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Getting Fat Texans to Bike Is a Real Challenge, says NYT/Texas Tribune Report

Fat Texas residents are slowly realizing that they should bike more, according to a Texas Tribune article co-published in The New York Times this weekend. Sourcing mostly "city officials," the report comes to the conclusion that fat Texans are biking more thanks to the efforts of -- you guessed it -- city officials. We might be dumb, but thankfully, there are intelligent bureaucrats willing to help. Apparently, our local bureaucrats want us to ride bikes because we kept embarrassing them with how fat we were getting: "The unwanted publicity of landing high on various 'fattest cities' lists has heightened interest in doing more to encourage bicycle use, according to some city officials."

Please, just talk amongst yourselves, Some City Officials and the Texas Tribune, we can't even read or hear you.

These City Officials, a vague, shadowy group of individuals who exist across Texas, claim to lead productive careers that encourage cyclists and drivers to co-exist, "balancing efforts to maintain and expand vehicular capacity while still encouraging new bike lanes and trails."

That proactive group of lawmakers apparently includes our own local government, which gets a quick shout-out in the story: "The Dallas City Council may soon require new businesses to set aside space for bicycle parking." Reading that in this story, you might get the impression that we should thank our City Council for all it's done for us Texas residents, as we are a passive, obese group of overgrown toddlers. But that impression would be wrong. This story conveniently ignores the whole part about how local cycling activists had to bug City Hall for years before our local "city officials" agreed to paint in a few bike lanes.

In 2008, Bicycling Magazine named Dallas the worst city in America for cycling.Things looked up with the 2011 Dallas Bike Plan, but it's been moving at such a glacial place that in 2012, Bicycling Magazine again crowned Dallas as the worst place to ride.

As Eric reported in April, the 10-year bike plan is actually on pace to take much longer than 10 years unless City Hall puts more bike money in the budget.

Last October, a few impatient bad-asses in Dallas got tired of waiting for the City Officials to paint in bike lanes and decided to just make the lanes themselves, prompting a stern story at WFAA, Bogus bike lanes appearing on Dallas streets, which warned that "the unofficial markings are confusing drivers and even City Council members." Booya, who's the dumb now one now?

Of course, Dallas cyclists have had a few champions in local government, notably Max Kalhammer, the city's first bike coordinator who didn't think cyclists should be forced to fight traffic and who worked with advocacy groups like Bike Friendly Oak Cliff. Yet he stepped down in June, sounding pretty frustrated with City Hall in an interview with Eric.

Meanwhile, the Texas Trib/NYT report ignored all that and instead describes a major obstacle to cycling in Texas being that "it is more difficult to convince people that biking is a practical way to get around." Probably speaking in a slow voice, a biking manager in San Antonio's sustainability department is quoted saying: "We're not trying to take away cars." Nope, sorry, not convinced.


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