Riding your bike to and from ACL is one of the most liberating and triumphant experiences you will ever know. A quick, energizing pedal leads you steps from the entrance. Our parking center is on the South side of Barton Springs Road, next to the Box Office. We will have mechanics and support on-site to perform emergency repairs, as well as locks, light, tubes and other accessories useful to festival-goers available for (cash only) purchase.
Do an ABC Check
We’ve seen some bad bikes at ACL. Like barely rideable. Don’t wait until show day to pull it out of the garage. You will be disappointed by crusty brake pads, rusted chains, crumbling tires, and locked drivetrains.
A – Air. Pump up your tires and make sure they hold air. Buy a spare tube before you need it! Even better, learn how to change a flat.
B – Brakes. Make sure your bike can stop. You’ll want both front and back brakes to work. Then check that the brake pads aren’t rubbing against your wheel. Why work harder than you have to? Save your energy for dancing.
C – Chain, Cassette, and Cranks. Turn your pedals backwards to make sure things spin smoothly. Put some chain lube on that rusty old thing. If the chain is sticking or jumping around you should get a mechanic to check it out. It could be a minor adjustment or a sticky link in the chain.
Wear a Helmet. A real life example from 2013. A helmetless rider on his 2 mile commute to ACL Festival eats it in a drainage culvert. We see him walking towards our tent dazed and confused. We get him to medical. An innocent short ride ends up in a concussion and a lost day of music. We know this because he visited 2 days later and told us. Could’ve been worse. Protect your brain.
Bring your cheap bike. If all you have is carbon and clipless, think about getting a less precious bike from Yellow Bike Project.
Quick Releases. Make sure all your quick releases are closed tightly. It’s really a drag to have a wheel pop off or have your seat slowly slide down until your knees hit your chin.
Check it Out. Ride around and check that your bike shifts and stops and generally feels road worthy before you get too far from home.
You’ll be riding home after dark so you’ll need lights. The law requires a front white light and a rear red reflector or light. Don’t rely on just a reflector, get some blazing blinkies! You want to be seen from all sides. If you’ve already got lights, buy new batteries so you don’t start fading out halfway home.
Figure out your cargo carrying capacity
How are you going to carry your bottled water, lawn chair and 15 foot pirate flagpole?
• If your bike has a rack and bags then try loading all your gear and doing a test run. Your bike will handle differently all loaded up.
• If you are rackless, dig out a backpack and check out the space you have.
• Do you really need that chair? How about a beach towel stuffed in your backpack instead.
• Buy water near the festival site. It’s heavy!!
• Think about riding home with all that stuff. The sunscreen stays in but the flagpole might not make the cut.
Lock Your Bike
Use a U-Lock or heavy cable lock. U-locks are recommended. Cables are cheaper, but vulnerable for cutting.
Lock your Front Wheel. If you have a quick release, thieves may quickly release it. Take it off and lock it with your frame and/or back wheel.
Map it out
Part of the fun of ACL is the planning and anticipation. How can you make it to two stages at once? What treats will be at the food court? What artisans will be at the SoCo Art market? Transport also takes some thought. We’ve got some more things for you to ponder.
Figure out your routes ahead of time. It’s always a good time to ride, so check out our suggested routes and pre-ride if you can. It’ll get you that much more psyched up.
- The City of Austin Bike Map is a great resource. The city bike routes are labeled and color coded for difficulty and experience level plus it has traffic laws and helpful tips. Find it online or pick it up at your local bike shop.
- Think about the flow of pedestrians, shuttle buses and drop-off locations. The hike and bike trails will be crowded with walkers so check out the Lance Armstrong Bikeway instead. If it gets too crowded, hop off and walk your bike.
- RidetheCity.com has some great route suggestions to get you all the way home BUT compare it to our route notes. We’ve ridden every year of ACL so that experience can’t be easily replicated.
- Think about day time vs night time. Johnson Creek Trail is a great way to ride to the festival but it’s really, really dark at night. Exposition is a better choice going north with its wide bike lanes and street lights. Robert E Lee is much more fun as a screaming downhill than slogging uphill with a line of cars behind you in a narrow lane. Lamar has a climbing bike lane up to Treadwell then you can turn into the neighborhood.
- Live in the ‘burbs? Think about driving to a friend’s house, a CapMetro park-and-ride in town, or a safe (and legal) parking spot, unload your bike and pedal the rest of the way in. Skip the worst hassles of driving but still make it home before daybreak.
- Plan for the best entrance and exit. ACL loves bikes! There are rows and rows of bike racks and a Mellow Johnny’s support tent at BOTH festival gates.
Learn about traffic laws related to bikes
- Bikes have to follow the same traffic laws as cars! That means stopping at stop signs and red lights! Did I mention how expensive the tickets are?
- Bikes must have lights at night. White light in the front and a red light or reflector in the back. You wouldn’t drive your car with no lights, right?
- Bikes must ride with the flow of traffic. Riding against traffic is one of the most avoidable causes of car/bike accidents.
- It’s legal to ride on MOST sidewalks in Austin BUT not all. It can be more dangerous on the sidewalk with all the driveways and pedestrians. If you are on the sidewalk, pay attention since the car drivers won’t be looking for you. Roughly, the outlawed sidewalks are (see the city website for full list):
o 5th & 6th St between I-35 and Blanco (Sweetish Hill )
o The Drag (Guadalupe) and ALL of UT campus
o Congress Ave, Brazos and Colorado between Lady Bird Lake and the Capitol.
- When riding on hike and bike trails, bikes must yield to the pedestrians! Also, Town Lake Trail has a 10mph speed limit for bikes.