Target: City officials of Fort Worth, San Antonio, Brownsville, and Austin, Texas; Dallas City Council
Goal: Applaud Texas city officials for supporting the growing bike-friendly movement state-wide and expanding infrastructure for cycling.
After Texas cities’ obesity rates ranked among the highest in the country, many cities have begun expanding bike infrastructure to address a massive public health problem and respond to the demand for sustainable living environments.
Drawing inspiration from leading bike-friendly cities like Portland, Texas city officials have “embraced” bike-friendly improvements like bike-share programs, expanded bike trails, and ‘lane diets’ which accommodate bike lanes for their capacity for ‘solving a lot of problems.’ According to a recent article in the New York Times, the year 2011 saw San Antonio’s institution of the first bike-share system in the state. Since then, Texas has seen 4 cities establish bike-share programs within two years of each other, a phenomenon that is no ‘coincidence’ according to Laura Spanjian, director of a Houston mayoral office of sustainability. Moving beyond the previous mindset of reducing traffic and air pollution, both mid-size and large cities are taking to the trend with new, more holistic goals in mind: economic development and improved quality of life.
The spread out nature of cities in the largest of the United States poses a unique challenge to convincing residents of biking as a viable method of transportation. The emerging strategy has been to advocate biking for shorter trips ranging from 2-3 miles and for utilizing public transportation. In fact, while more bike-friendly infrastructure is underway, interim offerings by city officials include the roads less travelled, literally those receiving less traffic than they were made for.
Faced with forceful population growth and financial pressures on highway construction, city officials envision bicycles as a more practical alternative to cars, rather than an immediate substitute. Nevertheless, as making bicycle use more common across the state is the ultimate goal, Texas city officials’ efforts mark visible progress.
Dear City Officials of Fort Worth, San Antonio, Brownsville, and Austin, Texas; Dallas City Council,
I would like to thank you for your expansion of bike infrastructure in your cities. Your provision of bike-share programs, expanded bike trails, and lane modifications to accommodate cyclists mark key improvements in citywide public health, economic development, and overall quality of life. You demonstrate major leadership in responding to the needs of your community and striving toward more sustainable lifestyles.
I applaud you further for your realistic approach to these infrastructure changes. Strategies such as stressing the use of underutilized roads to cyclists show how you recognize and rise to the unique geographical challenges of Texas’ spread out cities. Given the embedded nature of the car in American lifestyle, you have presented bicycling as a viable alternative versus an outright substitute for driving by encouraging cycling in short trips of 2-3 miles or even simply in accessing public transportation. Your timely efforts to care for and lead your residents are truly commendable. I wish you the best of luck in your future projects.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: cyclingpix.net