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An Open Letter to Texas DOT and City/Counties in the Austin areas

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An Open Letter to Texas DOT and City/Counties in the Austin areas

Old 01-15-11, 04:44 PM
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BikeDork02
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An Open Letter to Texas DOT and City/Counties in the Austin areas

(Sent this to the DOT recently, but wanted to post here as well)

Hello,

I moved to this area almost a year ago from Southern California. The move was relocation for a promotion at work. Before working for my current employer I was a buyer/mechanic/salesman/ road shop-ride leader at a local bike shop in California. I am also a bicycle advocate.

With that being said, I ride a road bike, and was hoping to be able to continue my hobby in earnest when moving to the hometown of one of the most famous/infamous cyclist of all time.

Much to my disappointment, bike lanes, sidewalks, and paved bike trails are almost nonexistent throughout this area.

I recently attended a focus group for Texas DOT with some fellow advocates, and I was thoroughly disappointed. How can Texas, and the counties/city's claim to even be pro cycling when they dont install sidewalks between neighborhoods and schools? I would never let my child ride a bike to school while taking the lane.

I call upon all involved governmental agencies to take a hard look at the design of roadways in urban, and semi-rural areas in Texas. A change is needed. Sidewalks/bike lanes are a must, and a mandate must be made at all levels. Before any road improvements are approved for funding, sidewalks, and a 3-4 ft bike lane must be built into the plan in all areas that contain schools or residential homes.

This will encourage healthy living amongst our youngest citizen's and will improve/encourage bicycle commuting among adults.

Sincerely,

Last edited by BikeDork02; 01-16-11 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 01-15-11, 11:37 PM
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martialman.45
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Good luck with that.
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Old 01-16-11, 11:37 AM
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Sorry.....

Originally Posted by martialman.45 View Post
Good luck with that.
...I really hate to have to agree with martialman (not that there is anything wrong with martialman!) but, fact is, "Bubba don't ride no bike to school!"....and THAT is the attitude which is most prevelant around these parts when it comes to bicycles in general. Hate that it's that way, wish I could change it and I try, but I don't think I'll see many of the needed changes in my lifetime....Bubba will probably run me off the road and kill me before those changes are all in place!
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Old 01-16-11, 12:05 PM
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I have to agree with the "good luck with that" statement. There are just way too many Bubba-owned farm/ranch trucks, oilfield trucks, cattle trucks and clueless drivers talking on cell phones while reaching over the seat to beat their kids here in Texas to hope for even a smidgen of safety efforts from TxDOT.

There is however at least one city that is making an effort to be more bike friendly. Amarillo has done a pretty good job of engaging in the 'rails to trails' movement by installing wide sidewalks, manicured lawns, rest stop awnings and benches everywhere the rail lines have abanodoned tracks within the city limits. They also seem to be making an effort to paint bicycle lanes on a large number of major thorough-fares(sp?) to get cyclists across the city and between large residential areas a bit more safely. Despite all that, I choose to take my chances on the wide shoulders of St. & US hiways where there are fewer intersections, driveways, etc. for idiot cagers to turn or pull out in front of you. Of course where I live, that (hwy shoulder) is about the only option unless I want to ride within the city limits of Fritch which offers only about 6 miles (E to W) of semi-level riding on fairly decent streets. That makes it tough for me personally to get a lot of miles in as I tend to get bored with repeating the same trek 5 times just to get a 30-mile ride in. It's much less mundane to take St. 136 toward Amarillo for 15 or 20 miles and then do a 180 and come back; or toward Borger to US 207 and South toward Panhandle to get a 30 or 40 mile ride. Both of those roads have 6 to 8-ft. wide shoulders and if you pay attention to the sounds of traffic and a decent mirror, you can ride fairly safely there.
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Old 01-16-11, 12:19 PM
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The city streets that would contain the bike lanes you're advocating are not under TxDOT's jurisdiction, they're be under the city's jurisdiction. If it doesn't have a numbered route shield, like SH130 or FM973, it's not a TxDOT road—and even then, I think it's up to the local authorities (city or county) to actually regulate and maintain the roads.

Complaining to TxDOT about this is kind of like complaining to a cable TV operator for the lousy reception you get with your TV's rabbit ears.

