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Advocacy News

Bike Ride at 78th Annual Texas NAACP Convention

NAACP-Framed-Photo-El-Paso2014 marks the fifth year of a bike ride at the Annual Convention of the NAACP Texas State Conference. This year’s conference was in El Paso, so three BikeTexas staff plus 75 bicycles headed out on a Wednesday morning to get to El Paso in plenty of time for the Saturday ride.

The ride is sponsored by Texas NAACP and Walmart, and this year we had the added bonus of having VeloPaso staff and volunteers lending a hand. VeloPaso’s Victor Cordero and Scott White joined BikeTexas for a pre-ride to assess the best route for Saturday.

naacp texas state conference bike ride 2014 biketexas-2

The day of the ride dawned, but we were up long before the sun as BikeTexas, VeloPaso, and Crazy Cat Cyclery were already hard at work getting bikes ready for ride participants. By 7 AM, 60 riders were checked in, equipped with bikes and helmets, and ready to go!

After our usual safety briefing, the group took off for a ride through El Paso and Ft Bliss, including part of the historic officers housing--some of these old homes are on the National Registry of Historic buildings, dating back as far as the late 1800s. 

naacp texas state conference bike ride 2014 biketexas

The route also took us by one of the small parks on base, which houses a replica of the old original Fort Bliss. There were several rooms in the Replica that were outfitted with furnishings from the early 1800s. There was a replica of the wood working shop, the leather shop, and the blacksmith shop. From there, we rode to the historic Parade Ground, and then off base and back to the hotel where the participants were treated to some great coffee and snack bars.

The ride went perfectly smoothly with no problems! All of the participants raved about the route and the great scenery. We’re already looking forward to returning for the sixth NAACP Texas State Conference bike ride in 2015!



Good Morning, Minneapolis: NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride 2014

ncsl bipartisan bike ride 2014 ellis robinIt all started in 2005 when Texas Senator Rodney Ellis, inspired by the success of the Sine Die Bipartisan Bike Ride, came to BikeTexas Executive Director Robin Stallings with an idea: Why not do the same kind of ride for legislators at NCSL as BikeTexas already does for Texas legislators?

BikeTexas jumped at the chance and a tradition was born. With local support from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (now WashBike), we put on the ride for a dozen legislators and their families who were attending the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL). Word spread quickly and the ride grew year by year to 2014 numbers: Over 150 legislators, their families, and their staff joined BikeTexas and BikeMN staff and volunteers on Friday, August 22, for the 10th NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride.

Legislative hosts for the ride were:
Texas Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
President of the Minnesota Senate Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul)
Minnesota Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center)
Minnesota Sen. David Senjem (R-Rochester)
Texas Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving)
Minnesota Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis)

ncsl bipartisan bike ride 2014 groupThe ride was sponsored by Walmart, BNSF Railway, General Mills, Primal Wear, People for Bikes, Quality Bicycle Products, Siemens, and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The Bipartisan Bike Ride is a great way to let lawmakers see firsthand what it’s like to ride a bike through a city, which translates to states taking greater steps forward to make their state bike friendly.

The bike ride is always held early in the morning to give participants a jump on the day and let them see the sights of the NCSL host city in the best way possible-- from the seat of a bicycle. This year’s ride was about 10 miles at an easy pace through Minneapolis landmarks including Cedar Lake Trail, Stone Arch Bridge, the University of Minnesota campus, Hiawatha Bike Trail, and Midtown Bike Center. Minneapolis PD and EMS provided police escorts and EMT backup. BikeMN, whose great work in Minnesota has played a key role in its consistently being one of the best bicycling states in the U.S., partnered with us to showcase their city and its fantastic bicycling facilities. Staff and volunteers get up around 2 AM the day of the ride to get everyone safely rolling by 6:30.

ncsl bipartisan bike ride 2014 happy riderThe best compliment the ride could possibly receive came from a participant from Arizona, who said, “I rode a bike ride for my first time this past week at NCSL and it was amazing! I was worried I could not make that long of a ride, and concerned with riding on the street. All of my concerns disappeared about 1/4 of a way into the ride. It was amazing! … Ongoing, I will definitely start riding in my own town!!”

Next year, the NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride rolls back to its roots when the conference goes to Seattle. We can’t wait.

See more photos from the ride on the BikeTexas Flickr account.


Representative Naishtat Recovering after NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride Spill

Naishtat NCSL-001Texas Representative Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) is recovering following hospitalization due to a fall during the 10th Annual NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride, produced by BikeTexas, BikeMN, and NCSL.

Rep. Naishtat had a spill on his bike after bumping a railing on a bicycle bridge while drinking water from his bottle. He got right back on his bike and finished the route with no apparent problem. He did not get any road rash and did not require assistance from the EMT that was on the ride. There was no automobile or other bicyclist involved in the accident.

