July Summer Fun Checklist for Kids Item: Ride Your Bike on the Veloway
Austinites prefer a little green space with their urban jungle. Like the greenbelts that crisscross town, the Veloway is a unique venue that highlights the city’s love for physical activity and the outdoors. Approximately 3.1 miles long and 23 feet wide, the paved one-way track is a free and public-use facility completely closed to vehicular and foot traffic, designed expressly for the use of cyclists and rollerbladers.
The Veloway is surrounded by undeveloped land with small trees and brush, and in season, offers brightly colored fields of bluebonnets, Indian blankets and other native wildflowers. Squirrels, roadrunners and deer are common sights, as well as the very occasional rattlesnake or tarantula. The track is designed in a large, twisty loop, with several hairpin turns and rises, and is divided by a center stripe into two wide lanes, the left of which is meant to be the “fast” lane. Traffic travels in a clockwise direction, and beyond the sound of a noisy free-hub or poorly maintained chain coming up behind you, there’s no road noise. The Veloway is, above all, a safe place to ride your bike. Indecisive squirrels are a rider’s biggest threat.
The Veloway is a great place for families, and you’ll see many other parents and kids there, especially on the weekends. Though the course isn’t completely flat and “easy,” it’s a good place to bring a novice rider who isn’t comfortable or accustomed to riding city streets. There’s plenty of room to ride at least two abreast, and you don’t have to worry about cars pulling out of driveways or kids veering out into traffic. You also don’t have to be shy about how many years it’s been since you’ve been on a bike, or what you’re wearing. You can be on a $10,000 road bike or a rusty old clunker, wearing cut-off shorts or team-issue spandex: you pretty much see every kind of bike and every kind of cyclist here.
There are a few very important things to note. No foot traffic is allowed, so everyone—parents too—need to be on a bike or on rollerblades. Children should know how to brake and steer very well, as there are several downhill sections (bringing a toddler on a balance bike or tricycle isn’t a good idea). Never, ever ride the wrong direction, and if you have to walk your bike the wrong way for a flat tire or other emergency, make sure you’re aware of bikes that may be coming toward you and step off the pavement if possible. Similarly, make sure children understand to stay to the right of the center line when riding. You won’t tend to see large groups of cyclists at the Veloway, but some solo riders will be traveling at high speeds. Fortunately, there’s plenty of room for everyone if both slower and faster riders and rollerbladers are courteous and follow the rules.
Note that some weekends the Veloway is closed to the public to host private events (check the schedule here). In the parking lot you’ll find two porta potties, and a water fountain is located near the start of the track; however, the water isn’t always on and never tastes very good if it is. It’s best to bring your own water, and bring lots—shade is in short supply. Rumors concerning improvements have been circulating for years, but the Austin Parks and Recreation Department has not addressed safety issues with the asphalt, so expect quite a few cracks and bumps.
Located near the intersection of South Mopac and La Crosse Avenue, the Veloway is adjacent to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, so it’s easy to experience both of these fun, family-friendly attractions in one day. For more info, go to http://www.veloway.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/Veloway.
Many thanks to the volunteers who keep this incredible space up and running, aiding the current crop of cyclists and building a future one!
- Only bikes and rollerblades allowed.
- One way, clockwise travel.
- Closes at dusk. No night riding with the exception of special full moon rides—check
https://www.facebook.com/Veloway for details.
- Helmets required.
- No removing or disturbing flora and fauna.
- The left lane is for passing.
- No foot traffic allowed.
How To Get There
About the author: Kat Hunter is a freelance writer, mom and cyclist, riding for professional cycling team Visit Dallas Cycling presented by Noise4Good for the 2015 season. To read more of her work, check out the Austin Tri-Cyclist blog or visit her website. Many thanks to Austin Tri-Cyclist for sharing this wonderful post with us!