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BikeTexas Summer Interns

RolandoEvery summer, BikeTexas hosts interns from the Travis County Summer Youth Employment Program. The students get a chance to learn about bicycle advocacy and gain some work experience, while BikeTexas benefits from having extra hands to help out. We've had exceptional students working with us every summer, and 2013 has been no exception!

LPRolando and LP were with us for the first half of the summer. They worked hard at personally checking our bike lights, helping to load and unload our trailers, and finding great articles to share on the BikeTexas social media.

EricaErica and Kobie are with us for the second half of the summer and are already hard at work helping out with tasks around the office. BikeTexas is proud to have stellar students spend time with us year after year!












Bike Funding Approved for El Paso

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 10:24

Row of bikes at a recent Velo Paso ride. Photo courtesy of Velo Paso.On Friday, July 12, the El Paso MPO Transportation Policy Board approved $2.3 million in citywide bicycle infrastructure and programs over the next three years. Several bike advocates voiced their support for bike funding during the meeting, while countless others called and emailed their representatives ahead of time.

"Infrastructure and bike programs will not only help the [City of El Paso's] new bike share program," said Ben Foster, board member of Velo Paso, a bicycle-pedestrian coalition, "but it will also inspire people to dust off their bikes sitting in their garage and ride to work, school, parks and maybe even to an Aardvarks [minor league baseball] game." Plans for the $60.8 million Triple-A ballpark include 80 bike racks, a requirement for LEED certification.

After doubts were raised earlier in the week about the bicycle infrastructure fund's security, BikeTexas sent an Action Alert to bicycle advocates in El Paso, asking them to speak up. "The advocacy presence may have saved this pot of money from being diverted to other projects," said a city official.

Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-77), a novice cyclist whose district includes Downtown, UTEP and neighborhoods around Fort Bliss, asked whether there were beginner bike classes she could attend and share with her constituents. Bicycle funds approved today could go towards education initiatives and bike classes for adults and children. These funds, considered by city officials as "seed money" for the city's new bicycle program, could also be applied toward the city's first bicycle master plan.

The $2.3 million dollars in funding represents a 1.5% of total TIP monies authorized for the next three years. MPOs in Dallas and Bexar County allocate almost quadruple that amount. Bicycle advocates in El Paso hope this first round of funding will open the door to even more dedicated funds next time.

Photo courtesy of El Paso Bike Month on Facebook.


BikeTexas Planning Survey: Early Results

Geographic distribution of respondentsYou spoke—and we’re listening! Over 1200 Texans responded to BikeTexas’ planning survey. We’ll have the full report ready in August, but here are some early results:

• Cycling is a recreational activity for most respondents, but over 60% also ride their bikes as part of their commutes

• 95% believe BikeTexas should continue to serve as the lead group for statewide bicycle advocacy

• 89% of respondents say BikeTexas should play a lead role in local advocacy or help to grow professionalism in local advocacy

• Two things are almost equally important for growing cycling in Texas: 1) Making things safer for current cyclists, and 2) Encouragement programs to attract new cyclists

Our Executive Director, Robin Stallings, says “This is an opportunity for us to listen to our constituents and hear feedback that will help guide BikeTexas for the coming years. The survey gives us insight into how to best serve all cyclists in Texas, as well as to identify further questions that we need to discuss with them.”

Bike use of respondantsBikeTexas’ Strategic Planning Committee (made up of staff, board members, and key advocates from around the state) has been working since May to define the vision and plan that will guide our next three to five years. We’re working with Jeremy Grandstaff of S & G Endeavors so we have a fresh set of eyes to make sure we don’t miss out on any new ideas. We’re proud that so many Texans jumped in to take the planning survey.

If you didn’t get a chance to share your ideas with us yet, good news! The survey will remain open through July 31, but don’t wait! Take the survey right now to make sure we hear from you.


