TXDOT holds $1.6 million back from El Paso's bike share program
POSTED: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 6:22pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 8:35pm
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — A bike share program for the City of El Paso may not even get off the ground -- despite being approved by city council and several other groups.
TXDOT has deflated $1.6-million from El Paso's bike share program.
"Obviously we're not real happy. This was a great opportunity for El Paso to move up and to catch up with alternative transportation and infrastructure,” Scott White with the VELO Paso Bike Pedestrian Coalition told us. Local groups are speaking out against TXDOT’s decision. "We're looking around and saying why not El Paso?"
Including local bike store managers, "It's unfortunate they took so much out,” Anthony Petta with The Bicycle Company said.
The bike share program would allow El Pasoans to rent bikes from various kiosks throughout the city, "Instead of everybody driving to a destination and then worrying where to park, you can get out of your car, you can ride the bike,” White said. Similar programs exist in several other major U.S. cities. "El Paso is very ride able, it's a great way to get around the community."
The City of El Paso, UTEP, and the Metropolitan Planning Prganization have all invested thousands of dollars into the program -- which now stands at $400-thousand.
"My job now is to figure out how to actually get it done. Even with less dollars,” Raymond Telles, the Executive Director of the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority told us. And they have to move forward, "The TCEQ dollars $276,000, those are only available through this calendar year."
The $1.6-million is federal money from the congestion mitigation air quality program. TXDOT may choose to spend that money elsewhere. Exactly where -- has yet to be determined. "That for every person that's on a bike, that's one less car on the road, that's one less parking space that somebody has to fight for,” White explained.
Bike advocates say the bike share will be a great use for that money. TXDOT responded with “No final decision has been made yet. We continue to look at the most efficient ways to address air quality with limited funding.”
Meanwhile, El Pasoans are planning to pedal forward on a much smaller budget. "If TXDOT changes their mind later they can always come back and add those funds and we can develop a much bigger program,” Telles said. And hoping that it will be enough get some sort of bike share program into the Sun City.
VELO PASO Bike Pedestrian Coalition meeting will be held on August 24, 2013 at 10 am at the Downtown Public Library where they will be discussing the city’s infrastructure.