It is about the bike, apparently

Lance Armstrong decides to do his part by opening a bike station in Austin, although it won’t be open in time for my forthcoming visits (twice in a month!). He apparently really gets it, too, from the land use connection to the need for safe facilities to the importance of having a rich cycling culture. Pamela LeBlanc reports in the Austin American-Statesman; video of the interview is also available. Emphases added.

This city is exploding downtown. Are all these people in high rises going to drive everywhere? We have to promote (bike) commuting,” Armstrong said Wednesday, gazing up at the towering 360 condos rising next to the site of his new shop. “This can be a hub for that…”

Armstrong said he’d like to see Austin evolve into a place like Portland, Ore., where biking is part of the culture and people pedal to work, to restaurants and to run errands. “Walk outside, and the streets are lined with bikes — because they have a safe place to ride,” Armstrong said of the city long known for its bicycle-friendly amenities and policies.

So how does Austin get to that point?

“The (Lance Armstrong Bikeway) is a big start,” he said. Armstrong and his general partner in the project, Bart Knaggs, said they’d like to see Austin create bike lanes separated from vehicle traffic and a system like a new one in Paris where people can use a credit card to rent a bicycle from a bike rack station and return it at any of the dozens of other stations around the city.

There are times I ride in Austin, and I’m afraid of cars,” Armstrong said. “Imagine what the beginner cyclist must feel like? I think (Mayor) Will Wynn’s dream was this whole revitalization of downtown, which we’re getting, but it’s going to make it a lot easier if people can get around on bikes.”

Mellow Johnny’s… focus won’t be on selling the newest, lightest racer. The shop will celebrate the culture of biking, from the historic memorabilia hanging on the walls to a counter where customers can sip coffee and ask questions as they watch bike mechanics at work…

Showers and a locker room will allow commuters who don’t have facilities at their offices to ride downtown, store their bikes at the shop, bathe and catch a ride on a pedicab or walk the rest of the way to work…

Armstrong predicted that Mellow Johnny’s will be “the coolest bike shop in the world,” but said he’s not trying to put any other Austin bike shop out of business. “It’s not us versus them,” he said. “We’re all about the cycling culture.”

The mellow group hugs between spandexed roof-rackers, testy commuters, curious townies/gownies, lost tourists, dirty messengers, filthy hippies, and maybe even pedantic Vehicular Cyclists (“Afraid of cars? Weenie!”) will commence in May, on Republic Square in the southwest corner of downtown Austin.

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