Lance Armstrong

LIVE STRONG event planning and development intern and UT sport management senior Lane Follmar works on a project at the LIVE STRONG office Tuesday afternoon. Questions have been raised about how the internship department could be affected with recent news.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The Livestrong Foundation is attempting to move on following Lance Armstrong’s admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, and affiliated organizations and former interns remain supportive of its cause.

The foundation began in 1997 and is based in Austin, where Armstrong lives. Armstrong headed the organization’s board until he stepped down in November after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency produced a report with evidence of his doping practices. 

The organization released a statement in response to Armstrong’s on-camera interview with Oprah Winfrey, where he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during every one of his seven Tour de France titles. The foundation expressed its disappointment in Armstrong, as well as unveiling its plan for moving forward.

“We at the Livestrong Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us,” the foundation stated. “We look forward to devoting our full energy to our mission of helping people not only fight and survive cancer, but also thrive in life after cancer.”

Livestrong also sponsors several organizations that raise money for cancer research, such as Texas 4000. Texas 4000 is a UT student organization that organizes annual charity bike rides from Austin to Anchorage, Ala.

Biomedical engineering senior David Martin, a member of the Texas 4000, is planning to ride on the 2013 team this summer. Martin said despite all of the controversy with the foundation, his team’s only focus is to raise awareness for cancer research.

“Our main goal is fighting cancer in any way possible and Livestrong is our sponsor and [has] done a fantastic job,” Martin said. “The main fight, regardless of what other people have done or what has been said about Livestrong, is to fight cancer and to raise hope, knowledge and charity.”

Livestrong also recruits interns from the 40 Acres. Psychology senior Jamie Hill, who interned in Livestrong’s navigation services department, said nothing has changed her perception of the good work that has been done by the foundation.

“[The controversy] has not changed my feelings about how much I want to fight cancer,” Hill said. “If anyone is passionate about fighting cancer or has thought about interning at Livestrong, it’s a wonderful opportunity for growth.”

Public relations senior Mackenzie Neel interned with Livestrong last semester and also agrees that the foundation impacted her positively.

“I loved being there,” Neel said. “The atmosphere was wonderful. They kept any negativity out of the intern room. Despite whatever is going on, Livestrong has helped millions of people and I have been proud to be a part of it.”

The foundation has raised over $400 million dollars since its inception.

Published on January 23, 2013 as "Livestrong continues work despite conflict". 

By now, you probably know that Lance Armstrong confessed to allegations of doping during all seven of his Tour de France victories. He did so in the first part of a 2 1/2-hour-long interview with Oprah Winfrey  this past Thursday and Friday evening at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin. 

Aside from Lance’s palatial Austin residence, Austin bears many signs of his presence: his bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s, the name of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway and the presence of the Livestrong Foundation headquarters, not to mention the significant increase in the number of cyclists in Austin during and after Armstrong’s victories in the Tour de France.

Thanks to that roster, Armstrong became many cyclists’ hero and leader, particularly in Austin. But now that spectators worldwide realize that Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories resulted partially from his reliance on a cocktail of performance enhancing drugs such as testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone and EPO (erythropoietin, a naturally occurring hormone that stimulates the growth of oxygen carrying red blood cells), a backlash has begun with groups of people trying to remove the cancer survivor’s mark on the city of Austin.

Lance Armstrong’s yellow jersey has been removed from Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell’s office. The mayor publicly commented on his disappointment that “Lance misled [him] and so many others in Austin.” To top it all, many residents have started talking about renaming the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a cycling route that opened in 2009 as a response to the city’s expanding enthusiasm about the sport. This backlash raises an interesting question: How should we perceive our hometown hero, and how will the scandal impact cycling in this city?

Whether you like it or not, cycling’s popularity in Austin is directly related to Armstrong’s influence on the city. Not only do I not condone Armstrong’s actions, but I also understand the deep disappointment with his drug use and believe that his aggressive attacks on those who reported his drug use deserve condemnation. Yet I still believe that Austin, as a city, should try to preserve what Armstrong gave to cycling — an overall positive contribution to Austin’s culture — and keep that in mind when evaluating the Armstrong episode.

