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Car-Free Austin
alternative transportation news & views

Nov. 5, 2001
Email | BicycleAustin.info
Read Back Issues

Research/Tips: Chuck McNeil, SOS Alliance, Michael Zakes   Editor: Michael Bluejay

Sponsored by Easy Street Recumbents | Austin's first & only recumbent-only dealer




  New ride debuts in Austin this Friday

  Jennifer Gale for Mayor



  Enviros & Neighborhoods oppose bonds

  What's wrong with the bonds

  Voter Resources

Courteous Mass

Courteous Mass this Friday!

Riders wary of the sometimes confrontational nature of Critical Mass have started an alternate "Courteous Mass" ride. Come do a big, friendly urban bike ride without the unpleasant aftertaste. Courteous Mass will ride every second Friday of the month, leaving the Pfluger Bike/Ped Bridge (Lamar & Riverside) at 6:00 pm sharp. The first ride is this Friday. (It gets dark early these days, so bring lights.) Everyone is welcome, as long as they promise to play nice.

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Vote NO on Travis County Road Bonds

Environmentalists & Neighborhoods oppose road bonds,
Developers support them
(surprise, surprise)

The Nov. 6th election includes four county bond proposals totaling $185 million, mostly for road-building to encourage suburban sprawl. We recommend a NO vote on all four proposals.

It's not just some crazy radical bicyclists who are against these bonds. Other groups opposing all the bonds include the Save our Springs Alliance, Austin Sierra Club, Austin Neighborhoods Together, and the Travis County Green Party. And the Austin Neighborhoods Council, Travis County Democratic Women and Zilker Neighborhood Association, and the Austin Chronicle oppose all of propositions except No. 2.

It's equally telling to have a look at what groups are supporting the bonds: the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) and the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Well gee, why wouldn't they support what amounts to welfare for developers? The RECA alone has put nearly $50,000 into the pro-bond campaign. And no wonder: They'd love to dupe taxpayers into funding projects that will make millions of dollars for their developer buddies.

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So what's wrong with the bond proposals?

The road projects would worsen congestion and sprawl.

As the SOS Alliance put it, "New roads, especially in outlying areas, often increase congestion by feeding yet more commuters from farther out into the existing road grid. The last 20 years of roadbuilding in the Austin area shows that while we have been building roads at almost twice the rate of population growth, congestion has only increased.  That's because many of the roads we are building only facilitate longer commutes and more frequent driving trips." (Read more about why more roads means more congestion.)

Easy Street Recumbents

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City taxpayers would be screwed.

Even though over 75% of Travis County taxpayers reside within the city limits, every single one of these projects is outside city limits! Many of the proposed projects have the specific purpose of feeding more commuters from new, far flung, suburban developments onto already overloaded roads within the City of Austin.

The tax burden is too great.

Most homeowners would pay $35 to $100 year extra, on top of the average $300 in tax increases already approved by the County, City, ACC and AISD.  These tax increases are helping drive populations out to the burbs, worsening sprawl.

They're too expensive.

The $185 million proposed is nothing short of outrageous for what's being proposed. The Commissioners initially floated a more realistic $80 million package, but then the Real Estate Council of Austin lobbied hard on behalf of developers to more than double the amount to $185 million.

The projects would increase air and water pollution.

More driving means more pollution.

The bonds are welfare for the rich.

A good example is a provision which would fund a $1.5 million road from the Southwest Parkway through Stratus Properties' land (which happens to be in the sensitive Barton Creek watershed). If developers want the road, they should pay for it.

Even the parks proposal has problems.

We normally support funding for parks, but with Proposition 2, county officials have refused to promise to locate new parks in or near already-developed areas. If they put them in outlying areas, they'll just be magnets for more sprawl.

Even more problems with SH 130.

Besides the already extensive criticism of SH 130 (the subject of Proposition 4), add to that the fact that suddenly Travis County residents may be expected to foot 50 to 100% of the cost of right-of-way (instead of the 10% initially promised, with the rest coming from federal matching funds). Also, TxDOT hasn't included a rail corridor in their designs, though they'd promised to do so. This is an overpriced boondoggle if there ever was one.

What others are saying

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Voter Resources

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Mayoral Endorsement: Jennifer Gale

Though Gus Garcia is well-liked and is expected to take the mayor's race by a landslide, we just wouldn't feel comfortable endorsing him. For starters, Garcia helped enact the widely unpopular helmet law a few years back, and then failed to fully repeal it. Also, Garcia appeared on the radio show we used to host and stated his support for banning cars from bike lanes, though he didn't do anything about that once he was re-elected.

Not much is known about Jennifer Gale, but the Oct. 26 Austin Chronicle notes that she supports rail transit within the city (though not the existing light rail plan), as well as converting some streets into bike-only avenues. For our purposes, that'll have to be good enough.

We'd never suggest that voters base their decision for a candidate on one issue alone, but voters can form an overall impression of a candidate by looking at various individual issues. Our job is to look at one of those individual issues.


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Publication / Subscription Info

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General Info: Car-Free Austin covers alternative transportation, especially bicycling. We're not opposed to cars, we're opposed to the car culture. CFA is published sporadically, and may be discontinued at any time without notice. We currently have over 600 subscribers.

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Thanks for reading this far. Ride safely! :) -MBJ-

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