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News / Blog Advocacy News
Advocacy News

On the Lege: Electric Bike Day

Electric Bike Day at the CapitolApril 30th saw an electrifying event at the Capitol. Outside the south steps under our blue and yellow tents, BikeTexas staff and Central Texas electric bike vendors set up over a dozen different models for legislators and staff to take out for a spin around the historic building. After being fitted for helmets and oriented to the bikes, nearly fifty legislators and staff took the opportunity to get away from their desks and meetings to get a nice breeze on their face.

Electric bikes offer the user a combination of ease and pedaling opportunity for getting around town. BikeTexas has an electric model used by staff to get to the Capitol two miles away and uphill on warm days – all while wearing a suit!

Electric cyclists also drive the need for more bike lanes, more cycle tracks, and more sharing the road with motor vehicles. These bikes have a governor to limit speeds to 20 mph – this keeps them in the same legal category as bicycles per licensing requirements, with access to bike lanes and bikeways.

BikeTexas gratefully acknowledges our partners Partnership for a Healthy Texas and Campaign for Healthy Kids for their generous sponsorship of the event.

BikeTexas also offers a big thanks to Jeremy Leffingwell of Fallbrook Technologies, John Dawson of Rocket Electrics, Scott Morgan of Alien Scooters, and Steve Pierce of Bicycle Sport Shop for bringing their newest models to the event. Check them out along with other electric bike dealers in your neck of the woods. Even if an electric bike is not for you, it may be perfect for someone you know.


On the Lege: April Activities

Robin Stallings speaking to the House Transportation CommitteeThe Texas Legislature is now entering crunch time: Saturday and Sunday floor sessions are being held as the end of the session (May 27) approaches.

HB 2225 (Safe Passing) has passed out of the House Transportation Committee on a 7-2 vote with two absent. It is now in the House Calendars Committee, where an affirmative vote is need to get it out onto the floor. Safe Passing was passed by both houses in 2009 but was vetoed by the Governor. It was not introduced in the 2011 legislative session.

HB 1102 (Complete Streets) remains in the House Transportation Committee. Last-minute questions from a member delayed Complete Streets when it was being brought up for a vote several weeks ago, and the bill has not been brought up for a vote since.

Neither of the companion bills, SB 1515 (Safe Passing) nor SB 565 (Complete Streets), have received a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee. Time is running out for both bills to proceed as stand-alone bills. Bills sometimes are attached as an amendment to other pertinent bills. BikeTexas staff continues to meet with legislative staff and is reviewing these opportunities.

HB 307, requiring cyclists to have red lights on the rear during nighttime, also remains in the House Calendar Committee. It has been placed on a list not to be brought up for a committee vote “at this time” and will most likely remain there.

HB 200, addressing risk and liabilities of utilities allowing trails to be built in their right-of-way in Harris County (Houston), has passed both the House and the Senate. Depending on the success of trails as a result of this bill, future bills covering other parts of the state may be introduced in future sessions. Building trails on the utility right-of-way will provide connections to the trail system being built on the Harris County bayous and allow greater connectivity for all trail users, including cyclists. This bill is now on the Governor's desk.

Two other bills supported by BikeTexas that address traffic safety have moved further in the session.

HB 63, banning texting while driving, passed through the House. It been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee, where it received a hearing. A vote is still pending in the committee. This bill passed both houses but was vetoed by the Governor in 2011.

SB 510 extends the “move-over” requirements, currently in place for public safety vehicles and tow trucks, to TxDOT service vehicles. This bill requires either a lane change or reduction of speed when encountering these vehicles on the roadside with emergency lights flashing. SB 510 passed through both houses and was signed by the Governor into law on May 2. It goes into effect on September 1, 2013.


Texas Moves Up in Bicycle Friendly States Again

Mesquite TX Teacher Training 2013For the second year in a row, Texas has jumped five spots in the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly State rankings! We've moved up from #27 in 2012 to #22 in 2013.

