Make roads safer for both cars and bikes

As printed in the El Paso Times on 11/22/2013

Froma Harrop’s recent commentary on bicyclists and cars was long on anecdotes yet short on policy recommendations. We all have stories about scary situations while riding our bikes or driving near a cyclist. But what is needed here in El Paso is better infrastructure so that cars and bikes each have their space on the road, limiting the possibility of close calls or collisions. I ride my bike daily throughout central El Paso to get to work, run errands, and meet up with friends. I’m a certified cycling instructor and Velo Paso board member; I follow the rules of the road and make myself predictable and visible. Drivers still honk at me, though, when my presence on the road slows them down or frustrates them. Each of those honks is a potential supporter of expanded and improved bike infrastructure. Cars want to move safely at their speed; cyclists want the same thing. While educated cyclists and drivers can share the same lane, it’s more dangerous for cyclists and it’s frustrating for drivers. A connected, expansive system of bike lanes and bike boulevards will help move cyclists through El Paso more safely and quickly, while keeping cars away from vulnerable cyclists and allowing them to move at a more comfortable speed. Instead of complaining, let’s build better bike infrastructure and improve safety on our roads. Sarah Rich, Central El Paso

Sarah Rich is an attorney, policy analyst, and founding member of Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition

You can read Froma Harrop’s ediorial here

It’s time to properly fund Bike Share

Over the past few months the Bike Share program has been on and off again due to issues over funding, but it looks like a solution may soon be at hand! Once again, Velo Paso is asking for your support to help make our Bike Share a reality, by attending the MPO’s Transportation Policy Board (TPB) meeting and showing your support for this new funding plan.
El Paso MPO Transportation Policy Board Meeting
Friday, November 1, 2013 at 9:00 A.M.
El Paso MPO Office, 10767 Gateway Blvd. West, Suite 605, El Paso, Texas 79935

As always, you can show your support by contacting the members of the TPB via at the MPO offices, and tell them you support funding for El Paso’s bike share.

Sample letter:

Dear Transportation Policy Board member: Thank you for your continued support for the Bike Share program. Over the past several months you have demonstrated time and again that El Paso is ready for a robust Bike Share program, and I respectfully ask that you once again demonstrate your support the new funding plan to ensure El Paso gets the program you have been voting for, and El Paso deserves. Bike Share programs reduce both congestion and air pollution, serve as an economic catalyst for local businesses, and, in the long term, lead to innumerable savings in health care costs. Bike Share programs are becoming the next form of public transportation, as commonplace as buses, light rails and subways. El Paso will also earn the notable distinction of launching the first bike share system in the Southwest, an achievement we should all be proud of. On November 1, 2013, please vote once again to ensure El Paso gets a properly funded bike share.

Please feel free to personalize the letter and add why bike share is important to you.

Good Luck Carlos

Here is Velo Paso’s continuing coverage of Carlos and his support team on their ride to Austin:
And more information and photos can be found at
Oct 29: More News Coverage
News Coverage:
News Coverage:
Oct 28: And they’re off (photos by Luis Bustamante)
News Coverage:

News Coverage:
Oct 27: The Pedaling for Justice Ride to Austin Kicks Off Tomorrow Morning at Lincoln Park
During today’s mass at St Pius X, Father Bañuelas and his parish blessed Carlos Gutierrez and the bicycle he will be using to complete his 700-mile journey to Austin.

Tomorrow morning at 9 am, Carlos and the Pedaling for Justice team will depart from Lincoln Park on 4116 Durazno Ave.
Please stop by if you would like to see us off or share your support via the Pedaling for Justice Facebook page here:

And, of course, bring you bicycle if you would like to ride us out of El Paso!

Please call Bennett Foster with any questions at 323-385-5836.

What: Pedaling for Justice Ride:
When: Monday, October 28 at 9 am
Where: Lincoln Park, 4116 Durazno Ave.

Oct 25: Please join Velo Paso as we support his ride to Austin

As part of his therapy and in an effort to raise awareness about impunity and corruption in Mexico, Carlos will ride his bike more than 670 miles from El Paso, Texas, to Austin the state’s capital. Carlos, a member of the El Paso-based nonprofit group “Mexicans in Exile” is calling his campaign “Pedaling for Justice” and he is focused on creating something positive out of his terrible experience. Right now Carlos is training intensively, and he needs your help and support for this challenging campaign to raise awareness about corruption and impunity in his homeland and Mexico’s dire need to institute a Rule of Law so that families like his are not forced to flee for their lives. To accomplish his goals, Carlos needs funding and resources for transportation and housing for his support crew on the 10-day long journey. He also needs funding for a press conference and event to be held in Austin when he finishes his journey. Help Carlos heal and raise awareness about a growing problem with violence and impunity in his homeland.

