Updates on cycling advocacy efforts in Austin, Fort Worth and Houston.
In response to the death of Austin cyclist Gay Simmons in April 2006, Texas Bicycle Coalition initiated a discussion with the local TxDOT district office regarding potential engineering improvements to Highway 360 and a popular cycling training route called the Dam Loop.
The initial meeting was attended by cycling advocates Robin Stallings, executive director of Texas Bicycle Coalition; Scott Korcz, president of Austin Cycling Association; Preston Tyree, member of Austin Cycling Association; and Tim Pletcher, a local Austin cyclist who had a major crash on Highway 360 just 18 months prior to Gay Simmons’s crash.
The scheduled follow-up meeting on May 23, 2006, was attended by Robin Stallings and TxDOT engineers. The group has identified potential engineering solutions and enumerated several major obstacles to their implementation. A fundamental problem is adding road width in the environmentally sensitive aquifer recharge zone. TxDOT engineers expressed willingness to consider all options and had a strong interest in placing signage throughout the Dam Loop. All attendees agreed to continue discussions.
On May 9 at the Fort Worth City Council meeting, 132 cyclists were present to show that safe cycling is an important issue in their area. Byron de Sousa from Texas Bicycle Coalition and Jim Wilson and Kyle Carr from the Lockheed Martin Recreational Association Bicycle Club spoke about implementing the city’s existing bicycle facilities plan.
The strong presence of so many cyclists, combined with the discipline demonstrated by having only three speakers, made a positive impact on the Fort Worth Mayor and City Council. The Mayor indicated that he is committed to Fort Worth being a healthy, bicycle-friendly city. Texas Bicycle Coalition will continue to work with local clubs and the Fort Worth city staff and elected officials to implement the bike plan.
As a follow-up to a series of presentations to Harris County Commissioners and Houston City Council, organized by BikeHouston and the Community Transportation Coalition, Senator Rodney Ellis’s office (D-Houston) scheduled an appointment on May 8, 2006, with Frank Wilson, CEO of Harris County Metro, to discuss the Bike Racks on Busses issue.
Attending the meeting were Adrian Collins from Senator Ellis’s office and Robin Stallings, executive director of Texas Bicycle Coalition. Mr. Wilson agreed to take a fresh look at the cost assumptions, particularly maintenance and replacement cost issues.
Because of the excellent work done by Woody Spears, president of BikeHouston, the cycling community has been able to make a strong case for Harris County Metro to install the bike racks on busses. Metro, BikeHouston and Texas Bicycle Coalition are continuing the discussion, with involvement from Senator Ellis’s office as needed.