All that said: TxDOT's entire reason for existence is to be a corporate-welfare agency that funnels taxpayer money (and now, tollpayer money) to Texas construction companies for the purpose of building highways.
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Old 01-16-11, 12:58 PM
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@ Bikedork If you want to have bike lanes installed into your neighborhood and to your kids school, open your wallet and pay for them. When you look at the cost that it will take to put them in, you will realize why the lanes and side walks are not there. It takes money, lots of money that the City of Austin does not have.

Austin does have a good bike lane system. It may not go into every neighborhood, but as far as getting around town it works. I am not saying it couldnt be better, or more lanes could not be added, but talk to your city councilmen and try to get the lanes added where they need to be.

As far as getting your kids to school, I would not let them walk or ride their bikes if your that concerned with traffic in your neighborhood. It would be better for them to be able to ride their bikes, or walk, but if you want them to do it, then go with them.
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Old 01-16-11, 01:21 PM
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I, for one, appreciate the effort. As a resident of the Leander/Cedar Park area who has recently re-discovered a love of biking, I realized that bike-safe routes are woefully lacking in our towns and think it is a good idea to try and get an ordinance passed that requires bike lane consideration. Will it happen overnight? No. But the more people make the effort to be heard instead of just sitting back with the "good luck with that" attitude, then the sooner it will happen.

Also, as someone who was born and raised in the Austin area I have seen the dramatic shift in population. As a % of population, there are not nearly as many "bubbas" as there used to be. And in the 13 years I have lived in Leander, I have seen the views and direction of the city council change to reflect the new demographics. There is a long way to go, but if we just sit on out collective rear-ends and just complain about it and whine that it will never change, then we will never get there.

So thank you BikeDork02 for at least doing something.
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Old 01-16-11, 05:37 PM
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I left California over 10 years ago due to feeling like a second class citizen for being a firearms enthsiast. Been really into bicycles the last few years in rural east texas and people here care more about their dogs than my life. So in essence, cyclists are veiwed as lower than animals by most. Almost every ride to work in Liberty county some Bubba goes out of their way to buzz me on the shoulder at 80+mph to "teach me a lesson". Needless to say I'm trying to get out of this state. They do love guns here though.
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Old 01-18-11, 07:42 AM
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to get your head around a bike path construction costs, here is a 2.2 mile stretch they are building by me in Houston. $4.4MM...

https://apps.dot.state.tx.us/apps/pro...5&dist=Houston

I found the 200k I rode in Austin last weekend to have excellent shoulders in busy places and understanding drivers all around. my 2 cents.
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Old 01-18-11, 08:34 AM
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As a jaded yankee living in Texas, let me try to anticipate the reaction this will receive:

Originally Posted by BikeDork02 View Post
Hello,
Didn't start with Howdy? He's no Texan.

I moved to this area almost a year ago from Southern California.
Oh, he's from the land of fruits and nuts.

The move was relocation for a promotion at work. Before working for my current employer I was a buyer/mechanic/salesman/ road shop-ride leader at a local bike shop in California. I am also a bicycle advocate.
Yep. One of them bike nuts.

With that being said, I ride a road bike, and was hoping to be able to continue my hobby in earnest when moving to the hometown of one of the most famous/infamous cyclist of all time.

Much to my disappointment, bike lanes, sidewalks, and paved bike trails are almost nonexistent throughout this area.
Well, it's a road bike, after all...

I recently attended a focus group for Texas DOT with some fellow advocates, and I was thoroughly disappointed. How can Texas, and the counties/city's claim to even be pro cycling when they dont install sidewalks between neighborhoods and schools? I would never let my child ride a bike to school while taking the lane.

I call upon all involved governmental agencies to take a hard look at the design of roadways in urban, and semi-rural areas in Texas. A change is needed. Sidewalks/bike lanes are a must, and a mandate must be made at all levels. Before any road improvements are approved for funding, sidewalks, and a 3-4 ft bike lane must be built into the plan in all areas that contain schools or residential homes.

This will encourage healthy living amongst our youngest citizen's and will improve/encourage bicycle commuting among adults.

Sincerely,
Ack... okay, this is for your kid to get to school. All kidding aside, contact Bike Texas. They have a Safe Routes to School program. As far as trying to spur action in your local community, one step to take is to get to know your local councilman and convince him that this is a worthy project. Don't get involved with trying to revolutionize the whole community, just try to fix your specific issue. Once successful, you can inspire other local advocates to do the same for their neighborhoods and the movement may get traction (or maybe not).
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