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BikeTexas’ first trip to Texas Motor Speedway and the North Texas Tour de Cure would not be a disappointment! The arrival to the speedway was somewhat intimidating, as there is what seemed like a thousand acres of parking lots and not much signage to direct you to the infield where we would set up our booth. But with a little determined driving we located the entrance to the infield and found where we would have our booth. When told where it would be our first thought was “Oh no, right at the back,” but this turned out to be the starting point for all of the rides plus the announcers stage was next to our booth--perfect spot to be in. The area was open to vendor and booth set up the afternoon before the ride, so the booth was set up and ready to go early the next morning. The ride was well attended and the goal of the Tour de Cure is fund raising. It seemed they were successful in number of participants and amount of money raised.
The ride was kicked off by the singing of the National Anthem by a middle school young lady, who is also living with diabetes. After the National Anthem one of the youngest attendees was asked a few questions about her life with diabetes and then the first wave of riders was off. This was the 100 mile ride, the remaining groups would start at intervals according to their distance to ride. At the start of each wave of riders the young lady would again sing the National Anthem and the riders would start off. This continued throughout the morning until the last riders were called to the start line.
The last group, the one we were in, rode around the Race Track at Texas Motor Speedway, and no, we weren't as fast as the race cars that normally race around the track. But it was exciting to know we were riding where just a short time before cars were circling the track at almost 200 mph. So our 15 to 20 mph seemed very slow in comparison. But the enthusiasm of the riders was just as high as if they were traveling along at the speed of a race car. To be able to ride along beside the youngest rider there and hear her almost begging her mom to let her ride up on the high banks of the corners. Then at the end of the ride to see her and the oldest rider standing hand in hand talking about the ride and the challenge of living with diabetes. When asked what this ride stood for in her mind she was quick to answer, “That all of these people riding today want a cure for diabetes as bad as I do!" The ride raised in the neighborhood of $500,000 to go toward research for a cure for diabetes.
This was a well ran ride for a great cause and BikeTexas was glad to be a small part of it and to be able to contact as many people as we did to give each one just a little bit of information as to how to make cycling better all across Texas for everyone.
The Woodlands Township has been pursuing transportation solutions for the area, and local advocates including Bike The Woodlands Coalition have worked hard to be sure bicycling is included at all levels of planning. Now, that work is getting pushback from people in the area opposed to bicycle facilities. Please attend the public meeting on Thursday, July 10, at 2 PM to show your support for bicycle facilities. The meeting is at the Township Building at 2801 Technology Forest Blvd (map).
Please sign this petition for bike lanes in The Woodlands and share it with all your friends and neighbors who ride bikes: biketexas.org/thewoodlands.
We've found through our advocacy work that officials tend to listen to the people who are showing up and making the most noise. Therefore, it's critical that people who ride bikes attend public meetings in support of bicycle facilities to show that people who oppose bike lanes are in the minority.
Some talking points to keep in mind when addressing the Committee:
The full Board of Directors is meeting on July 17 at 9 AM and on July 23 at 6 PM. We will send out reminders for those meetings closer to the date, but please mark them on your calendar now to make sure The Woodlands remains a great place to ride a bike!
The Woodlands is one of only four Texas cities designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
Wednesday, July 02 2014 09:00
By Mark Adams
On Wednesday, June 25, TxDOT held their first-ever hearing about bicycle use in DFW at Irving City Hall. An astounding 62 citizens from the DFW area joined 16 elected officials and 14 staff members from TxDOT and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to discuss programs and issues surrounding cycling in the metroplex.
TxDOT is required by 43 TAC §25.55 to conduct a local hearing on bicycle use in each TxDOT district annually. In the past, TxDOT has offered to hold the required hearing in Dallas and Fort Worth but has never received enough interest to hold one. The low interest has largely been related to the fact that TxDOT is required to advertise the offer for public hearing in the newspaper, so word has never reached the cycling community that these hearings were going on. After missing the opportunity to hold a hearing last year, cycling advocates were on their guard this time around and immediately spread the word on social media-- quickly generating enough interest to trigger the required hearing. The Dallas and Ft. Worth districts decided to hold a hearing together centrally in Irving, since many of the same cyclists ride in both districts.
