The Daily Texan's guide to biking in Austin

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Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Whether you’re too broke for gas, too environmentally conscious to own a car or too lazy to walk to class, a bike can be useful for anyone. This stylish mode of transportation requires upkeep and niche knowledge. The Daily Texan has created a brief guide to biking around Austin just for you. 

Fix

Austin’s extreme temperatures cause bikes a great deal of wear and tear. Brake cables stretch, gears rust and chains break, but even a minor level of upkeep can prevent long-term damage to a bicycle. This means bringing your bike to the shop at least once a semester for a tune-up. There are about a dozen bicycle shops within a five-mile radius of campus, all of which will happily adjust your bike for little to no cost. 

Additionally, UT’s campus is home to 10 roadside bicycle pumps. Be sure to keep tires inflated at all times to protect the metal rim and prevent tire damage. If spare parts are needed, head over to the Kickstand located at the intersection of Speedway and East Mall. 

Buy

Purchasing a bicycle is an investment. Be sure to do your homework about the various types of bicycles that exist and choose the one best suited to your needs. While a BMX bike is light and small enough to maneuver through crowded areas on campus, a road bike can travel farther distances at a faster rate and may be more durable. 

College students should also consider used bikes for a more economical solution. Dropping over $500 on a brand new bike is risky if you are worried about theft but also unnecessary when considering the high quality of used bikes. Bike shops close to campus such as Ozone Bikes and Waterloo Cycles do a great job of overhauling old bikes, making them just as good as new bikes with a much lower price. 

Another great place to find a used bicycle is the annual auction on campus run by the UTPD. This year, the bike auction will be held at the Trinity Garage on Sept. 11. The viewing will begin at 5 p.m. and bids start as low as $3. 

Rent

For festivals like Austin City Limits Music Festival and South By Southwest, renting a bike may be the best option to avoid crowded public transportation and to enjoy Austin’s great weather. Bikes can be rented at stores such as Barton Springs Bike Rental, but the prices grow steeper during more popular times of the year. The Orange Bike Project, however, rents bikes for as little $5. This student-run organization can be found at the Guadalupe Parking Garage on San
Antonio Street. 

According to Michael Nguyen, a biology senior and Orange Bike Project employee, the shop received 12 new Trek mountain bikes in the spring of 2013. These bikes are now available for students to rent.

Protect 

As any police officer in Austin will tell you, bicycles are an extremely high-theft item in city environments. In 2012, more than 150 bicycles were reported stolen on campus by UTPD. The rates for bicycle theft off campus are substantially higher. When left out in the open with no lock, bicycles present thieves an opportunity to make money with little to no risk. There are two very important ways of combatting bike theft. 

The first is the most obvious: Lock your bike properly. This means taking the time and effort to secure your bike with a U-lock and a cable lock. Bicycles that are not locked to a rack are considered improperly parked and can be impounded.

The second way to combat theft is by registering your bike with the Department of Parking and Transportation. Bike registration is now required for all bikes on campus. This can help UTPD and APD recover stolen property and return it to the rightful owner. Both police departments work closely with pawnshops around Austin to ensure that stolen bicycles are not sold off to other people. 

Ride 

The best part about having a bike is, of course, riding it. Whether it’s through the Austin city proper or the scenic hill country, biking can be a thoroughly zen-like experience. But don’t stick to the beaten path of Lake Austin and Zilker Park. Branch out and challenge yourself to conquer longer distances. 

Correction: Because of a reporting error, an article about owning a bicycle on the UT campus that ran in the September 3 issue of The Daily Texan misstated the brand of bikes aquired by the Orange Bike Project shop. The actual brand of bicycles is Giant hybrid bikes.