Premiere Business Members & Sponsors
Thu, Jul 31 6:00pm -
RGV Advocacy Training
Sun, Aug 3 1:00pm -
1902 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702, USA
Statewide Advocacy Training
Tue, Aug 5 7:00pm -
Brownsville Sports Park, Sports Park Boulevard, Olmito, TX, United States
National Night Out (Brownsville)
Fri, Aug 22 7:00pm -
Sat, Aug 23
Wichita Falls, TX, United States
Hotter'N Hell Hundred
After two successive years of amazing gains in the Bicycle Friendly State Rankings, Texas is back where we were three years ago. We've fallen from #22 in 2013 to #33 in 2014.
While we're disappointed by this, we aren't entirely surprised. After all, we knew we had a tough year last year with a struggle in the legislature followed by the toll road bike ban. Texas has fallen in ranking because it is relatively worse at the state level in comparison to other states than it was last year. Our worst scores seem to be in infrastructure, funding, policies and legislation.
Significant bike/ped progress in Texas has taken place at the local level as cities have passed ordinances and bonds to improve policies and infrastructure (sometimes while fighting with TxDOT to do so) or to fill a safety legislation gap from the legislature/governor. This local progress is not reflected in the state ranking.
The current engineering design manual does not include the best practices for protected bike/ped facilities as identified in the NACTO manual. The safest facilities CANNOT be included "on system" because TxDOT has not updated its design manual to include them, even if the affected cities request them.
TxDOT has resisted including bicycle and pedestrian facilities "on system." Other states routinely include bike/ped facilities. TxDOT banned bikes from its rural toll road shoulders and pressured the Tyler RMA to follow suit.
Texas has not been as effective as other states in utilizing abandoned rail right of way by rail banking with Rails to Trails.
The state Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) scoring is weighted to favor items like railroad grade separations instead of bike/ped improvements, even though 16% of annual fatalities are bike/ped.
Of all the state DOTs that have a Complete Streets policy, Texas's is the weakest.
TxDOT leaves it up to contractors or Area Engineers to choose the aggregate size in seal coats with no consideration of safety for bicycle riders because of a very weak seal coat policy, despite their reassurances to people who ride bikes.
TxDOT has never produced a state bike map or responded to the 2005 Texas Bicycle Tourism Trails legislation.
The Texas legislature has not passed Complete Streets legislation, and the combined Safe Passing and Vulnerable Road User legislation was vetoed after the legislature passed it in 2009.
TxDOT has never used any state transportation funds for stand alone bike/ped facilities, as far as we know. Texas Parks and Wildlife have a very effective small trail program that could be expanded.
TxDOT has effectively canceled the statewide Safe Routes to School and the Trail grant funding program (previously named Transportation Enhancements) by recently transferring the federal TAP funds elsewhere instead of developing rules for using those funds and putting out a call for projects. If this is not reversed, Texas is likely to fall even more in state ranking next year. In making this decision, TxDOT has not followed the spirit of the 2001 Matthew Brown Act, the first Safe Routes to School legislation in the country. Where Texas was once a leader, we are now being left behind.
In the last decade, TxDOT either spent the Transportation Enhancements (trail) program funds on highway rest stops or wiped out most of the funding in response to federal rescissions instead of spreading the cuts out more evenly among all programs as other states did.
Other states utilize CMAQ funding to build bicycle facilities. TxDOT recently prevented the City of El Paso, UT El Paso, and Fort Bliss from using CMAQ funds for an El Paso Bike Share program even though FHWA approved the funds and local leaders voted to use the CMAQ funds on no less than four occasions.
Texas did OK in education and enforcement.
Texas initially was ahead of the nation on Safe Routes to School non-infrastructure (based on funding by the US Department of Education and Traffic Safety 402 administered by TxDOT). In partnership with TxDOT, BkeTexas has reached over two million children with five hours of bike/ped traffic safety education since 1998. In spite of the success, TxDOT has never increased the amount of funds to grow the program to reach more Texas children.
Unfortunately, Texas began to fall behind when TxDOT held back two years of funding for a statewide SRTS grants in 2007. The rules were then changed in 2008 by TxDOT staff (with no stakeholder input) so a statewide SRTS outreach program could no longer be implemented.
