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News / Blog

BikeTexas BikeNews

San Antonio launches Texas' first modern bike share system

BikeNews; Community

SanAntonioBikeShareDozens of people showed up at 7:30am on Saturday March 26, 2011 in downtown San Antonio for the launch of Texas' first modern bike share program.

The event was an un-official launch and a chance to get volunteers to distribute the bikes at the 15 bike stations around downtown. BikeTexas staff were present to help and to highlight what a significant moment this was for all of Texas.

The B-Cycle system (seen also in Denver and Chicago), much like their competitors Public Bikeshare (seen in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Montreal, and London), entices users to replace short car trips downtown with a bike.

The easy-to-use system allows residents and visitors to purchase a membership using a credit card at any station around town. Memberships are $10 for 24 hours, or you can pay $25 for a week or $60 for a year at the website sanantonio.bycle.com.

As a member, you get free access to any bike for 30 minutes at a time. The farthest distance between any two stations is only about a 20 minute ride, so this allows you to take a bike from one station and deposit it securely at another close to your destination, then walk to where you need to go.

The bikes themselves are friendly for anyone. The seat adjusts to fit a broad range of heights with a quick-release lever, but has a mechanism so it can't be stolen. Lights on front and back are powered by generators so they're on all the time. The chain is completely encased so it won't mess up your clothes. There's a built in bell to let people know how much fun you're having, and a basket that can carry a couple bags of groceries.

One group of tourists from Kansas arrived at Hemisfair Park just after the station there got its first bikes. They took out four bikes, and two hours later were still station-hopping to stay within the half-hour limit. "We've been coming to San Antonio for ten years," they said, "and we've seen more of the city today than we ever have before."

San Antonio Bikeshare is a non-profit organization established to run the San Antoino B-Cycle operations, with staff support from local bicycle retailer Bike World San Antonio, and start-up funding from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative (part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). The national B-Cycle program is a product of the combined efforts of Humana, Trek Bicycle Corporation, and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Local sponsors for San Antonio include Bike WorldSan Antonio's Office of Environmental Policy - San Antonio Bikes, The Mighty Group, Clear Channel Outdoor, The Historic Pearl Brewery, Tejas Premier Building Contractor, Marmon|Mok Architecture, and the Law Offices of Thomas L. McKenzie

   

Important Bike Bills to Look for in the 82nd Legislature

BikeNews; Advocacy

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In addition to the Complete Streets Bill (SB 513 & HB 1105), BikeTexas is also working to help pass the following bills:

Ban on Texting While Driving: HB 243
Authored by Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland), HB 243 would prohibit texting, instant messaging and emailing while driving. It allows these activities if the car is stopped. The bill was unanimously approved in the House Transportation Committee Wednesday, March 30.

Utility Right-of-Way for Trails: HB 1943
Authored by Representative Jim Murphy (R-Houston), HB 1943 lowers the liability for public utility companies to open their private land to be used as multi-use paths. The bill only applies to public utility companies in El Paso and Houston. It has been heard and is now pending in the Land and Resource Management Committee.

Rear Bike Light Requirement: HB 1583
Authored by Representative Joe Farias (D-San Antonio), HB 1583 requires bicyclists to have a red rear light in addition to the existing requirement for a white front light. These lights are required during periods of reduced visibility and must be visible at least 500 feet from the bicycle. This bill is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, April 4 in the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee.

   

Houston-Galveston Area Keeps Current Bike/Ped Funding, Allocates Future Funding for Road and Freight Rail

BikeNews; Advocacy

Katy-Trail-HoustonLast Friday, March 25, the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) voted not to cut $12.8 million of funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects, helping the Houston Bikeway Program continue to keep Houston on a roll.

When H-GAC TPC tried to cut this funding from existing bicycle and pedestrian projects, including many that were shovel-ready, the council received staunch opposition from BikeHouston, Houston Tomorrow, the Citizens Transportation Coalition, as well as Houston-area management districts.

Due the groundswell of support for bicycle and pedestrian projects, the H-GAC TPC, voted on Friday for Option 3, which did not remove existing funding from bicycle/pedestrian, livable centers, and transit projects.

Option 3 does, however, allocate remaining discretionary funding for the next three years - $79.8M - entirely towards road and freight rail projects.

BikeTexas’ Executive Director Robin Stallings’ wrote a letter to the members of the H-GAC TPC in support of additional bicycle and pedestrian funding, but it was the massive showing by citizens in favor the public meeting on Friday that was the key in the council's vote.

Advocates can claim victory for saving the bicycle and pedestrian projects’ current funding.

For those looking forward to the day when anyone feels safe to walk or bike in Houston, it was a disappointment that the council did not vote for Option 4, which would have spread the $79.8M proportionately between road and freight "mobility" projects and bicycle/pedestrian, livable centers, and transit "alternative modes." (See PDF document explaining Options 1-4 here.)

