Scenic Summer is CANCELLED!

UPDATE the City has told us the importance of exercise to help combat the COVID-19 Pandemic - yet today, when offered the chance to create a safe, traffic-free place where people could engage in healthy active recreation, they chose NOT to prioritize our health and wellness by voting no on 23.1.

 


Earlier
this spring, when the City shut down much of the community in
response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the City cited outdoor recreation
as an essential activity, necessary to promoting our physical and
mental health. Shortly thereafter, however, due to the popularity of
getting out to walk, bike or play, the City decided our parks and
trails were too crowded, and shut them down. While the City has
since reopened the trails, the City has said that budget and safety
concerns have made it all but impossible to re-open parks and other
recreational facilities.
 


Physical
activity is important, and so are safe , comfortable places where we
can exercise. Open Streets are a simple, cost effective method of
creating such safe, welcoming, and perhaps most importantly, traffic
free spaces for people to get out and exercise, and on Tuesday, June
9th, the El Paso City Council will consider extending the Scenic
Sundays program to an everyday Scenic Summer.
 


All the
City needs to do is close the gates to traffic, and in so doing, open
Scenic Drive exclusively to people to walk, to bike, and even to
play. Before the Pandemic, hundreds of people would enjoy Scenic
Drive as an open street every Sunday, so in response to the clear
demand for places to safely social distance while exercising, we
believe the City of El Paso should open streets all across the City
for people and businesses to engage in safe, essential and healthy
outdoor activity, and the first step in this process begins with
opening Scenic Drive to pedestrians and cyclists to create a Scenic
Summer.
 

We ask
that you contact our Mayor and City Representatives right away, and
encourage all your friends, family and associates to do the same,
then sign up to speak on ITEM 23.1 next Tuesday (instructions below)


 

Call/Email
Script


 

Dear
Mayor/Representative ____________,
 

Thank you
for recognizing outdoor activity and exercise
as essential for our physical and mental health, especially during
this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to thank you for
reopening our urban and natural open space trails for physical
activity. But even with the trails re-opened, we still need
more places where we can safely recreate and travel across our City,
and Scenic Summer (item 23.1) is a unique opportunity for the City of
El Paso to grow our very successful Scenic Sundays program and open
Scenic Drive exclusively to pedestrians and cyclists. I am asking
you to support Scenic Summer so that we may enjoy yet another needed
place where we can social distance and exercise for our physical
health and mental well being.
 

Dozens
of Cities across the United States and the world have closed streets
down to vehicles during this pandemic to allow extra space for safe,
social distancing, by providing a traffic free opportunity for active
recreation and play. Through the simple act of voting for Scenic
Summer, and closing the gates to traffic, you can open Scenic Drive
to all El Pasoans.
 


It is out of our collective concern for
people’s health, well being and safety that we need to identify and
open more traffic free places for people of all ages and abilities to
be able to get out and exercise. Despite a reduction in traffic
volumes during the pandemic , we have seen an increase in traffic
fatalities over this time last year! For so many, our streets don’t
feel safe, and sidewalks are too narrow, or at times simply not
available or even usable. We need and deserve safe and comfortable
places to walk, bike, play, and even travel for essential activities,
while safely social distancing, and Scenic Summer gives us another
needed place where we can do just that.
 

By
opening Scenic Drive to people, we can:


  • create
    another safe space for people to get out and exercise while safely,
    social distancing

  • add
    a safe route for people who engage in active transportation to get
    to/from essential jobs and destinations

  • prioritize
    people of all ages and abilities, so they can walk, bike or play




Please
vote yes on Item 23.1, Scenic Summer, and thank you for your
consideration,
 

[you
name]________________

 
 