A delayed reaction to the spill a few hours later showed swelling to his leg. BikeTexas Executive Director Robin Stallings said, “Rep. Naishtat noticed bruising and swelling on his leg a few hours after the bike ride. Minnesota legislative colleagues urged him to get immediate treatment. A medical tech at the Minneapolis Convention Center confirmed a trip to the hospital was in order and called an ambulance.”

Stallings spent a few hours with Rep. Naishtat on Friday and Saturday until he was moved from ICU to a regular hospital room. Elliott remained very alert and engaged with the doctors and nurses the entire time Stallings was there.

Hennepin County Medical Center RN Sheryl Karvonen told Rep. Naishtat and Stallings, “It is fortunate that Rep. Naishtat rides a bike and walks regularly. His good physical condition will speed up his recovery.”

According to Stallings, Rep. Naishtat is up and walking and doctors have said that he is likely to be released Sunday afternoon or Monday. He will need to keep his leg elevated as much as possible until the swelling goes away. Rep. Naishtat says he may stay with friends in Minneapolis for a couple of days before returning home.

BikeTexas is the lead organizer and producer of the NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride that takes place at the NCSL Annual Legislative Summit in a different U.S. city each year. The 10.4-mile route for 2014 was primarily on multi-use trails. On the street portion of the route, police provided traffic control so that participants were not exposed to automobile traffic during the event.

BikeTexas provides the bicycles and helmets for the 150 ride participants, who are mostly State Senators, State Representatives and legislative staffers from all over North America. The tenth annual NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride in Minneapolis included escorts of four police officers on bicycles and about 15 expert-level bicyclists from this year’s local co-producer, BikeMN, as ride marshals and safety monitors. An EMT followed up the rear of the slow paced ride on an electric bicycle with an EMT kit in a bike trailer, with additional ambulance support available within 4 minutes. Hosts of the ride this year included Texas Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Texas Representative Linda Harper Brown (R-Irving), as well as President of the Minnesota Senate Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), Minnesota Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), Minnesota Senator Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center), and Minnesota Senator David Senjem (R-Rochester).

Texas Speaker Joe Straus put out a statement on Rep. Naishtat’s condition at 9:21 PM, Saturday, August 23. Read that statement here. 

See more coverage of the NCSL Bipartisan Bike Ride from Streets.MN here. 


Statement from Speaker Straus Regarding Rep. Naishtat

Statement from Speaker Straus, sent at 9:21 PM on Saturday, August 23:


Please see the below message from Representative Elliott Naishtat.

Representative Elliott Naishtat is improving and has been moved to a regular hospital room after sustaining an injury in a bicycle accident.

An accident while biking with legislative colleagues caused bruising and swelling on his lower leg. The swelling was in part a reaction to blood thinner medication taken to maintain good blood flow through a mechanical heart valve inserted many years ago.

Overall excellent health and fitness are paying off right now. The excellent team of physicians at Hennepin County Medical Center will continue to monitor his condition.

In good spirits, Representative Naishtat said "I am very impressed with the HCMC teaching hospital and looking forward to returning home soon to share some best practices with Austin's new medical school."

We wish Representative Naishtat a safe and speedy recovery.

Office of Administration
Speaker Joe Straus


Navigating MAP-21: Two Successful Workshops in Texas

navmap21 attendees austin biketexasBack in February, BikeTexas started talking to MPOs and advocates near Brownsville and in Austin, asking one crucial question: Would it be helpful to you to have a workshop focused on MAP-21 funding (the current national transportation bill) available for biking and walking?

The response was overwhelming. TxDOT and CAMPO immediately jumped on board in Austin, and in the Rio Grande Valley, three local MPOs—Brownsville, Harlingen-San Benito, and Hidalgo County—joined in, making it a truly regional event. Advocates and city staff in both areas were excited to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more.

The Advocacy Advance crew (made up of representatives of the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking and Walking) visited Texas for one long weekend to present two Navigating MAP-21 workshops and wowed us with their expertise. If you couldn’t make it to the workshop, we missed you! You can access the presentations here and look through Advocacy Advance’s incredible library of resources here.

About 60 people from around the region attended the Brownsville workshop. Keynote speaker and Brownsville City Commissioner Dr. Rose Gowen impressed and inspired the crowd with her vision for a healthy Brownsville.

The Austin workshop drew a crowd of 89. Keynote speaker and City Council Member Chris Riley spoke about making Austin safe for all non-drivers, whether they are walking, biking, or using transit.

Finally, many attendees took to social media to share their takeaways from the day. See the BikeTexas Storify of both workshops (and follow these great folks on Twitter!) here.


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