State Bike Plan and Program
Teri Kaplan, Statewide Bicycle Coordinator with TxDOT, began the hearing by giving an overview of TxDOT and their involvement with cyclists in Texas. Specifically, TxDOT constructs all State Highways (SH roads), Farm to Market Roads (FM roads), Interstates and US highways, Loop, and Spur roadways. TxDOT also has oversight and approves any projects that are done with Federal funding.
Ms. Kaplan also mentioned that TxDOT is working on a statewide Bicycle Plan to help lay out TxDOT’s priorities for cycling statewide. Part of her work on the bicycle plan involves collecting information about local bicycle trails, paths, and facilities from local governments so that TxDOT can construct a statewide bikeway map that can be used by cyclists as a one-stop place to see details on what bicycle routes are available, what facilities they offer, and where they are located across the state.
Ms. Kaplan then gave a summary of different bicycle facilities as they are referred to by TxDOT.
Afterwards those present were polled based on a number of questions, such as "What type of cyclist are you? (strong and fearless; would ride more if it were safer; etc.)" and "How many days per week do you ride your bicycle?"
Cyclists were then shown photographs of each type of bicycle facility and asked whether they felt “Very Comfortable”, “Somewhat Comfortable”, “Somewhat Uncomfortable”, or “Very Uncomfortable” riding on that type of facility.
Dallas & Ft. Worth Districts
Kathy Kleinschmidt, Bicycle / Pedestrian Coordinator for TxDOT Dallas District, began her presentation by discussing a TxDOT memo to its engineers in March 2011 titled “Guidelines Emphasizing Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations” that established TxDOT’s policy of being committed to accommodating cyclists on its roadways and projects. That memo required that all TxDOT projects (construction, widening, reconstruction) in urban areas feature either a 14’ wide outside lane for shared use or a 5' bike lane (at a minimum). In rural areas, a 5’ shoulder is typically required. Ms. Kleinschmidt gave an overview of Dallas-area projects including several F.M. roadways that are currently being widened or reconstructed and explained how they would be designed to accommodate cyclists. In addition, Ms. Kleinschmidt reviewed several local projects that TxDOT has oversight over being done by counties and cities in the Dallas district and the facilities they provide for cyclists.
Phillip Hayes, Bicycle / Pedestrian Coordinator for TxDOT Ft. Worth District, then presented on several projects going on in the Ft. Worth area and described how many of those projects have been in the works for several years and would soon be completed.
Regional Bicycle Programs and Projects
Karla Weaver, Program Manager with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), then presented regardig some of the regional initiatives that they are undertaking. NCTCOG is the region’s metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and is responsible for coordinating with cities on regional initiatives and also managing the assignment and distribution of many forms of federal funding such as the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) which provides federal funding to local bicycle and pedestrian projects.
Ms. Weaver began by discussing the Regional Veloweb, a network of existing and planned off-street shared use paths (trails) designed for use by cyclists. She specifically discussed how the veloweb is designed to interconnect area cities and encourage non-motorized transportation in the region. She noted that as cities have begun to develop on-street bicycle facilities, NCTCOG is beginning to look at how to interconnect the veloweb with city on-street facilities to complete an even more comprehensive network. One of the most exciting projects related to the veloweb is a 64-mile project called the Fort Worth to Dallas Trail Connection which will link bicycle paths from Ft. Worth, through Arlington, Grand Prairie, and Irving to Downtown Dallas.
Ms. Weaver also discussed also NCTCOG’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Access to Rail study which focuses on identifying how easily rail stations (such as DART light-rail, the TRE, and DCTA A-Train) are accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians within a certain radius in order to provide cities and counties with vital information that they can use to help make transportation more accessible and increase utilization of our transit system and non-motorized options (such as bicycling and walking).
