Tag: Austin

Sweet New Law for Texas Honey Producers

September is National Honey Month and Texas bees are celebrating a new state law that will lighten the regulations placed on small scale beekeepers.

Round Rock Honey drives from hive to hive in style with their decorated van and personalized license plate. The family-owned and operated business not only produces the purest of wildflower honey but also educates future beekeepers and the general public.

Round Rock Honey drives from hive to hive in style with their decorated van and personalized license plate. The family-owned and operated business not only produces the purest of wildflower honey but also educates future beekeepers and the general public. Photo by: Erin MacInerney

By: Morgan Bridges, Erin Griffin, Erin MacInerney, Jamie Pross

To bee or not to bee, won’t be a question anymore for bee hobbyists producing under 200 gallons of honey annually. The new Texas statute means they will be exempt from costly state health licensing requirements other larger manufacturers face.

The queen bee of honey, Hayden Wolf, thinks this will increase honey production around the state. As the 2015 American Honey Princess, Wolf represents Texas all around the nation advocating the importance of bees in keeping our ecosystem humming perfectly.

“This new law helps my family and I because we have always wanted to sell our honey,” Wolf says. “It’s a great opportunity for beekeepers.”

The 19-year-old manages 12 hives with her parents in East Texas but does not produce enough honey or have the time to make a business out of it.

The new law would allow beekeepers like Wolf and her family to sell their honey directly to consumers at farmers markets or small venues as long as proper labeling distinguishes their product from those bottled in inspection facilities.

Bee enthusiasts say the warm Texas climate is a haven for raising honey bees.  Many keepers from Northern states bring their hives to Texas during the winter months.

“It’s a lot easier than getting a pet,” Wolf says. “You don’t even have to take them on a leash and walk them everyday!”

If you are concerned with getting the proper vitamin bee from your honey, don’t let that adorable bear-shaped bottle at the supermarket fool you.

Pollen studies conducted by Professor Vaughn M. Bryant of Texas A&M University found that over 75 percent of honey sold at large chain stores and restaurants had the pollen removed making it impossible to trace the legitimate source or ingredients.

Take a look at a jar of honey and you might find ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners. What you won’t see on the label are antibiotics, heavy metals and other harsh chemicals that could have contaminated the honey throughout the process.

These honey bunches of lies make it easier for manufacturers to cut costs and extend shelf life consequently removing the health benefits completely

The honey sold at co-ops, farmers markets and “natural stores” yielded the full, expected amounts of pollen.

The new law encourages sales of local honey which means a higher chance of consuming 100 percent, organic honey without the cheap additives.

“There are many benefits of honey and if you are not getting the pure product, you might not be getting those benefits,” Wolf says. “The best way to know you are actually getting the best honey is to know your beekeeper personally and ask them questions.”

Texas ranks sixth in the nation for honey production, but our bees still face major threats of disease, negative effects of pesticide use and global warming.

“It’s a fairly simply hobby but it has become harder to keep our bees alive in the past years. Now we have to check the hives every two to three weeks,” Wolf says. “It used to be easier in the old days.”

Mystery syndromes not fully understood such as Colony Collapse Disorder have created quite a buzz in the last decade. Annual bee colony losses averaged around 42 percent this past year according to a study conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America.

“It is important we try to keep them alive, to keep ourselves alive,” says Melanie Brown, Founder of BEEVO, The University of Texas’ Beekeeping Society. “Bees pollinate a lot of our crops and without them, we would have a serious shortage of food.”

About 80 percent of the food on grocery store shelves are there thanks to bees according to the International Bee Research Association.

Brown says the BEEVO club has a substantial following since initiating this last spring.
The goal of the society is to engage students, faculty, and staff in urban beekeeping as part of an effort towards sustainable pollinator populations.

“I’m more passionate about the environmental impacts of beekeeping but there are a lot of people on campus who are just super into beekeeping,” Brown says. “I am happy they now have an outlet to share their knowledge.”