In a previous column, I earned a reputation of criticizing local cyclists for not following traffic rules,  but I believe that cycling, both recreational and competitive, should remain an important aspect of Austin. The benefits of cycling are numerous. According to the Discovery Channel, cycling is good for the heart, muscles, waistline, lifespan, coordination, mental health and immune system. Moreover, it is one of the few sports with relatively easy access. Decent used bikes are affordable. Helmet costs are low. Almost everyone in Austin can bike.

So, as for removing from the city all influences of Lance Armstrong, I disagree, and not just because of his influence on cycling. Granted, like many other athletes today, Lance took drugs. He abused his body, and I do not condone his behavior. Unlike most other athletes who faced similar situations, Armstrong not only confessed to cheating and taking drugs during the Tour de France, he also apologized for his actions. And, scandal notwithstanding, he has an impressive resume. After battling cancer, he created the Livestrong Foundation, which provides support for those afflicted with cancer and fights for government propositions that back cancer research. Through Livestrong, he backed Proposition 29  (a California initiative designed to raise funds for cancer research through a $1 tobacco tax increase) and Proposition 15 (a Texas initiative that created the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and allocated a $3 billion fund for cancer research within the state). 

Just because Armstrong’s mistakes have drawn popular attention and media hype away from his successes, his positive influences on Austin should not be overlooked. If they are, an important aspect of Austin’s cycling culture could be lost as well.

Malik is a Plan II and business honors  freshman from Austin.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

LONDON — On the day he went public with an admission of doping after years of denials, Olympic officials disclosed one more embarrassment for Lance Armstrong: He was stripped of a bronze medal won at the 2000 Sydney Games.

The International Olympic Committee sent a letter to Armstrong on Wednesday night asking him to return the medal, just as it said it planned to do last month. The decision was first reported Thursday by The Associated Press.

On Monday, Armstrong taped an interview with Oprah Winfrey for broadcast Thursday and Friday on her network. A person familiar with the situation told the AP that the winner of seven straight Tour de France titles confessed to Winfrey to using performance-enhancing drugs.

The timing of the IOC move, however, was not related to the TV interview.

The IOC executive board discussed revoking the medal in December, but delayed a decision until cycling’s governing body notified Armstrong he had been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and all results since 1998. He then had 21 days to appeal.

Now that the deadline has expired, the IOC decided to take the medal away. The letter to Armstrong was also sent to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which would collect the medal.

“Having had confirmation from UCI that Armstrong has not appealed the decision to disqualify him from Sydney, we have written to him to ask for the return of the bronze medal,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told the AP.

Two months after winning his second Tour de France title in 2000, Armstrong took the bronze in Sydney in the road time trial behind winner and U.S. Postal Service teammate Vyacheslav Ekimov of Russia and Jan Ullrich of Germany.

The IOC opened a disciplinary case in November after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report detailed widespread doping by Armstrong and his teammates. The report called it the most sophisticated doping program in sports.

The IOC will not reallocate Armstrong’s bronze medal, just as cycling’s ruling body decided not to declare any winners for the Tour titles once held by the American. Spanish rider Abraham Olano Manzano, who finished fourth in Sydney, will not be upgraded and the bronze medal will be left vacant in Olympic records.

Panelists Tim Herman, Bryan Daly, David Ulich, Steven Ungerleider and moderator Michael Cramer, center, discuss the ethics of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation of Lance Armstrong in the Eidman Courtroom Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

The legal team behind Lance Amstrong, who is under heavy criticism due to doping charges, expressed in a panel Tuesday that a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation involving Armstrong was unjust.

Members of Armstrong’s legal team and sports reporters discussed his case in relation to anti-doping codes and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which allows athletes to fight accusations, during a panel held in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Law Tuesday. The anti-doping agency released evidence against Armstrong Oct. 10 in connection to illegal doping during his professional racing career. Doping charges are made after the presence of prohibited substances found in an athlete’s urine or blood tests are proved.

