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News / Blog Advocacy News
Advocacy News

Late Amendment Defeated--Please Thank These Texas Reps

Miércoles 10 de Junio de 2015 13:51

leslie nbs 2014 us capitol biketexasAs the debate on transportation funding wore on in the House on Tuesday night, Representative Emmer of Minnesota introduced an amendment that would have cut communities' ability to use their transit funds according to their own needs. The Emmer amendment would not allow New Start grants (these are outside of the Highway Trust Fund and come from elsewhere in the budget) to build sidewalks or bike lanes as part of a transit project. For many transit users, however, those same sidewalks and bike lanes provide the key connections needed to get to a bus stop. Right now, communities who receive the grants can decide for themselves whether those connections are needed. Rep. Emmer's amendment would have taken away that local decision-making ability.

However, the amendment was defeated in a close vote, 212-214. Many, many thanks to Representatives from Texas who voted against this strike against local control active transportation funding. These are the folks who voted against the amendment; if your representative is on this list, please take a moment to send a thank-you email:

Rep. Joaquin Castro (San Antonio)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (Laredo)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Austin/San Antonio)
Rep. Al Green (Houston)
Rep. Gene Green (Houston)
Rep. Kay Granger (Fort Worth)
Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (Edinburg)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Houston)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Dallas)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (El Paso)
Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. (Brownsville)
Rep. Marc Veasey (Fort Worth)


Not sure who your representative is? Find out here and contact him or her at the same time. 


If your representative is not on the list, please reach out! Let him or her know how important this funding is to communities. Here are some talking points to consider when speaking to your representative: 

      • My name is _____ and my occupation is ______. I am a resident of District ____.
      • I was sorry to hear that you voted for the Emmer amendment on Transportation HUD Appropriations on Tuesday, June 9.
      • The amendment would have limited how local governments can spend New Start funds.
      • New Start projects have gone through a local planning process, and this amendment would have overridden the local decision-making processes.
      • Improving Bicycle and pedestrian projects in and around transit expand the reach of transit, making those projects more cost effective.
      • These improvements also make transit safer and easier to use for people of all ages and abilities.
      • (Do you have a personal story about transportation access or a local project you could mention? Please share it with your representative.)
      • In the future, please support multi-modal, cost-effective and locally-supported transportation.
      • Thank you for your time.


Thank you for reaching out to your elected officials to make Texas a better place to ride a bike!


Photo: BikeTexas' Leslie Luciano at the US Capitol as part of the National Bike Summit in 2014. Visiting members of Congress reminds them that people who ride bikes also vote!


Bicycle Friendly State: Texas Takes a Small Step Forward

Miércoles 20 de Mayo de 2015 10:17

txdot guide to safe bicyclingThe League of American Bicyclists released the new Bicycle Friendly State rankings last week, and Texas has moved up to #30 from #33 in 2014.

BikeTexas is happy that Texas has improved its ranking after last year’s disappointing tumble. TxDOT is working on a number of activities to support bicycling in Texas, such as a bicycle safety manual and a statewide inventory of bicycle infrastructure. However, we still lack dedicated state-level funding for bicycling infrastructure, and the flexible portion of federal bike/ped money being transferred into a general fund every year. We believe Texas has the potential to be a top-20 state, but we have a long road to get there.

Meanwhile, many Texas cities have made amazing leaps forward in recent years to become better places to ride a bike. Trail networks, bike share programs, on-street bicycle networks, and safety ordinances at the city level are making their way across Texas as more and more cities understand that bicycles mean business.

With the right level of hard work, Texas will continue to improve on its way to becoming a great place to ride a bike.


Photo: The cover of TxDOT's new Bicycling Guide



BikeTexas Today: April 2015

Want the latest news in your inbox? Sign up for BikeTexas emails here.


You Did It! Legislative Successes in April

legislative update biketexas

House Transportation Committee

On Thursday, April 16, three bike-related bills got a hearing in the House Transportation Committee: HB 471, which would require a rear safety light for bikes at night (the current law allows for a light or reflector); HB 383, which is a version of a safe passing bill; and HB 2459, the Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act. All bills were left pending in committee, which we expected. You can find the meeting video in the archives here (4/16/15, Transportation Committee, 8 AM) and see the bike bills starting at 39:40.


