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Is City Rep. Michiel Noe putting a halt on bike lanes?

By Jerry Najera, Multimedia Journalist
Published On: Mar 09 2014 12:10:39 AM CST
Updated On: Mar 11 2014 12:46:01 PM CDT

The district 5 rep says why spend tax dollars on the lanes if bicyclists aren't using them.

EL PASO, Texas -

A city council member is expected to place an item on the agenda that's already getting some pushback.

City Rep District 5 Michiel Noe says city-made bike lanes could be a waste of money because they're not being used by bike riders on the roads.

He also acknowledges that with many El Paso residents wanting the city to be a bicycle-safe community, the request to stop funding for new bike lanes is already getting attention.

"Apparently there might be some problems with how we're designing them or maintaining them," Noe said.

"If they are not using them then why are we spending tax dollars making them?" Noe asked.

"It's a little heart breaking. We want people to enjoy the city a little bit more and it's different riding on a bike," said Joaquin Hernandez.

Hernandez works at Atom Cyclist bike shop and he's also an avid rider.
"A lot of us here at the shop will ride to work," said Hernandez.

Hernandez says there's a few reasons why some bicyclists don't use the bike lanes.
For starters:
"I've noticed the glass bottles, rocks stickers, goat heads, and they wash from the road to the bike lane," said Hernandez.

Hernandez says debris can stop riders in their tracks.

"Ultimately that causes the flats and you definitely don't want that," said Hernandez.

It's a hazard that can leave a bicyclist stranded and with a big bill.
Larger debris won't only flatten a tire but it can damage the rim as well.
The average price of a rim is $350.

Another roadblock: sewer drains
"In that bike lane maybe half of it will still be a sewer drain so you have to go into that little median or ultimately go into the street itself," said Hernandez.

Hernandez says groups of riders also have a hard time squeezing in the bike lanes.

"There's a lot of big group rides and it's a lot harder trying to keep 20 or 30 or 40 people riding single file in one long bike lane it definitely makes it safer bringing everyone together," said Hernandez.

Noe tells ABC-7 he's planning to sit down with cyclists to get some feedback on the bike lanes first:
"We just need to sit back and find out what's going on. Maybe there's something we need to change to get them to move into the lanes but if the answer is 'no matter what you do we are going to use the streets', 'we're not going to ride on the bike lanes,' then I don't want to spend another cent on bike lanes.

Noe says he's planning to postpone the item for a week to get a chance to talk to some bicycling groups.

He will also be talking with City Rep Cortney Niland who has seen some issues with bike lanes in her district as well.

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