El Paso ranked among deadliest city for bicyclists and pedestrians, lowest levels of biking and walking, least amount of bicycle infrastructure El Paso ranks among the highest in bicycle-pedestrian fatality rates, lowest in bicycling and walking levels, and dead last in bicycle infrastructure per square mile, according to the latest benchmark report on Bicycle and Walking in the United States which collects and analyzes data on the country’s 51 largest cities. (See attached excerpts from report.) “El Paso’s leading in all the wrong indicators,” said Victor Cordero, vice president of the Velo Paso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition. “Behind these numbers we find a mom who can’t bike down the street with her family or let her kids walk to school without feeling like she’s endangering their lives. It’s unacceptable and entirely preventable.” The report is published by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, a nonprofit based in Washington DC that initiated the Benchmarking Report Project, in 2003, in order to improve access to biking and walking data. The benchmark report analyzed uniform national data sources from public agencies and organizations, as well as state and local surveys, collected in 2011 and 2012. As data collection methods become standardized and more refined, the benchmark report is able to show how biking and walking impacts a whole host of factors previously too difficult to measure. Health: Lower levels of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity were found in cities with higher shares of commuters who bike or walk to work. Safety: Lower bicycle-pedestrian fatality rates were found in cities with higher shares of commuters who bike or walk to work. Economy: Increased sales for businesses, higher commercial and residential property values and lower vacancies were found in locations with enhanced walking and biking facilities. Bicycle and pedestrian advocates see this as a sobering wake up call and an opportunity for El Paso to make great strides in a short amount of time. “I expect to see a reversal in these trends through the Bike Advisory Committee and renewed efforts by private and public leaders to address these urgent problems,” said Scott White, Velo Paso’s policy director and member of the City of El Paso’s Bike Advisory Committee. “Doing nothing is no longer an option because we can see that the old way of building roads, streets, and development led us to a dead end. A bikeable and walkable El Paso is good for our economy and good for the general health of our community.” The first step, according to advocates, is to implement the recommendations developed by the League of American Bicyclists during their on-site assessment in February 2014. The recommendations range from “connecting a network of bike lanes and bike boulevards with sharrows and appropriate signage until protected bike lanes can substitute” to “reduce speeding through street design, public information campaigns & enforcement especially near schools and commercial districts.” The next step is to attend TxDOT’s Texas Transportation Plan 2040 open house at the El Paso Multi-Purpose Center Ballet Room 9031 Viscount, El Paso, TX 79925, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Advocates call on TxDOT and El Paso DOT to move away from building capacity strictly for cars to prioritizing safety and accessibility by building roads for all modes of transportation. See the full report here: http://www.bikewalkalliance.org/storage/documents/reports/2014BenchmarkingReport.pdf

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