The Big Hole

Earlier this week a sink hole opened up on Mesa.  This sort of thing happens from time to time,a water main fails and then we end up with a big hole in some street or another.  No biggie, right?


We just wait until these sort of things fail, knowing they will, but don’t have contingency plans in place…  At least “comprehensive” plans.  You see, when the work crew showed up and blocked off traffic, they didn’t have a plan for pedestrians.  No signage, no barriers, nothing to keep people from falling into the big trench they dug…

When these kind of events occur, we’re supposed to make sure all road users are protected.  Of course the same holds true for planned construction projects.  It doesn’t mean it happens.  There are certain measures that should occur as a part of any project, planned or not – like making sure ALL road users are accounted for, not just those in cars and trucks…  Or buses – we’ll except the bus stops beyond the sink hole were ‘closed’ as well.  Not explanation, just a little caution tape and you’re on your own.

And that’s the real big hole in our system.  Our City doesn’t plan for people – just cars apparently.  They’ll make sure cars can get around (sort of), but they leave people to fend for themselves.  People who walk, or ride bicycles, or even use transit constantly get left out of the plans.  When our leaders think about streets, they assume cars and trucks, not people.  The traffic experts focus on vehicle counts, not people moved.  Building new roads, rather than maintaining those we have.  Engineering roads for cars, rather than designing places for people.  Cars, in their minds, come first.

It’s telling that when a sink hole forms, and the work crews only care about cars and trucks.


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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

You want me to go Where?

Imagine you’re driving down the road and suddenly encounter barricades.  No detour signs.  No directions.  Just “Road Closed.”  What would you do?  Well, those of us who walk and/or ride bicycles know that feeling all too well.  With all the recent construction we are – unfortunately – accustomed to such obstructions.  A barricade, a fence, caution tape blocking our path to indicate the sidewalk, the crosswalk, or one of our far too rare bike lanes is closed to accommodate construction.  We’re all happy to see new development, and better roadways, but how are we supposed to get around the construction?  If we are lucky, there’s a sign that says go there…  Problem is, you do that and then there’s no sign saying where to go next.  Or worse, there is another sign, and it says to go even further out of your way.

We experienced one such excessive detour not long ago as part of a – wait for it – Pedestrian Friendly project!  To get from one side of Cincinnati Street to the other (as was common before they tore the street up to make it pedestrian friendly) we were directed to cross Stanton, then Cincinnati, then the crosswalk back was closed so we were then to walk a block north to Baltimore in order to re cross Stanton, and then walk back that block to get to the other side of the street.  What was once a simple 50 foot crossing was now perhaps ten times that far. Yes, 10 X that far because it was easier for the contractors to tell people to take an unreasonable detour rather than install a temporary ramp that would had shortened the route dramatically, and made it ADA accessible.  Human nature says we’re not going to go all the way around.  And people weren’t.

People we’re ignoring the signs that some well meaning expert (who clearly never spends more time out of their vehicle than absolutely necessary) had put in place as part of the “official pedestrian route.”  That might suffice for planning documents, but it actually puts people at risk because we tend to walk/ride/drive the route that we believe will be quickest.  When you come up to that sign saying the sidewalk is closed, and you look to see where that alternate route might take you, and you see a direct route, we’re most likely going to take that direct route, even if it puts us in harms way – because we don’t want to spend the extra time, or travel that extra distance, just to take the supposedly safe way around.  We want to take the direct route.

That’s why walk/bike friendly cities actually require construction projects to plan, budget and actually install safe routes for people to make sure they can easily make their way through construction zones.  And it’s not as there there isn’t standardized guidance available, the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (or MUTCD for short) which is a kind of bible for transportation and construction planning has a whole chapter dedicated to Temporary Traffic Controls, including guidance for creating safe routes for people who walk, ride, or have disabilities to make sure they can pass safely.  Unfortunately, it appears El Paso thinks this is optional.  In other words, you can plan for people by not planning safe routes for them.  Just put up a sign saying you can’t go here, and you’re done.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve called out numerous instances where contractors had unnecessarily blocked crosswalks, sidewalks and bike lanes, or failed to provide safe routes for people that did not cause pedestrians to have to interact unsafely with traffic.  In some cases, the specific issue we called out was addressed, but as with our most recent concerns (and we did provide specific suggestions how to easily remedy the situation) we got responses like:
“Staff reported that they are aware of the concern and are reviewing the pedestrian pathways to make any adjustments, as necessary.”