Mirror Provision Removed from HB 383

Representative Ruth Jones McClendon removed the mirror requirement from HB 383 on April 13 at the request of many people who ride bikes. While this bill has safe passing language, BikeTexas is actively supporting HB 2459, which is the bipartisan Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act, led by Rep. Mando Martinez, and has a better chance of passing the legislature.


Hughes Amendment Withdrawn from HB 1

Thanks to your calls and emails, and amendment that would have prevented any state or federal funds from being used to reduce excess motor vehicle lanes for use as bicycle lanes or bus lanes was withdrawn very early in the morning on April 1.


Cyclists in Suits Impressed Your Legislators

On Monday, attendees from all over Texas walked the halls, passed out bicycle pins, and visited every office to explain the several bills positive to cycling working their way through right now. This helped multiply the impact of the calls and emails regarding the Hughes amendment.

Senator Rodney Ellis, who offered a resolution recognizing BikeTexas during Cyclists in Suits, was pleased with the turnout. "From the Senate Floor, we were very impressed by the large turnout of cyclists," he said. "You all filled a big section of the gallery."



Party with BikeTexas, Bike Austin, and the League TONIGHT!

The League of American Bicyclists is in town next week to talk about Austin's Bicycle Friendly Community status, and we think that's a great reason to party! Join us TONIGHT, Thursday, April 23, from 5-7 PM at Zilker Brewing Company, 1701 E 6th St (map) for Happy Hour.

Members of BikeTexas, Bike Austin, or the League get their first drink free! (Check in with a staffer to get your drink token.)


earth day texas adventure zone 15Volunteer with BikeTexas at Earth Day Texas in Dallas This Weekend

Earth Day Texas is coming to Fair Park April 24-26, and BikeTexas is coming, too! Bring the kids out on Saturday & Sunday to try out the BikeTexas KidsKup Adventure Zone, featuring Strider Bikes and a fun course for your kids to develop their skills.

We need your help! BikeTexas needs volunteers to help us run the Adventure Zone smoothly and keep kids rolling all day long. Sign up here to volunteer for one (or more!) three hour shift on Saturday or Sunday, between 10 AM and 8 PM. Note: this is an outdoor event. Come prepared! At the end of your shift, you'll get a free "I Bike TX" t-shirt.


dinnerandbikes2Dinner+Bikes with Elly Blue Rolls Through Texas for Bike Month

BikeTexas is delighted to announce that we and other groups around Texas will be hosting Elly Blue and Joe Biel on their Dinner+Bikes tour in May!

Elly Blue is the author of Everyday Bicycling and Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy, both excellent resources and fun reads. She's also written for many blogs and magazines, and is very engaging and open on social media. We've heard from her at the National Bike Summit and are looking forward to meeting her in person!

Tickets to Dinner+Bikes events will be on sale soon. In the meantime, save the date for when Elly, Joshua, and Joe will be near you:

Amarillo - Wednesday, May 6
Lubbock - Thursday, May 7
Dallas - Friday, May 8
Denton - Saturday, May 9
Austin - Sunday, May 10
San Antonio - Monday, May 11
Brownsville - Tuesday, May 12
Corpus Christi - Thursday, May 14
Houston - Friday, May 15


2015 HEB tearpad photo biketexasSupport BikeTexas While You Shop

EarthShare of Texas is the April beneficiary of the H-E-B tear pad campaign. As an EarthShare partner, BikeTexas will benefit from this promotion as well! Whenever you shop at H-E-B in April, grab one of the tear-off coupons at the register to add $1, $3, or $5 to your total bill. You can join in at any H-E-B or Central Market in Texas. Support bicycle advocacy while you pick up your lettuce!

If you go into your local H-E-B and don't see the tear pads at the register, Esta dirección electrónica esta protegida contra spambots. Es necesario activar Javascript para visualizarla so we can make sure they get stocked up!



bike monthMay is Bike Month

Check out our Bike Month preview & resources page here. See the BikeTexas Events Calendar for more BikeTexas Member Events and free community events around the state.


