Melissa lugo velopaso profile
"The League of American Bicyclists": recently released a new report on Bike Equity: "The New Movement: Bike Equity Today": in which they share a range of examples as to how we can extend the scope of our advocacy efforts to include greater diversity. As a part of this report, our own Equity Director, Melissa Lugo was profiled for her efforts as a part of Velo Paso, to help us reach a greater part of our own walking and bicycling community, as we work to make our streets safer for all. bq. A founding member of the VeloPaso Bicycle-Pedestrian Coalition, Melissa Lugo has been at the forefront of advocating for bike-friendly infrastructure in predominantly Hispanic communities in El Paso, TX. Throughout the city, which is approximately 80% Hispanic, very limited bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure exists and Lugo has led VeloPaso in not only organizing public awareness campaigns to encourage biking, walking, and mass transit, but also pushing for inclusive citywide planning. h3. WHAT BIKE EQUITY MEANS For Lugo, bike equity isn’t just about demographics, but the balance of power on the roads and in the decision making process. Her bike equity vision is three-fold: “Bicyclists are given equal priority of road use as motorized vehicles; cyclists along with all road users are part of a transparent city planning process; and bicyclists are represented at the city council level.” h3. SHIFTING PRIORITIES “In El Paso those not transporting in a motor vehicle are treated like third-class citizens,” she says. “We have been working fervently to create awareness and to change the paradigm. Our coalition encompasses ALL vulnerable road users—mainly pedestrians and cyclists. The current built environment has been designed with motor vehicles as the first priority. Sidewalks and bike lanes start and stop without rhyme or reason. There exists no concern for anyone not driving a 2,000-pound motorized metal box.” Lugo is pushing for a shift in that paradigm: “Our streets should be designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation users and motorized vehicles in that order [and] bicycles should be accessible to everyone regardless of income.” h3. IGNORANCE RATHER THAN INTENT “West Texas has a long way to go [when it comes to bike equity],” she said. “Geographically and economically we are far away from state concern for funding. The ‘Car is King’ mentality expressed by our state Department of Transportation district engineer is about 40 years behind schedule. The lack of transport equality is not just that of discrimination but also shortsightedness and misinformation. What I’ve found works for me is sharing personal experiences as to how riding a bicycle empowers me and others to become active in our community.” h3. AWARENESS ISN’T ENOUGH “The more awareness created, the better equipped elected officials are to make better decisions for ALL road users. As an organization VeloPaso connects with city officials in person, by email to voice growing concerns for equal access to safer roads and supporting accessible, multimodal, bicycle transportation… [But] we cannot just educate ourselves to safer, more bicycle-friendly streets. We need action to change the built environment to accommodate all road users.” h3. UNRAVELING A LIE “Our fight is the good fight. What we do as bicycle advocates is extremely important. Our dependence on auto transport, even for the most menial tasks has been fabricated and adhered to by developers, auto manufacturers and energy suppliers. Open up the eyes of the soul and find the truth.” READ THE FULL REPORT HERE: "The New Movement: Bike Equity Today":

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