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City Council on Bicycling Issues



Surveys of Candidates and our Endorsements

We often survey candidates for City Council about their positions on bicycle and transportation issues, and make endorsements based on their answers.  See our surveys and endorsements.

Notable bike & transpo actions of former councilmembers

[Note: I stopped updating this section around 2006 because I don't have time to hunt down the info, but if you know of an item to add to this section, please let me know.]

Lee Leffingwell
Jennifer Kim
Betty Dunkerly
Brewster McCracken

  • All voted to allow cars to keep parking in the bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd. (2006)

Mayor Will Wynn (elected 2003; re-elected outright in May 2006)

  • One of the only two dissenters (along with Raul Alvarez) to allowing cars to park in the bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd..

Raul Alvarez (elected 2000; re-elected outright in May 2003; term-limited out in June 2006)

  • Did not own a car until he decided he needed one for his City Council campaign.
  • Pledged to ride his bicycle to work at City Hall during his campaign.
  • One of only two councilmembers (along with Mayor Wynn) to vote for car-free bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd. in March 2006.
  • In 2006, asked the City to reveal how the $150 million in voter-approved bonds from the 2000 election had been spent (Proposition 1), and discovered that none of spending to date had gone to bike projects, although the ballot language promised it would be.  As a result of Alvarez' request, the City allocated some of the remaining money to bike lanes and sidewalks.

Danny Thomas (elected 2000; re-elected outright in May 2003; term-limited out in May 2006)

  • Stipulated that inclusion of pedestrian and cyclist facilities on road reconstruction projects won't apply to any projects funded by the CURRENT bond package, meaning we have to wait five or so years for this to take effect. (2002)
  • Sponsored the resolution to include pedestrian and cyclist facilities on road reconstruction projects in the first place. (2002)

Daryl Slusher (elected 1996, re-elected 1999, sucessfully filed petition in 2002 to overcome term limit which would have removed him in June, re-elected in 2002)

  • Talked citizens into giving up their speaking time at a council hearing about the bicycle helmet law, by falsely promising them that a repeal was imminent, when in fact the council intended only to amend the helmet law.
  • Sponsored the 1998 City Council goals for bike and pedestrian improvements.
  • Appointed hardcore bike activist Mike Dahmus to the Urban Transportation Commission.
  • An inquiry from Slusher's office to the police chief resulted in the police finally investigating the case of the driver who hit-and-run'd Jay Williams.

Jackie Goodman (elected 1993, before term limits; re-elected in 1996 & 1999, sucessfully filed petition in 2002 to overcome term limit which would have removed her in June, relected in 2002 )

  • Voted to enact the bicycle helmet law in 1996 (and is the only remaining member from that 1996 City Council).
  • Appointed bicycling advocate Mike Librik to the Parks & Recreation board.

Mayor Watson (elected 1997, re-elected 2000)

  • Voted for the sprawl-inducing CAMPO 2025 plan.
  • Cast the swing vote to build S.H. 130.
  • Personally appealed to the Texas Transportation Commission to approve funding for the Crosstown Bikeway.
  • Supported bicyclists and environmentalists in their unsuccessful attempt to be included in the "peer review" process of CAMPO.

Bill Spelman

  • One of only two councilmembers (along with Griffith) to vote for the cantilevered bike/ped bridge to be hung off the existing Lamar Bridge. This was the plan preferred by cyclists, but the majority of the council voted to build a separate bridge, which will not serve cyclists nearly as well. (more)
  • Sponsored a successful resolution in June 2000 allowing electric-asist bicycles to ride in bike lanes. (Under state law, anything with a motor is considered a motor vehicle, and motor vehicles are otherwise prohibited from "driving" in bike lanes.)

Beverly Griffith (elected 1996 and re-elected 1999; , sucessfully filed petition in 2002 to overcome term limit which would have removed her in June; won position in runoff election vs. Betty Dunkerly, but withdrew from the race because she didn't think she could beat Dunkerly, so Dunkerly won the position by default)

  • One of only two councilmembers (along with Spelman) to vote for the cantilevered bike/ped bridge to be hung off the existing Lamar Bridge. This was the plan preferred by cyclists, but the majority of the council voted to build a separate bridge, which will not serve cyclists nearly as well. (more)
  • Promised me personally that she would vote to ban cars from bike lanes if the bike community could rally the three other votes needed on the council for a majority. (2002)


Summary of old, major council actions (or inactions) affecting cyclists



Created the Bicycle Program in the Dept. of Transportation & Public Works. (more...)