 

Bee Story-8

 

The Sneezy Side of Spring

By: Skyler Wendler, Jeff Barker, and Mackenzie Drake

DSC_0006Bluebonnets and wildflowers decorate fields along the Texas highways. Trees are lush with leaves and flowerbeds bloom throughout the city of Austin. Those seeds you planted after the last frost are just starting to sprout and that miniature herb garden looks promising for a bountiful summer harvest.

Spring has finally arrived and while the days are bright with color and warm with sunlight… the itching, sneezing, eye-watering side of the spring is well on its way to changing your “flowery” feelings about the season.

“I get an itchy throat, my eyes itch, I sneeze constantly, and I’m always having to blow my nose,” said Collin Hayes, an environmental science major studying at Austin Community College.

Hayes, like many other citizens in the Austin area describes his daily battle with the spring allergens that recently swept through Austin, leaving piles of debris on the ground and pollen floating in the air. His most severe allergy symptoms peak during the spring time when trees, grass and wildflowers bloom.

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Science defines it as Allergic Rhinitis or “hay fever” but the common term is “seasonal allergies.” Symptoms vary from person to person. Some may experience the few occasional sneezes, while others require a doctor visit for prescriptions to relieve their pain.

With a seemingly high number of people who suffer from spring allergies in Austin, the question remains if symptoms are strictly correlated to the quantity of allergens we expose ourselves to in the local environment. According to Doctor Jeffrey Latimer with the University Healthy Services, while the case of allergies is extrinsic by nature, there is always a combination of other factors.

“You can have a predisposition from your family history that will make you more susceptible to [allergens],” said Latimer. “Some people are atopic, meaning there’s an inherited tendency towards allergies, asthma and [skin irritations.] If you are atopic, everything is going to be worse because you inherited that tendency.”

Some Austin residents, however, attribute their symptoms mainly to the warm, central Texas environment. According to Hayes, his allergies seemed to have worsened since living in the city for a few years.

“I feel like I’ve definitely suffered more allergies since being here,” said Hayes. “I lived in Houston for a bit and believe any symptoms I had there were more related to the horrible air quality than specific allergens.”

Latimer also mentioned a similar personal experience.

“When I first moved back to Texas 20 years ago, I didn’t have any [allergy problems for years],” said Latimer. “All of a sudden I started getting some significant symptoms after that.”

To prepare for and manage allergy symptoms, it helps to be aware of the specific allergens abundant to the region and know when they are most prevalent. In Austin, yellow pollen from the oak trees is abundant and easily visible in early spring. Often, that is what you see blanketing the tops of vehicles and other surfaces. “Cedar pollen is up there…and so is grass during the warmer months,” said Latimer.

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Some websites even provide daily pollen forecasts for people wanting to monitor the levels of specific allergens. The Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology  posts a daily pollen and mold report for specific regions in the United States. Their visual graphics provide daily counts for tree, weed, grass and mold concentrations in the Austin area.

And for the best possible prevention to those annoying sniffles…“avoidance is the best thing for allergic rhinitis,” said Latimer. “Like cats for instance, if you’re allergic to cats, most people have common sense to not go around a cat or whatever it is they are allergic to. Avoidance is number one.”

Avoidance just might also be the hardest medicine to prescribe. When asked if he would trade the beauty of spring and all of its pollinated nature to remain allergy free, Hayes responded that it is something he would never give up.

“Part of the reason my allergies are constantly acting up is because I love spending time outside and enjoying everything the region has to offer,” said Hayes. “My allergies are something I choose to manage with medication and other remedies when I can. I would not trade the natural beauty of Central Texas for relief from my allergy symptoms.”

How do your spring allergies compare to others in the Austin area? Check out the results to our springtime allergy survey to find out!

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Not On My Campus comes to UT


Words By Jacob Kerr, Video By Jewel Sharp and Megan Breckenridge

Not On My Campus from Megan Breckenridge on Vimeo.

