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News / Blog

BikeTexas BikeNews

2011 Legislative Session Wrap Up

BikeNews; Advocacy

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.

Regards,

Robin Stallings
Executive Director
BikeTexas

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Legislative Team
Staff
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

Outside Lobbyists

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

Citizen Lobbyists
Many people called, emailed or visited their legislators.

STATE UPDATE

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

FEDERAL UPDATE

National Bike Summit
Federal Complete Streets Bill Filed
Federal Bike and Pedestrian Funding Safe for Now

LOCAL UPDATE

Safe Passing Ordinances Spreading

 


STATE UPDATE

Bike Ban Defeated in Texas State Cemetery

Texas_State_Cemetery_EllisThe Superintendent of the Texas State Cemetery attempted to ban cyclists from riding through the scenic cemetery. Although there was no explicit reference to bicycles in HB 2091, the bill analysis cited problems the cemetery has had with “an increase in bicycle traffic, which some claim has led to disruptions of tours, ceremonies, and other events.”

Read more: click here

 

Texting Ban Passes Senate

Text_Ban_Press_Conference_2011The 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.

Read more: click here

 

Complete Streets Milestones

CompleteStreets-v3BikeTexas 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.

Read more: click here

 

Collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthy Texas, AARP and Transit Authorities

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.

Read more: click here

 

New TxDOT Policy More Bike and Ped Friendly

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.

Read more: click here

 

Trails on Utility Rights-of-Way

Utility-Trails-PhotoSeveral 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.

Read more: click here

 

Rear Red Light

HB 1583 would have required a red light at night, and allowed the lights to be on the bicyclist or the bicycleBikeTexas 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.

Read more: click here

 

Specialty License Plate Revenue May Suffer

Share the Road Y'all license plate funds the BikeTexas Share the Road Motorist/Cyclist Education programSadly, 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.

Read more: click here

 

Cyclists in Suits 2011 - Texas' Bike Lobby Day

Cyclists in Suits 2011 Group PhotoThe 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

 

Shifting Gears 2011 - Transportation and Health Policy Luncheon with Gil Peñalosa

Gil Peñalosa, Director of 8-80 Cities, addresses legislators and staff at the Texas State Capitol for Shifting Gears 2011On 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.

Read more: click here

 

FEDERAL UPDATE

Federal Bike and Pedestrian Funding Safe for Now

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.

Read more: click here

 

Federal Complete Streets Bill Filed

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.

Read more: click here

 

BikeTexas at the 2011 National Bike Summit

National Bike Summit 2011 - Texas DelegationIf 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

 

LOCAL UPDATE

Safe Passing Ordinances Spreading

Vulnerable Road User Ordinances typically specify 3' passing for cars and 6' for commercial vehicles, including buses.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.

However, the fight’s not over! Every city in Texas must pass this ordinance to truly make bicyclists and pedestrians safe. Please  Esta dirección electrónica esta protegida contra spambots. Es necesario activar Javascript para visualizarla if your city has yet to pass this ordinance and you want to get involved in creating change in your community!

   

Complete Streets Runs Out of Time in 2011

BikeNews; Advocacy

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.

 

Leer más: Complete Streets Runs Out of Time in 2011

   

Bike to Work Day 2011

BikeNews; Community

Don't forget that this Friday, May 20 is Bike to Work Day!  Observed all over the country as the third Friday in May, it is a great opportunity to make that special effort to ride to work, whether you're a daily bike commuter or only ride for recreation.  There is a great sense of community on the roads as more people of all stripes hop on a bike to get to their jobs.

Many Texas cities are celebrating Bike to Work Day: check out events in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin!  And if there's no official Bike to Work Day event in your community, bike in yourself and lead by example!  At the BikeTexas office in Austin we will be taking part in the festivities as usual by hosting a breakfast station for bike commuters.  If you're in Austin, stop by and say hi!
   

Ride of Silence is Wednesday, May 18 2011

BikeNews; Community

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.

There are at least 14 rides planned all over Texas.  Click here to find a ride near you. If the Austin ride is not listed on the website, information can be found here.

Ride safely.
   

Action Alert: Ask your Senator today to Vote Yes on SB 513 - Complete Streets

BikeNews; Action Alerts

Action Alert Banner - BikeTexas 20 years

Time is running out,

Please Ask Your State Senator TODAY

to Support the Complete Streets Bill!

 

Complete Streets Logo

SB 513 passed out of committee yesterday, and we must confirm 21 YES votes in the Senate before it can be brought for a vote on the Senate floor, which could happen as early as Tuesday. Please call your senator NOW and ask if they intend to vote YES or NO on Complete Streets (SB 513), then  Esta dirección electrónica esta protegida contra spambots. Es necesario activar Javascript para visualizarla how he or she responded.

