#1 2010-07-19 16:12:28

philby
Member
Registered: 2010-07-19
Posts: 2

Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

Hey Folks.  I am moving to Austin and looking into where to live

1. is it possible to bike or even walk from Travis Country Circle down to the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail?  Austin bike map shows this trail on the NE side of the creek in that area, would I have to cross the creek if I was able to get to the creek from Travis Country?

2. Again, from the Austin Bike Map, all of MoPac near Barton Skyway is shown as RED "Low Ease of Use".  But I have driven the frontage roads there and they seem OK (I am OK with 50 MPH cars nearby as long as I have a good shoulder).  BUT am I right in seeing no frontage road where Mopac crosses Barton Creek?

3. Question unrelated to Travis Country : how hard is it to ride or hike across Barton Creek Greenbelt from the Lamar section of Barton Skyway to the Mopac section of Barton Skyway?

THANKS!

phil

Last edited by philby (2010-07-19 16:16:16)

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#2 2010-07-20 09:51:55

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 625

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

The bike map is sort of a crap shoot -- as they see it, if there's a bike lane, it's automatically "high ease of use" -- even if that bike lane is on a road like Lamar.
And if there's not a bike lane, the best a road can get is "medium ease of use" even if it's a low speed residential area with big shoulders.

In any event, Mopac south of Gaines Ranch Loop isn't so bad, at least on the frontage road.  (Going north is better than south, but both are OK.)  South of Wm Cannon it's quite good.  But between Wm Cannon and Gaines Ranch, it's not so bad -- not great, but OK.  North of Gains Ranch Loop and South of 360, it's a terror (the worst place to ride your bike that you ride your bike there anyways because there's no good alternatives) going north and not so good going south (at least south you have a shoulder.)

And didn't I already answer #3 for you somewhere? :)  I had to carry my bike most of the way, and it wasn't terribly direct.  As for a hike without a bike, it wouldn't be so bad, as long as the creek was dry or you didn't mind getting wet.

As for #1, I hear there's entrances to the greenbelt trail behind Specs and the Wildflower center near Gaines Ranch Road.  Never been down there myself, but I do think you'd have to cross the creek to get to the other side.

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#3 2010-07-20 10:40:02

Sam Placette
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Registered: 2009-04-22
Posts: 12

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

Hi Phil,

Welcome to Austin.

1. I always get lost in the Greenbelt when I get that far south. In that area there is a wide network of trails that branch out from the main trail on the creek. If you keep moving downhill, toward water, you will eventually find the main trail that runs toward town. In general, the trail criss-crosses the creek several times, so you should plan on wading if you rely on this route to get somewhere.

2. The frontage roads are not flat, and the traffic is not very slow or friendly, but it is overall well maintained and there is plenty of road to share. You are correct, there is no frontage road for the bridge crossing over the creek. On this section, you need to get on Mopac for the bridge, then take the first exit to get off the highway. This can be stressful, with debris and broken down cars sometimes filling up the shoulders.

3. Sorry, can't help you with that, hopefully somebody who lives in the area can chime in with that specific stretch of trail.

Here's a map: http://www.txinfo.com/products/BartonCreek2005.pdf

Sam

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#4 2010-07-20 18:24:18

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

ALL frontage roads have no shoulders. You will be sharing the right most lane with 60mph traffic coming up behind you.

You also can not, in any way cycle North near Mopac in this area, as there is no frontage road and no shoulder on the highway like there is on the southbound side.

I'd highly recommend you don't cycle any of the above. This is coming from a roadie with 65,000 miles in his legs and is about to give up most road biking because it's too dangerous with cars.

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#5 2010-07-21 00:28:15

dougmc
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Posts: 625

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

rich00 wrote:

You also can not, in any way cycle North near Mopac in this area, as there is no frontage road and no shoulder on the highway like there is on the southbound side.

People do it.  You may discourage it (and it's certainly worth discouraging) but don't say it's not possible.

And it's also quite likely that if you're a mountain biker you can get through the greenbelt.

I'd highly recommend you don't cycle any of the above. This is coming from a roadie with 65,000 miles in his legs and is about to give up most road biking because it's too dangerous with cars.

Others may have a higher tolerance for risk than you do.

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#6 2010-07-21 15:23:13

BENLINDO01
Member
Registered: 2010-07-20
Posts: 1

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

COA Bike map is pretty silly in a few cases.

I wouldn't advise using Mo-PAC as a bike route and I think there are signs on the entrance ramps forbidding bikes. But give it a try I'm sure it will be your last.

Access the greenbelt from Travis County Cir using a trail originating at the intersection of Copperwood Dr and Eagles Landing.
A second trail head is at Canyonwood Dr and Travis County Circle. Follow the driveway just west of the intersection down to the trail. It originates along the fence surrounding the utility station there.

3. There is no greenbelt trail hooking up directly with Barton Skyway/Barton Hills Intersection. You would have to come out to Homedale Dr or High Chaparral Cove and crawl up to Skyway from there.