A student movement aimed at preventing sexual assault has been gaining steam at college campuses around the country. And now, it has arrived at UT.

NOMC handIn late March, three students launched Not On My Campus at UT before the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The campaign first started more than a year ago at Southern Methodist University and has been spreading to other colleges in the state and the country.
“This issue has been present on campus for a while, and it was never talked about. It was never a topic of conversation,” said Caroline Bennett, Not on My Campus volunteer and UT senior. “Actually after all the success we’ve had in bringing awareness to the issue, we now realize just how big of a problem it was.”

According to the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men are victims of sexual assault. Furthermore, 80 percent of rapes occur before age of 25.
As part of the campaign, the group has been encouraging students to sign a pledge vowing to help end sexual assaults on campus. According to Bennett, the pledge has more than 1,600 signatures.NOMC Names
“That’s going to be one of ongoing initiatives and goals is to continue getting more signatures,” Bennett said.

Using social media, the campaign has passed along its message by posting photos of supporters writing “Not on My Campus” on their hands. Participation hasn’t been limited to just students, even UT President Bill Powers took part.

“It’s been able to show people what our message is,” said Meredith McDonald, Not On My Campus volunteer and UT freshman. “This is kind of like a stop sign. We want to stop sexual violence.”

 

Not On My Campus has partnered with other campus groups working to prevent sexual assault such as Be Vocal and Voices Against Violence, which offers resources to students.Last month, an organization, "Not on My Campus" was formed at UT. Representatives from the group attended the event.

“They have given us so much support,” Bennett said. ”We really like that our message aligns with their efforts and all that they have done thus far on campus.”

While the group has plans going forward to offer self-defense classes and support legislation in line with its goals at the Texas State Capitol, McDonald reiterated that main goal is to make UT a safer place to be.

“I’m hoping that we are able to build a more safe and aware campus,” volunteer Meredith McDonald said.

@notonmycampus

Take the Not On My Campus pledge here

 

Social animals: rewriting the underdog story in the age of social media

 

Tuna looks upon the line of fans waiting to get his “pawtograph” for the book titled Tuna Melts My Heart: The Underdog with the Overbite. Tuna fans flocked to BookPeople on Friday, March 6, 2015 for the book signing and opportunity to take photos with the Instafamous dog.

He saw hundreds of people waiting in line — the usual. Fans were squealing his name in adoration. Young and old would wait for two hours on a Friday night in Austin, Texas. For what? They had come from far and wide just for a signed copy of his book and a chance to take a quick picture with him. It was surreal — something you’d expect to be humbling, like playing Madison Square Garden. Yet, all he could think about was the squeaky toy one of his handlers was dangling high up above his face.

Tuna, the Chihuahua-Dachshund mix, internet celebrity, and inspirational figure for the modern era has come a long way from his humble roots on the side of a Southern California road, where he was abandoned as a puppy — presumably, because of the trademark underbite and crumpled neck for which he is now famous.

“You know, I like to call him Sir,” said Tuna’s owner Courtney Dasher, to a packed house at BookPeople for a book signing to promote his new book, Tuna Melts My Heart: The Underdog with the Overbite.

Tuna’s inspirational underdog story starts in 2011, when Dasher adopted him and quickly began posting pictures of her pup’s peculiarly pronounced pearly whites to an Instagram account.

“[Tuna] reaches all demographics,” Dasher said. “I think people from all different walks of life are drawn to him so he speaks to different people’s hearts and situations by being quirky and unconventional.”

Now his website, TunaMeltsMyHeart, has more than 1.2 million Instagram followers. That’s right — this dog has more Instagram followers than you. That’s also more Instagram followers than actor John Stamos (553k), actress Amanda Seyfried (831k) and just slightly less than comedienne and star of The Mindy Project,  Mindy Kaling (1.4m). Somebody get this dog a Super Bowl commercial!

