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Jun 26

Cyclist-Catalyst: Introduction to a new blog series.

Often I hear cyclists gripe about  the lack of bicycle facilities in their towns. Well, I believe we can be the voice of change. This series “Cyclist-Catalyst” will be a place where I want to share what I’ve done in our little sliver of the world which is San Antonio, Texas. I also want to see what other cyclists have done to see change that supports cycling as transportation where they live. I’m not sure how often I will publish a “Cyclist-Catalyst” but I’ll tag them as “Cyclist-Catalyst” and they will be in the Advocacy categories of my site. I’ll need help from the cycling community! If you have been a “Cyclist-Catalyst” and you were able to voice your views, and get change in your community then please share it. (details below)

Cyclist-Catalyst: An Introduction Story:

When I started cycling in San Antonio I started researching what the city has done to encourage/discourage cycling. I once read that about 20-30 years ago there was a push to make the entire downtown area of San Antonio off limits to cars and only accessible by walking or cycling. It obviously didn’t pass, but if it did, you could bet your britches that San Antonio would be ranked number one by Bicycling Magazine for being the most bike friendly city in America instead of just being placed on the list this year at Number 47. Unfortunately, the city council at the time didn’t vote in support of that measure, so we are left with a car-dominated city which can make cycling for transportation difficult at best.

We have seen many recent improvements. Recently, the city leadership adopted a Bicycle Master Plan and has started the leg work to becoming a bicycling mecca like Portland or Minneapolis. However, with today’s economy, funding for bicycle infrastructure is a major issue. Many niches of the public transportation sector fight feverishly over every nickle and dime they get from ever shrinking government budgets. With the need to tame our government’s spending cycling improvements often are left out or aren’t given the attention they deserve because people view bicycling as a recreational activity rather than a valid mode of transportation.

The Texas Department of Transportation learned this the hard way in San Antonio when they closed a bike path near McAllister Park without providing a detour. Their response to citizen outcry was something like “Well, if you’re out of a Sunday ride on your bike just make a u-turn and head back the other way.” (My paraphrase of a spokes person at a BMAC meeting) Some cyclists who used this route for commuting purposes got politically active, using the news media, showing up at public meetings, social networking sites, and talking with elected officials and created CHANGE! Now that area that once had police issuing tickets to cyclists who were trying to maneuver around the construction now has a path cyclists can legally follow. It took people using proper channels to motivate change….On June 19th this was posted in the San Antonio Bikes facebook page: “UPDATE ON STARCREST CROSSING AT SALADO CREEK GREENWAY: Texas Department of Transportation and the City of San Antonio are constructing a detour for the trail crossing that has been closed at McAllister Park across Salado Creek. A stop light is being installed with a button for cyclists and pedestrians to push to allow for safe crossing. Please plan your routes accordingly until the detour is completed in mid July. The detour will be in place for about a year.” It took months and many people to finally get change but we can do it!

Be the Catalyst in your communities…. get on your soap boxes…..share your stories here by contacted me with your stories of change.

How to share your story of change:

1. Post a comment to this blog entry
2. Include a 1 paragraph brief description of the the story of change.
3. Include an email address* where I can contact you for more details.
4.  *I have to approve ALL comments  before they are published so your email and story will not be visible to anyone but me…If selected I will corrosponf with you through email and have you write me a detailed story of change and ask for photographs.
5. Then I will publish your detailed story to my site as a “Cyclist-Catalyst”