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Best way to get to Austin’s new Central Library? By bike, of course!

Pam LeBlanc

Have you visited the new Central Library in downtown Austin yet?

Go. And travel by bicycle if you can.

I pedaled down to the new library at 710 West Cesar Chavez Street yesterday, and parked my steel steed

in the special bike “garage” on the lower east side of the building. The room is outfitted to handle about 100 bikes on staggered metal racks, and has space to stash even more, should that run out.

Right now, it’s free to use your own lock and park on a rack in the bike room. The guard on duty Sunday told me that at some point a small fee might be charged to park there.

The bike barn is just one fitness-friendly aspect of the new building, which opened Saturday.

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The Shoal Creek hike and bike trail abuts the east side of the structure, so you can access the library easily

on foot or bicycle from the Butler Hike and Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake.

The Shoal Creek Hike and Bike Trail is still closed for a short stretch a block north of the library, but when it opens you’ll be able to avoid even more car traffic. As it is now, you can bike down West Avenue, turn east just north of the library and hop onto the trail to get to the library. The bike garage is marked with a larger-than-life logo of a bike.

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Need to adjust your handlebars or raise or lower your seat? A bike repair station, with an array of tools anyone can use for free, has been installed on the trail beneath the yellow-arched bridge just to the northeast of the library. Since it’s covered, you can fix a flat or do whatever you need to do while sheltered from rain or searing sunshine.

Even the library’s interior, with its suspended stairways, encourages people to walk rather than take the elevator. Who wants to get closed up in a box while they’re whisked up a few flights when they could stroll the stairs, looking down on the action below?