TTC Ignores Cyclist Safety, Issues Toll Road Ban

Cyclists confer in the hallway after the TTC decisionYesterday, the Texas Transportation Commission listened to testimony from Texas cyclists asking the commission not to ban cyclists from toll roads. The Commission chose to ignore the testimony—that there is often no alternative route, that toll road shoulders can be the safest place for bicycles to be in an area, that cyclists need access to their destinations just like everyone else—and voted 5-0 to ban bicycles from all TxDOT-controlled toll roads.

BikeTexas is disappointed and frustrated by this decision. We feel that the commission has arrived at this decision without any real study or planning. They did not consult stakeholders, engineers, or the available science before shutting down the conversation. We worry about the larger issue at stake: that TxDOT would make these kinds of decisions that affect thousands of Texans without any kind of process.

We believe it sets a dangerous precedent for the state’s transportation department to be run this way. Texas has a reputation for being a welcoming, inviting state to live and do business in. Many of today’s Texas business owners want to hire creative class workers, and those workers seek a quality of life that includes bikeability.

The Commission insists that this decision was made out of concern for cyclists’ safety. However, it does not seem to be truly a safety issue when a law is applied to one road and not another. Different rules on different roads breeds confusion for road users, and ultimately, disrespect for the laws that seem to be arbitrary. In addition, TxDOT’s own Toll Operations Division admits that there have been zero cyclist fatalities on toll roads, so no safety issue appears to exist.

Commissioner Jeff Austin commended the cyclists present for having passion for our issue. However, yesterday the commission were the ones ruled by emotion while the cyclists testifying presented facts and experience. Unfortunately, those facts were overruled by the TTC’s feeling that this must be dangerous. Ignoring the evidence, the TTC issued a blanket ban from all main lanes and shoulders of TxDOT-controlled toll roads.

The Commission was quick to assure us that this ban only affects five roads: Loop 1, SH 45 and 45 SE, SH 130 segments 4 and 5; all in Central Texas; SH 99 in Chambers County; and SH 255 in Laredo. But all Texas communities value having the freedom to participate in decisions that affect them rather than TxDOT dictating what they should do with no allowances for differences in regions, communities and roadways.

BikeTexas is committed to safety and access for all Texas cyclists. We will continue to work and fight to ensure we have our rights to all Texas roads. This defeat will not deter us from our mission.


TxDOT Proposes Banning Cyclists from Toll Roads

The May 30 Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) meeting included an agenda item regarding the possibility of banning cyclists from all TxDOT-controlled toll roads in Texas. BikeTexas heard about this agenda item at the last minute and was able to go to the meeting to testify against banning cyclists from toll roads. Watch the testimony here; click on Item 11 to skip straight to the discussion of toll roads. The BikeTexas testimony begins at 18:30 in the Item 11 video.

Cyclists and motorist share a highway in Texas.

Right now, most of the roads that would be affected by such a ban are in Central Texas. However, it would set a dangerous precedent for future TxDOT toll road expansion and give more teeth to local RMAs who might want to ban cyclists from their own toll roads if this ban were to go ahead.

The TTC suggests that banning cyclists from toll roads is for their own safety, but no studies exist to show that banning cyclists increases anyone's safety. TxDOT's own long-range plan and long-range rural plan both include cyclist accommodation, thanks to the efforts of BikeTexas and cyclists like you. This action to ban cyclists from roads without first providing alternative accommodation goes against TxDOT's own plans and policies.

We've worked hard to make sure bicycling is considered for Texas roads along with all other transportation modes. We will not let this ban go into effect without a clear plan for cyclist accommodation. After some discussion, the TTC pulled the agenda item for further study.

We will remain vigilant on this issue and keep working to make sure that cyclists across Texas will always have our rights to the public roads guaranteed by state law. However, BikeTexas can only speak on behalf of Texas cyclists with the support of the thousands of cyclists across the state who are BikeTexas members. Please add your name to this powerful bike lobby today; join BikeTexas now!


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