City
of El Paso Contact List



Title


Name


Email


Phone
Mayor                                  Dee Margo                            mayor@elpasotexas.gov        (915) 212-0021     Was against 23.1
District 1 Representative     Peter Svarzbein                    district1@elpasotexas.gov      (915) 212-0001    Sponsored the item and voted YES
District 2 Representative     Alexsandra Annello               district2@elpasotexas.gov     (915) 212-0002     
Sponsored the item and voted YES
District 3 Representative     Cassandra Hernandez          district3@elpasotexas.gov     (915) 212-0003     V
oted YES on 23.1
District 4 Representative     Dr. Sam Morgan                    district4@elpasotexas.gov     (915) 212-0004     Voted NO on 23.1
District 5 Representative     Isabel Salcido                        district5@elpasotexas.gov     (915) 212-0005     
Voted NO on 23.1
District 6 Representative     Claudia Lizette Rodriguez     district6@elpasotexas.gov     (915) 212-0006     
Voted NO on 23.1
District 7 Representative     Henry Rivera                         district7@elpasotexas.gov     (915) 212-0007     
Voted NO on 23.1
District 8 Representative     Cissy Lizarraga                     district8@elpasotexas.gov     (915) 212-0008     
Voted NO on 23.1
City Manager                       Tommy Gonzalez                                                                 (915) 212-0023









Scenic Summer will be considered
by the El Paso City Council on June 9, and we strongly encourage to
contact the Mayor and Representatives now, as well as to sign up to
speak
on Item 23.1 during next Tuesday’s meeting. You will need to
sign up before the meeting starts at 9:00am, using the following link
(note: the form is only available from 12:00am Friday until 9:00am
Tuesday)
http://legacy.elpasotexas.gov/muni_clerk/signup_form_agenda.asp

UPDATE:  We have received word that this item will be moved to the front of the agenda




If you post this information on
social media, please be sure to use the hashtags: #OpenStreets
#ScenicSummer #StreetsForPeople #ActiveRecreation #ActiveTransportation

_____

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For more information on Open Streets and how our City can create more safe, open streets for people and businesses during this pandemic, please visit: https://nacto.org/streets-for-pandemic-response-recovery/
 
Below you will find graphics you can use and share, and a printable information sheet.
 


Basic Bike Maintenance Workshop


Thanks to everyone who joined us for our #BikeMonth2020 Social Distancing Basic Bicycle Maintenance Workshop.

Here you will find the video of the workshop and links to additional resources.

Topics Covered: ABC Quick Check, Fixing a Flat, Cleaning your Bike Chain

Enjoy the Ride

Links
ABC Quick Check: https://bikeleague.org/content/basic-bike-check-just-remember-abc-quick-check
Bicycle Maintenence Zine: https://neighborhoodanarchists.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Bike-Maintenance-Zine-Bike-Church.pdf


Bikes Belong

How does TxDOT celebrate Bike Month?

By telling people who ride bikes that they don’t belong on Trans Mountain route, a popular and designated bike route.

On Friday, May 1st, TxDOT El Paso posted on twitter that “Bicyclists who ride Transmountain[sic] need to find alternate routes while nine miles of the roadway undergoes rehabilitation from 0.4 miles west of Resler to .055 miles west of US 54. Bike lane closed yet, crews continue to see bicyclists ride through construction zone.”

This flies in the face of state law which considers bikes as vehicles, with all the rights and responsibilities, and the “Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices” (MUTCD), Part 6 which provides guidance on Temporary Traffic Controls (TTC) in work zones:The needs and control of all road users (motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians within the highway, or on private roads open to public travel, including persons with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Title II, Paragraph 35.130) through a TTC zone shall be an essential part of highway construction, utility work, maintenance operations, and the management of traffic incidents.

By simply closing this bike route and not providing a safe, convenient, alternate route for people on bikes, TxDOT is discriminating against those who use Trans 
Mountain for transportation – and recreation…  It doesn’t matter if someone is driving for recreation or transportation, so why should it matter for people riding bikes.  Yet TxDOT (and most people in fact) assume people in cars are driving for transportation, and people on bikes are riding for recreation.  Why we may be riding on Trans Mountain is irrelevant, all that matters is that this was a designated bike route, and TxDOT has failed to provide a safe route for us.

Please call Tomas Trevino, P.E., the TxDOT District Engineer at (361) 701-0169, and ask why TxDOT refuses to consider this an essential route, and provide a safe bike route over Trans Mountain, and when he will comply with both State Law and MUTCD guidance to ensure we too can safely travel over Trans Mountain on our bikes.

