Highway-Happy Texas DOT Says El Paso Bike-Share Isn’t Eco Enough

The same state department of transportation that is eagerly pursuing a $5.2 billion third outerbelt for Houston yanked $1.6 million from the city of El Paso this week out of concern that the city’s bike-share plans were not “the most efficient ways to address air quality with limited funding.”

No price is too high for a highway in Texas, but El Paso's inexpensive bike-share plans are getting nixed. Image: ##http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_23860793/txdot-denies-funding-el-paso-bicycle-sharing-program## El Paso Times##

According to the El Paso Times, the city’s Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority was preparing to move forward with bike-share after securing some $400,000 in local funds, including funds from City of El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso.

But officials from the Texas Department of Transportation indicated this week they were withholding the $1.6 federal match. “TxDOT plans to coordinate conversations with transportation partners to garner more information on how we can dedicate those limited funds to important congestion-mitigation projects around the state,” TxDOT said in a memo said, according to the Times.

Scott White, a member of the city’s bike advocacy group VeloPaso, told the Times he was frustrated at TxDOT’s decision.

“This was a great opportunity for the community of El Paso,” White said. “Austin is getting a program. Fort Worth is barely getting it set up. What is so different with those cities that they get one and we don’t?”

Local officials are scrambling to reason with TxDOT to save the 20-station, 200-bike plan. But it may have to be dramatically scaled back.

Perhaps bike-share in El Paso just doesn’t have enough well-connected monied interests in high positions at TxDOT pushing for it?

  • Scott White

    Angie, Just as an FYI – the chair of the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees statewide activities of the Texas Department of Transportation, is also a Perry appointee AND a native El Pasoan.

    Given that, one wonders why TxDOT suddenly has other plans for that measly little $1.6 million our planners found and brought to the table…

    Tell TxDOT “FREE THE MONEY!!!”, we want our Bike Share!

  • cycle chic

    El Paso Legislator Joe Pickett is also anti-bike, and a Perry buddy. In fact he once told me, “it’s been almost two weeks since I haven’t tried to run over a cyclist”. I think it’s time for a challenger!

    Fort Bliss, El Paso council, Utep — thank you for seeing the future in transportation options, for all road users! — Keep up the fight El Paso.

  • Charlie

    “TxDOT plans to coordinate conversations with transportation partners to garner more information on how we can dedicate those limited funds to important congestion-mitigation projects around the state,” TxDOT said in a memo said, according to the Times.

    i.e. highway widening? Because that’s worked so well to reduce congestion so far…

  • Brent

    I cycle commute daily (Austin), and as a former El Pasoan, I can avow that that city needs transportation options. In fairness to the decision, in relation to other cities, El Paso is one of the most decentralized, suburban, freeway bound cities Ive had the misfortune of visiting/living in. No one lives downtown. I think it WOULD be a waste of money for the stated cause of “address[ing] air quality” in the city. Also, the few El Pasoans that work downtown commute over bike unfriendly roads–most of the main thoroughfares are unfriendly to anything but cars. Bike lanes are scare and the cities priories are elsewhere. The tourists (are there any?) might get some use from them downtown, but if the idea is to reduce congestion and improve air quality, I honestly agree with TxDOT. El Paso is a mess.

  • There’s an agency that actually pays attention to how air quality mitigation funds are spent? I’m shocked!

  • Too bad this comment is too late to be entered into our Motor Mouth contest! That’s some pretty high-quality cluelessness (and cruelty!) right there!

  • yodasws

    Stupid readers, don’t you realize that bikes produce more pollution than cars? Riding a bike doesn’t spend gas, thereby not adding to Saudi Arabia’s economy… duh!

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