Category Archives: Bikes

May is Bike Month!

Has it been so long since you’ve used your bike that it’s part of the fence? Don’t worry, the Sierra Club has teamed up with the League of American Bicyclists to make riding safe and easy.

May is National Bike Month

During May, try to ride your bike to work, school, or for running errands.

All you need to start are a bike, a helmet, and some patience. Set yourself up to succeed! The National League of Bicyclists has Five Steps to Riding Better that will make you feel more confident and safe on the road.

There are a number of events throughout the month to encourage you to give it a try. This link shows everything in Texas (Austin, San Antonio and Odessa have events so far).

This link shows all of the bike shops, bike clubs and riding instructors in the state.  If you still have questions, this link has lots of answers.

Still don’t think you can do it? Here are nine reasons you shouldn’t ride to work (good points with a heap of sarcasm).

Completing Texan Streets

Texas was rated #1 for best American roads in 2005 and 2006 but it seems that roads are rated on purely on automobile-centric views (i.e., Poor mileage, deficient bridges, fatalities, and congestion).  Complete Streets however takes a more holistic approach to road creation.

What are Complete Streets?

Complete Streets wants to make roads safer for all forms of transportation, revitalize economies by being more accessible, raise real-estate by providing nicer roads, and to change the psychology of the roads away automobile-centrism.  Between 2000 and 2009 47,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States or essentially 5,200 per year.  13% of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians with minorities and elderly at disproportionally high rates, but if more roads were Complete Streets that number could be greatly reduced.

So what is Texas doing?

Some Complete Streets can already be seen in the Lone Star State as San Antonio rolls out its new transportation plan that allows for a more flexible construction of roads to fit the needs of the area, is turning to more green ways to dispose of storm water, and will hopefully revitalize the area.  The actual Resolution can be found Here.

Austin has made its own strides in increasing pedestrian and cyclist accessibility with Resolution No. 020418-40.
Texas as a whole is almost keeping stride with San Antonio and Austin as TxDOT recently adopted more pedestrian friendly standards and Senate Bill 513 and House Bill 1105 are in the state legislature calling for the state to adopt even stronger “Complete Streets’” standards.  This would include amending TxDOT’s  policies to allow local authorities to have more sway in road design and construction.  Bike Texas is currently trying to get the bills passed in 2013 session, if you’re interested in helping pass the bills with Bike Texas shoot an email at  They also provide a list of representatives who voted for or against the bill on their site.

How are Complete Streets made?

Complete Streets doesn’t just advocate making new roads; fiscally it makes more sense to add in bike lanes whenever the roads are being redone or fixed.  Everything from sidewalks, to bike lanes, to turning lanes can be added to make a street more complete.  If you want to get involved you can plug in to complete streets directly, lobby your city council to pass a complete streets resolution as San Antonio and Austin have done, or even partake in “guerilla-complete streets as “Better-Block Project” did in Dallas in the videos below.

Want to know more information?  Below are some cool links!

Complete Streets Slideshow Presentation

San Antonio Ordnance for CS

San Antonio – Complete Streets Article

Unfunded Mandate or Sound Economic Principal

Previous TGR Blog Post

-Keegan Taylor,  Beyond Coal Intern

Are you ready for April Fuel’s Day?

Austin folks, the First Unitarian Universalist Church is hosting the April Fuel’s Day Alternative Vehicle Fair on April 1st from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Explore your transportation options! From hybrid cars to electric scooters, there will be alternative vehicles to view.

Once you’ve looked at the inventory, join the slow bike race! Kids can race solar-powered toy cars!

If you’d like to bring your own alternative fuel vehicle or if you have any questions, please email Beki or Richard Halpin at

Sometimes Good Transportation Means Not Moving

Here’s a little Friday fun: Imagine a bridge over a river. What comes to mind? Guard rails, lanes for cars. Maybe a walkway for pedestrians and a bike lane if you’re lucky. Anything else?

Did you imagine a bridge as a place to play chess or enjoy a cup of coffee or just watch traffic go by. No?

The bridge on Cedar Crest Boulevard over the Trinity River in Dallas has the potential to be this place. In fact, for one day, it actually was. On October 22, 2011, the bridge was converted to two lanes from four. Planters divided the car lanes from two bike lanes and a pedestrian esplanade complete with tables, chairs, and chess boards.

What difference does a day make? Plenty, as it turns out. This coordinated effort by Team Better Block and the City of Dallas was a proof of concept for Option D of the renovation plan under consideration by the city as part of the Trinity River Project. In plain English, they did it to see if it would work–and it did! Fingers crossed that they get the support to implement the plan.

Austin’s National Plug-In Day was a Blast!

Two hundred people and twenty four vehicles came out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon  to celebrate the environmental and economic benefits of plug in electric vehicles. Even in Texas, using an electric vehicle produces 52% less CO2 than a conventional gas vehicle. And that percentage will only go up as we Roll Beyond Coal!

Austin was one of twenty six cities across the country to host a First Annual National Plug-In Day event, and I think we may have had the most fun–thanks to our great volunteers, staff and everyone who brought their vehicles.

The Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter display

New and old electric cars

We had 95,738 + Oil Free Miles from 22 vehicles. Our winner for most oil-free miles was Sparky, a 1999 Ford Ranger Electric with 33,500. Sparky escaped the recall that was documented in the film Who Killed the Electric Car?1999 Ford Ranger Electric Pickup--an original!

Austin EV were our co-hosts and they brought an amazing range of gas to electric conversions. Many thanks to Aaron Choate and his crew for helping with everything!

