Citizens urged to join planning discussion

Dec. 4, 2017 at 3:51 p.m.

Terry Whitehouse, left, and Denise Tomanek ride their bikes down the southbound lane of Moody Street. There is no established bike lane on Moody Street, so bicyclists are forced to ride in the car lane.

Terry Whitehouse, left, and Denise Tomanek ride their bikes down the southbound lane of Moody Street. There is no established bike lane on Moody Street, so bicyclists are forced to ride in the car lane.   Olivia Vanni for The Victoria Advocate

Editor, the Advocate:

I founded the Texas Bicycle Coalition around 1990 (now known as Bike Texas) after testifying alone but very successfully to the Sunset Commission for the need of pedestrian bicycle engineers in TxDOT. A lot of folks jumped on the bandwagon and joined in.

I was a commuter, racer and recreational cyclist at that time and worked for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Parks Division. I had seen friends killed due to bad design. I had seen agencies that chose to do something about it ignore the need.

Designing for bicycles and pedestrians is not just building sidewalks. It can mean a standard of wider outside street lanes, good site distance and enhanced visibility. A trained engineer for pedestrian bicycle design knows this. We do not have this.

By planning recreation trails that go nowhere with no consideration for crosstown transportation needs or coordination is simply wasteful. Sadly, Victoria is about 40 years behind. Our problems have already quite successfully been solved in Amsterdam, Portland, San Diego, Boulder and Austin. Why reinvent the wheel, so to speak?

Another factor is unsafe, illegal bicycling/walking practices, such as riding on the wrong side of the street; riding at night without lights and reflectors, running lights and stop signs; not being predictable; and not clearly signaling for turns. Bicyclists must position themselves to be visible and part of the flow. Helmets to me are a must-have. Head injuries can be fatal without them. Light sensors should be sensitive enough to register a bicycle so they won't have to run lights. Street crossings on all trails should have button-activated lights.

Our city should be contacting this Texas organization and educating itself. It is no big secret that providing good bicycle and pedestrian access is key to a prosperous city. Victoria has a growing university and junior college with ridiculously poor pedestrian and bicycle access.

Other cities have it - enriched citizens, health-wise and business-wise alike. If people want to live here, businesses will come here.

I'm hoping others will find the idea of comprehensive bicycle/pedestrian planning a good idea and join in.

June Secrist, Victoria


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