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News / Blog Advocacy News
Advocacy News

El Paso Bike Share Forges On

Thursday, 19 September 2013 12:50

El Paso MPO MeetingEl Paso cyclists have passed through yet another hurdle standing between them and a bike share program in the city: At the September 13 El Paso MPO meeting, a request from TxDOT to deprogram the bike share was on the agenda.

Velo Paso swung into action, alerting local cyclists and BikeTexas to this new threat. We were happy to join with Velo Paso to get the word out and rally local cyclist to contact the local Transportation Policy Board and attend the meeting to show support for bike share in El Paso. The transportation blog Streetsblog also weighed in, wondering if TxDOT has the authority to stop the bike share project.

In a packed house for the meeting, the El Paso MPO voted to say no to TxDOT's request. Scott White with Velo Paso wrote, "You did it, El Paso! TxDOT still refuses to release the federal funds, and we will continue to work on that, but for now, know that your support made today’s victory possible." 

Keep an eye on Velo Paso for more updates about bike share in El Paso.

Photo credit: Kristofer Johnson

 

TTC Funds Transportation Enhancements Projects

Wednesday, 18 September 2013 12:21

A Transportation Enhancement project in HoustonIn July, the Texas Transportation Commission announced 81 projects around Texas that will receive funding from the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program. These projects were selected from the nominations received after a TxDOT call in September 2012.

BikeTexas is especially pleased about this round of projects because we fought to save this funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects in Texas. In 2007, TxDOT attempted to meet the federal government's rescission requirements by taking all the money from Transportation Enhancement projects instead of making smaller cuts across all funding categories. BikeTexas fought back and our members spoke up in protest against these focused funding cuts. TxDOT finally agreed to save some of the Transportation Enhancement funding, and many of these newly-funded projects might not have been if the rescissions had been allowed to go ahead as TxDOT planned.

Cities and Organizations that will be overseeing bike projects funded by this round of TE funding are:

Abilene
Aransas County
Austin
Belton
Brownsville
Burleson
Cedar Hill
Clear Lake Shores
Colleyville
Corpus Christi
Dallas
Denton County Transit Authority
Edinburg
Ferris
Fort Worth
Fort Worth Transit Authority
Friendswood
Frisco
Houston
Hutto
Irving
Keller
Killeen
Little Elm
McAllen
McKinney
New Braunfels
North Central Texas Council of Governments
Old Katy Bikeway
Paris
Pharr
San Angelo
San Antonio
San Marcos
Stephenville
Taylor
Waco
Webster

See the list to find out more about the project in your area! 

   

NCSL 2013: Rolling Through Atlanta

Monday, 16 September 2013 11:35

BikeTexas' Allene Mayfield adjusts a helmet for a ride participantBikeTexas traveled to Atlanta for the 9th Annual National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Bipartisan Bike Ride. This bike ride began in 2005 when Texas Senator Rodney Ellis suggested a bike ride for the NCSL annual meeting. It has grown every year since; this year's ride brought out 80 legislators from around the country, 65 legislative staff and family members, and Casey Cagle, the Lt. Governor of Georgia.

BikeTexas has been part of the NCSL rides since the beginning, and we always join with local advocates to be sure the ride goes smoothly. Georgia Bikes! provided the local expertise and an amazing slate of volunteers to make sure the morning went well for our legislative guests. Sponsors BNSF Railway, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Primal, and People for Bikes made the bike ride feasible, both by getting us there and by providing goodies for the ride (we went through 5 ½ gallons of coffee, provided by Texas Coffee Traders of Austin, before we took off!).

Since many Texas legislators make the trip to NCSL every year, this ride gives BikeTexas the opportunity to speak to our lawmakers outside the Capitol, plus it's an opportunity to show them what it's like to be out on a bike, instead of just telling them. Not only do we reach our own legislators this way, but we can also get to know legislators from other states and give them the same benefits of experiencing a city on a bicycle, extending our work and influence potentially nationwide.

Many thanks to the ride participants who got up early to roll with us, the volunteers who got up even earlier to make the day great, and the staff at Centennial Olympic Park who were gracious hosts as we used their space to stage the ride.

   

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

------

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.

   

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