Landing in Austin

Even the coffee roasters are big in Texas

I arrived in Austin around noon and had a few hours to kill before I could check in to my place. I decided to use the time productively by doing a count, so I had the taxi (An actual taxi. Uber/Lyft had just left Austin in a hissy fit) drop me off at a coffee place near where I was staying in East Austin. As we pulled up we saw a group of cyclists sharing a cup on the outdoor patio; a promising sign! Going in, I got to see a bewildering array of coffees, and was led through a tasting of a single type of coffee brewed three different ways. (They all tasted like coffee to me).

The place would have been right at home on an episode of Portlandia, which meant I was in the right place. East Austin has been a low-income Latino and African-American neighborhood for decades; I was staying near a federal housing project built in 1939 which was almost certainly segregated at the time. But Austin’s industrial expansion, along with the continued development of the music district along nearby East 6th Street is clearly driving changes to the neighborhood. (The amount of live music in town is really astonishing.)

Some of those changes are connected with cycling. The group I saw having coffee when I rolled up were recreational cyclists back from a Saturday ride, but during my count I saw a light but regular stream of utility cyclists, including a couple of cargo bikes. It turned out my spot was just down the street from the pedicab garage (Idea: Use the existence of a pedicab operation as an indicator of bike culture in a city) and I got to include a couple of pedicabs in my count.

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