Does that sound like “staff” are actually concerned?  We don’t think so either.  To their credit, a temporary ramp we requested was installed, and a temporary crossing was added along Mesa, but that was only after we complained, and ABC7 did a story about our concerns.  But that still means there are still more temporary routes needing to be installed, not just as part of the Cincinnati project, but at every project.  The problem is “staff” will address specific concerns, but refuse to see the systematic failure to provide safe alternate routes.  Or to put up scaffolding to protect people from work overhead, or to not put signs warning of upcoming construction in the sidewalk or the bike lane, or…  Well, it comes from a disregard for the needs of people to actually reach their destination safely, without having to go too far out of their way.

In theory, every road and construction project is supposed to include a Temporary Traffic Control Plan, we just want to know if they do, and if they do, who is responsible for making sure they actually include safe, accessible routes for people.  If not, who are these “staff” who apparently don’t believe we need to make our streets, in and around construction zones safe and accessible for all people, of all ages, and all abilities?

We shouldn’t have to be doing the Cities work for them – pointing out when contractors are putting people at risk, either because they didn’t put in safe, accessible routes through/around the construction, or because they weren’t required to plan for it in the first place.

…and that’s just during the construction.  The final product we get is often worse.  But that’s an issue for another day.


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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

Urban Land Institute Advises City of El Paso on Strategies for Developing a Sustainable Active Transportation Network

WASHINGTON (November 14, 2016) –  A group of renowned land use and urban planning experts has been convened by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to make recommendations to the City of El Paso on developing resilient land use strategies for the proposed regional Active Transportation System (ATS). The panel, which includes experts representing all aspects of urban design and urban development, is being sponsored by the City of El Paso’s Office of Resilience & Sustainability. Posted on November 14, 2016 by Robert Krueger

Photo courtesy of elpasotexasgov

Photo courtesy of

The ATS, an initiative from the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), looks to connect existing paths around El Paso County and the region. Through the proposal, the MPO aims to promote healthy living and carless transportation options such as biking and walking.

The panelists, convened through ULI’s advisory services program, will be visiting El Paso next week to explore how the city can best design an accessible, well-connected, and inviting active transportation network that accounts for potential climate risks such as extreme heat and flash flooding. The panel will focus on the stretch of the ATS identified as the International Beltway running between El Paso’s downtown, currently experiencing revitalization through the Chamizal, an under-invested and largely residential neighborhood up to the area known as the Medical Center of the Americas. Specifically, the panel will focus its study on two key sites along the ATS – the area surrounding the Salazar and Tays public housing developments.

The advisory panel’s recommendations will be framed in response to the newly developed City Resilience Strategy, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities program. Panelist are tasked with addressing which primary and secondary ATS routes offer the best connectivity, access, and experience for users; what key components such as bike lanes, trees, plantings, storm water infrastructure, and pedestrian infrastructure are needed; how the resilient redevelopment of key sites can leverage open space and linkages to carless transportation options; and what private and public sector funding sources can be used for resilience investments.

The assignment for El Paso is part of a series of advisory panels being supported by a generous grant from The Kresge Foundation to advance the institute’s pursuit of urban design and development practices that are more resilient and adaptable to the impacts of climate change. With Kresge’s support, ULI is leveraging the substantial expertise of its members to provide guidance on community building in a way that responds to inevitable climate change while helping to preserve the environment, boost economic prosperity, and foster a high quality of life.

The communities chosen for advisory panel assistance through ULI’s community resilience work are being selected on the basis of 1) the community’s long-range resilience challenges and vulnerabilities to severe weather-related events, and 2) the opportunity for the results to be applied to other communities with similar vulnerabilities. The assistance is part of Institute’s overall efforts to help communities prepare for increased climate risk in ways that foster a quicker, safer return to normalcy after an event and an ability to thrive going forward. ULI has advised several communities across the United States on resilience strategies, including Miami-Dade County, Florida; Norfolk, Virginia; Portland, Maine, Duluth, Minnesota; St Tammany Parish, Louisiana and Seattle.