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#7 2010-07-21 17:29:33

dougmc
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Posts: 625

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

BENLINDO01 wrote:

I wouldn't advise using Mo-PAC as a bike route and I think there are signs on the entrance ramps forbidding bikes

Mopac is a long street.

The signs you refer to are seen north of 360, and they deny access to Mopac itself rather than the frontage road.  (They also have no law behind them anymore, therefore they mean nothing.)  They deny access to parts of Mopac that nobody would want to ride a bicycle on anyways because there's a frontage road or other alternatives right there.

Over the greenbelt going North on Mopac is scary.  Technically, it's an easy ride -- just take the lane, haul ass (it's down hill) and it's over in a minute.  But there's no shoulder, high speed traffic, a large drop right beyond the solid concrete barrier, it's downhill so you haul ass (speed makes it seem more dangerous, though in reality it probably makes it safer) and the bridge shakes -- all these things conspire to make it quite scary.

But there's no good alternative.  Going up 290 to Lamar and then taking 360 down to Mopac again avoids this section, and going up 290 is fine (there's even a sidewalk if you're so inclined), but going down 360 is not, and that has many of the same problems as Mopac over the greenbelt.  You could take 290 to Lamar and go up Lamar or the other roads parallel to Lamar, and that's fine, but if your destination is on Mopac that's not so great.  (I work at Barton Skyway and Mopac and live towards Oak Hill, so I know the pros and cons well.  The ride to work is short -- a mere 6 miles -- but involves some non-bike-friendly places.)

The City of Austin has talked about adding a pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt, but so far that hasn't happened.  There's sidewalks now on the Mopac frotnage road most of the way between Wm Cannon and Barton Springs going north -- not ideal for biking, but acceptable if you don't like taking the lane.  Going South there's fewer sidewalks and more places where you have to take the lane.  It's sort of a chicken-egg problem, as most cyclists are scared off by Mopac over the greenbelt, so there's few cyclists to show the need for this bridge and further bicycle improvements north and south of it, but I do think that if the bridge was added they'd see a lot more traffic, which would help pave the way for other improvements.

Mopac between 290 and Wm Cannon has frontage roads that are rideable, but without shoulders they're not ideal.

South of Wm Cannon, Mopac is great for riding -- big shoulders.  Lots of cyclists out there, especially south of Slaughter.  The only problem are the on and off ramps where you need to be careful of cars.

But give it a try I'm sure it will be your last.

If there were good alternatives, people would use them.  But there's not, so people ride on the bad parts.

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#8 2010-07-21 22:10:32

rich00
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Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

Wow, I never thought any bikers would ride in that highway lane going North over the greenbelt. So you basically have cars coming up behind you at 70mph, with the drivers looking over their left shoulder as they move over lanes. Yeah no thanks, I don't want to even be going 45mph (it's not even steep enough to go that fast unless you're a real fast roadie, the average roadie might be doing 35 there) with 70mph cars coming up behind me. No car will ever expect a cyclist to be on this section of road. It's complete idiocy to ride North Mopac over the greenbelt. And I'm sure it's illegal for good reason.

I can ride through stressful situations and handle fast cars and hold my own pretty well. But I don't like doing it and I do get anxiety from it. That day going south on the Mopac frontage road near the mall, I was going up that hill and looked behind to see a car in my right-most lane going about 60. I pointed for him to move to the left lane and he did, but damn, if he didn't I'd be dead. IDK how cyclists can just plant themselves in front of such fast moving cars without any worry.

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#9 2010-07-22 00:23:24

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 625

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

rich00 wrote:

And I'm sure it's illegal for good reason.

There are no roads in Austin that I am aware of where it's illegal to ride a bicycle.  This includes Mopac, the toll roads and IH-35, even the upper deck.  (Note that I said illegal, not "not smart".)

Parts of Mopac (north of 360) used to be off-limits for bicycles and that's what the signs are for.  But the law expired, and it's legal again, but they never bothered to take the signs down.  And nobody really cares because it's not a place that somebody would need to ride anyways -- the frontage road is right there, and there's usually other roads a block or two over from that.

The part over greenbelt was never illegal to ride a bike on that I know of.  The city probably wanted to make it illegal there when they made it illegal further north, but as I said, there's no good alternatives.  If I ride Mopac to work, it's six miles.  If I take Mopac, but detour around the greenbelt, it becomes eight or nine miles, but part of that trip is little better than the part over the green belt (in particular, going north on 360 between Lamar and Mopac.)  If I avoid both of these sections, I can take generally nice roads for biking but it turns into a twelve or thirteen mile trip.

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#10 2010-07-22 10:45:43

philby
Member
Registered: 2010-07-19
Posts: 2

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

Thanks for all the good info.

Yes, Doug, I used the same handle on Craigslist... much better forum here for this stuff

Look for me this fall with my helmet mirror on the Mopac frontage road....

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#11 2010-07-23 00:22:04

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

Wow. I had no idea you could legally ride a bike on Mopac or 35. So technically, I could ride my bike all the way from Steck/Mopac straight down to Oak Hill, directly and efficiently with no stops. And since (from my understanding) that you can ride an electric assisted bike at up to the speed limit - as long as you are pedaling - I could theoretically take my bike down the slow lane of Mopac at 65mph (it is possible to create such a powerful electric assist).