The legal team said the agency’s investigation was unfair from the beginning. Tim Herman, one of Armstrong’s lawyers, said athletes cannot truly pursue arbitration under the current system because the anti-doping agency controls the process.

“It’s rigged,” Herman said. “There are serious deficiencies in the USADA process. They have the authority, the power to strip someone of their livelihood. There are not procedural safeguards, and they do not offer you due process in their disciplinary proceedings.”

Michael Cramer, director of UT’s Texas Program in Sports and Media, said from a legal standpoint there are questions about the process’ legitimacy.

“We have this nongovernmental, nonjudicial body that is sort of a governing arm,” Cramer said. “The legal investigation is gone. There is a nonlegal investigation, without anything to comment on whether it is true or not.”

Bryan Daly, a member of Armstrong’s legal team, said the possibility of a cycling doping case reaching the federal courts is a misuse of resources and priorities because athletic doping cases are not as prevelant as other cases heard in federal court. The federal court case against Armstrong was actually dropped. He said the anti-doping agency has unfairly been after Armstrong for more than a decade.

“Taking Lance Armstrong down either in the media or in a USADA report is not the same thing as a trial,” Daly said.

The panelists outside the legal team said USADA and the media are not to blame for Armstrong’s negative press. ESPN reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada said because athletes commit to certain guidelines, they should be held accountable for their actions.

“The last thing I want to do is be defensive of USADA, but this is the process the athletes themselves agree to,” Fainaru-Wada said. “This is the process that none of them have argued with or fought to overcome. They still have the recourse to fight the case. I never understand the argument that it’s about [the USADA process], let alone that USADA was on some witch hunt for Lance as opposed to anybody else.”

Published on October 24, 2012 as: "Armstrong panel discusses case"

Here we go: another doping scandal in cycling. But this time it involves a big name — Lance Armstrong. As in past doping scandals, the public debate about what lessons to draw from athletes’ dishonesty contains three main arguments. First, there’s anger toward Lance Armstrong, a villain who has betrayed the public and deserves every possible punishment. Second, nostalgia for the good old days when EPO (the performance enhancing drug erythropoietin) didn’t exist and cycling was a good, clean sport. And third, profound disappointment with the polluted sport of cycling. Subscribers to this view usually swap their cycling enthusiasm for a different sport, one still untainted by doping scandals.

At least two and half of these statements are wrong. Yes, Lance Armstrong is a villain in that he has broken the rules to win, he has cheated to gain an edge over his (possibly) clean contestants, he may have bribed the Union Cycliste Internationale, he has threatened teammates and other cyclists and, so far, he hasn’t shown any public sign of regret. But has he really betrayed the public, or was the public just reluctant to listen to those who have been accusing him of doping for years? It was much nicer to believe in Lance’s fairytale — in the man who beat cancer, mountains and all of his competitors — than to question his integrity and sportsmanship.

Cycling, and the Tour de France in particular, is the incarnation of the timeless desire to tear down barriers and expand frontiers. Lance Armstrong pursued this dream, but along the way he crossed some barriers that are not meant to be crossed. He was not the first to dope and he will not be the last. Since its inception in 1903, the Tour de France has produced many renowned cyclists who, whether they were found guilty or not, cheated. Doping as we know it hasn’t been around forever, but cheating has. In the early years, racers were known to take the train now and then rather than cycling through the whole route. They notched their opponents’ bicycle frames and paid spectators to hand other cyclists poisoned chicken. In the 1920s they took cocaine, in the ‘30s and ‘40s they took strychnine, and in the ‘50s and ‘60s they moved on to hormones and amphetamines.

Romantic ideas about the Tour’s early years are myths. When the first doping tests were introduced in 1966, the riders went on strike. In 1967 the British cyclist Tom Simpson collapsed and died on the slopes of Mont Ventoux. Alcohol and amphetamines were found in his blood. Neither the doping tests nor Simpson’s death, however, stopped cyclists from doping. In the ‘70s and ‘80s they doped with steroids and cortisone. In the ‘90s, EPO burst onto the scene. Since then, numerous scandals, like the Festina affair in 1998 and the Fuentes scandal in 2006, have come to light. And yet, somehow, people are still surprised to hear that Lance Armstrong was engaged in the same behavior.