#BikesBelong!


What is a Social Distancing Ride or Walk?

First off, these rules are derived from medical, scientific, and health professionals – and while some people talk about “reopening our community” our commitment is to the health and safety of the entire community.  This means, no in person interactions, as these can have potentially dire consequences via the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  We take #SocialDistancing very seriously.

1.  No in person interactions!  While we encourage you to get out an walk or ride, so long as the potential to spread COVID-19 remains, any interactions with others should be at a distance.  For this reason, we do not specify a time or place to ride, that’s up to you.

2.  Rides should start and end at home.  This means you also need to take everything you need with you – snacks, drinks, tools, etc. – to avoid making any stops where you might come in close contact with others, including unnecessary trips to the grocery or corner store.  We are, after all, trying to stop the spread of this virus.

3.  Don’t leave any trash behind.  If you stop for snacks, a drink, or to take your selfie, make sure you you take everything with you and leave nothing behind for the next selfie champ.  You wouldn’t want to have to deal with someone else’s trash, would you?  Let’s keep out community as clean as we keep our hands.

4.  Masks are very highly recommended!!  Keep it on.  Keep your social distance, and for goodness sake, no riding in groups, or group pictures!  You can ride with those who live in your residence, but that’s the only exception!

Follow these rules, post your selfies on social media, use the appropriate hashtags like #BikeMonth2020 and #RideSolo and we will enter you into our special “Challenge.”  If you don’t follow the rules, not only do you risk spreading the virus, but we might be forced to withdraw you from the “Challenge.”

…Oh, and be warned, we might end up using your selfies on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
#RideSafe, keep #SocialDistancing and #RideSolo!

Check out VeloPaso’s upcoming Social Distancing Rides at http://www.velopaso.org/rides

MAY IS BIKE MONTH!

The grass is green, the air is clear, and so many of us are looking to get outside to walk and ride, so it’s time to celebrate Bike Month!  Bike Month is celebrated throughout May all over the world, the U.S., and here in El Paso too.  In years past, the cycling community celebrated Bike Month with all sorts of group rides and social activities, but this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be celebrating a little differently.  Our group rides are being replaced with “social distancing” solo rides (in which we ask you to ride alone, or just with those you reside with, then post a selfie of you and your bike along with the hashtag #BikeMonth2020). 

In addition, we also plan to pay special tribute to those essential workers who ride their bikes to and from work, along with our friends at our local bike shops who’ve been busy keeping our bikes in good working order, and also to welcome all those who took up riding this year to keep themselves and their families fit and healthy.

We will continue our advocacy work to bring awareness to our community leaders as to the importance of making our streets safer, and the need to continue building out a safe, connected network of bike lanes and urban trails, to provide more bike parking so we can ride to wherever we want to go, and the need for bike repair stations so we can keep our bikes rolling.

The fun starts in a couple of days, so for now, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, on visit our website at www.velopaso.org for more information about upcoming social distancing rides, online events, and our special Bike Month Challenge.  Until then, let’s stay healthy, keep social distancing, and get ready to celebrate #BikeMonth2020.

Check out our upcoming Social Distancing rides at: http://www.velopaso.org/rides

Want to learn more about the rules for social distancing rides?  Visit: http://www.velopaso.org/posts/what-is-a-social-distancing-ride-or-walk

We're Rolling Into 2020 with an America Walks Community Change Grant

Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition is honored to receive one of the 19 Community Change Grants awarded by America Walks for use in 2020. The program, now in its fifth year and supported by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, Lyft, the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD), Oregon Walks, and WalkBoston, provides funds that support grassroots efforts aimed at creating safe, accessible, and enjoyable places to walk and move.  

Velo Paso was selected from over 400 applications for projects that demonstrate the passion, creativity, and commitment of local walking champions. Awardees will work with America Walks and other partners to successfully complete their projects and share their lessons with other community change agents. While the projects and programs work to improve walkability, the results of each grant will have a positive change on many areas of that community. 

“At a time when pedestrian fatalities are at an all-time high and communities continue to try and find ways to be healthy, these grants provide support to those doing the hard, inspiring work at the local level,” said Executive Director Kate Kraft. “We are excited to work with these communities and use their efforts and stories to encourage other walking champions.” 