During the visit, panelists will tour the ATS route and meet with stakeholders within the study area. After carefully analyzing the area and completing the interviews, the panel will then spend two days framing their recommendations and drafting a presentation that will be made to the public at the conclusion of the visit.

The ULI panel’s recommendations will be presented at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 18, at the El Paso Community Foundation, 123 W Mills Avenue in El Paso, Texas. The event is open to the public. 
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the institute has nearly 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, please visit  or follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram.

The Guardian- On the Verge of Carmageddon

Our Roads are Choked On the Verge of Carmageddon by George Monbiot Car use takes a huge toll on our health and on the planet. We need to kick our addiction to driving.

It was a mistake – a monumental, world-class mistake. Cars for everyone was one of the most stupid promises politicians ever made. Cars are meant to meet a simple need: quick and efficient mobility. Observe an urban artery during the school run, or a trunk road on a bank holiday weekend, and ask yourself whether the current system meets that need. The vast expanse of road space, the massive investment in metal and fossil fuel, has delivered the freedom to sit fuming in a toxic cloud as your life ticks by.The primary aim has become snarled up with other, implicit objectives: the sense of autonomy, the desire for self-expression through the configuration of metal and plastic you drive, and the demand for profit by car manufacturers and fossil fuel producers whose lobbying keeps us on the road rather than moving along it.

Traffic at a standstill in both directions on M25 motorway

Traffic at a standstill in both directions on the M25 motorway. ‘Cars for everyone was one of the most stupid promises that politicians ever made.’ Photograph: robertharding/Rex Shutterstock

How to reduce the risks of carmageddon
Letters: Those who want to use bikes simply as transport are largely still forced on to the highway – nearly always shared with heavy traffic
Step back from this mess and ask yourself this. If you controlled the billions that are spent every year – privately and publicly – on the transport system, and your aim was to smooth the passage of those who use it, is this what you would do? Only if your imagination had been surgically excised.Even in a small, economically mature, densely populated nation like the UK, where change is easy, we’re still driving in the wrong direction. The government boasts that car use is rising again, after being knocked back by the recession. It is spending £9bn of our scarce money on roads every year, 70% of which is on new capacity. Thanks to the cuts, bus services supported by local authorities reduced their mileage by 10% last year.Over half the car journeys people make in this country are less than five miles: this is what policy failure looks like. Why don’t people cycle instead? Perhaps because, though the number of motorists killed or seriously injured has fallen sharply, the number of cyclists killed or hurt on the roads has climbed since 2003. This now accounts for 14% of all casualties, though cycling amounts to only 1% of the distance we travel.The simplest, cheapest and healthiest solution to congestion is blocked by the failure to provide safe transit. Last year the transport department crowed that it could cut £23m from its budget as a result of an “underspend on the Cycle Cities Ambition budget”. Instead of handing this money back to the Treasury, it should have discovered why it wasn’t spent, and ensured that it doesn’t happen again.The undercapacity of the roads arises from the overcapacity of the vehicles that use them. Average occupancy of cars in the UK is 1.6; and it seems to me that the bigger the car, the fewer people it tends to contain. With a few exceptions (such as Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans for London), almost nothing is done to change or challenge this.When a major feeder road was resurfaced in my home city, I heard people complaining that it took them an hour and a half to travel two miles to work. They could have walked in half the time, or cycled in one-tenth. The council had a perfect opportunity to intervene, with notices beside the road urging people to switch to two wheels or two feet. But it sat and watched, as trapped in its mindset as people were in their cars.Our problems are dwarfed by what is happening elsewhere. Global car production has almost doubled in 10 years. The number of cars on the planet is expected to rise from 1.2bn to 2bn by 2035. Carmageddon beckons: a disaster for the climate, public health and our quality of life. Yet it is still treated as an indicator of economic success.We are told that this is about choice. But surely there should be a hierarchy of choice: the choice of whether or not to suffer a premature death should take precedence over our choice of transport mode.Our brains are filled with metal particles, our children’s lungs and mental development are stunted, and an epidemic of heart and lung disease is catalysed – all to grant people the choice of stewing in a traffic jam rather than getting there by other means.In a recent YouGov poll in Britain, 76% of respondents opted for clean air zones in their cities, enforced by taxes and charges. Sorry, wrong kind of choice.