Passed the Bicycle Plan, a detailed blueprint for improving cycling access in the City.

Appointed bicycle advocates to important citizen planning commissions.*

Bicycled in the Political Pedal ride originated by David Foster.*

Approved $1.2 million for the Crosstown Bikeway promoted by Eric Anderson. (more...)

* Credit for these items goes to certain individual councilmembers, not to all councilmembers or the council as a whole. In the case of the commission appointments, most were made by individual councilmembers, but Patrick Goetz was appointed by the council at large.

Approved parking in bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd. (more...)

Failed to properly fund the Bicycle Program. (more...)

Passed a bicycle helmet law and failed to fully repeal it. (more...)

Wastes scarce taxpayer money on welfare for rich corporations instead of on programs to benefit the community (such as bicycle facilities). (more on welfare for the rich in general)

Refused to ban parking in bicycle lanes by cars. (But starting in the late 90's, the Dept. of Transportation & Public Works started doing this quietly on their own, street by street. more...)

Approved a plan for the Lamar Bridge which makes it useless for cycling commuters. (more...)

Took funds reserved for bicycle transportation improvements and wasted them on the veloway (a bicycle racing loop outside the city) instead, in the early 90's.

Refused to implement a citizens review board for the police department for years, and then created a toothless board when they finally did so. (Cyclists are routinely the victims of police harassment, and with no citizens review board, the police never had to answer to anyone. And with the fairly powerless board the council finally approved, they still don't.) (More on police problems.)


City council & City government timeline (bike-specific)

(All actions are by the City council unless otherwise noted.)



Council exempts non-motorists from Transportation User Fee. The City Council authorizes a new fee to be added to citizens' utility bills, but exempts non-motorists from paying the fee. (more...)


Bicycle Program. The Council creates the Bicycle Program in the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Rick Waring is hired as first Coordinator for the program.



Failed Pedestrian Coordinator. Council is ridiculed by the local daily paper for planning to "waste" taxpayer money by hiring a Pedestrian Coordinator. (This despite the fact that many of the too-few sidewalks we have in Austin are in disrepair because the City has absolved itself of the responsibility for dealing with them.) Facing this criticism, the Council simply lumps pedestrian responsibilities into the already understaffed and underfunded Bicycle Program, renaming it the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program. (We'll still refer to it as the Bicycle Program below, to save space.) (more on the shenanigans of the local paper) | (more on sidewalks in Austin)

May 1996

Council Election Results. Incumbent Jackie Goodman wins Place 3 over Becky Motal. In the runoff, Daryl Slusher, former environmental reporter for the Austin Chronicle, wins Place 1 over Manuel Zuniga, and Beverly Griffith wins Place 4 over Rick Wheeler. (Cyclist Shaun Stenshol, also in that race, received 0.91% of the vote.)

May 1996

Helmet Law. Doug Ballew, an unpopular local cycling advocate with a history of doing things behind people's backs, meets privately with councilmembers and convinces them to pass an all-ages helmet law for cyclists, which they pass as an "emergency measure" without an opportunity for public comment. (more on the helmet law)

May 1996

Bicycle Plan, Part I. Council passes Part I of the Bicycle Plan, a blueprint for improving cycling access in the city. Part I of the plan spells out the types of strategies that can be used (e.g., bike lanes, traffic calming). Part II of the plan consists of specific proposals to improve the various roadways in Austin, calling for about $10 million in improvements for 1300 miles of routes, and was passed by the City Council in May 1998. This is the first real money spent to improve cycling in the city since the early 80's.


May 1997

First-ever Political Pedal ride. Following the decision of a grand jury not to indict the driver who ran over and killed cyclist Tom Churchill, another local cyclist, David Foster, decides that it's important for lawmakers to demonstrate their commitment to safe cycling by participating in a bike ride. Everyone -- politicians and the general public alike -- are invited to attend. The ride is nearly spoiled when another cyclist invites the police to attend, who typically threaten to jail (not just ticket) cyclists who aren't wearing helmets. Notable is that every member of the soon-to-be-seated Council participates in this ride. (more...)

