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Top leaders from transit authorities from all over Texas attended the Texas Transit Conference at the beautiful modern convention center in McAllen, TX during April 21-26, 2012.
The conference featured many excellent breakout sessions and keynote presentations for people interested in the many issues facing transit operators.
On Tuesday, April 24, Executive Director of BikeTexas spoke at a panel called Bikes and Transit, along with Charles Riou, the State Bicycle Coordinator for the Texas Department of Transportation and John-Michael Cortez, Assistant Director at Austin's Capital Metro.
Mr. Riou spoke first, about the overall synergy of connecting bicycling and transit. Next
Mr. Cortez gave an excellent presentation on what Cap Metro is actively doing for bicyclists - including a planned rail-with-trail corridor and secured bike cage bicycle storage at the Kramer train station. Mr. Stallings discussed the “last mile” - the importance of planning for the future of bikes on transit, including the possibilty of folding bikes as a way of increasing capacity of bikes on transit, and electric bikes and how that might impact the future catchment area for a given transit stop.
Lunch featured an inspiring presentation on leadership from Robert H. Prince, Jr., former Executive Director of Boston Transit Authority. Mr. Prince was introduced by Jeff Austin, a member of the Texas Transportation Commission from Tyler, TX.
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“Take out your cell phone and look at it. Is your last text message worth your life?”
With this question, West Texas mother Jeanne Brown got the attention of the audience gathered in San Antonio on April 26, 2012 for the first Texas Distracted Driving Summit.
Brown’s seventeen year old daughter, Alex Brown, died of traumatic injuries on her way to class in her last semester of high school. Alex was texting three different friends as she drove her truck down a rural highway. Her parents and several other families of victims of distracted driving, including conference organizer Jennifer Smith, have dedicated time to letting others know about the huge risk.
USAA and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) sponsored the conference held at the Westin La Cantera Resort Conference Center. Carol Rawson, TxDOT Traffic Operations Division Director, hosted the event, with TxDOT staff members in attendance.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, Georgia Chakiris and University of Kansas Psychology Professor Paul Atchley shared some startling facts:
The volume and sorrow of the stories from families of victims heard at the Summit was likely life-changing for many in attendance. At the same time, the analyses presented and the ideas for solutions provided a lot of cause for hopefulness.
Cell phone use for many reasons is a pro-social behavior. We connect with friends and family using our cell phones. We check on each other and make sure each other is ok.
The consensus amongst the conference organizers and experts is that the solutions must also be pro-social, driven by concern for each other. Like in the ‘Friends don’t let friends drive drunk’ campaign, friends, in one approach, can avoid texting if they know a friend is probably driving; or they can text “If you’re driving, don’t respond.”
Attorney Todd Clement urged businesses to enact and enforce anti-texting policies to protect against distracted driving liability on the job.
Keynote speaker U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LeHood queried the room “How many in this room use your cell phone when driving?” The vast majority replied that they do. But Secretary LaHood provided hope. He looked back at the history of progress in dealing with wearing seatbelts and observed that now 86% of people now buckle up. “It took twenty years. The distracted driving awareness campaigns began just three and a half years ago and now 18 states have passed laws. You can enforce the laws prohibiting texting while driving and that will help.”
The message was not lost on BikeTexas staff members Donna Hoffman and Mark Stine who attended the conference at the invitation of TxDOT.
Every tragic story of a distracted driving death can be matched by one of a cyclist or pedestrian fatality. A higher awareness of the risks and more demonstrated commitment to safe behaviors by everyone on the road, combined with anti-texting policies and enforcement can make a difference and save lives.
On the weekend of the 20th of April, BikeTexas was thrilled to be a part of this year’s Earth Day Dallas event. Held at Fair Park, the scale of the event was much larger than anticipated. There were over 500 exhibitor booths. With everything from healthy food vendors to college and university booths featuring sustainability programs, green businesses and non-profits, and even live music, there was no shortage of stimulation and inspiration to live a greener life.
BikeTexas spent the weekend in a beautiful spot right on the lagoon in Fair Park. With near perfect weather all weekend, the masses flowed by at a steady pace for most of Saturday and Sunday.
Being a free event with so much going on, Earth Day Dallas 2012 was a great event for families and children. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, BikeTexas had the pleasure of distributing over 1,500 bike safety coloring books and A to Z by Bike comic books for young cyclists and soon-to-be cyclists, in addition to recruiting new participants for the BikeTexas KidsKup on May 5 in Cedar Hill. We even helped several parents with some advice for getting kids off training wheels (hint: take off the pedals!).
