Best way to get to Austin’s new Central Library? By bike, of course!

Cyclists park their bikes in racks in the bike corral at Austin’s new Central Library. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

UPDATES to add that city will hire vendor to run bike concierge service at library.

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Have you visited the new Central Library in downtown Austin yet?

Go. And travel by bicycle, if possible.

I pedaled down to the new library at 710 West Cesar Chavez Street yesterday, and parked my steel steed in the special bike “corral” on the lower east side of the building. The garage-like space is outfitted to store about 200 bikes, many of them on staggered metal racks, says John W. Gillum, facilities process manager at the library.

The bike garage at the new library features about 100 metal racks for bike storage. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

Right now, it’s free to use your own lock and park on a rack in the bike corral. That will probably change sometime next year, after the library partners with a vendor to offer a bike concierge service.

In the next few weeks, the city will put out a request for proposals to find a vendor to operate a bike valet service, offer light bicycle maintenance to library patrons and possibly rent bicycles. Crews will also install eight or 10 more bike racks around the outside of the building.

Want to get to the library? Ride a bike. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

“We’re going to be able to keep a lot of people’s bikes secure for them,” Gillum says.

The bike barn is just one fitness-friendly aspect of the new building, which opened Saturday.

RELATED: An early tour of Austin’s new Central Library

The Shoal Creek hike and bike trail abuts the east side of the structure, so you can easily access the library by foot or on two wheels from the Butler Trail on Lady Bird Lake. The Shoal Creek trail is still closed a block north of the library, but when it opens you’ll be able to avoid even more car traffic. As it is now, you can bike down West Avenue, turn east just north of the library and hop onto the trail to get to the library. The bike garage is marked with a larger-than-life logo of a bike.

RELATED: Austin’s new library opens to rave reviews

Chris LeBlanc tests out some tools at the bike station adjacent to the new Central Library in downtown Austin. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

Need to adjust your handlebars or raise or lower your seat? A bike repair station, with an array of tools anyone can use for free, has been installed on the trail beneath the yellow-arched bridge just to the northeast of the library. Since it’s covered, you can fix a flat or do whatever you need to do while sheltered from rain or searing sunshine.

Even the library’s interior, with its suspended stairways, encourages people to walk rather than take the elevator. Who wants to get closed up in a box while they’re whisked up a few flights when they could stroll the stairs, looking down on the action below?

The suspended staircases encourage people to take the stairs instead of the elevator. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

“That’s by design,” Gillum says. “We’re building the most sustainable building that Austin has ever built and we didn’t want to use escalators, because they’re costly and a maintenance intensive. And, we thought, ‘Let’s give people a place to walk.'”

 

The bike garage is marked wtih a larger-than-life logo of a bicycle. PAM LeBLANC/American-Statesman

 

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