May 1997

Council Election Results. Incumbent Gus Garcia defeats conservative hopeful Becky Motal for Place 2. In the runoff, Kirk Watson defeats Ronney Reynolds for the Mayor position, Bill Spelman defeats developer Manuel Zuniga in Place 5, and Willie Lewis defeats incumbent Eric Mitchell in Place 6. Both Spelman and Lewis were endorsed by the League of Bicycling Voters, primarily based on their promise to repeal the helmet ordinance, though both candidates wound up voting only to amend the law rather than repeal it. (more on the helmet law)

Summer 1997

Helmet Law Amended. Following massive public outcry over the helmet law (one of the least-popular council-passed ordinances ever), the council bows to pressure and amends the law to apply only to those under 18. This is still a problem, because 90% of the no-helmet tickets given to kids are given to minority kids. However, once adult cyclists are no longer forced to wear helmets, organized opposition to the helmet ordinance disappears. Further, by simply amending the helmet law, some councilmembers broke their campaign promises to repeal it. (more on the helmet law)

Oct. 1997

Waring resigns from Bike Program. Rick Waring resigns from his position as Coordinator of the Bicycle Program, citing the Council's refusal to properly fund the program.(more...) He is succeeded by Keith Snodgrass.


Jan. 1998

Snodgrass hired as Bicycle Coordinator. Keith Snodgrass is hired as the new Coordinator of the Bicycle Program.

May 1998

Worse turnout on Political Pedal ride. At the first Political Pedal ride (last year), every single member of the soon-to-be-seated City Council attended. Of course, last year was an election year. This year, the ride was attended by only three Councilmembers: Gus Garcia, Jackie Goodman and Daryl Slusher. Councilmembers who did NOT participate this year include Mayor Kirk Watson, Bill Spelman, Willie Lewis, and Beverly Griffith. (The ride was also attended by Texas Land Commissioner and losing Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Garry Mauro.)

May 1998

Bicycle Plan, Part II passed by Council. (more...)


Cyclists appointed to City boards. Councilmember Willie Lewis appoints cyclist Michael Zakes to the Urban Transportation Commission, and Jackie Goodmain appoints cyclist Mike Librik to the Parks & Recreation Board.


Snodgrass resigns from the Bike Program. Keith Snodgrass resigns from his position as Coordinator of the Bicycle Program, citing personal reasons. The position goes unfilled for several months.


Jan. 1999

Bicycling magazine rates Austin a "Top 10" North American city for bicycling. The Texas Bicycle coalition sends congratulations to the City Council. We send our own letter to the Council, pointing out that the Council has done more to hurt us than to help us, and that what little that's good about bicycling in Austin can hardly be attributed to the council. We send the same message to Bicycling magazine. (more...)

Feb. 1999

DuPriest hired is Bicycle Coordinator. Linda DuPriest is hired as the new Coordinator for the Bicycle Program.

March 1999

Babich's application for City Council race rejected. The City Clerk invalidated cyclist Amy Babich's petition in her run for a City Council seat, because some of the petition signers failed to include the word "Austin" when writing their address! (more...)

May 1999

Political Pedal. We somehow neglected to cover this year's ride, now in its third year.


Goetz appointed to UTC. Strong cycling advocate Patrick Goetz is appointed to the Urban Transportation Commission. Each Commissioner is usually appointed by a specific City Councilmember, but Goetz was approved by a consensus of the City Council itself.


Jan. 2000

Crosstown Bikeway approved. Council approved construction of an east/west bike corridor along 4th/5th streets and applied for federally-matching funds, which were awarded in 1-00. (more...)

Jan. 2000

Slusher's office helps hit-and-run investigation. After the police declined to investigate the hit-and-run assault on cyclist Jay Williams (even though witnesses provided the driver's license plate number to police), we forwarded Williams' letter to Councilmember Daryl Slusher's office. After he wrote to the police chief, the police decided to take action on the case after all.

March 2000

Eden & Dahmus appointed to UTC. Strong local cycling advocates Tommy Eden and Mike Dahmus are appointed to the Urban Transportation Commission. (Eden by Councilmember Willie Lewis and Dahmus by Councilmember Slusher.) At the same time, cyclist Michael Zakes leaves the UTC.

April 2000

Lamar Bridge opportunity ruined for cyclists. Council agreed to redesign the Lamar Bridge in such a way that it will be useless for transportational cyclists. (more...)

May 2000

Babich fails to win a Council seat. Cyclist Amy Babich runs for City Council Place 5 as an underdog candidate. Clare Barry, also running for Place 5, promises to appoint Babich to a City commission should she (Barry) win. The election is won by developer Will Wynn, who squeaked by with just over 50% of the vote. Barry comes in second, and Babich gets only 5.6% of the vote, but does not come in last. (There were five candidates total.) (more...)