Velo Paso will be teaming up with Rosa Guerrero Elementary School to create a Safe Routes to School pilot program that we hope will encourage and enable the Rosa Guerrero students, of whom over 90% are currently driven to school, to be able to safely walk or ride their bikes to school. Velo Paso and the school’s leadership will be working with the students and parents to conduct walkability assessments, engage in wayfinding to identify safe routes, and train both the parent volunteers and students to walk and/or bike safely to the school.

With all the pedestrian safety concerns faced by our community, we felt this was the perfect opportunity to not only address concerns about children being able to walk to school safely, but to also help the children (and their parents) get more physically active.  We hope our work with Rosa Guerrero will not only prove beneficial to the school and it’s students and allow them to walk and bike safely to school, but that we will be able to replicate our efforts and help even more schools create their own Safe Routes to School programs in the future.

###

About America Walks: America Walks is a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing communities and advocates the resources to advance safe, accessible, and enjoyable places to walk and be physically active for all. The organization provides its diverse network of over 30,000 advocates and hundreds of local, state, and national organizations, with the tools, resources, and experts needed to build capacity, gain experiences, and successfully promote walking and walkability. Learn more at www.americawalks.org

About Velo Paso:  Velo Paso-Bicycle Pedestrian Coalition promotes healthy/active transportation across the Paso del Norte region, through education, outreach and advocacy.  For more information, please visit www.velopaso.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Gear Up with our 2019 Jerseys, Henleys and Caps!

It’s time to gear up and hit the streets and trails with our 2019 gear! 

Made by our friends at Primal, the 2019 jerseys feature a traditional fit with short sleeves, 3 rear pockets and a full hidden YKK zipper.
 
For those who want a more casual or MTB jersey, the henleys feature a lightweight technical fabric, short sleeves, rear zipper side pocket and a button collar. 
 
Top your look off with our one size fits most cycling cap – mix and match with your 2019 jersey, henley, or with whatever you’re wearing the next time you ride.  Keep the sun out of your eyes and two wheels down. 

All three drew art and inspiration from the tradition of Dia de Los Muertos and are here now just in time for the holidays
  
Jerseys and henleys are available in women’s and men’s sizes — click on the link for Primal’s sizing chart: https://www.primalwear.com/pages/size-chart 
Don’t miss out, order yours TODAY


Women’s and Men’s Jersey Sizes
Purchase Options


Women’s and Men’s Henley Sizes
Purchase Options


One Size Fits Most Cycling Caps
Purchase Options


Community Bike Swap

The Bike Swap is back! 

It’s free and fun for all! 

So gather up all your old and extra bikes, bike part, and bikey stuff, or start saving your pennies for all the great deals! 
Wheels, deals, workshops, vendors, food, music, community and fun!

October 12 
3-7 PM 
Monarch (204 E. Rio Grande) 


Ride for Reading is back!

There’s not many better combinations than bikes and books, except for getting to deliver those books on your bikes and getting to see the smile they bring to a child’s face. 

Join us on Friday, September 20 to deliver books to children at Rosa Guerrero Elementary School. We’ll meet at Mas y Menos Coffee Shop (1035 Belvedere St) to load up books onto our bikes at 8am – bring your bike racks, panniers, backpacks, bike trailers or cargo bikes – then we’ll ride to Rosa Guerrero Elementary School to deliver the books to the students. 

Ride for Reading donates books to children of low-income areas to promote literacy, as well as educating children about bicycling. 

So let’s get ready for a morning full of books, bikes, and fun!!


Caution (Do Not Slip on Tracks)

Bicycle Safety and the El Paso Streetcar Project
by Cat Cort

-
As many El Pasoans are aware, the $97 million El Paso Streetcar
Project is coming to fruition in 2018. The route is slated to run nearly five
miles, in two loops running downtown and uptown with 27 stops along the way.
From a bike rider’s perspective, maintaining cycling safety around the tracks
can at times, literally be a slippery slope. Many experienced urban riders have
already sustained injuries due to crashes in and around the tracks, as most of
the usual bike routes through the city and around the UTEP campus now run
parallel to the streetcar project. In even just a short trip downtown, cyclists
are forced to cross or ride parallel to the tracks due placement and other
obstacles (e.g. traffic, buses and parked cars).

