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News / Blog Advocacy News
Advocacy News

2013 Annual Membership Meeting

Monday, 09 September 2013 10:57

The BikeTexas Annual Membership Meeting is just a week away! We're excited to share news of the year's triumphs and struggles with you on Sunday, September 15, from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. We encourage members in or near Austin to travel to the BikeTexas office on 1902 E 6th Street for the meeting. 

 

If you can't come to the office, not to worry! The meeting will be broadcast live via GoToMeeting webinar. You may phone in to hear just the audio, or use a computer with a microphone and speakers to have access to the audio and visuals presented.

 

Webinar access details are on the RSVP page. Please register here before 11:59 PM on September 12. (We ask that you register early so we can be sure to accommodate everyone who wishes to attend.)

 

The Meeting is open to the general public, but only current BikeTexas members are permitted to vote at the Annual Membership Meeting. Join or renew now to participate (plus you'll be entered into our annual bike raffle; winner to be announced at the meeting). Not sure of your status? Email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Please join us on September 15!

 

Cyclists ride on a separated bike path.

 

Next Steps for El Paso Bike Share are Up to You

Friday, 16 August 2013 12:57

El Paso cyclists enjoy a post-rain ride.By Scott White

Photo courtesy of El Paso Bike Month Facebook Page

Just a few days ago it appeared the city of El Paso was well on its way to launching a city-wide bike share program. Now, some are asking if the program is dead.

Earlier this week I was all set to attend the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority (CRRMA) monthly meeting, where the board was expected to give authorization to contract out the program to get things rolling. I was excited and had even scheduled a meeting with the CRRMA's Executive Director, Raymond Telles, to learn a little more about the plan. That's when he let me in on a little secret: things had hit a snag.

Bike Share isn't a new idea for El Paso; various plans have been talked about for some time, but a few months ago things really began to fall into place. The CRRMA began to bring together potential partners, including the City of El Paso, The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), and the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization (EPMPO). El Paso and UTEP signed on and pitched in funds, the CRRMA and EPMPO found even more funds, and it looked like all that was needed was to cross the T's and dot the I's.

That is until TxDOT balked at the plan. TxDOT wasn't going to provide any funds directly, but manages certain federal funds that come to the state, in this case Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds that come from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). These funds are meant to help communities reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, and El Paso can certainly use help doing both. In fact, according the FHWA requirements, El Paso did qualify for those funds. Even so, TxDOT feels otherwise.

On Wednesday, August 13, at the Board meeting where the CRRMA had originally planned to move forward with securing a contractor for the Bike Share program, Raymond Telles instead had to share the disappointing news that he had been told that TxDOT didn't think the Bike Share program was the best use of the CMAQ funds, and that other (and as yet still unidentified) funds would better serve to support the program. Everyone was taken aback. A board member even asked if this meant that Bike Share was dead.

Mr. Telles described the program as it had been just a few days before, including funding from:

  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds -- $1,600,000
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) funds -- $274.000
  • City of El Paso -- $100,000
  • University of Texas at El Paso -- $24,000

Telles also revealed that Fort Bliss, the Army's second largest military installation and a major part of the greater El Paso community, had seen the value of adding Bike Share and not only wanted to join in, but was also willing to pay for all the stations and bikes to serve the base. But with the lion's share of the funding being withheld, who's to say whether Fort Bliss will sign on now or not.

This could have been huge, but without the CMAQ funding, this $2 million project was now down to just $400,000.

Of course TxDOT didn't exactly shut the door on other potential funding. TxDOT spokesperson Veronica Beyer put out a statement this week that reads, “No final decision has been made yet. We continue to look at the most efficient ways to address air quality with limited funding. TxDOT plans to coordinate conversations with transportation partners to garner more information on how we can dedicate those limited funds to important congestion-mitigation projects around the state.”

So that seems like great news for folks somewhere else in the state, as they may be getting the CMAQ funding our local leadership had lined up. But what do we get for our Bike Share program? So far, no answer from TxDOT to that question.

So here we are, one day thinking El Paso could be looking forward to getting Bike Share, just like Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth. Instead we are left wondering what's next, and if Bike Share really is dead or not.

Telles is already working on a plan for a smaller version of Bike Share, perhaps with a series of stations across Fort Bliss, and some at UTEP, or maybe to use some of the funds to hire a contractor to move forward with the current plans while identifying other potential sources of funding. The problem for Telles is that the $274,000 from TECQ has to be spent sooner rather than later [ed-- these TECQ funds must be used by the end of the calendar year]. At this point he hopes to bring all the stakeholders together, including members of Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition to consider the options, but there don't seem to be many of those right now.

That's where we come in. Velo Paso has already started asking people to encourage TxDOT to release the funds. We understand that Bike Share programs in other communities have used CMAQ funds to get rolling, which is why the planners thought it made perfect sense to use that same funding here. And let's get honest, when you consider other projects, those dollar totals are in the ten and hundreds of millions. $1.6 million isn't that much by comparison, except that it has the potential to do so much good here in El Paso.

Numerous studies tout the health values of bicycling, and how it can help fight obesity and diabetes. They also show that for every bike trip there is one less car on the road, cutting both congestion and air pollution. Bicycling frees up parking spaces. It even has proven to be an economic boon as cyclists are more apt to stop along their route to stop and shop, whereas drivers tend to keep going.\

So what's the real reason TxDOT doesn't want El Paso to use the funds local planners found? Who can say for sure. But you can certainly have a say in the future of cycling for El Paso, as Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition will be holding a community meeting to talk about bicycling and pedestrian issues, and how we can make a difference. Please come out and join us.

 

  • What: Velo Paso Citywide Community Meeting
  • When: Saturday, August 24, 2013 -- 10:00 AM-12:00 noon
  • Where: Public Library Main Branch, 501 N Oregon (Downtown)

 

For more information, visit velopaso.org or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Scott White is an almost life-long resident of El Paso and is a founding Board Member of Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition. When he's not at work, he can often be found riding his bike or working to make El Paso a better city for folks to call home.

   

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!

Kobie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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.

   

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