In 2012, Tuna's Instagram went viral, increasing from 8,500 followers to over 32,000 in less than 24 hours. Tuna now has over 1.2 million Instagram followers.

In 2012, Tuna’s Instagram went viral, increasing from 8,500 followers to over 32,000 in less than 24 hours. Tuna now has over 1.2 million Instagram followers.

If you think this is all just the work of a fame-hungry Chiweenie, however, you’d be wrong.  Tuna has not forgotten his roots and is using his celebrity to give back to his favorite cause, according to Dasher.

“We’re being used as a catalyst to change people’s days,” said Dasher. “I look at him as a vehicle to bring people a lot of joy, and on our tours, like anytime we do anything, we want to be able to support animal rescue groups.”

Donations that night went to local animal rescue group Austin Pets Alive!, which brought to BookPeople a puppy who, much like Tuna, was born with a congenital defect that could hurt his chances for adoption. Tuna was only too happy to pose for a picture with the puppy whose front paw will likely be removed due to lack of sufficient bone structure.

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Tuna poses for a photo with Austin Pets Alive puppy, Scooter who was born with a defect in his front paw and abandoned by previous owners before APA rescued him.

An APA! volunteer said Tuna’s celebrity helps raise the visibility of the nonprofit’s work in an important way.

“It’s one thing to hear Austin Pets Alive!, you can adopt an animal from them,” the volunteer said. “It’s a different thing to see the puppies and kittens and cats and dogs that we’re saving at an event like this.”

She also said social media is huge for promoting animal rescue — even in a city like Austin, with a thriving network of animal rescue groups and an army of volunteers touting its dog-friendly distinction as the largest no-kill city in the nation.

“Social media is how people find out about us: without social media all you’ve got is word of mouth, which isn’t going to get you very far,” she said. “Social media within your own organization is even big for us: it’s how we can plead for a new foster home.”

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Fans hold up their smart phones to snap photos while Courtney Dasher introduces Tuna before the book signing on Friday, March 6th, 2015.

Tuna’s Instagram has become a social media tool more powerful than Dasher ever expected.

“Social media is an outlet to connect with a community that is global, which is so fascinating to me,” Dasher said. “I don’t look at this as just an Instagram account. I have a lot of responsibility attached to me now and I want to make sure to use it to promote things that are encouraging and uplifting.”

Tuna may be the first Instagram pet to go on tour, but if he’s the first one you’ve heard of, you must not be one of Milla the cat’s 200k Instagram followers. The feline with comically small ears, whose owners ask for donations to fund treatment for her heart disease, is just one of an increasing number of Instagram pets with followings that dwarf those which rescue organizations can attract.  Compare the 8,400 followers of APA!’s Instagram to the 97k followers of Elfie and Gimli, two brother and sister cats born with dwarfism.

Tuna’s cartoonish appearance has helped catapult him to the top of the pack, but there is also a place on Instagram for more conventionally cute cats and canines. If you would like to share your own rescue pet’s story, but feel you don’t have time to cultivate a following,  you can submit a photo and story to Rescue Pets of Instagram. It has 71k followers.

While social media on Facebook and Twitter have played a significant role in grassroots movements for social change in recent years, University of Texas at Austin journalism professor Robert Quigley says there may be a reason Instagram is appealing for promoting animal rescue, in particular.

“Considering Instagram has more than 200 million users, it’s a great place to spread a message and get people involved,” Quigley said. “It’s the perfect place for an animal rescue message, because Instagram is a visual medium. Who can turn down Tuna?”

Water Allocation…Is It Fair?

By: Judy Hong, Mackenzie Drake, Garrett Callahan, Samantha Rivera

 

When Taiki Miki woke up in the morning, his usual routine involved a quick shower, brushing his teeth and possibility drinking a glass or two of water.

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The sink water running in an Austin apartment.

Miki estimates he uses about 18 gallons of water each morning. But when he lived at his former apartment in Austin, he didn’t have to worry about the individual amount of water he used.