League of American Bicyclists Names Seven El Pasoans League Cycling Instructors

El Paso, TEXAS – Seven El Pasoans have earned the prestigious certification of League Cycling Instructor (LCI) from the League of American Bicyclists, a 135-year-old national bicycling organization based in Washington DC. The new LCIs are: Victor Cordero, Bennett Foster, Juan Pablo Hernandez, Jorge Lopez, Melissa Lugo, Sarah Rich, and Scott White.

El Paso’s first cadre of LCIs have completed in-depth training on teaching skills for cycling in traffic, on trails and with groups of riders,” said Preston Tyree, LCI Coach, and former education director for the League of American Bicyclists. “El Paso LCIs now have access to a nationwide network of more than 4,000 instructors as well as educational tools and resources approved by the League.”

The League Cycling Instructor designation is only awarded after a person qualifies for, and excels in, an intense three-day training seminar. LCIs are qualified to teach bicycle safety and cycling skills to riders of all levels. LCIs are most commonly retained for bicycle education and safety programs, and are routinely requested to advise communities on issues of bicycle safety, education and planning.

“Las Cruces, with a population one-tenth the size of El Paso, has six LCIs, while Austin has over 30 LCIs,” said Scott White, policy director for Velo Paso. “El Paso went from zero to seven LCIs primarily because Velo Paso and our partners saw this as a critical need that will serve as a first step toward making our city a safer place to ride a bicycle.”

Crazy Cat Cyclery and the Bicycle Company provided generous support by funding several Safety Education Scholarships, while the Pizza Joint provided lunch and dinners for the LCI Seminar participants.

LCIs are the backbone of the League’s education program,” said Andy Clarke, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists. “LCIs have demonstrated a proficiency in teaching, a love of cycling, and a willingness to share these skills with other riders.”

For additional information on El Paso’s seven new LCIs, Velo Paso will be posting a series of profiles here and our Facebook page at
About the League: The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a Bicycle Friendly America. The League represents the interests of America’s 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the League, visit
About Velo Paso: The mission of Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition is to make bicycling and walking safe and accessible for everyone in the Paso del Norte region through education and outreach. To learn more, please visit

TxDOT must take steps to make its roads safer

Last Saturday, September 21, a pedestrian was hit and killed on the 2900 block of N. Mesa, near Miner Village. This is the second pedestrian fatality on Mesa, and the third death on a Texas Department of Transportation right-of-way, in two months.

We can heap blame on the motorists and pedestrians involved in these crashes, or we can question the transportation culture, perpetuated by TxDOT, which creates the unsafe and inadequate infrastructure that eventually leads to these fatal outcomes.

These crashes should push us to examine how our poor pedestrian infrastructure increases the risk of accidents and deaths on our roads.

TxDOT District Engineer Bob Bielek recently said in an interview that “car is still king” in El Paso. He neglected to mention that it was TxDOT that crowned it. Without walkable streets, convenient access to services and amenities, or decent bicycle infrastructure, of course people are going to make every trip by car.

In the rest of the country–in the rest of Texas–this car culture is dying. Other communities are building healthier and safer infrastructure that encourages cycling and walking. But TxDOT, which funds roughly 80% of all transportation projects in El Paso, continues to embrace an outdated notion at the expense of the health, safety and vitality of our community.
KINT 26 Univision “Avenida Mesa: Peligrosa para peatones”

KINT 26 Univision “Avenida Mesa: Peligrosa para peatones”

It is time to turn this deadly situation around. We can begin by asking TxDOT what design aspects have been, or are in the process of being, implemented to address pedestrian safety and accessibility on their roads, specifically on Mesa, a commercial corridor populated by UTEP students and that gets heavy foot traffic.

Next, we should pose the question to ourselves. Why should we care about being able to access Mesa by foot, bike, or bus?

Aside from the obvious safety concerns, walkable neighborhoods generally have higher commercial and residential property values. According to, an international measure used by consumers and the real estate industry to rate walkability on a scale of 0 to 100, “a 10 point increase in [a neighborhood’s] Walk Score increases commercial property values by 5-8%; each point is worth up to $3,000 in a typical metro area.”

With a Walk Score of 69, compared to an average score of 38 for the entire city, Mesa has the dubious distinction of being El Paso’s most walkable street as well as its most dangerous. While property owners and local businesses may see the value and desirability of having a functional Mesa that accommodates all modes of transportation, TxDOT narrowly categorizes Mesa as a highway reliever route in the event that I-10 closes.

This designation precludes TxDOT from requesting and implementing projects that would improve pedestrian access – like crosswalks, stop lights, and bike lanes – at the expense of impeding the flow of traffic. Traffic flow is an important concern, but the completion of Loop 375 will allow TxDOT to divert fast-moving traffic away from one of our most walkable streets. As a community, we need to demand that completion of the Loop positively affect Mesa’s functionality, placing less emphasis on highway relief and more on accessibility for all modes of transportation.