Of particular concern are instances in which bicycle tires
become stuck in the track’s “flangeways” (gaps
in the road surface alongside rails) or when conditions are wet
and tires slide in or simply lose traction on the track surface. This is
especially dangerous when traveling downhill at high speeds and when turning to
cross the tracks – at any angle. There are several downtown intersections that have
no warning of the tracks a rider will encounter (see below photos) which adds
to the difficulty and danger inherent to navigating El Paso by bicycle. Hazardous
routes and unsafe conditions created by the addition of the streetcar tracks
serves to demotivate and intimidate bicycle users, especially beginner riders,
families with children, or visitors that may be interested in renting SunCycle
bikes to explore downtown.

A 2016 study of streetcar track-related bicycle crashes in Toronto
reported that crashes were more
common on major city streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure, which
describes nearly all of the downtown avenues in El Paso. As per the
design of the City, the El Paso Streetcar runs on shared roadways rather than
having a dedicated rail right of way, which means cyclists on these streets
will be forced into making quick decisions and sudden safety maneuvers around
the tracks to avoid other accidents. Since the City has no apparent plans to make
these routes safer (e.g. creating physically separated bike lanes, protected
intersections, installing proper signage etc.) or to create connected,
alternate safe routes for cyclists around El Paso, the responsibility once
again falls to us, the commuters and recreational cyclists of El Paso, to watch
out for our own safety, especially in the downtown area.

Ways to be a smart cyclist around tracks include knowing and
planning your routes, riding a bike with thicker tires (though anything less
than a fat bike is still prone to getting caught), using lights at night and of
course, wearing safety gear such as helmets and gloves. Crossing tracks at a
perpendicular angle (optimally between 45-90°) and performing two-step left
turns are other ways to avoid crashes, but far from error-proof and can go
wrong in seconds during an unexpected maneuver or in inclement weather
conditions when road surfaces are slick.

Furthermore, why should 100% of the responsibility fall to
the non-vehicular road user? Although there are no formal design guidelines,
there are numerous infrastructure examples and studies from cities around the
world that include multi-use safety measures – basic research that could have
been integrated into the City of El Paso’s design from the start. Even if our current
infrastructure does not allow for creation of protected bike routes, the City
could look into rubber flangeway fillers that provide a level surface for
bicyclists but which the streetcar can safely pass over. At the very least, an
awareness campaign including proper signage or route designation (see video)
would certainly help alert unfamiliar riders how to safely interact with
streetcar tracks, but again this method isn’t foolproof and still doesn’t remove
the inherent danger that shared roadway designs pose to bicyclists.

While we welcome an alternative to driving between
attractions in El Paso and look forward to lightening the traffic load during
downtown events, we can’t help but feel as though the lack of proper
consideration for cyclists and non-vehicular users is an egregious infrastructure
planning error on behalf of the City of El Paso and the Camino
Real Regional Mobility Authority.

-
Have you experienced a crash and/or sustained an injury due to the
El Paso Streetcar Project? Let us know by emailing info@velopaso.org or submit
a comment under “Contact Us” page. Remember, the single best investment you can make to improve conditions
for people who walk and bike El Paso’s border region is to become a member of
Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition today at http://www.velopaso.org/membership.
-

Video: How to Properly Cross Rail
Tracks on Your Bike


References


Alter, Lloyd. 2016. Cyclists and streetcar tracks don’t mix.
Treehugger.com


El Paso Streetcar Project at Sunmetro.net

Maus, Jonathan. 2011. A few ideas on how to improve streetcar track safety. BikePortland.org 
Teschke, et al. 2016. Bicycling crashes on streetcar (tram)
or train tracks: mixed methods to identify prevention measures. BMC Public
Health 16:617. Biomedcentral.com


Vance, Steve. 2010. Bikes and Streetcar Tracks. Stevencanplan.com


Copyright © 2020 Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition.
A 501©(3) nonprofit organization.