Well, if I create such a powerful electric assist bike, I think I'll take the equally distance route of 360- Barton Creek Blvd instead.

On a side note - does anyone think a cop would have a problem with a (obviously motor assisted) cyclist going say 40mph in a 40 zone? The law does seem a little fuzzy when you factor in that I would always be pedaling. I could do such - riding my bike for commuting would feel much safer.

I rarely ever see cops outside of downtown anyway....

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#12 2010-07-23 00:27:23

MichaelBluejay
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From: Austin, TX
Registered: 2008-05-26
Posts: 1,455
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Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

If it can go more than 20mph without human power, it doesn't meet the definition of a "bicycle" under Texas law.  (Click "Laws" in the menu on the top of this page.)

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#13 2010-07-23 01:17:57

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

Well, one of my ebikes I made - it can't go anywhere unless I'm pedaling - meaning it can't go more than 20mph without human power. And it only has a 450watt motor. With me pedaling it, I can sustain 35mph on flat road though.

As it is, on my normal road bike, I go those speeds regularly (tailwind, slight downhill) anyway.

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#14 2010-07-23 13:15:52

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 625

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

rich00 wrote:

Well, one of my ebikes I made - it can't go anywhere unless I'm pedaling - meaning it can't go more than 20mph without human power.

Well, once you've started moving you can stop pedaling (or lift your feet of the pedals, depending on how it's set up.)  I doubt a judge would see it that way ...

The courts have been extremely unkind to people busted with oversized engines added to their bicycles in some cases.  I've heard of people getting thousands of dollars in fines -- non-approved vehicle, no registration, no inspection, no insurance, no motorcycle license, no plates, no muffler, no turn signals and who knows what else.  The cases I've heard have been regarding gasoline engines, but they could do it with electric bikes too.

And it only has a 450watt motor. With me pedaling it, I can sustain 35mph on flat road though.

Most cyclists average around 100 watts.  I've heard that Lance Armstrong could do 400 watts for a few hours at his prime.  I wouldn't refer to 450 watts as "only" (though that level of power probably can't be sustained long before it starts to overheat.)

If your bike can do 35 mph with you pedaling, it can probably do over 25 mph without you pedaling, so it may already violate the law, but as long as you don't push it you're unlikely to get in trouble for that.

As it is, on my normal road bike, I go those speeds regularly (tailwind, slight downhill) anyway.

Yup.

And yes, while you can legally ride down Mopac or IH35, I wouldn't suggest it, and I'll bet the cops would put an end to it even if legal.  They might just assume it's illegal to ride there, or get you for impeding traffic (which you might be able to fight in court, but you still wouldn't beat the ride.)  Most likely, they'd just order you off the road, and if you refused them they might get you for not obeying his order.

But over the greenbelt -- the cops aren't likely to hassle you over that.  At most, they'll express concern for your safety, but considering there's no other good options, that the hill gets you going at 30 mph even without pedaling and it's only 0.6 miles -- it's over in a minute and nobody is inconvenienced, and that's what they really care about.

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#15 2010-07-23 16:49:04

rich00
Member
Registered: 2010-01-18
Posts: 166

Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

Well, a little info on myself - I've raced bikes quite a bit in my past as a respectable amateur. The current motor I have on my electric road bike is only 450w which is way below the 750 limit. However, since my bike is so much more efficient than most electric bikes, 450watts could get me into the upper 20s without my assist. But I would have to put my feet off the pedals in order to go on motor power alone.

I feel the most at risk when I'm riding slow. (Like when riding up Redbud). Every time I do an easy ride, the traffic always seems to bother me considerably more. But when I'm out there hammering, things don't seem so bad. So IMO, higher speed = safer. I mean, think about it - you have much fewer passing cars and lower closing speeds.

Don't worry though, I have no plans to bike down Mopac, that would be pretty ridiculous.

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#16 2024-04-08 19:19:30

dougmc
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Re: Questions on Travis Country Circle to Barton Skyway route

dougmc wrote:

The City of Austin has talked about adding a pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt, but so far that hasn't happened.  There's sidewalks now on the Mopac frotnage road most of the way between Wm Cannon and Barton Springs going north -- not ideal for biking, but acceptable if you don't like taking the lane.  Going South there's fewer sidewalks and more places where you have to take the lane.  It's sort of a chicken-egg problem, as most cyclists are scared off by Mopac over the greenbelt, so there's few cyclists to show the need for this bridge and further bicycle improvements north and south of it, but I do think that if the bridge was added they'd see a lot more traffic, which would help pave the way for other improvements.

Ran into this again, fourteen years later.

* Seven years later, the city built that pedestrian bridge.  Two of them, in fact -- over the greenbelt and 360.  And they are great.
* And in addition to to that, they're more recently improved the VC trail South of here, added sidewalks on 290 out towards the Y, etc.
* Still a lot to do, however.

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