While distributing materials for kids, we were also able to collect many new signatures for the Complete Streets petition. Earth Day Dallas attendees seemed to be overwhlemingly excited about the necessity of Complete Streets, in urban and rural areas all over DFW, citing concerns over safety for themselves and loved ones while out bicycling and walking. This support for making a Complete Streets bill become state law in 2013 was reaffirming since BikeTexas’ relies on support from members across the state to make great improvements for cycling all over Texas.
It was already apparent that the situation for bicycling is improving in DFW. Time after time, one person would complain that Dallas was the worst place for biking in the world, and the next person would come along and say exactly the opposite! Whether it was the new trail from White Rock Lake leading into downtown Dallas, bike lanes and sharrows in Fort Worth, "share the road" signs in Richardson, or the great biking culture in Oak Cliff, folks were excited to share stories from all over DFW of how things were getting better.
Dallas Bicycle Coordinator Max Kalhammer came out for the weekend to give attendees a glimpse of things to come. Showing off an oversized map with the amazing and ambitious Dallas Bike Plan, it’s easy to see that wilth the right amount of funding and political will, many believe that Dallas will be the best place to ride a bike in Texas.
Groundwork Dallas is another group with a great vision of things to come, and taking great steps to make it happen. Groundwork is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the usability of the Great Trinity Forest, America’s largest urban park and the largest parcel of old-growth bottom-land forest. Utilizing summer internships with high school students, Groundwork teaches about nature preservation and trail building while utilizing volunteer labor to clean trash out of the forest. Groundwork hopes that the soon-to-come mountain bike and hiking trails will help DFW-area residents connect with the forest and demand its future preservation. Peter Payton, Groundwork’s Executive Director, came to the February 2012 Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference to help jumpstart their trail building program.
reTREEt America was also at the Earth Day event. The group formed recently after a event that involved a bike ride from Austin to Bastrop to plant trees in areas affected by last summer’s fires, and now calls themselves “a kaleidoscopic group of bicycle and tree enthusiasts with strong backs, sharp minds, and big hearts who volunteer to replant communities.” It was great to see former BikeTexas Landscape Architect Student Intern Patrick Beyer working the booth for reTREEt.
BikeTexas Executive Director Robin Stallings, Membership Coordinator Jack Sanford, and Communications Assistant Juliana Furioso all attended the Earth Day Dallas event.
This free program runs from May 1 to August 31 with the goal of uniting 50,000 people to bike 10 million miles. Every trip and every mile you log automatically adds to the Texas leaderboard as well as to your community’s leaderboard. Help Texas become the number one place for cycling in the US!
www.NationalBikeChallenge.org : You can sign up individually or as a team, in addition to your workplace, local community, and state. Prizes include the Grand Prize of a trip through California by Trek Travel.
The Challenge is presented by Kimberly-Clark, the League of American Bicyclists, and Bikes Belong.
Here’s the press release from the launch at the National Bike Summit in March:
Start Your Pedals, America -- The Get Up & Ride National Bike Challenge Is On!
Washington, D.C. - March 21, 2012 - Launched today by a powerful alliance of Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB), the League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong and Endomondo, the National Bike Challenge aims to inspire and empower millions of Americans to ride their bikes for transportation and recreation and better health.
The Challenge is simple: Sign up as an individual or as a team, log your miles, share your stories and encourage others to join you. Riders will compete for prizes and awards on the local and national level, including a Grand Prize trip through California wine country from Trek Travel. Already, organizations in 26 states have committed to participate and have started warming up for the May 1 start date on the Challenge website:www.nationalbikechallenge.org. Prizes will be awarded by Bikes Belong.
"The League is excited to work on this unique opportunity to share the many benefits of bicycling and offer a fun, engaging entry point for new riders," said Andy Clarke, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists. "There's nothing like riding a bike with your friends and colleagues, and the National Bike Challenge will create a new social network of cyclists stretching from coast to coast."
The online initiative was piloted by Kimberly-Clark (K-C), Endomondo and the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin in 2011. The idea was sparked by K-C research engineer, Rob Gusky, and K-C extended the competition to its 57,000 global employees. The Challenge proved to be a great team building and wellness activity for K-C's sustainability efforts globally. Participating K-C employees logged 357,739 miles globally, with U.S. employees pedaling 182,210 miles. The success in Wisconsin led to a bigger vision: Taking the challenge to the national level.