The recently completed 1960 Austin-Healey Sprite conversion by Fred BehningThe 1960 Austin-Healy Sprite and the Revolt Custom Electric Porsche Boxster were real eye catchers. The dedication that goes into an electric vehicle conversion really shows the love and respect people have for EVs. It’s also important to see that EVs don’t have to look different from the outside. Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt owners appreciated that theirs were a lot easier to obtain.

Central Texas Clean Cities had a representative on hand to answer questions about the Austin Energy rebate programs, the 103 public charging stations and more. Thank you, Marguerite Jones!

The Nissan Leaf owners came out in force and have really put the miles on their cars. One family charges their from their home solar panels. That will get its own article in the future!

Chevy Volt owners were enthusiastic about their cars as well.  Though the Volt also has a small gas tank to extend its range, the people at the event preferred to stick with the electric power. One owner said he’d spent less than ten dollars total on gas.

Talking about the Volt

A major concern of potential EV owners is the range of the vehicle. Many Volt and Leaf owners talked about how their anxiety faded after a couple of weeks of driving. New EVs have a range of around 100 miles on a charge, and most people people drive less than half that distance in a day.

EV Autos Texas brought the Miles EV, a mini pickup truck. Its potential as a utility vehicle was immediately clear, but it looked smart enough for daily driving. The bed would easily hold the signs, tents, tables, and chairs for another National Plug-In Day!

EV Autos Texas and their Miles EV

Ford Motors brought in a sustainability expert and two of their 2012 electric models: The Focus Electric and the Transit Connect Electric. The Focus is similar to the Leaf and Volt and aimed at individual car owners. The Transit Connect, however, is currently used for local delivery vehicles and taxis. This EV version will allow those more frequent drivers a chance to green their businesses and run their vehicles at a lower expense.

2012 Ford Transit Connect Electric

Let’s not forget the two wheeled EVs! The 2009 eMax scooter owned by the Electric Avenue folks has 10,500 Oil-Free miles on it! Electric scooters are extremely flexible vehicles for commuting and running local errands.

Suzuki Katana Motorcycle conversion by Don BrenemanThe Suzuki Katana motorcycle conversion symbolizes the shift in perspective that’s coming to make clean transportation the norm. The batteries and controller are right in the former gas tank–1,500 Oil-Free Miles!

Electric assist bikes may be accused of cheating by the hard core cyclists, but I think they are great. We’ve got some mean hills in this town! Anything that gets people out and pedaling is good in my book. More bikes on the roads makes biking safer for everyone. Electric assist bikes are also a way to help people get from home to transit and from transit to work–sometimes that “first and last mile” of the trip are the most difficult for people to manage. You can dress in your business clothes and not need a shower when you get to your job.

An R. Martin electric assist bike

By the end of the afternoon everyone was talking about what we can do next year to make the event even more successful. As we talked about the future in the shade of the afternoon, someone said, “You know, no one will come to this event in five years–plug in vehicles will be everywhere.” That would be the biggest success of all.

Kari Banta, Transportation Associate

Lower Rio Grande Valley Bikes to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels

Folks from across the Lower Rio Grande Valley gathered at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) Saturday for a morning bike ride. This was more than just your usual Sierra Club outing, but a call on local, state and national leaders to address climate change and move beyond fossil fuels. The numerous renewable energy projects around TSTC were showcased during this ride, and participants learned ways that they can help move beyond fossil fuels. We are able to have a clean energy future, and now we want our decision makers to join us in pledging to do so to keep our air and water clean.

The Moving Planet bike ride was a great success with around 50 people in attendance, and media coverage from The Monitor, The Valley Morning Star, and the Brownsfield Herald. Many thanks to Mark Peña, Sally Merrill,  Stefanie Herweck, and the other organizers for hosting such a wonderful event!

Austinites Bike to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels

By: Brian Jackson
September 24th 2011 – Today was Moving Planet Day promoted by to move the planet beyond fossil fuels and unsustainable practices. The Lone Star Sierra Club paired with to host a green and sustainability bike tour. (Special thanks to Niles Seldon with Austin group’s outings in being the lead organizer for the event!) The group assembled at 4th and Guadalupe at the Austin farmer’s market to a beautiful Texas morning, the music and the fan-fare of the market. At around noon the 60 or so enthusiasts took action to explore the many sustainable and green transportation and civic landmarks around the city. The first stop was City hall where Council member Chris Riley shared many of the installations of the legislative building, including the terraced gardens watered from the Air conditioning condensation water.
The ride continued towards the Austin Amtrak station, that while not itself inclusively a green project, represents the public transportation of the future, with routes to Dallas, Houston, El Paso and San Antonio. The ride continued to ride past the Seaholm Power Plant, where the city is redeveloping the former power plant, into a hotel, apartment, concert venue and business park. This is a green project because it is revitalizing the buildings we already have to boost new industry. Other highlights included stops at the Whole Foods parking lot where we saw the electric car charging station and the Whole Foods Bicycle repair station both promoting more sustainable forms of transportation.
As the afternoon wore on and the Texas sun beat down, and the mercury topped 100, some riders turned toward home before we stopped at the Austin Sierra CLub office where volunteers can come and find resources and get involved in sustainable change. Our final destinations were the Texas Capitol building and the downtown Metro-rail station the meets the Lance Armstrong Bikeway. The brave dozen or so that made the last stop discussed local Cycling clubs and preferred routes, A Favorite being to take the metro rail towards Leander then riding back to Downtown.
The power of‘s vision of moving the planet is a goal that is a simple as dusting off your bike and taking it to work, or taking the relaxing trip to Dallas on the train rather than driving the congested 35. Many people felt the directs power of the sun on the ride and are enthusiastic about the possibility of the Austin City encouraging rooftop solar as the city’s power source. Beating fossil fuels is a battle won a day at a time, and todays bike ride proved that with enthusiasm and strength.