To the outside world, Texas may be known for cowboys and pick-up trucks, but the Lone Star State has a secret: It’s also home to one of the strongest statewide bicycle advocacy groups in the nation.
Established in 1991 by former state legislator Charlie Gandy, BikeTexas has been working to make bicycling a mainstream activity in communities across the state for nearly 25 years. “Charlie recognized there were lots of transportation interests at the legislature and at city halls, but no one was speaking up for bicycling issues,” says Robin Stalling, the group’s executive director and Garland native. “BikeTexas was formed to be that voice.”
That voice doesn’t just speak for the more than 4 million Texans who, according to the National Sporting Goods Association, ride a bike at least once per year. BikeTexas aims to make cycling a safe and appealing option for the growing number of people who, in bike advocacy lingo, represent the “interested but concerned” — folks who want to ride but are wary of cycling on Texas’ city streets. (There’s plenty of work still to be done. The League of American Bicyclists, a national advocacy organization, placed Texas 30th in its 2015 Bicycle Friendly States ranking.)
“Many Texas cities have excellent off-road trails that are wonderful for exercise, fun, and skill-building, and are ideal for building confidence in the returning rider before they venture out onto their neighborhood streets,” Stallings says. “Protected bike lanes connected with trail networks, transit and neighborhood streets, will make bicycling safe, fun and cost-effective for Texans of all ages and abilities.”
Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t great options for riding in the Lone Star State right now. BikeTexas publishes mini-guides, especially for back-to-school in the fall and Bike Month in the spring, with information for the whole family.
Bike Sharing Systems
Across the globe, bike sharing is booming. Systems have sprouted in more than 800 cities worldwide — and four of those are in Texas. The premise is simple: Purchase a day pass or membership to your bike sharing system, and you have access to a network of stations and hundreds of bikes 24/7. Intended for short trips in the urban core, bike sharing allows you to check out a bike at a station near your apartment, ride across downtown to meet a friend for brunch, and dock the bike at a station near the cafe. With affordable options for day and weekend use, bike sharing systems are also a great value if you’re visiting, giving you the option to pedal the sites without worrying about parking. If your summer travels take you to the following cities, check out these systems to see the city from a new perspective.
By Carolyn Szczepanski
Photo Credits: BikeTexas