In addition, Ms. Weaver discussed NCTCOG’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), made up of representatives from state government, county government, and local governments, which meets monthly to discuss bicycle and pedestrian projects and planning on the NCTCOG service area. Attendees were told that the group’s meetings are open to the public and more information is available on the NCTCOG website.
Another project discussed by Ms. Weaver was the a data collection initiative that NCTCOG has recently begun piloting. A system of automated permanent and temporary counters have been installed along several shared use paths and bicycle facilities that provide aggregate counts of bicycle and pedestrian use at 15-minute increments for 24 hours each day. If the pilot goes well, more cities will be able to join the program and begin collecting real data about utilization of bicycling facilities in DFW that can be used to by local planners to justify additional facilities and funding.
Question and Answer
Before the close of the hearing, the floor was opened up to questions from the public to get answers regarding bicycle policies and programs.
One attendee asked about a specific F.M. roadway where a cyclist was killed and where construction is about to begin. Specifically, he wanted to highlight the fact that he had been told that, even though construction had not yet begun, it would not include cyclist accommodations because it was planned prior to the March 2011 memo requiring bicycle accommodations. TxDOT staff replied by stating they could look into the issue and many times “It all depends on who you talked to.”
Another attendee asked about a Safe Passing Law in Texas and whether TxDOT would assist in lobbying for such a law. TxDOT responded by saying that TxDOT is not allowed to lobby for any particular laws but that citizens would need to contact their state legislators.
Another attendee complained that many municipalities do not follow good practices for bicycle facilities and often create situations that are dangerous for cyclists. TxDOT responded by saying that they only have oversight over projects using state and federal funding and highlighted the fact that work by local residents communicating with their city and county leaders is very important to making sure local projects accommodate cyclists.
Another attendee asked about maintenance of bicycle facilities, specifically regarding debris being swept out of the main lanes and into bicycling facilities. TxDOT replied that bicycle facilities on TxDOT roadways are included as part of their roadway maintenance plans but other roadways may be different. TxDOT staff encouraged the attendee to contact their local municipality to ask about their bicycle facilities and associated maintenance plans. Ms. Kaplan suggested that establishing maintenance plans for bicycle facilities might be a good element to include in the statewide bicycle plan.
Another attendee discussed the fact that many TxDOT programs and policy actions are dictated by performance measures that TxDOT uses to measure its performance. Specifically, since these improvement in these performance measures guides TxDOT policies and the allocation of funding, has TxDOT ever considered implementing performance measures related to cyclists and specifically, a performance measure related to bicyclist fatalities. Ms. Kaplan responded by stating that there was currently no performance measure related to bicyclist fatalities even though TxDOT does track and report the number of bicyclist fatalities each year. Ms. Kaplan indicated that she would like to see such performance measures incorporated as part of the statewide bicycle plan and the individual should follow-up via e-mail.
Another attendee suggested that TxDOT should allocate funding for advertising (TV, radio, billboards) in the DFW area related to bicycle safety similar to other initiatives (“Don’t Mess with Texas”, “Share the Road”, etc.”).
At the conclusion of the hearing, TxDOT staff reiterated that they are seeking any additional comments that people might have regarding Bicycle Use in DFW and those in attendance should be sure to write down their comments and place them in the comment box. TxDOT and NCTCOG staff also encouraged citizens to attend one of the Texas Transportation Plan (TTP) 2040 hearings being held by TxDOT to discuss the state transportation plan through 2040 that will be held locally in Mesquite on 07/07/14 and in Ft. Worth on 7/09/14 since bicycling policies and projects are part of the statewide transportation plan.
TxDOT staff will still be soliciting comments about bicycle use in DFW until Saturday, July 5, 2014. Citizens can send their comments to TxDOT via e-mail or USPS to:
TxDOT Dallas District
Attn: Kathy Kleinschmidt, P.E.
4777 East Highway 80
Mesquite, Texas 75150-6643
After all comments have been received, TxDOT will compile a summary report based on the comments from the public and the data collecting during the hearing and publish that report to the public. It is anticipated that report will be available by the end of July.