So here’s a novel idea: how about a 21st-century transport system for the 21st century? Helsinki is making public transport as convenient and flexible as private transport. For example, by aggregating people’s requests via a smartphone app, minibus services can collect people from their homes and deliver them close to their destinations while minimising their routes. Hamburg is building a networkof cycling and walking paths so safe, pleasant and convenient that no one with the ability to do otherwise would want to take a car.Let’s set a date by which no new car is manufactured unless it’s electric. Let’s set up household charging points, allowing people to plug in without having to take their car off the road. Let’s introduce a scrappage payment, not to replace old cars with new ones but to replace old cars with no car at all. It would take the form of public transport tokens.

How about facilitating “walking buses” to school, with parents taking turns to lead a crocodile of children? How about local drop-off points, so that parcel companies don’t clog our streets and we never miss deliveries? How about providing bikes for hire at stations, and – yes, I believe in miracles – synchronising bus and train timetables?Let’s reopen old rail lines closed in the mistaken belief that train travel was on the way out (it has grown 74% since 1995) and build new lines to bridge the gaps. Let’s bring train services under public control and use the money now spent on road-building to make tickets affordable for everyone.Let’s implement the brilliant plan proposed by Dr Alan Storkey for an intercity bus network faster and more convenient than car travel, using dedicated lanes on the motorways and interchanges at the motorway junctions. Let’s build new settlements around public transport hubs – light rail, tram and electric bus systems – rather than around the car.What is difficult about any of this? What technological barriers stand in the way? None. Transport is among the simplest of our problems to solve. Yet our governments are stuck in a 20th-century gridlock, still committed to their great mistake.

Published by the Guardian Tuesday 20 September 2016 14.18 EDT Last modified on Friday 23 September 2016 13.48 EDT

Reasons I ride

Reasons I ride a bicycle By Gabriel Slape The inevitable was coming and there was nothing either of us could do about it. No matter how we tried we would not be able to resist. We would have to let go of our 30s. Not too long ago both my wife and I were faced with the prospect of turning 40. Milestone birthdays can make you stop and think. The more I thought, the more I knew that I needed to get out and get more exercise. We already had some decent bikes hanging around in the garage, nothing fancy. They were still in good shape despite the fact that they had not seen much use in the last few years. We had always enjoyed riding and decided that this might be a way for us to get more active. That’s when the doubts start: Am in good enough shape to ride? Where can I ride a bike? Is it even safe to ride on the streets of El Paso, TX? They say that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. We have easily racked up more than a thousand miles since taking the small step of loading the bikes in the car and riding a few loops around Ascarate Park for the first time in December 2014. At first, just a few laps around the park at a very leisurely pace was challenging enough for us. Eventually we decided to expand to some longer rides on a “few” local bike paths that serve mainly as recreation. As time went by we gained the stamina and confidence to extend our rides. We found a weekly ride hosted by Chuck’s Bicycle Repair, a local bike shop and considered giving it a try. Then the doubts started up again: Are we good enough to ride with a group? Are these guys way more serious about biking than us? We once again ignored the doubts and joined the group ride where we found riders of all types and abilities. We had a great time and still make sure that we join the ride every week. This group ride helped us to gain the confidence and skills to go out and ride the streets and even after dark. Since last December we have progressed to riding 3-4 or more times a week. Aside from the obvious health benefits, we have realized many other perks from riding our bikes. We have met so many wonderful people while riding. We have also been able to explore our city and see it from a different perspective. The bicycle is the perfect speed to see the world. You can see so much more from a bicycle than you can from a car and you can cover more ground than can by walking. Riding together, my wife and I spend more quality time and work together as a team as we navigate our way through this great city. We enjoy riding so much that we have started using our car less, thus reducing congestion and air pollution and try using our bikes to take care of errands and shopping trips. The best thing about biking is that it does not require a lot of expensive accessories or complicated equipment. If you have the desire, a bike that is in good condition, properly fitting helmet, repair kit and pump for flat tires, and water bottle or camel back, you have nearly everything you need to enjoy endless miles bike riding fun. It doesn’t take any special skills and we learned to ride a bike when we were young children. All it takes is a minimal but conscious amount of preparation to have a fun and easy cross-town bicycle adventure. Riding is something that you can do solo, with your loved ones, or join one of the many weekly group rides. Biking can be more than just a hobby and there many people in El Paso that choose the bike as their main mode of transportation. If you a looking for a way to get active, explore the city, or simply want an alternative to driving, get on a bike and ride. Maybe you will take a weekly ride around your neighborhood or maybe, like us, you will keep finding new reasons to ride more often. I work in an office but do a small amount of physical work during the day. Biking is my primary form of exercise. Before biking I did very little exercise at all and now, aside from riding we try to walk more often instead of driving in instances where it’s more convenient to walk than bike. On a progressive 1-10 scale of activity, 10 being the highest, I was at level 0 activity before biking and at level 7 activity now.

