Dear Members of El Paso City Council,

We would like to address the reading of the Bike Month Proclamation yesterday, May 1st, 2018, and the failure of the Council to inform or recognize any present members of the bicycle community. We were appalled that the proclamation was not on the accessible agenda online and that anyone thought it was okay to proceed with the reading when the change was made without any due diligence being put forth to notify those in the cycling community that this was happening.

There are many people out there who invested countless volunteer hours of their own time preparing and planning the rides and events throughout Bike Month, and they deserved the chance to be present yesterday when the proclamation was read.

Equally, there are countless people who rides bikes throughout our region who need to know the City is behind them, not just with proclamations, but knowing their right to ride safely and comfortably matters as well.  While the Comprehensive Bike Plan was a great first step, since then the City has done little to create the safe and connected bike network called for in the plan, save for adding lanes here and there as part of maintenance and reconstruction projects.  If the City really believes in supporting cycling, we need more than just a proclamation once a year, we need a commitment of real resources and funding to build out our much-needed bicycle network.

We are aware that on Monday, TxDOT came to Council with a proposed vision for the I-10 corridor - what was lacking was what they could/would do to help promote transit and active transportation. Theirs was an entirely car-centric proposal; cutting out the bridges used by the trolley, cyclists and pedestrians alike.  The people of El Paso do not need more/wider roads, we need safe routes for people of all ages and abilities, using a full range of transportation options - including bicycles.  Since the Bike Plan was approved, we have seen no real commitment by the City to carry out the vision in the Bike Plan, but we have seen millions committed to roads for cars. If we are to become the least car dependent city in the southwest, we need a real commitment to funding bikeways that are more than just paint on the road, but that are safe, comfortable and protected, so that people of all ages and abilities may use them.

We all want a better El Paso, but so long as our input is stifled, or altogether disregarded, we can't be a part of the process. Too many voices are being ignored as we call for more and safer places to ride, meanwhile plans continue to focus not on moving people, but moving cars - lots of cars - as we keep trying to do the same thing while expecting to build our way out of congestion.  A century of building roads for cars proves we can't build our way out of congestion.  It's time our City and TxDOT admit this, and focus on encouraging more people to take transit, to walk, and to ride bikes. It's time we stop building our community for cars and start designing for people!

The issue with the proclamation not being on the agenda is a reflection of the way our City has come to view people who ride bikes, as an afterthought, to be drug out on occasion, then forgotten until it's convenient (for them) to bring them back. The people who have spent countless hours preparing for all the Bike Month rides and activities deserved their chance to be present and recognized yesterday - just as everyone who wants to ride a bicycle deserves routes to ride.

We hope the City will reschedule the reading, and perhaps Council Members will even consider joining us for a special reading at one of our rides. In addition, we would hope that the City issues a public apology for yesterday's slight, as well as for the fact that the City has failed to properly fund bike education and infrastructure over the years. What we truly need from the City of El Paso is a commitment to building our promised bike network and making a real investment in active transportation.

Sincerely,
Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition
El Paso Bike Month
& members of the El Paso cycling community

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