BikeTexas will continue working with BikeHoustonHouston Tomorrow, the Citizens Transportation Coalition to ensure that H-GAC TPC will consider allocating future discretionary funding in a more balanced manner.

   

TXDOT releases new guidelines stressing inclusion of walking and biking

BikeNews; Community

BikeTexas is excited to announce that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has released a new guidance memo affirming the importance of building roads to include space for people to walk and ride bicycles. Released on March 23, 2011, by John A. Barton, P.E., to all TxDOT District Engineers, this guidance shows that TxDOT is committed to a policy in line with the Complete Streets Bill (HB 1105 / SB 513) currently making its way through the Texas legislature.

Entitled "Guidelines Emphasizing Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations", the memo states:

"TxDOT is committed to proactively plan, design and construct facilities to safely accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. It is critical that bicycle and pedestrian accommodations be considered and discussed as the need and purpose of a project is defined during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, taking into consideration existing and anticipated bicycle and pedestrian facility systems and needs."

 

You can download the entire memorandum by clicking here.

 

   

Support BikeTexas at HEBs Statewide in April

BikeNews; Education Fund

As an Earth Share organization, BikeTexas is pleased to announce that H-E-B has selected EarthShare of Texas to be the beneficiary of its in-store coupon promotion for April, in recognition of Earth Day. This means that customers can tear off and add check-out coupons worth $1, $3, or $5 to their total bill  to support environmental work in the Central Texas, Houston, Gulf Coast, Rio Grande Valley and Border, plus North Texas Central  Markets.

H-E-B has supported many EarthShare of Texas organizations with corporate grants or in-kind contributions. The April tear-pad promotion enables H-E-B customers to support the environmental program work of more than three dozen EarthShare of Texas organizations.  BikeTexas will benefit, because the contributions will be divided among EarthShare of Texas organizations with program work in Texas.

Look for the EarthShare of Texas display and tear-off coupons at the check-out stands in more than 200 H-E-B and Central Market stores in  most areas of Texas in late March through April. And help support  Earth Share of Texas and the Texas environment!
   

One Bike Advocate's Cyclists in Suits Day

BikeNews; Advocacy

Contributed by Leslie Luciano, Advocacy Director at Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin

Monday, March 21, 2011 I had the pleasure of attending BikeTexas’ Cyclists in Suits Bike Lobby Day at the Capitol.  This isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve lobbied on Capitol Hill in D.C. for three years, and this is my second time to lobby at the Texas Legislature.

While our numbers were smaller, the energy was larger than ever.  Bike dealers and advocates from all over Texas joined us to meet with legislators and staff from all of the state offices.  (To view the photos of the day, click here.  Photo at right, l-r: Annie Bohlen, Leslie Luciano, unidentified, Walt Tashnick.)

Annie Bohlen, from Mellow Johnny’s bike shop in Austin, and Walt Tashnick,  Austin resident and BikeTexas member, were on my dream team.  We managed to meet with transportation staffers in 30 offices!

With the mood in our state of budget shortfalls and cuts, I expected deaf ears.  Thanks to the stellar organization of BikeTexas staff, we were armed with bike pins (which thrill staffers and strangers alike), and great speaking points and materials to use to educate staff quickly and make the “ask”.

HB 1105, the “Complete Streets” bill, is good for everyone in Texas.  This bill speaks to new development and community design, requiring roads built with state or federal funds to address “complete streets.”  This includes sidewalks, bike lanes, bridges, and other amenities to allow for connected and livable communities.  Rather than pouring cement -- and paying later to expand to address growth -- this bill asks for smart planning, anticipating a population growth forward of 50 years.  Rather than only building highways, this bill embraces multimodal transportation with multiple options for all users.

The beauty of this bill is that it has no “fiscal note”.  Just saying that to these staffers was fun!  With budget cuts and battles they are facing, this bill requires no funding.  It uses transportation dollars already allocated to road construction or renovation projects, and simply directs a portion to specifically address alternative transportation options.  I felt like Santa Claus, and truly gained grins from all who heard me repeat, “No fiscal note.”  With the bi-partisan drama unfolding daily in our Lege, it was almost soothing for these staffers to have a bi-partisan bill with no opposition and support of big players from both parties.

Exhausted and happy, I left feeling confident that Democratic and Republican Representatives alike realize this bill addresses health, wellness, and quality of life, while keeping all of their constituents -- be they 8 or 80 years old -- SAFE and HAPPY!

BikeTexas is in the trenches working hard for you.  If you haven’t joined, do so!  It is money well spent toward a bright future.  They’ve earned it!

 

   

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