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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

If only you could take a magic carpet ride

By Richard Whittaker, Fri., Nov. 16, 2012

Downtown Street Closures
Downtown Street Closures

Whether you're just visiting or a full-time Austinite, you'll probably need some help navigating the roadways this weekend. Here's our best guesses for how to get from Point A to Point B – whether Point B is the Circuit of the Americas or as far from there as possible.

Getting to the Track

By Complimentary Shuttle: There'll be two pickup points: the Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane, and the corner of 15th and Trinity. The city is recommending that visitors use the Downtown site, while residents should head to the Expo Center. Check your ticket for details. The trip should take 30-50 minutes each way. [Shuttle map PDF]

By Car: There are still a limited number of parking spaces for sale, for those with a separate race ticket. Remember, if you don't have a parking pass already, you cannot drive to the Circuit. Don't try walking to the gate either: You will not be admitted.

By Bike: The city has designed a bike-only route from Downtown to Richard Moya Park. [Bike map PDF] From there, dedicated valet coaches will take you to and from the track. There will be secure bike parking and portable showers available. Out-of-towners looking for some exercise can contact one of these local bike-rental firms for wheels:

Bicycle Sport Shop, 477-3472, www.bicyclesportshop.com

Barton Springs Bike Rental, 480-0200,  www.bartonspringsbikerental.com

East Side Pedal Pushers, 826-3414, www.eastsidepedalpushersaustin.com 

Jacks & Adam's Bicycles, 472-5646, www.jackandadams.com

Longhorn Bikes, 542-9505, www.longhornbikes.com

Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop, 473-0222, www.mellowjohnnys.com

Rocket Electrics, 442-2453, www.rocketelectrics.com

You're getting dropped off here
You're getting dropped off here

University Cyclery, 474-6696, www.universitycyclery.com

Getting Around Town

Public Transport: It doesn't take much for Austin to get gridlocked, and it will probably be worse with all the street closures. So the easiest way to travel for visitors will be Cap Metro bus service. Most buses run from early morning until midnight: After that, you should take the Night Owls.

Fares are cheap ($1 per trip, $2 for a 24-hour pass). If you don't have any change, the transit authority is rolling out the Austin Capital Metro App (available from the Apple App Store and Google Play), which will let you buy one-day and seven-day passes on your phone. You'll also need your phone to navigate the system: Cap Metro got rid of printed timetables, and now uses QR codes. If you can't read the code, visit www.capmetro.org/stopid and just type in the number of your stop (look for it on the sign).

Cap Metro will also be running a free circulator service around Downtown, from north of the Capitol to Town Lake, Friday-Sunday, 7am-2:30am.

If you're staying north of the city, try the MetroRail Red Line, which runs from Leander to the Convention Center. It'll run extended hours this weekend: Friday, 6am-midnight; Saturday, 10am-midnight; Sunday, 10am-8pm. Visit www.capmetro.org/f1 for more info.

Taxis: There are three cab companies in Austin. You can get one at most downtown hotels, or call or book online, but we recommend getting a driver's card. Calling them directly is always the best way to find them at peak hours. For non-Americans – yes, tipping your driver is recommended.

Yellow Cab, 452-9999, www.yellowcabaustin.com

Lone Star Cab, 836-4900, www.lonestarcabaustin.com

Austin Cab Co., 478-2222, www.austincab.com

Pedicabs: When the traffic's bad, this can be the quickest way for a couple of people to get around town. Be warned, though; they charge by the block, so it can get pricey.

Road Closures: Austin loves its outdoor events, from the Pecan Street Festival to Bat Fest. The downside is street closures, and Formula One will be no exception. The good news is that two of the big celebratory events – Austin Fan Fest and Experience Austin – have merged into one, meaning less of Downtown will be blocked off across race weekend. As always, Sixth Street will be closed on the weekend evenings.

The city is sending out a particular warning about MLK: That's the main route from Down­town to the track, and city staff will be retiming lights to get the shuttle buses running as fast as possible. That means crossing MLK could be tough. Aside from that, it's probably just a good idea to steer clear of anywhere near the routes to the track – unless you really like bumper-to-bumper traffic.

F1: How's Our Driving?

It's anybody's guess how the city's first tangle with Formula One – and its hordes of incoming fans – is going to play out. Whether you spend the weekend rubbing elbows with Arabian royalty or bumper-to-bumper in traffic gridlock, we want to hear about it. Send your photos and reactions to f1@austinchronicle.com.

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