Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Field Notes: New bike lanes, swimming on rainy days, and more

Staff Writer
Austin 360

New lanes where bikes, cars can travel together

I spotted a new bike lane along Far West Boulevard, between West Rim Drive and Mesa Drive in Northwest Hills.

It's different than a lot of lanes around Austin because it allows cars to park along the road while still leaving the bike lanes clear. A big problem with a lot of our existing lanes is that cars block bike traffic, and those of us on two wheels are forced to ride around them, veering in and out of motor traffic lanes.

This way, cars have their parking room and bikes have their lane.

Reader Carri Crowe also sent a link to an interesting way the Dutch handle bike traffic at busy intersections. Check it out on the Fit City blog at austin360.com/fitcity. As a daily bike commuter, I'm always interested in how other countries handle traffic.

— Pam LeBlanc

Rainy days and swimming always pump us up

I was swimming across Deep Eddy Pool last week when I heard a cheer go up. I popped my head up, asked my coach what was up, and then felt it — rain!

A passing shower, a momentary tappity-tap-tapping of raindrops on water, and we all went nuts. There's nothing like swimming in the rain, by the way. Whenever it's raining and I head to the pool, people seem baffled.

"You're going to swim in this?" they ask.

Well, yes. What do you think might happen — I'll get wet?

Rain makes for a soothing, comforting workout. A gray sky feels like a thick blanket, and sounds are magnified. It's glorious.

Let's hope there are more chances for rainy day swimming soon.

— P.L.

Get wild about nature you can watch in town

"Nature Watch Austin: Guide to the Seasons in an Urban Wildland," by Lynne and Jim Weber, has been released by Texas A&M University Press ($24.95). The authors will be on hand today from 1 to 4 p.m. in the gift shop at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is in the middle of its annual Fall Native Plant Sale weekend. The guide takes a month-by-month look at the area's wonders of nature, from insects and plants to animals and where to spot them. The book is also available at locations across town, including Tarrytown Pharmacy, BookPeople, Breed's, Whole Earth Provision Co. and Barnes & Noble.

FEATURED EVENT

Row, row, row for 3,000 miles

At age 22, Katie Spotz set a world record in March 2010 as the youngest person to row alone across the Atlantic — 3,038-miles from West Africa to South America. Spotz, one of Glamour magazine's Women of the Year who also set a swimming record in the Allegheny River, will appear at 11 a.m. Saturday in Round Rock at American Water, 530 S. Interstate 35, to share her story and discuss the challenges of her 70 days solo in a small boat as well as her participation in cycling's recent Race Across America, which she accomplished with a broken pelvis. There will also be barbecue, prizes and giveaways until 6 p.m.