Once again, our highest score came in the Education and Encouragement category. Thanks to programs like Safe Routes to School and the accompanying Public Information and Education program, the SafeCyclist Curriculum that trains teachers to teach bike safety in PE class, plus new programs like College Active Transportation Safety, more Texans than ever are hearing about bicycle and walking safety. This work can only be made possible by you! Support from BikeTexas members for our programs plus the hard work of cyclists across the state to spread the word about safe and fun cycling has contributed to Texas moving up in the bike-friendly ranks once again.

We still have a long way to go, but we're glad to see Texas is making progress toward being a great place to walk and bike. See Texas' full report card here.

Also in the Bicycle Friendly America program, two Texas businesses have been named as new Bicycle Friendly Businesses in the Spring 2013 Designations! Congratulations to the City of Fort Worth (Bronze) and Texas Instruments in Plano (Bronze) for your success. See the full Spring 2013 list of Bicycle Friendly Businesses here.


Cyclists to receive bike lanes on Loop 1604 Access Road in San Antonio

bike-lane-stockUiXdDuring a recent construction project overseen by the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority, wide shoulders were removed from the access road of Loop 1604 between US 281 and Blanco Rd in San Antonio. BikeTexas immediately began to hear from cyclists who previously used these shoulders regularly and now had no way of navigating safely in this area. 
At public meetings in February and April, BikeTexas helped coordinate public input from dozens of cyclists. The Alamo RMA has agreed to pursue re-striping the roadway to include a 5' signed and marked bike lane along the access road. 
There is some cause for concern over just a 5' bike lane next to 50mph traffic, and certainly the original 9' shoulder would have been safer for cyclists. Signage and pavement markings will help alert drivers to cyclists in the new bike lanes. Where conditions do not allow for even 5' width for bike lanes, shared-use pathways will connect cyclists along this corridor. BikeTexas feels this is a great compromise to fix a dangerous roadway, but we would not be satisfied if not for the long-term solution on the horizon. 
Long-term plans for Loop 1604 expansion from IH-35 to Bandera Rd currently include a 15' shared-use pathway along both sides of 1604. This physical separation from the roadway is the best way to provide safe travel for pedestrians and cyclists of all skill levels along this corridor with such high speed limits. We must also continue to work together to preserve existing shoulders on the access road in addition to shared-use lanes.
BikeTexas is grateful for the dedication of many San Antonio cyclists who came to these meetings during the middle of their workdays to voice their concerns. And we are delighted to report that the Alamo RMA has done a great job of hearing these concerns and acting to make the road safer. 

Shifting Gears 2013 a Great Success

John Pucher in IrvingJohn Pucher wowed audiences in three Texas cities during the Shifting Gears Lecture Series, sponsored by BikeTexas, Partnership for Healthy Texas, Campaign for Healthy Kids, and AARP. Dr. Pucher is an engaging speaker with a vast knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing our transportation system, and his talks were well received in Irving, Austin, and Houston.

Dr. Pucher discussed the economic and public health benefits of active transportation, and why it benefits cities and states to plan for all road users. For example, Dr. Pucher said, for $30 million in transportation expenditures, a city can get:
1 mile of street (car lane) widening; or
20 miles of physically separated cycle tracks; or
30 miles of high-quality off-road bike trails; or
100 miles of sidewalk; or
120 miles of bike boulevards.

You can see all of the slides from Dr. Pucher's presentations here.  Many local businesses and organizations joined in to sponsor the presentation in their respective cities. See the full list of sponsors for Irving, Austin, and Houston.

Shifting Gears will be back for the next legislative session in 2015! But you don't have to wait that long to hear from more great speakers about the benefits of biking and walking. Register now to attend the Texas Trails and Active Transportation (TTAT) Conference March 26-28, 2014, in Fort Worth. The conference is a great place to discuss ideas, successes, and challenges from across Texas. Register now for early bird pricing! 

Have a session idea for TTAT? Propose a session here. 


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