September 16, 2010 – Update: Comments per September 9 meeting between BikeTexas and Bartonville officials
BikeTexas Executive Director Robin Stallings met Thursday, September 9, 2010, with Bartonville Mayor Ron Robertson, Chief of Police Dave Howell and Town Administrator Debbie Millican. BikeTexas posted a thank-you letter sent to the Mayor on September 13 on this (BikeTexas) website.
As we’ve already heard, Mayor Robertson’s position is that the town of Bartonville welcomes cyclists who follow the rules of the road and behave appropriately.
Enforcement of all the state traffic laws will be increased immediately at the urging of Bartonville residents. They also plan to enforce the ordinance affecting the size of group of cyclists in the town limits.
Bartonville officials are concerned about large groups of cyclists. They believe a permit is necessary to regulate training groups with more than nine members. If groups of nine are separated by a few minutes they will not be stopped for failure to obtain a permit.
The mayor cited examples of cyclists breaking traffic laws – running stop signs and riding more than two abreast – as well as urinating behind Bartonville’s City Hall and other public places. The mayor and police chief also cited examples of cyclists cursing at Bartonville residents and Bartonville policemen who pull cyclists over for traffic violations. The police chief said cyclists acted this way before the town passed the ordinance. They have felt offended by the harsh emails, letters, and an offensive T-shirt. Robin has since spoken with the T-shirt seller who has agreed to pull his inventory and destroy the silk screen.
BikeTexas and BikeDFW strongly discourage inappropriate behavior. This negatively affects all cyclists. Robin encouraged the mayor to revisit the language of the ordinance, since Bartonville police can enforce Texas traffic statutes against all vehicle users, including cyclists, on the road. However, the town probably will not budge until the problematic cyclists change their behavior.
The mayor brought up the possibility of cyclists funding the construction of a high-quality public restroom in Bartonville. This suggestion may be something to look into. It would show cyclists putting money into improving the town and building some good will. However, a bathroom would cost about $50,000 so it would be a significant gesture by the cycling community.
September 13, 2010 – Letter to Ron Robertson, Mayor of Bartonville
September 13, 2010
The Honorable Ron Robertson
Mayor, Town of Bartonville
1941 East Jeter Road
Bartonville, TX 76226
Re:?Thank you for meeting per Town Ordinance No. 494-10
Dear Mayor Robertson,
I would like to thank you, Chief of Police Dave Howell and Town Administrator Debbie Millican for meeting with me last Thursday about the recent amendment to Town Ordinance No. 494-10, which requires cyclists to obtain a permit when traveling through Bartonville in groups numbering greater than nine.
Founded in 1991, BikeTexas is a statewide bicycle and pedestrian advocacy and safety education non-profit organization. By initiating a frank discussion with Bartonville officials, BikeTexas hopes to advance bicycle access and encourage cyclists to respect the communities through which they travel.
From our meeting last Thursday, I understand your position to be the following: the town of Bartonville welcomes cyclists who follow the rules of the road. A permit is necessary by ordinance to regulate groups with more than nine members. Groups of nine or less, separated by a few minutes, will not be required to get a permit. State traffic laws will be vigorously enforced.
You stated that the town of Bartonville passed the amendment to Ordinance No. 494-10 because some cyclists passing through Bartonville ride more than two abreast, disregard stop signs and litter along the sides of the road. Also, I understand that Bartonville intends to enforce Ordinance No. 494-10 and issue citations to cyclists who litter and break traffic laws. I understand your concern for road safety and keeping Bartonville clean. However, Texas’ transportation code traffic statutes apply to all vehicles, including bicycles, and are sufficient to regulate this behavior. Please consider revising the language of Ordinance No. 494-10, which restricts certain types of vehicle operators.
You also said some cyclists have responded to Ordinance No. 494-10 by cursing and throwing objects at Bartonville residents. BikeTexas never condones such behavior. After our meeting, I discussed this issue with a T-shirt vendor who has been printing an anti-Bartonville message. He agreed to withdraw all existing shirts from his inventory and stop selling the shirt.
