Commuting By Bike on Austin's Tollways

Chuck Thomas

The Austin American-Statesman had an interesting article by Ben Wear yesterday that is making the bike blog rounds. I thought it worth mentioning here. “Man braves cars, bureaucrats to bike on tollways” features Chuck Thomas’ quest to make his daily bicycle commute on the Texas 45 North tollway legit by getting a TxTag.

Favorite quote:

“As far as I know, he’s the only tollway bicycle commuter in Austin. And as far as I know, he’s not deranged.”

Chuck e-mailed the Texas DOT trying to find out if riding a bicycle on the tollways in Austin was legal. The response he got was that it was legal … but they hoped he wouldn’t do it. He carries a copy of the e-mail reply with him and has had occasion to show it to authorities who have tried to stop him.

In my state, riding on highways is illegal. I couldn’t imagine having a semi blow by me at 70 MPH. The article, however, makes a good argument.

“He uses the shoulders, of course, not the highway lanes. The shoulders are a spacious 8 feet wide, Thomas says, and, being relatively new and made of concrete, are unusually smooth. There’s very little trash, unlike Loop 360, for instance, where many cyclists ride, and traffic is much lighter than on 360 or other Austin highways. He says he feels safe.”

I chatted with Fritz about this earlier and he says he has ridden this type of limited access highway in Colorado and the shoulders are normally wide and clear and nice to ride on. He went on to say that the tollway Chuck is riding on is probably an excellent cycling facility. Fritz did say that noise is a big problem and “very unpleasant.”

If you are Chuck or know Chuck, contact us here at, we’d love to talk to you.

Photo by Larry Kolvoord of the American-Statesman

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