"We're pleased to be the national sponsor of the Challenge as it supports the wellness of our employees and the communities we serve, while contributing to improved air quality by replacing car travel with clean, healthy bicycle trips," said Jan Spencer, K-C's senior vice president of continuous improvement/procurement/ sustainability. "This year, K-C is providing an extra incentive for our global team members: The Kimberly-Clark Foundation will donate 10 cents to the League of American Bicyclists for every mile logged by a K-C employee during the 2012 Challenge."
The platform for the National Bike Challenge was created by Endomondo, a maker of mobile phone apps that have 7.5 million users worldwide. "Riding a bike for transportation is among the top five activities with our European users, and we look forward to helping expand this kind of biking in the U.S. with this campaign," said Mette Lykke, Co-Founder of Endomondo. "Logging your miles is easy, and the social interaction with co-workers, family and friends really makes it fun and motivating to get up and ride."
"Bikes Belong is delighted to be a part of the National Bike Challenge, which provides all the tools to help more people ride bikes more often," said Bruno Maier, vice president of Bikes Belong. "We're looking forward to seeing all the different types of riders who participate. The Challenge is a great way to encourage people to live healthier lives."
The Challenge runs from May 1 to August 31, 2012, but the public is invited to sign up now and get warmed up. For more information, visitwww.nationalbikechallenge.org and join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nationalbikechallenge
Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 175 countries. Every day, nearly a quarter of the world's population trust K-C's brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, HUGGIES, Pull Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds No. 1 or No. 2 share positions in more than 80 countries. To keep up with the latest K-C news and to learn more about the company's 140-year history of innovation, visit www.kimberly-clark.com.
About the League of American Bicyclists
The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America's 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the League, visit www.bikeleague.org.
Launched in September 2008, Endomondo is a social sports and fitness network that enables people worldwide to engage around their passions for living active lives. Endomondo turns the mobile phone into a full-fledged personal trainer and a social training partner. Endomondo has 7.5 million users and supports almost all GPS phones. For more information, please visit http://www.endomondo.com.
How will YOU have fun in the street?
Roller skates? Hula hoops? Costumes?
We’re hearing it all. And it’s all there for you:
Sunday, May 20th, 10am-3pm
Where: Sixth Street – car-free for 2 miles
(Brazos to Robert Martinez)
It’s Free. It’s Fun and it’s all about YOU. Come celebrate Austin and show us how you get your VIVA on!
Check us out on Facebook and Twitter to learn of our great new partners and to find out more about the activities being offered at Viva Streets!!
VIVA STREETS! is a tobacco-free event.
BikeTexas’ SafeCyclist Certification Training is a Safe Routes to School program that trains elementary school teachers, youth instructors, and law enforcement how to teach bicycle skills and safety as part of a physically active curriculum.
Fort Bend ISD School Wellness Coordinator Stephanie Kellam requested the training for their teachers as a strategy in their focus to prevent childhood obesity. She is interested in bicycle safety and hopes to provide numerous bicycle rodeos in the Fort Bend Community and has partnered with community leaders to help make an impact. Stephanie says that a goal moving forward is to incorporate the SafeCyclist program into the entire Fort Bend ISD.
BikeTexas staff Brenda Chuleewah and Ann Harkness, along with SafeCyclist Instructor Regina Garcia, coordinated with Fort Bend ISD School Wellness Coordinator Stephanie Kellam to present the training. The training took place at Fort Bend ISD, just southwest of Houston, on January 2, 2012.
There was great feedback from attendees. Kylaa Griffin, of Rosa Parks Elementary, reported back after the training. “The training was wonderful! It was truly a great training that was very informative. I met with my team today to see which of the Bike programs would be best for us. I’m certainly going to begin implementing a bicycle unit in class on a regular basis.”
Coordinating with community partners is a secret to any successful program. Also in attendance was a City of Sugar Land Parks and Recreation coordinator and a local bicycle advocate. She plans to incorporate the program into the summer and after school classes.
Some of the schools represented at the trainings have students who regularly bike to school. Highlands Elementary at 2022 Colonist Park Dr. in Sugar Land already has an average of fifteen to twenty students who commute to school. They hope to double the number this spring and teach the children how to commute safely.
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