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Temporary bike lanes on Congress Avenue to become permanent

The protected bike lanes run northbound and southbound on Congress Avenue north of Riverside Drive.

AUSTIN, Texas — On June 11, the Austin City Council approved an item to create temporary protected bike lanes on Congress Avenue to improve cyclist safety on the Congress Avenue Bridge and in Downtown Austin while maintaining social distance.

And, according to a report from KVUE's news partners at the Austin American-Statesman on Sept. 14, they will now become permanent. The report states the installation of the permanent lanes between Riverside Drive and 11th Street will begin next week.

The initiative directed City Manager Spencer Cronk to work with downtown businesses and stakeholders to establish the protected bike lanes on both sides of Congress Avenue north of Riverside Drive. Cronk was also directed to provide recommendations to the council for scaling down and/or retaining the protected lanes when social distancing is no longer required. 

"During this COVID-19 crisis, our community needs to be able to experience the health benefits of outdoor exercise while maintaining a safe distance," said Councilmember Kathie Tovo, who sponsored the initiative. "This idea came from community advocacy organizations like Bike Austin, and I was proud to bring it forward to promote a safer, healthier Austin."

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"Congress Avenue carries a great symbolism as the Main Street of Texas," said Councilmember Natasha Harper-Madison, a co-sponsor of the initiative. "We ought to use every opportunity we can to demonstrate our commitment as a municipality to our progressive ideals, including making our transportation system safe for all users."

Councilmembers Pio Renteria, Paige Ellis and Leslie Pool also co-sponsored the initiative.

This initiative is just the most recent move by the council to encourage outdoor exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic. In May, the council approved the Healthy Streets initiative, which closed some roads except for local traffic so they can be more safely used by walkers and cyclists. That initiative has been met with mixed reactions.

The temporary installations began on Tuesday, June 30. Work to make them permanent is expected to last about four weeks.

WATCH: Residents not all happy about 'Healthy Streets' in Austin

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