Most recently, TxDOT canceled the SRTS program and transferred the MAP 21 TAP money elsewhere. With these cuts, Texas is likely to fall in education and encouragement in future years.
Enforcement scored OK. Local law enforcement agencies have worked to learn from each other and BikeTexas about enforcing existing local safe passing ordinances and other laws.
Helpful information about the state ranking report by the League of American Bicyclists:
· In addition to the state ranking (1-50), the League of American Bicyclists published the total number of points a state earned out of 100 both this year and in 2013. This allows us to see if our state made progress compared to itself as well as to the other states. Because of overall improvement, it turns out a state needed to earn about 3 more points than last year just to maintain its 2013 rank. See the full list of state rankings here.
· And, again, we can also see on handy color-coded maps how Texas did in each of the five categories (Legislation & Enforcement, Policies & Programs, Infrastructure and Funding, Education & Enforcement, Evaluation & Planning).
A great thing in Texas just got a little bit greater-- the City of San Juan held their first Open Streets (Ciclovía) event on Saturday, April 12. Over 200 residents of San Juan turned out to enjoy a car-free stroll, run, ride, or play through town.
Mercedes Benz of San Juan donated 120 children's helmets to give away for free during the event, and the Ciclistas Urbanos bicycle group of Edinburg, including BikeTexas Board Member Mark Peña, was on hand along with to help fit the helmets on excited little heads.
San Juan is the first city in the upper Rio Grande Valley to host a ciclovía, and already has plans for even bigger and better events in the future. Read more about the event here.
Photo L to R – Dumitru (Mickey) Caruntu, Graham Toal, Anne Toal, Jim Jones, Mayor San Juanita Sanchez, Captain Rey Casares, Michelle Peña, Mark Peña, Corporal Michael Martinez, Officer Bryan Medina, Liza Ramirez, Recreation Coordinator, and Officer Homer Villarreal. Photo courtesy of Mark Peña.
Friday, 25 April 2014 10:54
Dr. Aaron Block is an assistant professor of computer science at Austin College in Sherman, home of 1350 students. Austin College was one of the pilot CATS schools in 2012, and Professor Block used CATS as a starting point to offer his well-earned wisdom to his students.
Dr. Block is involved with the Roo Riders, an Austin College bicycling organization which promotes awareness, knowledge, and understanding about the impact bicycles can have on society and health, along with providing camaraderie for students who ride bikes at Austin College. He added a bike repair session to the CATS presentation, enticing more students to come and learn not only how to ride safely and legally, but also how to properly look after their bikes. Students gained valuable skills in cleaning and basic bike repair.
Professor Block also emphasized that college students should ride differently than they did when they were children—kids stop and go a lot, ride slower, and may disregard rules of the road. Block tells his students, “Ride like an adult.”
He also urges students not to drink and ride. Block says, “One third of all bike fatalities are when the bicyclist is legally intoxicated.”
As an extra incentive for coming to the CATS presentation and learning bike safety, Professor Block gave out prizes to students who were able to answer questions correctly at the end of the presentation. CATS has been successful at Austin College because Professor Block took the basics and added his own flair.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Block.
National Bike Summit 2014
Every year in March, bike advocates from across the nation converge on Washington to swap stories, get inspired, and above all, to meet with their members of Congress. These three days of bike-loving madness are called the National Women's Bicycling Forum and the National Bike Summit.
BikeTexas is delighted to lead the Texas delegation every year as we hear from amazing speakers and network with our colleagues from different parts of the U.S. This year, 16 delegates from Texas went to Washington, DC, for the Forum and Summit. The 2014 theme was "United Spokes: Moving Beyond Gridlock."
The highlight of the Summit every year is Lobby Day, when each delegation heads to Capitol Hill to meet with their senators and representatives. This year's focus was to ask our members of Congress to co-sponsor legislation requiring the Department of Transportation to set performance measures for bicycle and pedestrian safety, similar to the ones already in place for auto traffic fatalities.
We'd love to see you there next year! Start making plans now to join the Texas delegation to the 2015 National Bike Summit.