BikeTexas Sponsors and Members


BikeTexas Business and Bike Shop Members  ◊  BikeTexas Club and Bicycle Org Members


On the Lege: Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act, HB 2459

SafePassingMapThe Iris Stager Safe Passing Act will establish a standard safe passing distance that only applies when road conditions allow. Twenty-three Texas cities have passed local laws consistent with this bill.

Safe Passing applies when passing road users who are unprotected including pedestrians, runners, physically disabled persons, children, skaters, construction and maintenance workers, tow truck operators, stranded motorists, horse riders, and persons operating bicycles, motorcycles, or unprotected farm equipment. 

HB 2459 Authors:

Rep. Mando Martinez
Rep. Jim Keffer; Rep. James Frank; Rep. Geanie Morrison; Rep. Eddie Lucio III

1. What protections does this bill provide?

This Safe Passing Bill will establish for unprotected road users a standard safe passing distance of 3 feet (or 6 feet for Commercial Vehicles) that only applies when road conditions allow. It also prohibits the "right hook" (turning dangerously in front of an unprotected road user) and failing to yield when making a left turn at an intersection.

2. What are the penalties for violating this bill?

Up to a $200 fine under Section 542.401 General Penalty of the Texas Transportation Code. The bill establishes a violation of this law as a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 if the violation results in property damage or a Class B misdemeanor if the violation results in bodily injury. The Safe Passing Bill establishes the breaking of traffic laws by a bicyclist, or other unprotected road user, as a defense to prosecution.

3. Who are unprotected road users?

Unprotected road users include a pedestrian, runner, physically disabled person, child, skater, construction or maintenance worker, tow truck operator, stranded motorist, or equestrian, as well as a person operating a bicycle, motorcycle, or unprotected farm equipment.

4. Why do we need this bill?

Sadly, approximately 50 cyclists, 400 pedestrians, and 500 motorcyclists are killed every year in Texas. Many of those fatalities could be prevented if this law were enacted.

5. Why do unprotected road users require additional protection?

Roadways are open for public use by law in Texas, but some users do not have the same (armor) protection as motorists.

6. How are the safety distances determined? Why 3 feet for cars and 6 feet for commercial/large trucks?

The safety distances are consistent with existing safe driving practices. Currently the Texas Commercial Driver’s handbook recommends commercial vehicles allow six feet because of the wind effect of a tractor-trailer that can pull a cyclist three feet closer.

7. Have other states enacted Safe Passing laws?

The following 25 states have a law protecting unprotected road users and requiring 3-foot passing clearance: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, plus the District of Columbia.

8. Is there a presumption of liability?

No. The Safe Passing Bill has no effect on the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

9. Can a motorist pass a unprotected road user in a no passing zone?

First, the Safe Passing Bill will establish a standard safe passing distance of 3 feet (or 6 feet for Commercial Vehicles) that only applies when road conditions allow. If road conditions do not allow, the Safe Passing Bill has no effect on passing in no passing zones. Second, current Texas law provides that a cyclist moving slower than traffic shall ride as near as practicable to the right edge of the road way and that a cyclist may not obstruct the normal flow of traffic.

Current Texas law does not provide an exception to allow passing in a no passing zone. A motorist must wait until the no passing zone ends to pass another road user, including a tractor, cyclist, or other slower-moving legal road users.

Texas law concerning safe passing currently requires a “safe passing distance”. The Safe Passing Bill defines a “safe passing distance” as 3 feet.


See the Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act (HB 2459) on the Texas Legislature website.


On the Lege: Safety Light at Night, HB 471


The Safety Light at Night bill requires a rear red light during nighttime hours, either on the bike or on the bicyclist, that is visible from 500 feet away. The current law requires a front white light and a rear red light or rear reflector. Because basic bike lights have become more inexpensive over recent years, and are often distributed through give-away programs, we do not feel that this law will place an undue burden on any person who rides a bike.

Lights at night greatly increase visibility of people who ride bikes. A BikeTexas review of 317 Texas DPS bicyclist fatality records for the period 2002-08 revealed that approximately 52% of bicycle fatalities occurred in low-light or dark conditions.

As with the Safe Passing bill, BikeTexas sees great value in the educational opportunities afforded by this bill. We will continue to work with legislators and public safety departments across Texas to make sure they understand the needs of people who ride bikes in Texas.

See HB 471 on the Texas Legislature website.


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