So, should we write off the Tour de France and cycling as a whole as tainted and immoral? Not so fast. The doping situation in other sports may be just as bad. Take swimming, for instance, which is in some ways similar to cycling — it’s a high-profile sport aimed at personal speed. Although no huge scandals have come to light recently, there is no reason to believe this sport is any cleaner than cycling.

The controls are lax. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics swimming competitions there were more world records set than blood tests administered. During the London games this year, several very young swimmers left behind the rest of the field. Fifteen-year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte was evidently judged old enough to participate and win gold but not old enough to answer journalists’ questions afterward. In the last 50 meters of her record-setting 400-meter race, the Chinese 16-year-old Chinese Ye Shiwen swam faster than Ryan Lochte did in that segment. There are plenty of reasons to be suspicious, not just of swimming but of many other sports as well.

My strongest impression of the Lance Armstrong scandal is not of disillusionment or anger. The lesson we should take away is that we should never allow ourselves to be bullied by those who seem powerful. Throughout his career, Armstrong has tried to bring down those who rose up against him. Every time Filippo Simeoni, a convicted doper who has accused Armstrong of being a fellow client of his “doctor,” tried to break away from the peloton in the 2004 Tour de France, either Armstrong or one of his helpers went after him. In the same year, Armstrong sued two Sunday Times journalists for associating him with doping allegations. Armstrong tried everything to mute dissident voices, but in the end they succeeded.

We have to stop believing that popular sports will ever be free of cheating. We shouldn’t assume that someone is guilty of doping before the charges are proven, but it is also wrong to assume that no athletes dope. We have to accept that people break the rules, but we also have to keep fighting for justice and honesty in professional sports. Instead of ignoring the allegations or turning to a different sport in which doping and manipulation haven’t become public yet, we should keep watching cycling. If people stop watching, and the media stops covering races, it will only encourage the organizers of the Tour de France, the Olympic Games and other sporting events to stop making doping charges public in an effort to maintain their reputation and popularity. If these organizations realize that people stop watching as soon as they expose doping, they’ll simply turn the other cheek to cheating or keep the scandals under wraps.

Some people see Lance Armstrong’s scandal as one of the worst sports tragedies in recent memory. On the contrary, I think it’s one of the best things that has happened. Or, at least, it can be — if we draw the right conclusions and act accordingly.

Hardt is an English junior from Freiburg, Germany. 

Lance Armstrong resigned as the chairman of Livestrong, his foundation dedicated to fighting cancer, in a statement issued Wednesday amidst mounting evidence that the award-winning cyclist used performance-enhancing drugs.

“To spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career, I will conclude my chairmanship,” Armstrong said.

On Oct. 10, the United States Anti-Doping Agency released a report outlining the drug use by Armstrong and 11 of his teammates when he won the Tour De France seven times from 1999 to 2005. In a statement accompanying the report, USADA CEO Travis Tygart said the team, which was sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, created a “professionally designed” conspiracy to “groom and pressure athletes to use drugs, to evade detection, to ensure its secrecy and ultimately gain an unfair competitive advantage through superior doping practices.”

The report includes statements from 26 people, including 15 cyclists with knowledge of the team’s drug usage and documentary evidence including financial payments, emails and drug test results.

“The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen,” Tygart said.

Livestrong vice chairman Jeff Garvey will replace Armstrong as chairman, and Armstrong will remain on Livestrong’s 15-member board of directors, according to Armstrong’s statement.

Calls and emails to members of University of Texas Cycling, a student organization that is sponsored in part by Armstrong’s cycling store, Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop, were not returned by press time.

In this June 7, 2011, file photo, signs and balconies overlook the main entrance of Livestrong Sporting Park, home of the Sporting Kansas City MLS soccer club, in Kansas City, Kan.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Lance Armstrong’s reputation may be permanently stained but in the eyes of corporate and individual donors, his charity still wears an unsullied yellow jersey.

Armstrong announced last week he would no longer fight the doping allegations that have dogged him for years. He was subsequently stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned from professional cycling.