“I wasn’t very lenient in my use of water,” Miki said. “I didn’t use excess water than I needed, but I knew that any additional gallon of water that I used wasn’t going towards my individual bill.”

This is because Miki lived in an apartment that used a water allocation system. Instead of each residential unit paying for the amount of water it uses individually under submeters, residents are charged a part of the water usage of the whole apartment complex, which is calculated by the utility company.

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Austin Water Utility in downtown Austin takes part in the water allocations.

Some older apartments in Austin use a master meter for the entire complex, which measures the total amount of water used throughout all of the units. Based on this usage, the property gets a master bill, which is then split among the tenants using an allocation method approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or Public Utility Commission.

Some properties divide water usage based on the square footage of each apartment or based on a percentage for each unit, along with the number of residents.

Many properties use the allocation system because it is the only method possible. If properties have only one master meter for the entire complex, they are unable to see the individual usage of each apartment. For this reason, many of Austin’s older complexes, such as Tanglewood North and Su Casa Apartments, use the allocation system.

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Taped-up water pipes in various apartments in Austin.

However, many residents think this type of billing system constitutes an imbalanced system, as some units typically use far less or far more water than others.

“I think it’s very unfair,” said Jeff Haniuk, a tenant at Heritage at Hillcrest in Austin. “Because if you’re somebody like my wife who takes a lot of baths, I would hate for somebody to be charged for her bath water if they don’t use as much water.”

Under Texas law, water allocation is a legal practice. As long as property owners outline specific rules and disclosures in the rental agreement, they are able to allocate water based on the whole property’s usage.

In the lease, tenants must be made aware they will be billed on an allocation basis, the exact allocation method, and the average monthly water bill for the last calendar year, along with other procedures.

“I don’t think it’s a good system,” said Andy McClintic, a tenant of a complex that uses a submeter system. “Why would I even turn our water off, if we’re being billed for everyone’s water?”

Water Saving Tips-2

Although the water allocation system can be backwards from the conservation efforts that Austin is pushing for, there are other ways for individuals to save water.

There is not much residents can do to combat the water allocation system, if they don’t agree with it. Since it is allowed under Texas law, properties have the right to use their own metering system. The Austin Water Utility suggests getting into contact with property managers to make them aware of water conservation issues and educate them on the best practices to save water.

Many tenants believe that water allocation opposes Austin’s water conservation efforts. Currently in a Stage 2 drought restriction phase, Austin is making a push to lower water usage within residents and businesses.

However, under the water allocation system, tenants face almost no consequences to using more water than they need, since they are not paying for their individual usage.

“If you’re trying to encourage water conservation the best way would be the individual approach,” said Austin Batson, whose apartment uses the allocation system. “Having every unit responsible for their own bill or even more ideally you could track where the water is actually being used.”

 

 

Rising to the 26.2 mile challenge

APD uses new approach to tackle drug market in East Austin

By: Jacob Kerr, Judy Hong, Becca Gamache & Carola Guerrero De León

Mission Possible Austin is home to the Drug Market Intervention Program on 12th and Chicon St. Photo by Becca Gamache

Mission Possible Austin is home to the Drug Market Intervention Program on 12th and Chicon St.
Photo by Becca Gamache

(Austin, Texas) – The corner of 12th and Chicon streets has turned a corner.

Read more

Gourmet ramen not uncommon in Austin

By Anderson Boyd, Mackenzie Drake and Kylie Fitzpatrick

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Shiner miso ramen is served at East Side King.

When someone mentions the Japanese comfort food ramen, what usually comes to mind is a square package of cheap, freeze-dried almost-noodles with a shake-in packet of some protein-flavored “broth” that broke college students buy in bulk.

This is not that ramen.

This ramen is made with thick, hand-cut noodles in a rich broth with heaps of toppings such as beni shoga pickled ginger, chiasu pork shoulder, kikurage mushrooms, and, in one case, Shiner Bock beer foam.

