Thursday, July 7, 2016

Has the Claim That Brownsville Is a Bicycling Capital Been Oversold?

My First Bike, a J.C. Higgins, Ordered from
the Sears-Roebuck Catalog 60 Years Ago
(Picture taken in Renton, Washington c.1956)
Almost no one is anti-bicycle.  Only a few oppose hike & bike trails.  Even the implementation of a hike & bike trail master plan is not a bad idea.

Some day soon, Commissioner Rose Gowen will look back on the series of connecting hike & bike trails in the city of Brownsville as her legacy.  It would not surprise if her name eventually graces the master plan or a specific trail within the plan.  She's worked hard, within the City Commission, and as chairman of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, to push cycling, bike trails, CycloBia.  

City Commissioner Rose Gowen
What offended many Brownsville taxpayers, the few blog readers and even smaller number of actual voters, is that the whole hike and bike trail concept, the faux city holiday of CycloBia and portions of roadway white-striped off as bike lanes in high traffic areas, is that the whole program was crammed down our collective throats, obviously an elitist ego trip, not an actual city priority.  

Commissioner Rose Gowen, slipping into the role as chairman of the BCIC, the vehicle for dispersing 4B "quality of life" taxpayer monies, steered hundreds of thousands of dollars into hike & bike trails, advertising Brownsville as a "bike capital," that would become the recipient of "bicycle tourism," and subsidized the CycloBia cycling event several times a year in Brownsville since 2013.

Advertising Postcard Placed in the Lobby of the
Harlingen International Airport for $7,000 per annum.
The plan is for those flying into Harlingen to plan to bring
their high-end bicycles next time and spend their tourist
dollars in Brownsville, exploring the city's bike trails.
But, all of this cycling promotion was not done honestly.  Lies were told misrepresenting the state of cycling in Brownsville, the actual use of hike & bike trails and the predicted onset of tourist dollars from visiting cyclists.  For example, in an application for a traffic enhancement grant worth $786,00, the City of Brownsville claimed that over 1,000 cyclers used the Battlefield Hike & Bike Trail daily.  

Here is our report from two years ago:

Bike cult members stare glassy-eyed at unbelievers who can't see the "over 1,000 riders who use the Battlefield Hike & Bike Trail daily into Linear Park." That statement was included in a traffic enhancement grant application that netted $786,000 to connect the Battlefield Trail through downtown to Fort Brown. Unbelievers who cross the trail cannot see the thousand riders. They, we lack faith in the bike god. We also do not see how the bike god has anointed Brownsville as the Bicycle Capital of the Rio Grande Valley.

Gowen also gushed at BCIC meetings about Brownsville being the recipient of actual tourist dollars as a result of "bicycle tourism."  Here is our comment from 2014:

Possible Sighting of Brownsville's First Bike Tourist
Gowen, a bike visionary, sees "bicycle tourism" having a major impact on the city's economic future. At a recent BCIC meeting Gowen explained that bicycle tourists "have an annual income of $190,000, no $200,000 and an average of at least two advanced degrees." In other words, such bicycle tourists will enrich Brownsville economically, but also intellectually. All of us need to be on the lookout for Brownsville's first bicycle tourist.

After all of this money has been spent promoting cycling, constructing hike & bike trails, advertising bike events and our city's phony status as a "bike capital," many other, much more critical needs have not been addressed.  Southmost still doesn't have sidewalks.  Four corners floods after every substantial rain and downtown still looks like shit.

Author, Riding With his 4 Year Old Son, 40 Years Ago
No, I'm not anti-bike.  I've ridden the things for six decades.  It's just a matter of handling our city's priorities first and practicing honest government.


  1. Hence thr moniker, "That bike crazy bitch". Wear it with pride. Ugh!



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