But in the days following the announcement, the Lance Armstrong Foundation was showered with donations and pledges of continued support for its mission of promoting cancer awareness and research.

Public relations professionals say that while the famous cyclist and cancer survivor remains a polarizing figure, even his naysayers will have a hard time turning their back on the foundation and its trademark Livestrong yellow bracelets.

Armstrong’s decision not to contest the doping charges may allow both him and his charity to finally move on, they say.

“He never said he’s guilty, he said he’s sick of fighting,” said Peter Shankman, a vice president at the public relations firm Vocus Inc., noting that none of the allegations against Armstrong have been proven. “He becomes a hero in this.”

Armstrong, who retired a year ago and turns 41 next month, denies he ever took banned substances in his career, calling the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation a “witch hunt” carried out without any physical evidence. He said Thursday he would no longer challenge the USADA’s allegations and declined to enter the agency’s arbitration process.

On Friday, the USADA wiped out 14 years of Armstrong’s career and barred him from the sport for life. The agency took Armstrong’s decision as an admission of guilt, branding as a drug cheat the man who had built a legend reaching cycling’s pinnacle after overcoming life-threatening testicular cancer.

That same day Armstrong was banned, the number of donations to his foundation nearly doubled to $60,900 from $32,300 the day before. And the number of donations nearly tripled to 937 from 313 the day before, according to the foundation’s data.

The money kept coming on Saturday with 373 people donating a total of $22,658. In comparison, just four people made donations on the previous Saturday, the foundation said.

“The foundation was grateful to be overwhelmed by an outpouring of support in the last few days,” Doug Ulman, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The number of spontaneous donations and messages of solidarity from partners and supporters were amazing.”

Corporate sponsors including Nike Inc., Anheuser-Busch and sunglasses maker Oakley have pledged their continued support for the charity. Johnson Health Tech, which licenses the Livestrong brand for a line of exercise bikes and other work-out equipment, has also said it’s sticking by the foundation.

And the home of Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City will continue to be called Livestrong Sporting Park. The club, which has promised to donate $7.5 million in stadium revenues to Armstrong’s foundation over six years, says it will not consider renaming the Kansas City, Kan., venue.

“Those who have been touched by cancer see Armstrong as an inspiration,” said Michael Shmarak, a vice president of DKC Public Relations in Chicago. “Brands recognize that power.”

But Shmarak added that he wouldn’t be surprised if the foundation decided to rebrand itself a little, creating a new symbol and steering away from the yellow bracelets that reference the now-tainted Tour de France yellow jersey.

Stan Steinreich, CEO of Steinreich Communications Group in Fort Lee, N.J., said that once the initial spike in donations disappears, the foundation could lose a significant amount of funding, because some people won’t want to have anything to do with Armstrong.

But in the long term, the charity is bound to rebound, because it has nothing to do with Armstrong’s scandal, he said. It appears to pale, in public relations terms at least, in comparison with those involving other sports figures such as Tiger Woods and Michael Vick.

Over the past nearly 15 years, the foundation has raised nearly $500 million, partially though the sale of the yellow bracelets. Armstrong has said that his decision to not seek arbitration will allow him to focus more time on the foundation.

“I think the calculation he made was whatever effect these allegations have had, he did his jail time before the sentence was handed down,” Steinreich said. “His world can only get better now.”

AUSTIN, Texas— The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is bringing doping charges against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, threatening to strip his victories in the storied cycling race.

Armstrong could face a lifetime ban from the sport if he is found to have used performance-enhancing drugs. The move by USADA immediately bans him from competing in triathlons, which he turned to after he retired from cycling last year.

Armstrong, in a statement Wednesday, dismissed any doping allegations as “baseless” and “motivated by spite” and noted they came just months after federal prosecutors closed a two-year criminal investigation against the cyclist without bringing an indictment.

The charges by USADA were first reported by the Washington Post.

USADA’s letter to Armstrong informing him of the charges also said the agency was bringing doping charges against Johan Bruyneel, manager of Armstrong’s winning teams; team doctors Pedro Celaya and Luis Garcia del Moral; team trainer Pepe Marti, and consulting doctor Michele Ferrari.