Though we have different positions, I deeply appreciate your willingness to talk with me about the issues leading to the enactment of Ordinance 494-10 and hope we can continue our dialogue. Please contact me if I can provide additional information.
cc: Dr. Mark Mumby, President, BikeDFW
September 8, 2010 – BikeTexas has been conducting legal research per the Bartonville and Copper Canyon bike bans. We are looking at codes in addition to Texas Transportation Code Section 551. This research is useful for working the issue both locally and down the 2011 legislative route.
BikeTexas has had contact with both Bartonville and Copper Canyon – informational at this point. We hope to meet with town officials soon.
BikeDFW and other area advocates are working to improve the cyclist-resident relationship on Bartonville roads. BikeTexas staff participated in the Uncle Big Buck Labor Day Ride between Grapevine and Bartonville on Labor Day, September 6, 2010. The ride went well. Working on this “on-road” relationship is important as we map out the legalities and meet with local officials.
Since we are not constituents of the Bartonville City Council, we do not plan to go to a council meeting at this time. If we think it will be productive, we will work through local officials and Bartonville cyclist-residents to get an invitation at the right time. BikeTexas staff has learned through work with state legislators and local officials of the importance of laying the groundwork and having a good idea of our standing before engaging these officials publically.
We are familiarizing ourselves with legal options but we don’t plan on starting any legal action at this point. In our August 25 Action Alert, we stated that we were working on the other avenues before going that route. We want to be fully prepared if we do have to go that way.
August 25, 2010 – BikeTexas has posted an online petition against bike bans. Please take a moment to sign it and support Texas cyclists’ right to ride.
Many Texas cyclists are aware that the City Council of Bartonville, a small rural community just south of Denton, amended a city ordinance this past June to restrict the number of cyclists passing through their incorporated area. Bartonville is a popular riding area for many DFW-area cyclists and clubs, and this ban will affect them greatly.
We are asking Texas cyclists to support the rights of cyclists to the road by signing the “No Bike Bans!” petition and encouraging family and friends, whether cyclists or not, to sign as well.
The Bartonville ordinance language change requires groups of 10 or more cyclists on “training rides” to obtain a permit from the City of Bartonville under city race and rally permit requirements.
Bartonville officials have stated that they changed the ordinance due to cyclists’ behavior. Local cycling leaders believe that actions by some irresponsible cyclists are not out of proportion with that of irresponsible motorists on the Texas roadways.
BikeTexas and BikeDFW have been working together to address this problem and to decrease the chance that other towns and cities across Texas will enact such a ban.
BikeTexas is laying the groundwork for a statewide legislative solution in 2011 to prevent any more bike restrictions such as that passed in Bartonville. In addition, we will reintroduce the Safe Passing Bill in 2011.
BikeTexas staff is working closely with BikeDFW leaders and area cycling club leaders regarding the Bartonville case. We have been building personal contacts with Bartonville public officials and residents through several outreach efforts, as well as working closely with area cycling clubs. BikeTexas staff has traveled to the Metroplex for meetings with BikeDFW and rides through the Bartonville area and will continue to do so.
No citations have been issued to cyclists to date. One group of cyclists making a good faith effort to observe the ordinance change was turned back from Bartonville by an officer mid-August under dubious circumstances. The following weekend, there were no incidents involving cyclists and Bartonville police.
BikeTexas and BikeDFW are working on the legislative and local tracks before heading down the legal route. We believe a stronger and more permanent resolution can come sooner by pursuing these two complementary tracks at this time.
Please sign the petition today. The time has come to implement a statewide solution to the varying forms of “bike bans” that have occurred across Texas, before a dangerous momentum develops.
The model for this No Bike Bans! Petition is based on successful use of the Safe Passing Veto Petition, which was signed by almost 8,000 cyclists in the wake of the Safe Passing Bill veto in 2009 by Governor Perry. We have been using those 8,000 signees to keep Safe Passing on the front burner at the Legislature. We intend to do the same at the Legislature with the “No Bike Bans!” petition signees – starting well before the official beginning of the Legislative session in January, 2011.
At this time, please don’t contact Bartonville elected officials or city staff. Please contact BikeTexas staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-476-7433, or BikeDFW at email@example.com with any questions or comments. Please also join BikeTexas and BikeDFW as members. Your support is needed more than ever.