May-June 2000

Council Election Results. With no serious challengers, Mayor Watson is re-elected to a second term with 84% of the vote. (Lovable homeless transvestite Leslie Cochran pulls in 8%.) Bicyclist Raul Alvarez (whom we endorsed) won the Place 2 runoff against Rafael Quintanilla by just 201 votes. In Place 5, developer Will Wynn squeaks by with just over 50% of the vote, escaping a runoff with Clare Barry. In the same race, cyclist Amy Babich pulls 5.6% of the vote. In Place 6, Danny Thomas, backed by millionaire ex-football great Hollywood Henderson, defeats incumbent Willie Lewis. (more...)

May 2000

Annual Political Pedal ride. This year's ride saw participation from Councilmembers Gus Garcia, Jackie Goodman, and Daryl Slusher; Councilmember-Elect Will Wynn, Council runoff candidate Raul Alvarez (Place 2), losing Council candidate Amy Babich (Place 5), and U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). Notable was Garcia's repeated insistence that riders wear helmets because "It's the law." (Garcia apparently forgot that he was part of the vote to amend the ordinance to no longer apply to adults three years ago.)

May 2000

Council gives itself a raise. Acting on Councilmember Gus Garcia's proposal, Councilmembers voted to raise their pay from $30,000/year to $45,000, and to raise the mayor's from $33,000 to $53,000. Car allowances were also increased from $250/month to $400. Salaries had not been increased since 1985. At that time, councilmembers earned about the same as city engineers and managers, whose salaries have nearly doubled in some cases. (From the Austin Chronicle, 5-19-00, p. 24)

May 2000

Council to give corporate welfare to Intel. The Council is poised to give millions of dollars in incentives to wealthy multinational corporation Intel in a bid to get Intel to locate a plant here, instead of spending the money on more pressing needs (such as deteriorating roadways, crumbling or non-existent sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.). As has been widely reported in the national media (and in this book), handouts to corporations rarely pay for themselves with the increased tax base the government hopes to generate. And in this case, it's particularly alarming: Austin's unemployment rate is now at a ten-year low (2%), and the city is grappling with the population explosion we've experienced in the last several years, along with the attendant congestion, pollution, and other social problems. So why the hell is the City trying to draw even more people into the area with new jobs? [According to an ad in the Nov. 24 2000 Austin Chronicle, the Council gave $15 million of subsidies to Intel, $20 million to CSC, and are considering $25 million for Vignette.]

June 2000

Loophole banning electric bikes in bike lanes closed. Outgoing councilmember Bill Spelman sponsors a succesful resolution to allow electric-assist bicycles to ride in bicycle lanes. (Under state law, anything with a motor is considered a motor vehicle, and motor vehicles are otherwise prohibited from "driving" in bike lanes.)


Nov. 2001

Gus Garcia elected mayor. Mayor Kirk Watson stepped down to run for Texas Attorney General, and former councilmember Gus Garcia won the special election for mayor outright, beating a slew of opponents including former councilmember Eric Mitchell, downtown eccentric Leslie Cochran, Jennifer Gale (whom we endorsed), and four others. In an interesting political twist, Cochran and Gale split the homeless transvestite vote.


April 2002

The council passed a resolution requiring all road reconstruction projects to include bike lanes and sidewalks. Yes, this should have been the case YEARS ago, but it just now got passed. And Councilmember Danny Thomas made certain to stipulate that it won't apply to any projects funded under the CURRENT bond package, so we have to wait five or so years before seeing the results. At least Thomas put this issue on the agenda in the first place, along with Mayor Gus Garcia. Patrick Goetz writes: "Tommy Eden and Mike Dahmus single-handedly managed to pilot items 39 and 40 from concept to legislation, no small feat in the land of the road warrior. Hats off to them - they deserve a big thank you from the bicycling community."


May 2003

Will Wynn elected mayor outright (without a runoff) to succeed Gus Garcia. Former councilmember Max Nofziger with a controversial history on transportation issues, came in second place with just 16% of the vote, but ahead of seven other candidates.

Raul Alvarez and Danny Thomas re-elected outright (without a runoff).

In the only runoff, Brewster McCracken defeated Margot Clarke.


May 2005

Daryl Slusher and Jackie Goodman were term-limited out, and replaced by Lee Leffingwell and Jennifer Kim (the latter of whom defeated Margot Clarke in the election, whom we had endorsed).


March 2006

City Council votes 5-2 to allow cars to keep parking in the bike lanes on Shoal Creek Blvd. (Mayor Wynn and Raul Alvarez disseting).

May 2006

All seats won without a runoff. Mayor Will Wynn and Brewster McCracken re-elected. Raul Alvarez and Danny Thomas term-limited out, replaced by Mike Martinez and Sheryl Cole respectively.

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