Thursday, June 26 2014 12:34
On Sunday, June 15, people who ride bikes in Dallas celebrated not one, but four grand openings of new bike/ped facilities! Despite the heat and wind, about 300 people came out with their bikes to celebrate the Rolling Ribbon Cutting on the Continental Bike/Ped Bridge, the Trinity Skyline Trail, the Sylvan Avenue Bridge, and the West Dallas Gateway Plaza.
Mayor Rawlings along with current and former city council members rode through the crowded bridge, smiling and waving and cooling off in the bridge's new fountain spouting cool water up from the bridge walkway. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was present for the first ribbon cutting on the Continental Bridge, as was Mary McDermott Cook, the chair of the board of directors of the Trinity River Trust Foundation, which was instrumental in securing funding for the project. At each of four ribbon cuttings, the Mayor, council members, contractors from HNTB, and local advocates--including the president of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff-- spoke to the power of partnerships that helped get these facilities built. At one point, Mayor Rawlings decided to test out the electric bike from Rocket Electrics he was riding and zoomed along with his security detail struggling to keep up.
Randall White worked hard to produce the Trinity River Revel with great success. BikeDFW provided ride marshalls for the rolling ribbon cutting.
The two lucky winners of the Phat Cycles Sea Wind Cruisers from Richardson Bike Mart were Jose Garcia and Victoria Flores.
While preparations for the ride were underway on Saturday, someone from the neighborhood stopped the BikeTexas staffers to talk about the new bridges and trail system and said, "This is the best thing that I've seen happen to link my neighborhood to the rest of Dallas." He went on to talk about how his neighbors would be able to safely ride to get to jobs in other parts of Dallas now, whereas before they would have had a dangerous crossing over the bridges without dedicated bike or pedestrian infrastructure. That's exactly why we want to see more facilities like this across Texas-- to give people the peace of mind they need to try riding to work, or the supermarket, or a community meeting, or school, as well as for recreation. Congratulations, Dallas, on your new facilities along the Trinity River!
BikeTexas is delighted to announce a new partnership with a local business, Freytag's Florist, as part of the Austin Community Blooms program. You can support bicycle advocacy and a local business at the same time when you choose Freytag's Florist for your flower orders-- Freytag's will donate 5% of your total to BikeTexas.
Here's how it works:
2. By phone, mention the Austin Community Blooms program and BikeTexas.
3. Online, look for this box at the bottom of the checkout screen:
Once checked, you'll see a dropdown box with a list of participating non-profits. Choose BikeTexas:
4. Complete your order, and Freytag's Florist will donate 5% to BikeTexas!
We're excited about this new partnership to help make Austin a great place to ride a bike.
TxDOT will hold a hearing about Bicycle Use in DFW for the Dallas and Fort Worth Districts on Wednesday, June 25, at 5 - 8 PM, to update the public on bicycle plans and progress in the DFW districts.
TxDOT and NCTCOG will give a presentation at 6 PM with an open house format before and after the presentation. Maps and drawings will be on display to show the existing bike facilities and upcoming transportation projects on the state system and Dallas/Fort Worth regional area.
Please attend this meeting to let TxDOT know that people ride bikes in Dallas and Fort Worth! The meeting is at Irving City Hall (map), 825 W. Irving Blvd. See the TxDOT meeting page for more information.
TxDOT is required to offer a hearing about bicycle use in every TxDOT district office every year, but unless they receive sufficient interest from residents, it often doesn't happen. This year, people who ride bikes across the Dallas and Fort Worth areas responded quickly to TxDOT's call for hearing requests, so much so that they received the required number of responses within just a day or two. That's great work from everyone in the region who spoke up. As the saying goes, decisions are made by people who show up, and this time, people who ride bikes showed up when it mattered! Please do the same one more time and attend this meeting-- TxDOT needs to know that people who ride bikes expect TxDOT to take their needs seriously.
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