Invest tax dollars in neighborhoods

Wouldn’t it be nice if our City Council thought about giving back to the taxpayers some of our tax dollars by paving and striping our residential streets and adding a few street lights? Maybe people would go for neighborhood walks in the evening if they could see what was going on in the neighborhood? (neighborhood rides)

Instead, all we see is worrying about Downtown, the trolley, ballpark and plaza, which benefit the few, while our streets are a disaster not only on residents but also for mail delivery, fire trucks, emergency vehicles, school buses and local drivers trying to go somewhere.

Think about it. It’s the homeowners’ tax money too.

Sandra Hesch
Northeast El Paso via Letters-

Will you and your children be walking or biking to school on May 4th? Why not talk to your school about being a part of the National ‪#‎BikeToSchoolDay‬

PS – streets should be safe for EVERYONE — not just cars

Bike Valet Service

Velo Paso is excited to provide Bike Valet service at major events! Simply put you can park a dozen bikes in the space occupied by one car.

“The most common question Velo Paso hears from passers of the Bike Valet is: “When will this be done again?”

Our rates typically start at $95/hour, depending on event specifics.

For Bike Valet service at your next event, Please submit the Bike Valet Request Form to provide us with an understanding of your needs. Send to Once submitted, we will contact you to confirm operational details, availability, and a price quote. We ask for a month’s notice before the event so that we can adequately recruit the volunteers to support our staff and help keep our costs down. Please note that requests submitted less than two weeks in advance will be subject to an additional fee to account for staff time.

We serve a varied clientele and our service is flexible to accommodate a variety of needs and situations. Please complete as much information as possible so that we can better serve you. We look forward to working with you!

Step it Up! Help Make Our Communities Walkable

Walkable communities are important not only to the health of pedestrians but also to the health of local business.

DriveKind RideKind video

This is an excellent educational video! Direct link to website provided on our Resources Page

UPDATE: = FOCUS! Freedom of Choice for “US”

Is it time to FOCUS on transportation, development & livability choices made by US?

The Candidate Responses are in! They can be accessed at the bottom of the page.

We thank and appreciate all the candidates who took the time to reply.


Developing a Comprehensive Multimodal Transportation System in El Paso Cultivates a balance of Economic Prosperity, Livability, Transportation Choice, Health and Happiness in our community. By developing a more robust, balanced, and equitable transportation system in El Paso Del Norte, the region has the opportunity to cultivate its balance of economic prosperity, livability, transportation choice, health and happiness.\r\n\r\nAs the pedestrian bicycle organization for El Paso Del Norte region, Velo Paso understands this and is working to promote and support efforts to advance work on a comprehensive transit system and bicycle highway network to connect the region from Sierra Blanca TX to Hatch NM.

We encourage ALL citizens of El Paso to reach out to candidates and tell them to support sound transportation investments.

“Historically, people have chosen to relocate based on where they had the best chance at finding employment. As we move forward, however, it will increasingly become the case that businesses will choose to locate themselves in areas that have the strongest workforce for their respective industries. We cannot allow the region to fall behind cities such as Minneapolis, Phoenix and Charlotte, which are proactively planning for rapidly evolving transportation and economic needs.”

Will you FOCUS on livability, walkability and streets planned for people? Let the candidates know what you want!

Candidates for City office are:

Representative, District 1:

  • Richard C. Bonart
  • Bertha A. Gallardo
  • Manuel J. Hinojosa
  • Daniel Lopez
  • Peter Svarzbein
  • Albert Weisenberger

Representative, District 5:

Representative, District 6:

Representative, District 8:

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A 501©(3) nonprofit organization.