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News / Blog Advocacy News
Advocacy News

On the Lege: 85th Regular Session Recap

85th lege collageBikeTexas had several priority bills during the 85th Texas Legislature. The good news is that HB 62, No Texting While Driving, finally passed after many years of work and was signed into law by the governor. Under this law, drivers may not read, write, send texts, or communicate via other electronic messages while the vehicle is moving. Stricter ordinances at the local level are still law. The Special Legislative Session may pass a bill to void local hands-free ordinances.

Unfortunately, the Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act (HB 1236 by Rep. Mando Martinez/SB 1274 by Sen Jose Rodriguez), Vision Zero (HB 1677 by Rep. Celia Israel/SB 1245 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez), and Safe Neighborhood Streets (HB 1368 by Rep. Celia Israel/SB 1244 by Sen. Jose Rodriguez), did not fare well. We were given reasons that some very conservative legislators didn't like the bills because of "nanny state," "too many laws," or "should be a local ordinance only."

Generally these bills are unlikely to be won by compelling arguments that address the legislators' concerns. The bicycling movement will need to show a lot of "boots on the ground" in every legislative district that has a legislator whose votes we need (hint: all of them).

Many thanks to the over 80 folks who traveled to Austin for the Bike Lobby Day, Cyclists in Suits, on March 27. We visited every legislative office to let them know that people who ride bikes have high expectations of our legislators to hear our concerns and take those concerns seriously.

We're keeping an eye on bills that come up during the Special Session and fighting every day to make Texas a great place to walk and bike.


Cyclists in Suits 2017

cyclists in suits 17 biketexas bicycle advocacy texas

We want to extend our thanks to the more than 80 citizen advocates who signed up for Cyclists in Suits on March 27. BikeTexas members and friends from across the state visited every legislative office to advocate for safe bicycling and walking. Volunteers provided information about Vision Zero (House Bill 1677/Senate Bill 1245), the Iris Stagner Safe Passing Act (House Bill 1236/Senate Bill 1274), and the Safe Neighborhood Streets Bill (House Bill 1368/Senate Bill 1244) to every legislative office.

We also extend our thanks to Richardson Bike Mart and Bike DFW, YMCA, H-E-B, Bike Houston, Bike Austin, The Bonneville, and members and friends for their financial support of Cyclists in Suits.

Special thanks to YMCA staff members and Senator Jose Rodriguez, who provided information, encouragement and training for our volunteers.


BikeTexas Statement on Austin's District 7 Council Race

BikeTexas’ mission is to advance bicycle access, safety, and education in the state of Texas, and as in any diverse group there will always be differences in opinion about the most productive ways to move forward. One of our key roles is to advocate for sufficient funding to create a stronger infrastructure for active transportation at the local, state, and national levels.

Our endorsement of incumbent Council Member Leslie Pool for District 7 in Austin has prompted considerable discussion. Many comments have been made in support of Council Member Pool’s challenger, while other comments call into question our role, motivations, and intentions as an organization supporting Texans who ride bicycles for sport, recreation, transportation, community development, and fun. We certainly welcome discussion and disagreement, but have always asked that all conversations on our page remain all-ages-friendly and refrain from personal attacks.

Council Member Pool helped bring the largest active transportation funding bond in state history to the voters and has shown an open response to her constituents’ wishes and bicycle-related concerns for many years. This is one of the reasons she earned our endorsement—she helped bring a historic opportunity for better infrastructure, including more bike lanes, throughout all of Austin. Council Member Pool’s statements regarding the Shoal Creek Bike lane have been mischaracterized; the full video makes it clear that she remains open to her constituents and stakeholders on the matter. (The shorter clip does not include her full remarks.)

Our endorsement is based on Council Member Pool’s record and openness to active transportation concerns since 1999, including her support for $120 million for the bond up for vote in November. We chose to endorse Council Member Pool for a second time due to her record. Council Member Pool is the proven candidate in this race.

Hard work, cooperation, and compromise have been necessary to make Austin a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community, and BikeTexas will continue to work with effective council members like CM Pool until Austin and every Texas city obtain Platinum BFC status and beyond.

25 years biketexas


BikeTexas Supports Austin's Bond Package

Austin City Council Moves Forward with the Largest Transportation Bond Proposal in the City's History
BikeTexas is going to work hard to make it happen in November.

Austin City Council worked into the wee hours Friday morning before passing, on an 8-3 vote, the largest transportation bond package in the city’s history. $120 million of the proposed $720 million is designated towards active transportation in Austin--urban trails, protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and Safe Routes to School. BikeTexas is proud to stand with Mayor Adler and support this bond proposal.

BikeTexas has been meeting with council members to discuss the November bond election since September 2015. Over the past nine months, we've urged the mayor and city council to pass a balanced package that includes significant resources for active transportation, including Complete Streets.

After compromise from all sides, the inclusive package will now go to City staff for development of bond language. In August, the City Council will determine whether a bond referendum will go before the voters in November. This plan is poised to make a transformational change for active transportation in Austin. 

To pass such an ambitious bond in November's election, it will be crucial for all sides to come together. This bond has inspired vigorous discussion and community input, and we look forward to working shoulder-to shoulder with all segments of Austin’s community to make these bonds a reality in November.

Many folks worked hard on this bond package, and we offer special thanks to Mayor Adler for his strategic thinking on Austin's transportation future. Council Member Ann Kitchen's wisdom and commitment to the best interest of her district and the city of Austin as a whole have been invaluable in getting this bond package passed by the city council. Additionally, the Mayor’s and Council Member’s staffs worked tirelessly to craft as inclusive a package as possible for Austin's current and future transportation needs.

BikeTexas is particularly proud of our work and our supporters’ work in this effort. We’ve seen dramatic improvement in active transportation funding over any previous bond election and over objections raised early in the process by those who are less committed to an Austin that supports and encourages active transportation. We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting this bond passed in November.

BikeTexas will be on the lookout for federal or state grant opportunities so the City of Austin can leverage these local active transportation bonds to build out the bicycle and sidewalk master plans.

BikeTexas' Leslie Luciano addresses the Austin City Council late Thursday night.

Advocate of the Year, Fernando Martinez

Fernando Martinez Advocate of the YearBikeTexas is proud to announce that our own Fernando Martinez has been named Advocate of the Year by the Alliance for Biking and Walking. Fernando received his award as part of the National Bike Summit on March 7.

In his 10 years of bicycle advocacy with BikeTexas, Fernando has worked tirelessly as the program manager of BikeTexas' educational programs, which have reached over two million Texas children. Most recently, Fernando has spent two years in Brownsville working in the BikeTexas RGV program, working alongside local advocates and city leaders to activate Brownsville's Bicycle Master Plan. Brownsville was recently named a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, a testament to the hard work of Fernando, BikeTexas, and the committed local community.

BikeTexas congratulates Fernando on his achievement, and we're delighted that he has brought the Advocate of the Year award back home to Texas.


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