To compare these gourmet dishes with what HEB sells for 35¢ per pack is like comparing The Godfather II to Grown Ups 2: Both are “movies” in that they are sound and video together on a screen, like both “ramens” are essentially noodles in a bowl of steaming broth.

The comparison ends there.

Since 2012, the gourmet ramen craze has taken Austin by storm. Places like Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Daruma and Michi Ramen, consistently rated among the best in the city, keep their ramen traditional, while others, like Top Chef winner Paul Qui’s side project East Side King, create a fusion of flavors not often found in a bowl of noodles.

David Cardena, general manager of East Side King at Hole in the Wall, said he considers their ramen to be specialty fusion, or what he calls “traditional with a twist.” He said he thinks ramen as a trend has caught on in Austin because it’s foreign to most Americans.

“It was foreign to me before I stared working at East Side King, and now I’ll eat at other ramen places just to feel it all out,” Cardena said. “I love our ramen, and I also love eating at Tatsu-Ya. It’s one of my favorite ramens, but I like traditional ramen.”

Unlike more conventional ramen dishes, like the pork-based Tonkotsu Original at Tatsu-Ya or the chicken/fish-based Shoyu Ramen at Daruma, East Side King at Hole in the Wall serves three distinct ramen bowls: the aforementioned Shiner Bock miso ramen, which is their take on “traditional” ramen; the chicken tortilla ramen, made with a Tom Yum shrimp base; and the Kimchi ramen, complete with spicy kimchi and pork belly.

“We aren’t just doing traditional stuff,” said Justin Guy, a fry and ramen cook at East Side King. “We’re pairing flavors that might not go together… [we’re] making a hybrid food out of something that didn’t before exist.”

David Cardena makes a bowl of Shiner miso ramen. East Side King uses many offbeat ingredients for their fusion dishes.

David Cardena makes a bowl of Shiner miso ramen. East Side King uses many offbeat ingredients for their fusion dishes.

Guy said he realizes the ingredients they use might be intimidating for first-time eaters, but that shouldn’t dissuade those interested in eating.

“I can see sometimes [by] popping my head out of the [kitchen] window that people are intimidated by the menu if they’re not familiar with the ingredients,” Guy said. “Sometimes you just [have to] go with it, and trust reviews and people who say it’s good. Just give it a shot.”

Ramen has caught on in Austin because it offers a change of pace, according to Guy.

“I think it’s something different,” Guy said. “It’s not barbecue and Mexican food, which is everywhere in this state, and it tastes good. It’s good, it’s different.”

One East Side King customer, Brian Jones, said the ramen there stacks up to authentic Japanese ramen.

“I lived in Japan, so…I used to eat [ramen] eight-14 times a week,” Jones said. “It’s good. It’s different, a different combination of flavors you’d get in Japan, but it’s quality.”

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Ramen Tatsu-ya stays extremely busy during their lunch and dinner hours.

Shion Aikawa, who created Ramen Tatsu-Ya with his chef brother Tatsu and fellow chef Takuya Matsumoto, said in a 2014 article on Munchies — Vice Media’s food blog — that the cuisine in Austin is changing for the better, since returning to the city after moving to California and Japan in 2005.

“The climate back in 2005 was a lot of Tex-Mex, chain restaurants like Red Lobster, and fast food,” Aikawa said. “Yes, there were restaurants, but it seemed like a lot of old mom-and-pop joints were trying to cater to everyone in town…I’m happy to see the change that’s happening in Austin since moving back.”

Austin’s shift in food climate can be attributed to residents becoming more culturally aware, according to Aikawa. With over 110 people moving to Austin every day, people with different and even multiple cultures live side-by-side.

“We’ve got more people who are aware of other cultures today,” Aikawa said. “You ask anybody in Austin nowadays, “Where can I get pho?” and you have about an 80 percent chance of someone actually knowing what pho is; five years ago, no one would have had a clue.”

Ramen Tatsu-Ya and Michi Ramen were unable to comment by press time.

