may be the World’s Shortest Bike Tour.

The Grand Strand in Dallas Land (Part 2)

Old 97s County Fair - Photo: BackAmp Research
Old 97s County Fair

(Part 1)

In the afternoon, we took a little break from the show and I set out again to explore a bit beyond the Trinity Strand Trail.  First stop, though, was the now open Noble Rey Brewing. After a quick pint of bike fuel, I rode a short distance on the trail to Sylvan Avenue.  One block south is the new Sylvan Avenue Bridge featuring an elevated, six lane bridge with two six foot sidewalks on either shoulder. The ramp from the roadway down to the floodway, will allow both vehicular and pedestrian access to Trammell Crow Park and its soccer fields and pond.”

Each side of the massive bridge has both a dedicated sidewalk as well as a bike lane.

Sylvan Ave Bridge

And, most notably, very few cars.  I continued on down the “Floodway Access Ramp” to the aptly named Trinity Skyline Trail:

In spite of the view, however, the trail runs along the Trinity River basin.  I was planning to ride to the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge.  However, once I arrived and was looking up at the bridge, I discovered that there is no connection between them.  This, in spite of the bridge’s webpage that encourages: “We hope you will walk or bike by using the City trail system including the Trinity Skyline Trail!.”  In fact, there’s no way out of the river basin here.  It appears that the next street access is at W. Commerce.  However, time was short and I portaged my bike up and over a giant flood berm and through an already trodden down chainlink fence to reach the bridge.

The northeast half of the bridge was actively being set up for some event, with tents, tables/chairs, and people actively stocking bars.  I rode slowly through the commotion expecting to be ejected at any point.  Once I reached the temporary fence, I encountered a security guy:

Me: “You aren’t going to let me through this gate, are you?”

                   S.G: “Sure I will.  But I won’t let you back.  Those guys should never have let you get this far.”

Me: “OK”

And on I rode to discover:

And not just one Quinceañera, but at least a half dozen.  The lesson here is that the bridge is pretty much about pedestrians and lots of activities (their webpage has tons of activities…Yoga on a bridge, sure, why not?)  Anyhow, it’s a nice bridge with a great view, but I wouldn’t always count on being able to cycle across it.

Climbing berms, crashing parties, and Quinceañeras all tend to make me thirsty.  Happily, I was only two blocks from Four Corners Brewing Company.

After a quick stop for an IPA and a couple of handfuls of peanuts, I started the return ride.  In spite of the somewhat circuitous route so far, the Sylvan Avenue Bridge was only a few blocks to the north.

It was a quick ride over the largely deserted bridge to the Trinity Strand Trail and back to the hotel.

As a postscript, it turns out that this area, just west of downtown, is also home to two more breweries, Peticolas Brewing Company and the aforementioned Community Beer Company.  Stay tuned for an upcoming post about a DIY bike/brewery tour and why some clever entrepreneur should jump on this idea.