I spent the latter half of last week down in sunny (and humid!) San Antonio with hundreds of other cycling advocates, public officials, and planning and design professionals. This conference is put on every other year by two state-wide organization—BikeTexas (a cycling advocacy organization that spends the odd years lobbying the state legislature) and the Texas Trails Network (an organization dedicated to the provision of linear trails for transportation and recreation uses).
As always, the conference was excellent. Beyond the great job the two organizations do planning and running the event, the caliber of presenters and speakers is unparalleled, in my opinion. Plenary speakers included John Burke, president of Trek Bicycle Co.; Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis, D-Houston; Congressman Jim Oberstar, D-Minnesota, and Keith Laughlin, president of the Rails to Trails Conservancy. While each of the speakers was excellent, it was truly an honor to hear the speech from Jim Oberstar—the father of Safe Routes to School, the Transportation Enhancements program, and multi-modal funding in federal transportation bills. Few people have had as great an impact on bicycling.
North Texas was well-represented at the conference both in terms of presenters speaking about the great strides we’re making in the Metroplex, as well as attendees there to learn what is happening across the state. There were several presentations given that focused on bikes and pedestrians in North Texas:
- Max Kallhammer (Dallas’ bicycle coordinator) spoke about Dallas’ new bike plan;
- Michael Hellman and Jared White (from the Dallas Parks Department) presented Dallas’ new “Happy Trails” trail signage program;
- Andrew Howard and Jason Roberts spoke about the success of their Better Block program (which we STILL need to bring to Richardson);
- Deb Humphreys of NCTCOG discussed the development of a complete streets policy for North Texas; and
- Yours truly presented Collin County’s new regional trail master plan.
In addition to those that presented, there were city employees and advocates from McKinney, Allen, Plano, Grapevine, Fort Worth, and others from Dallas (including three council members) in attendance. And finally, Lewisville won an award for its recently-completed citywide Trails Master Plan.
But we didn’t just sit around for three days. There were also SIXTEEN mobile sessions where participants could take a tour of the various bike routes, trails, and urban revitalization projects in San Antonio by biking, walking, running, or paddling—depending on the session. This was truly an active conference!
All-in-all it was a great experience and I highly recommend EVERYONE connected to BFR attend the next conference, which is scheduled for 2014 and might happen right here in North Texas!
- Adam Wood