The deadline has passed for bills to be scheduled for a vote in the House, so the House version of Complete Streets is effectively dead.  This means our only chance to pass the bill is in the Senate, and that's why we need YOU to ask your senator to vote FOR SB 513!

Yesterday, The Complete Streets bill passed another milestone, when the Senate Transportation Committee voted SB 513 out of committee. The vote was 5-4.Voting for the bill were SenatorsRodney Ellis, Wendy Davis, Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, Kirk Watson and Jeff Wentworth.  Voting againstwere Senators Chris Harris, Robert Nichols, Florence Shapiro and Tommy Williams.

 

Now we have to act quickly for the bill to have a chance of making it through before the end of the legislative session!

 

The bill must be voted on in the Senate NEXT WEEK, so it can have time to go to the House for a vote.

 

To find out who your State Senator is, click here!

 

Find your senator's contact information here.

 

For information on the Complete Streets bill such as bill language, supporting organizations and bill authors, go to the BikeTexas website.

 

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Before writing or calling, please review our general guidelines for writing your representatives. Some specific points we suggest you make for a letter or phone call regarding SB 513 are:

  • Properly address your representative (see our general guidelines) Identify yourself as a constituent (e.g. "I'm a voter in District 4", or "I live in your district.")
  • Briefly state your background and any relevant affiliations (e.g., I'm a city official/engineer/PTA member/parent and a member of BikeTexas)
  • State that SB 513 (the Complete Streets Bill) is important to you and why in a short sentence or two. Make it personal to your experience. See our FAQ's for ideas.
  • Ask that your representative vote Yes on SB 513. Making a specific request is key. You might ask it as a question, e.g. "Will you support SB 513?"
  • Be polite. You might thank them for their public service.

For more information, contact BikeTexas at 512-476-7433 or Esta dirección electrónica esta protegida contra spambots. Es necesario activar Javascript para visualizarla .

 

Please forward this information to your friends and neighbors!

   

BikeTexas Staff Attends International Cycling Conference in Spain

BikeNews; Advocacy

In late March, BikeTexas staff attended Velo-city Seville, the premier world event focusing on cycling as a means of urban transport.

“Velo-city Seville was very impressive,” said Fernando Martinez, BikeTexas Safe Routes to School program manager. “There was a lot of information, excitement and excellent organizers, presenters and participants. This is a great group of people who want to see changes all over the world.”

Texas enjoyed a strong showing at the event. Attending thanks to a generous grant from Bikes Belong facilitated by BikeTexas were Dallas City Councilmembers Delia Jasso and Pauline Medrano; Dallas Bike Coordinator Max Kalhammer; Tom Wald, executive director for the League of Bicycling Voters; and planner and former BikeTexas Board Chair Bud Melton.

More than 1,000 international attendees gathered to discuss the conference’s four central themes: the health benefits of cycling for cities and their inhabitants; education as a way of changing urban mobility habits; efficiency of cycling-related public investments; and the impact of cycling on the economy and employment.

Gil Peñalosa, an international expert on livable communities and executive director of 8-80 Cities (and speaker at BikeTexas' 2011 Shifting Gears policy events), served as master of ceremonies for the event.

“There were a lot of good presentations about Mexico City, Guadalajara and Leon, Guanajuato,” Martinez said. “They talked about bike sharing program, cycle tracks networks and ciclovias.”

Martinez met with Manfred Neun, President of the European Cyclists Federation, and talked about the possibilities of bringing Velo-city to the United States. Neun explained the preparation involved in hosting the event and the steps each city has taken to earn the coveted bid.

The city of Seville, for example established a complete network of cycling infrastructure in just three years, which boosted the number of cyclists from 6,000 to 60,000 daily uses. Seville has become a worldwide point of reference for cities with no tradition of cycling as a means of urban transport, showing that a rapid and efficient change in infrastructure and use is possible.

“Seville has a great bike network," said Martinez.  "The downtown area is the place where everyone hangs out and everyone walks or bikes in that area. Thousands of people of all ages take over the downtown streets. I was very impressed — I’ve never seen so many people every day walking in such a small space.”

During the conference, Martinez and other participants went on a 36-km bike ride to La Via Verde de la Sierra.

“What a great place. There was some off-road trail riding, some paved trail riding and great country views on the hills on La Sierra de Cadiz,” Martinez said. “I took a lot of pictures, I met the president of the foundation and Mellow Johnny’s Eileen Schaubert and I got interviewed by the news crew.”

Texas attendees agreed to attend different workshops and presentations so they could get the most out of the conference and share information when they returned home.

“It will be nice to have a meeting and conference call with all the other people from Texas to hear what they have to say,” Martinez said.

   

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