Photo L to R: Michael Payne, Carol Reifsnyder, Mike Kase, Vanessa Bissey-Beard, Preston Tyree, Robin Stallings, Jack Sanford, Erick Benz, Fred Zapalac, Ryan Hanson, Leslie Luciano, Talia McCray, Emma Cravey, Eileen Schaubert.
Bike Month Proclamation: Sample Text for You to Use
For those of us who love to ride bikes, every month is bike month, and we're not about to argue with that! However, ever since May was first declared Bike Month in 1956, it's been a month of extra celebrations of all things two wheels-- and we're not going to argue with that, either.
Would your community like to take part in Bike Month, but your local officials aren't sure where to begin? Below is a sample proclamation you can customize to declare that May is Bike Month in your city and across Texas. Let’s make Texas a great place to bike and walk!
The City/County of ____
Whereas, the bicycle is an economical, healthy, convenient, and environmentally sound form of transportation and an excellent tool for recreation and enjoyment of [insert city/county]’s scenic beauty; and
Whereas, throughout the month of May, the residents of [insert city/county] and its visitors will experience the joys of bicycling through educational programs, races, commuting events, charity events, or by simply getting out and going for a ride; and
Whereas, [insert city/county]’s road and trail system attracts bicyclists each year, providing economic health, transportation, tourism, and scenic benefits; and
Whereas, creating a bicycling-friendly community has been shown to improve citizens’ health, well-being, and quality of life, growing the economy of [insert city/county], attracting tourism dollars, improving traffic safety, supporting student learning outcomes, and reducing pollution, congestion, and wear and tear on our streets and roads; and
Whereas, BikeTexas, [insert local bicycle club/ organization/chamber/tourism bureau/regional planning organization], the League of American Bicyclists, schools, parks and recreation departments, police departments, public health districts, hospitals, companies and civic groups will be promoting bicycling during the month of May 2014; and
Whereas, these groups are also promoting bicycle tourism year round to attract more visitors to enjoy our local restaurants, hotels, retail establishments, and cultural and scenic attractions; and
Whereas, these groups are also promoting greater public awareness of bicycle operation and safety education in an effort to reduce collisions, injuries, and fatalities and improve health and safety for everyone on the road; and
Now therefore, I, _____, Mayor/Executive of [insert city/county], do hereby proclaim May 2014 as
in [insert city/county], and I urge all residents to join me in this special observance
Signed this ___ day of May, 2014
Felicia Scott: TEXAS Strong in Boston
Saturday, 19 April 2014 10:14
UPDATE on Monday, April 21: Felicia crossed the finish line at the 118th Boston Marathon.
Felicia Scott's race is not over yet.
After her mother, Iris Stagner, was killed in the fall of 2012 while riding home from work on her bike, Felicia contacted the Boston Marathon. Iris had qualified to run in the prestigious marathon in 2013, and Felicia asked if she could finish what her mother had started. The Marathon officials agreed, and Felicia trained in her mother's memory so she could cross the finish line in Boston on April 15.
That dream was torn apart, too, by the bombs that went off at the finish line while Felicia had less than five miles to go. Hundreds of runners saw their Boston dreams crumble in an instant.
But the marathon, and Boston, and Felicia are all resilient. Marathon organizers invited all the runners who didn't get to finish last April to come back in 2014. Felicia accepted and has trained harder than ever to finally cross the finish line, carrying with her Iris' memory and her dreams to finish the Boston Marathon.
Boston's motto for 2014 may be "Boston Strong," but Felicia goes to the start line TEXAS strong.
Join Us at Earth Day Texas April 26-27
Thursday, 10 April 2014 10:02
BikeTexas has been proud to partner with Earth Day Dallas for many years and enjoy the hospitality of a great city and a great event that has brought nearly 150,000 North Texans together over the last three years. This year, the event promises to be bigger and better than ever before. Join us in Dallas April 26-27 at Fair Park to enjoy Earth Day Texas.
Now a statewide event, Earth Day Texas will showcase the world’s largest public exhibition of environmental initiatives of business, environmental nonprofits, schools and colleges, and governmental agencies. Earth Day Texas also provides eco-friendly family activities, presents enlightening talks and hands-on workshops provided by environmental leaders and much more. Admission is free, so don't miss out!
Visit http://earthdaytx.org/ to learn more. We want to see you at Fair Park April 26-27!
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