Premiere Business Members & Sponsors
Dear Fellow Cyclists,
Thank you for your support during the 2011 legislative session. Every Texas legislative session is unique and challenging in its own way and this past session was no exception. In spite of a well-written bill with bipartisan authorship, an impressive alliance of organizations in support, a legislative team with decades of experience, and an active, informed, grassroots we were unable to pass Complete Streets in 2011. While we are disappointed that the bill, filed as SB 513 and HB 1105, did not pass this session, we are not surprised. Making Texas a better place for cyclists and pedestrians is a tough sell in our car-centric legislature. A compelling and logical argument will not win the day without a powerful and committed grassroots.
The challenge before all of us in the next two years is twofold: educate the legislators about the value of Complete Streets and further build our grassroots muscle so that it is politically advantageous to elected officials to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. Please join or renew your membership in BikeTexas, recruit your friends that care about safe places to bikes and walk and shop at the wonderful bicycle shops that contribute so much to our work.
See the links below for a recap of the state, local and federal legislation and activities we have been working on for the past six months. We have also been very busy working on our bicycle and pedestrian safety education programs which we will detail in a future update.
Robin Stallings – has managed six state legislative sessions on behalf of BikeTexas, registered lobbyist
Leslie Puckett – BikeTexas Staff Attorney, registered lobbyist
Emma Cravey – former staff for a US Congressman and a City Councilmember
Jack Sanford – Graphic Designer
Mark Stine – Special Projects Manager, fourth legislative session on behalf of BikeTexas
Ray Allen – Contract Lobbyist, former State Representative
Scott Gilmore – Contract Lobbyist, former Chief of Staff for State Representative
Jeff Heckler – Contract Lobbyist, former Chief of Staff for State Senator
Many people called, emailed or visited their legislators.
Cyclists in Suits 2011
Shifting Gears 2011
Complete Streets Milestones
Collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthy Texas, AARP and Transit Authorities
Texting Ban Passes Senate
Bike Ban Defeated in Texas State Cemetery
Trails on Utility Rights-of-Way
Rear Red Light Bill
Specialty License Plate Revenue May Suffer
New TxDOT Policy More Bike and Ped Friendly
The Senate passed HB 242, which includes an amendment that bans texting while driving. Senator Judith Zaffirini introduced the amendment, which allows municipalities to ban drivers from using wireless communication devices unless they are stopped. BikeTexas attended the press conference of Representative Craddick, the bill author, and recruited many bicyclist supporters to attend the conference.
BikeTexas made solid progress in fighting for Complete Streets, though we will have to try again in 2013. It passed in both the House Transportation Committee and the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. Unfortunately, it did not pass through the House or Senate before the session ended, so Complete Streets will not be passed into law. We will have to try again in 2013.
We couldn’t have gotten as far as we did without help from the Partnership for a Healthy Texas, the AARP, transit authorities and other groups (click here for a full list). BikeTexas’ Executive Director, Robin Stallings, is on the steering committee for the Partnership, which is an association of health-related organizations that crusade against obesity and promote diet and exercise-related legislation.
Though Complete Streets did not become law, BikeTexas was influential in beefing up the Texas Department of Transportation’s new bicycle and pedestrian policy which goes into effect on August 31, 2011. BikeTexas gave feedback on the draft of the policy, and TxDOT included several of the following suggestions from BikeTexas. The policy encourages TxDOT projects (on state facilities) to consider bicycle and pedestrian amenities. If no bicycle and pedestrian facilities are planned, the managing office shall state why no such facilities are planned. Also, the inclusion of bicycle and pedestrian facilities shall be considered when the project is scoped, which means it must be considered when the project is initially planned.
Several groups in Houston, along with BikeTexas, had hopes that HB 1943 would allow for the development of trails along utility rights-of-way, in order to connect five major bayou trails in the Houston area. By absolving from liability the owners and/or operators of utility rights-of-way in Houston and El Paso, HB 1943 would have facilitated development of multi-use walking and biking trails along utility easements in those areas.
BikeTexas also attempted to help pass HB 1583, a bill that would have required cyclists to have a rear red light as well as a front white light. Currently the state transportation code only requires a red rear reflector, but we believe that a reflector alone is much less safe than a light. The bill also would have allowed for lights to be on the bicyclist or the bicycle. Currently lights are required on the bicycle itself.
Sadly, BikeTexas may have lost much of its essential specialty license plate funding this legislative session. BikeTexas currently receives revenue from four specialty license plates, including the Share the Road Y’all Plate and the new Texas Trails plate, which it uses to fund its child bicycle safety education programs. This legislative session, the House of Representatives and the Senate used the money in an attempt to balance the state budget deficit of $23 billion.
The state Capitol was awash in neon BikeTexas bicycle pins after about 40 cyclists and advocates descended on Austin for Cyclists in Suits Texas Bike Lobby Day on Monday, March 21. Cyclists from all over Texas split into small teams and met individually with transportation staffers in every legislative office at the Capitol — all 181 of them — to discuss key pieces of bike-friendly legislation filed this session.
Read more: click here
On Thursday, Febraury 3, 2011, over 150 people including several legislators and their staff filled a room at the State Capitol to hear Gil Penalosa speak about connecting health and quality of life to modest changes in our transportation. This lunch event was the second of three events in the 2011 Shifting Gears Lecture Series, which saw Penalosa speak twice in Austin and once in San Antonio, inspiring crowds to take action to improve Texan communities as places for people.
BikeTexas is engaged in saving Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails programs from federal rescissions. Each year, the federal government asks state transportation agencies to return unobligated funding. Rescissions are decided by the TxDOT Transportation Commission based on the advice of TxDOT staff and an outside rescission advisory committee.
On May 5, Representatives from California and Ohio introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011, which would require state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to write and adopt Complete Streets policies to apply to projects using federal funding. The bill is H.R. 1780.
If it's spring, it's time for the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., and that's exactly where BikeTexas staff went the week of March 6, 2011. This year, BikeTexas was able to send four staff members, and, as always, it was a valuable experience for each one. Texas attendees included bike advocates, retailers, and cycling citizens who want to make a difference.
Read more: click here
BikeTexas has been traveling around the state and working with different city and community leaders to implement safe passing ordinances. This year, 4 new cities enacted safe passing ordinances – El Paso, Denton, Ft. Worth, Beaumont – totaling 9 cities with such ordinances.
Dear Fellow BikeTexas Members,
The Complete Streets legislative initiative has run out of time.
BikeTexas made great strides in fighting for Complete Streets this legislative session. Thanks for the many key calls and emails made by YOU, our members. We will try again in 2013.
The bill passed through the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, and it also passed through the House of Representatives' Transportation Committee. Unfortunately, it did not pass through the House or Senate before the session ended, so Complete Streets will not become law this session.
This Wednesday, May 18, cyclists all over the world will come together in their local communities to honor friends, family and neighbors who have been killed while riding. Begun in Dallas in 2003, the Ride has spread across the globe as a way to come together to remember fallen cyclists.
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