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Guest Post: Don't Mess with El Paso Bike Share
This is a guest post by Scott White, member of the Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition.
Update: Members of the Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition talked to their local ABC-affiliate about their efforts. Watch here.
The Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition attended the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority's (CRRMA) monthly meeting to support the city-wide Bike Share program after Bike Texas and the League of American Bicyclists sent out an urgent action alert.
The CRRMA announced last week that TxDOT would not fund the bike share program with money from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ), funding that the bike share program fully qualifies for under requirements stipulated by the Federal Highway Administration. When asked why, it was reported that TxDOT did not believe this was an appropriate use for these funds.
Robin Stallings, Executive Director of Bike Texas, disagrees.
"San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth have all proven that bike share can be successful in Texas at reducing air pollution, improving traffic congestion, contributing to healthier populations, boosting local economies, and attracting tourism," she said. "Many different organizations in El Paso have come together and agreed that moving forward with bike share is the best use of CMAQ funds. BikeTexas hopes that TxDOT follows through with serving the needs of the community in this way."
Without the $1.6 million from TxDOT, funding plummets to just $400,000. All interested stakeholders plan on moving forward with the Bike Share project. The CRRMA also revealed that Fort Bliss, the Army's second largest military installation, has expressed interest in joining the Bike Share program.
"We applaud the efforts of the CRRMA and the El Paso MPO for forging unique partnerships with the city, UTEP [University of Texas at El Paso] and Fort Bliss," said Bennett Foster, board member of Velo Paso. "They brokered a dream deal that could unite the city and fundamentally change how we think about transportation."
So, is Bike Share dead? Not necessarily, but what will happen next is unclear.
"No final decision has been made yet," said Veronica Beyer, a TxDOT spokeswoman. "TxDOT plans to coordinate conversations with transportation partners to garner more information on how we can dedicate those limited funds to important congestion-mitigation projects around the state."
Do you want to save El Paso's bike share program?
Email TxDOT El Paso District office here. Or call their office (915) 790-4203.