For the fourth time since 2012, the City of El Paso will again fail to honor its promise to build new bikes lanes; appropriated bicycle lane funds unused and unspent- in amounts up to $3 million.
This week, the MPO has recommended long promised bike lane funding be pushed back again, due to the City’s inability to properly plan to spend the funding.
Each year an average of 60 cyclists in El Paso are severely injured from collisions with motor vehicles. It is long past time the City commit to providing the safe, connected network of bicycle infrastructure that has been promised, but not delivered.
Safety is a major reason more people don’t ride bicycles. In cities where safe, connected bicycle networks have been built, people regularly bike for transportation. Plan El Paso called for El Paso to become the least car dependent city in the southwest, yet El Paso spends less than .2% of its total funding on bicycle infrastructure. How will we ever achieve this goal when El Paso has underfunded (or worse defunded) bicycle infrastructure in favor of other projects.
The 2012 Streets Capital Improvement Plan included $3 million for bike lanes. But while the other $210 million in streets projects were to be funded by dedicated bonds, the bike lanes were to be funded by the Red Light Camera program; a program which was revealed to barely pay for itself.
In 2014 we had to fight to get the City Council to approve spending the $2 million in dedicated federal funds that were already allocated for bike lanes, as the Council was considering not building any more bike lanes. Even though Council ultimately voted to keep building bike lanes, the $2 million was never spent. In fact, it was later pushed back to 2019. And just a few days ago we learned it might even be pushed back to 2021, because just as in 2014, the City was unable to do what was necessary to move the project forward.
These repeated failures to properly fund or build promised bike lanes are not unnoticed, as in El Paso, when bike projects get delayed, they usually don’t come back. Since 2012, the City has promised time and again to build new bike lanes, only to fail to properly fund the promised bike lanes and spend the money when they had it. We cannot accept that such huge commitments to bicycle infrastructure continue to vanish before our eyes.
Please join us in calling upon the El Paso City Council to honor their promise to support active transportation by demanding real investments in walking and cycling infrastructure, including our long promised bicycle lanes.
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