Ultimately this comes down to vision. TxDOT’s vision for El Paso determines the city’s infrastructure for decades to come. If TxDOT intends to foster a culture where car is king, then it should do absolutely nothing and continue to allow pedestrians and cyclists to die preventable deaths on El Paso’s roads.

If TxDOT wants to help El Paso catch up with the rest of the state and the country, improve the city’s health and safety, and give El Pasoans the freedom to walk or bike around their city, then the agency needs to take concrete and effective steps to change our infrastructure.

[VIDEO] KINT 26 Univision “Avenida Mesa: Peligrosa para peatones”

Does Texas DOT Have the Authority to Kill Bike-Share in El Paso?

by Angie Schmitt

Just a few weeks ago, El Paso was all ready to go with a new bike-share network, or so it seemed. The city had lined up $400,000 in local funds from the city of El Paso, the University of Texas at El Paso and a grant from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The regional planning agency had unanimously signed off on awarding the project $1.6 million in federal transportation funds earmarked for air pollution reduction. Suburban communities had even started expressing interest in being added to the system.


PARK(ing) Day

PARK Day is coming!

Friday, September 20, 2013 is PARK Day, an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. Come be a part of the fun here in El Paso, downtown near Foodville. Walk, ride, and enjoy the fun!

For more information visit the City of El Paso’s Sustainability page, or PARK DAY

Ride remembers fallen bicyclists in the Paso del Norte region

El Paso, TEXAS – Concerned citizens from across the City of El Paso will gather tonight for a bicycle ride to remember Floyd Trey Hancock, 47, Terence Patrick Harvey, 57, and Jose Cordova, a 9-year-old who was fatally crushed by an SUV while riding his bicycle in Central El Paso last week.

The memorial ride, led by Critical Mass El Paso, a local bicycle group that meets the last Friday of every month, will begin at Union Plaza Park at 7 p.m. and end at the intersection of Raynor and Jefferson, the site of the crash involving Cordova.

Cemelli De Aztlan, ordained with the First Nations Ministry and the Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Community of El Paso, will lead the vigil in prayer and Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition will install a Ghost Bike, a universally recognized road side memorial placed at a crash to commemorate someone who was killed while riding a bicycle.

“Memorial rides are a way to remember the fallen, raise community awareness of the need for safety and education, and create something positive out of a tragic situation,” said Preston Tyree, former Education Director of the League of American Bicyclists.

Velo Paso is scheduling a weeklong series of bicycle safety events with bicyclist safety expert Tyree and the League of American Bicyclists, the country’s largest and oldest bicycle advocacy organization, at the beginning of October.

“Bicycle safety is a community issue,” said Tyree. “We all need to work together to make the roads safer for all users.”

In order to gain a greater understanding the circumstances and conditions leading to these deaths, Tyree, a respected expert witness on bicycle crashes, has asked Velo Paso to provide him with copies of the police reports for the fatal crashes that occurred in the last two weeks.

WHAT: Critical Mass El Paso Memorial Ride

WHERE: Start at Union Plaza at 7 p.m.; End at Raynor and Jefferson

Media contact:
Victor Barajas 915-227-3353
Amanda Formica 617-640-0628


ABOUT BICYCLE CRASHES IN EL PASO, between January 2009 and July 2013:

An average of 86 accidents occur annually. There have been 39 crashes reported so far in 2013. Crashes are most prevalent between April and June (37.3%) and on weekdays (79.6%) and during the afternoon peak period from 3:00 – 6:00 pm (28.9%) and 6:00 – 9:00 pm (21.6%). Mesa, Alameda, Montana, Dyer and Edgemere not only have the highest number of accidents, but they are cited as a primary or secondary intersection in over one-quarter of crash reports.

ABOUT VELO PASO: The mission of Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition is to make bicycling and walking safe and accessible for everyone in the Paso del Norte region through education and outreach.

Demandan ciclistas más seguridad para circular

Juliana Henao, El Diario de El Paso

A la luz de las recientes tragedias que involucran a tres ciclistas y dos peatones, incluyendo la muerte del pequeño José Córdova, de 9 años de edad, mientras montaba su bicicleta en el Centro de El Paso, preocupados por sus vidas integrantes de la Coalición de Ciclistas y Peatones Velo Paso se reunieron con oficiales de Gobierno ayer sábado.

Highway-Happy Texas DOT Says El Paso Bike-Share Isn’t Eco Enough

The same state department of transportation that is eagerly pursuing a $5.2 billion third outerbelt for Houston yanked $1.6 million from the city of El Paso this week out of concern that the city’s bike-share plans were not “the most efficient ways to address air quality with limited funding.”

According to the El Paso Times, the city’s Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority was preparing to move forward with bike-share after securing some $400,000 in local funds, including funds from City of El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso.

But officials from the Texas Department of Transportation indicated this week they were withholding the $1.6 federal match. “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,” TxDOT said in a memo said, according to the Times.

Copyright © 2019 Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition.
A 501©(3) nonprofit organization.