El Paso invests $183k in protected bike lanes, looks into bike helmet law for children


POSTED: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 4:01pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - 4:58pm

Parents may soon have to pay up if their kids aren't wearing bike helmets while riding down city streets. The city is considering a new bike helmet law although one City Representative is adamant that citing parents is not the way to protect our kids.
Right now there is no mandatory bicycle helmet law or ordinance in El Paso but Dr. Michiel Noe said implementing a law is like punishing the parent. "How do you improve and get less accidents like that from happening? As far as the bikes are concerned, I think the best way to do it is through education not through threats,” City Rep. Noe of District 5 said.

Two nurse practitioners presented a long list of medical facts to council Tuesday. Arguing helmets save lives. They claimed for every dollar spent on bicycle helmets, $30 is saved in indirect medical costs. Helmets have proven to reduce head injuries by 45-percent and bike fatalities by 29-percent.

"As the sun city is using more bicycles and more bicycle lanes have been proposed, there is not a safety component involved,” Bilha Candeleria, a family nurse told us. But council decided not to pass a law making helmets mandatory for kids. Instead representatives voted to allow the bike advisory committee, which still needs to be formed, to study the issue and advise council. "We’re really excited that this was a step. It's not really wanted the whole grand scheme but it is a first step into our projects and we hope that everybody sees the importance of bicycle helmets."

El Paso is becoming more bike friendly . Council unanimously agreed to move ahead with a project to build more than 50 miles of new protected and buffered bike lanes. $2-million of the project will be funded by the federal government. The city will invest almost $183,000 of its own money. Bike advocates say the new lanes are wider -- and offer more protection than some of the city's existing lanes -- which forced bicyclists to merge into traffic.

"The old standards were really coming out of an engineering formula that really wasn't looking at the design of the bike lanes. It was looking at just adding space that's already on existing roads and saying that's good enough,” Scott White of VELO PASO explained.

Council will continue their talks on bike lanes when they talk about the budget. They’re looking into how much it would cost to clean the debris from bike lanes to every month which would be an additional cost of $250,000. They currently clean the streets four times a year.


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