FLOR coming to Downtown Austin’s 2nd Street District March 7, 2013.

FLOR coming to Downtown Austin’s 2nd Street District March 7, 2013.

Looks like FLOR will be opening in downtown Austin’s 2nd Street District (209 W 2nd to be exact, where Mercury Design Studio was – they’ve now moved 2 doors down).

They’ll be opening a day before SXSW 2013 starts, just in time for the crazy crowds.  We suspect they’ll do well in the area with DWR and Mercury Design Studio nearby – as well as several high-end downtown austin condos and apartment buildings, and look forward to doing a little shopping there ourselves.

 

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B-Cycle Chosen For Austin Bike Share Program

B-Cycle Chosen For Austin Bike Share Program

The Downtown Austin Blog has confirmed that B-cycle is the bike company of choice for the new Austin Bike Share program.

DAB reported last week that three companies had submitted proposals to supply Austin Bike Share equipment. We don’t know who yet else applied, but there is some small comfort in knowing that the people in San Antonio seem quite pleased with B-cycle, where they are growing from 30 stations to 45 stations. (Check out their San Antonio rates and coverage here.) B-cycle implementation has been successful in 15 other major cities, including Denver, San Antonio, and Houston and the city aims to have the bike share program operable by late spring 2013.

Here’s Here are some more details on what to expect in Austin:

[Read more…]

Austin Bike Share Enters the Homestretch

Austin Bike Share Enters the Homestretch

It’s been almost two and a half years since I started advocating for Austin Bike Share in the state capital.  It became the highest rated of any SpeakUpAustin initiative, ever.  Because of incredible grassroots support, generous financial support by several local businesses, and hard work by City staff, Austin Bike Share is finally happening for Austin.

Austin City Council this week is expected to approve an important step in the process, which will allow the city to form a partnership with nonprofit Bike Share of Austin to operate the bike share program.

The City and Bike Share of Austin are aiming to have the bike share program up and running by spring 2013. A separate contract with a bike share vendor for the purchase of bicycles, kiosks, and the bike share system network is scheduled to come to City Council for approval at the next scheduled council meeting, which would be Jan. 31.

It has long been rumored around town that Austin is going to pick B Cyclethe same bike share operator as San Antonio, to supply the bike share system for Austin.  San Antonio’s system is a phenomenal success and expanding.

According to the City, the bike share will bring about 40 bike share kiosks, with as many as 400 bikes, to Central Austin area.  That’s a good start.

jude-bike-shareIt was around 2009, when traveling in Montreal, that I was first introduced to a robust bike share system. That system was called BIXI, but it was the same bike design used in Minneapolis.  The system works impressively well.  You can become a member, or pay-as-you-go. The three-geared bikes are comfortable and well maintained.

That Austin’s Bike Share initiative seems to be heading for the final stretch is superb news, and I’d like to thank all of our City Council members and all the folks at the city who are working to make this happen.

We can expect a draft map of the locations within the next couple of months.

I’ve learned that City staff’s process of identifying possible sites for bike share kiosks is based on several criteria:

  • Proximity of bike infrastructure such as bike lanes or cycle tracks
  • High employment density
  • Nearby parks, recreation facilities, tourist attractions, or other destination
  • Favorable topography
  • Public transit services

Get it out there.

For the sake of getting bike share off the ground, I really hope the City doesn’t let perfection get in the way of progress.  I, myself, would be in favor of a phased launch and the City says, “we are putting half the stations in these spots. Deal with it.  However, we would like to hear from the public about where we get the other stations set up at.”

That would get Austin Bike Share rolling, with kiosks being put into the ground, instead of letting all the zealots debate the minutia and delaying having something the public can actually use.

-Jude

Kevin Gant

Kevin Gant

Back in the early ’90s, an aspiring Austin musician was gaining lots of attention.  Kevin Gant was on a trajectory for becoming really famous, and suddenly he disappeared from the scene and his fans… for 25 years.

Kevin wouldn’t reappear to the public light until director Jay Duplass reached out to him.  Their conversation turned into a documentary, “Kevin”, that stumbled upon two weeks ago while browsing Netflix (I’ve been pushing the limits on the number of times a sane person can watch TopGear reruns, and this looked interesting enough).

Wow!  What a story. Huge talent.  Fascinating documentary about a local musician.

So, I finished the movie and went about my normal weekend.

Then, this past week while walking downtown after a DAA meeting with fellow board member, Fred Schmidt, I recognized Kevin from under his hat, waiting for the bus at Congress & 7th Street.  Being a newly minted fan, I dorked out a little, and approached him just to share my enthusiasm for him and his story.

If you couldn’t immediately tell from the documentary, Kevin simply exudes positive energy.  He was incredibly gracious given that a complete stranger (me) had just approached him.  When I asked for a picture, he even suggested “hold on, let me get my guitar out!”, then handed Fred and I free copies of his latest CD.  Cool!

Chance encounters with remarkable people.  This is what makes downtown Austin such a great place to live, work, or just walk through.

If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can buy the movie on YouTube, “Kevin“, or checkout his music on iTunes.

Kevin, it’s nice to have met you.  Thanks for telling your story.  Cheers to your journey.

-Jude