The USADA letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, accuses Armstrong of using and promoting the use of the blood booster EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, human growth hormone and anti-inflammatory steroids. The letter doesn’t cite specific examples, but says the charges are based on evidence gathered in an investigation of Armstrong’s teams, including witnesses who aren’t named in the letter.

According to USADA’s letter, “numerous riders, team personnel and others will testify” they either saw Armstrong dope or heard him tell them he used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone from 1996 to 2005. Armstrong won the Tour de France every year from 1999-2005.

It also says blood collections obtained by cycling’s governing body in 2009 and 2010 are “fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions.” Armstrong came out of retirement to race in the Tour de France those two years.

USADA officials had said they would pursue possible charges against Armstrong even after federal criminal investigators had closed their case.

In a letter to the USADA last week, Armstrong attorney Robert Luskin noted that USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart participated in witness interviews with federal investigator Jeff Novitzky during the criminal investigation.

“It is a vendetta, which has nothing to do with learning the truth and everything to do with settling a score and garnering publicity at Lance’s expense,” Luskin’s letter said.

Tygart did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Armstrong, who has been in France training for a triathlon, maintained his innocence, saying in a statement: “I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one.”

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is bringing doping charges against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, questioning his victories in those storied cycling races.

Armstrong, who retired from cycling last year, could face a lifetime ban from the sport if he is found to have used performance-enhancing drugs.

The story was first reported Wednesday by the Washington Post.

The charges from USADA come just months after federal prosecutors closed a two-year criminal investigation of Armstrong without indicting him.

Armstrong maintained his innocence, saying, “I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one.”

Cyclists ride down a portion of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway over W. Cesar Chavez Street Wednesday afternoon. City Council will vote Thursday on a proposal to approve construction of the bikeway.

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

Austin City Council will most likely approve the next phase of construction on the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, connecting East and West Austin for cyclists with dedicated riding paths for the first time.

The half-million dollar project will connect the East Fifth Street and Shady Lane intersection to the existing Airport Boulevard Bridge, according to a recommendation for council action to be presented at the meeting. Seven-time Tour de France winner and Austin business owner Lance Armstrong agreed to let the city use his name for the six-mile bike route, according to the Neighborhood Connectivity Division of Austin City Council.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell said the bikeway will create a safe “bikeable” route through Austin.

“The bikeway and our bike-friendly community brings people from all around the world to Austin,” Leffingwell said. “We are proud of Lance Armstrong and [Armstrong’s Livestrong] Foundation. We are proud of our biking community, and this bikeway will help guide people through our community.”

Funding for the bikeway was secured from a $400,000 federal grant as part of the federal transportation policy, with a further $100,000 coming from bond money approved in 2000.
“The bikeway will serve UT students both as a community amenity and as a travel corridor,” Leffingwell said.

Neighborhood Connectivity Program consultant Annick Beaudet said the city is attempting to increase the appeal of cycling as a mode of transportation and reduce traffic congestion in Austin.

“Bikeways are the best way to attract new riders,” Beaudet said. “We know that 60 percent of any population is interested in cycling but are concerned about their safety. If you can bring them safe facilities, then you can create a transportation mode shift out of cars and onto bicycles.”

Graduate civil engineer and cyclist Heather Hill said the construction was needed to improve the safety of riders downtown.

“At the moment, it’s illegal to ride on sidewalks, and you have to get on the road where the paths end,” Hill said. “Bikeways can make cycling faster than driving to campus, and they’re very accessible if you are coming from the right area of Austin.”

Craig Staley, general manager of Mellow Johnny’s, a downtown bike shop owned by Armstrong, said connecting East and West Austin would continue to validate the presence of cyclists on the road.

“It’s a very meaningful and valid strip because it allows anyone from the West and Northwest quadrants of the city to get here safely,” Staley said. “It’s going to give connectivity on the east side where a lot of young people are moving in and commuting into the city. You’re going to see more activity once that gets completed.” 

Printed on Thursday, November 3, 2011 as: Austin City Council likely to approve bikeway