The Grackle

Observations, Reflections and Miscellany from the Wacoan

One City, Two Wheels

How bike-friendly is downtown Waco?

9 years ago

By Caitlin Giddens

As a millennial, I’m a member of the “multimodal generation.” That means I can’t part with my iPhone, but I can part with my car. I live downtown and frequently see people riding in the bike lanes. So I got my own bicycle, and I’m determined to see if downtown Waco is really bike-friendly.

In the past few years the City of Waco has made improvements in the infrastructure for bicycles in downtown Waco. There are one-mile bike lanes on Fourth and Fifth Streets, and there is a bike lane on Washington Avenue. I can’t bike to H-E-B, but I can get to Torchy’s Tacos on Fifth Street. When the new CVS Pharmacy on Fourth Street opens, I’ll be able to get there.

Unfortunately, there’s no bike lane on Austin Avenue. There’s no connecting point to the biking lane on Washington Avenue. But that’ll change soon. Megan Henderson, executive director at Waco Downtown Development Corporation, said there’s a plan in place that will improve cycling in the downtown area.

“The bicycle infrastructure is better downtown than other places [in Waco], but there are still improvements that the city is looking forward to making to make the network more connected,” Henderson said. “Any form of transportation has to have lots of connecting points. The [bike lane] system is going to work better once the lanes are longer and there’s more of a grid.”

In the past few years Henderson has seen growth in the cycling culture, especially downtown. She often keeps her bike at work and cycles to meetings from her office on Elm Avenue.

“It makes more sense to bicycle a few blocks than to walk to your car, get in your car and drive to where you’re going,” Henderson said. “It’s just more efficient.”

Until there are more bike lanes in downtown Waco, cyclists have to brave the open road.

“For a new bicyclist, this experience can be unfamiliar at best,” Henderson said. “When I hit that green paint [signifying the ‘bike boxes’], I feel better.”

I agree. I cycled on Franklin Avenue, and it was unsettling. When I go to Dichotomy Coffee & Spirits, I’d rather walk. So until there are more bike lanes downtown, I’ll have to drive or subsist on tacos.