Inside 6th Street

B-Cycle or B-Hit?

By Adam Beard, Juan Cortez, Heather Dyer, and Landon Pederson.

Red bikes with baskets are becoming a common sight along the city streets of Austin, Texas. The B-Cycle program, which launched in December of 2013, is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week bike-share program that has gone from 11 stations to 45 stations, doubled its first usage projections and set national records.

Four different stations surround the 40 Acres of the University of Texas, including two on Guadalupe Street. Photo by Landon Pederson.

Four different stations surround the 40 Acres of the University of Texas, including two on Guadalupe Street. Photo by Landon Pederson.

The main goal of the program is to bridge the transportation gap in public transit by providing a final-mile connector from the city’s mass transit system to their final destination and to reduce Austin’s traffic downtown.

However, many believe B-Cycle could be harming a different traffic problem – bicycle safety.

Cyclists interested in using B-cycle need a credit card to access the system. Once the card is swiped, cyclists can choose a bike from the rack and ride it to a station near their destination. Photo by Landon Pederson.

Cyclists interested in using B-cycle need a credit card to access the system. Once the card is swiped, cyclists can choose a bike from the rack and ride it to a station near their destination. Photo by Landon Pederson.

“I don’t really feel that safe as a bike rider myself,” said Bea Scott, a frequent bike rider in Austin. “A lot of times, a lot of people don’t really know what they’re supposed to do.”

Scott referred to both cyclers and drivers having confusion on the roads, which in turn, can cause a lot of accidents. In fact, the city of Austin has seen its bicycle accidents increase by 15 percent almost every year since 2007.

With the increase in bicycles due to the B-Cycle program, some are expecting this will only continue and perhaps get even worse.

“I’ve just heard such horror stories about people getting hit because there’s confusion as to who is turning or if the biker was going to go through a crosswalk,” Scott said. “Because of that confusion and also the fact that a lot of people don’t wear helmets, it’s really concerning.”

Although the number of bicycle accidents is increasing in Austin, the percent might be higher if all

Austin B-cycle was created to provide Austinites and locals another mode of transportation to explore downtown and the surrounding area. Photo by Landon Pederson.

Austin B-cycle was created to provide Austinites and locals another mode of transportation to explore downtown and the surrounding area. Photo by Landon Pederson.

accidents were reported. The Austin Police Department recently released a statement saying “people tend to only report a bicycle accident to the police when there is an injury or major damage. Most bicycle accidents go unreported by the parties involved.”

Despite all of the controversy, B-Cycle officials have yet to see a problem with its program.

“It hasn’t really been an issue for us,” said Elliott McFadden, the CEO of B-Cycle Austin. “Bike share systems have a stellar safety record throughout the world, and that is so far the case here.”

Austin resident Joy Messie does not see an issue either.

Austin Police Department recently released a statement saying unless an injury or major damage is involved, “most bicycle accidents go unreported by the parties involved.” Photo by Landon Pederson.

Austin Police Department recently released a statement saying unless an injury or major damage is involved, “most bicycle accidents go unreported by the parties involved.” Photo by Landon Pederson.

“I’ve moved around a lot, and this is definitely the city I’ve lived in that has the most bike lanes and most biker-friendly stuff,” Messie said. “Some of the drivers in the city I think could do a better job.”

The answer to the question of bicycle safety in Austin remains split, but there are people out there trying to improve the city’s conditions. Nathan Wilkes, an engineer with Austin’s Bicycle Program, said Austin is looking to create a plan that would make for a safer transportation system.

He also added that 39 percent of residents fall into the category of “interested but concerned” to ride a bicycle on the streets. Wilkes said he believes there are ways to make cycling a more appealing option.

                                                                                   One includes what was recently implemented on Guadalupe Street – a cycle track that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic.

Nevertheless, there are still concerns for increasing bicycle accidents with the new B-Cycle program, especially because the program enables people to ride bikes that don’t normally use them on the city’s roads.