Planning Through a Pandemic

Invisible Riders on the Border

Over ten thousand people per day cross through the pedestrian/bicycle international bridge of Laredo, Texas, strolling from one country to another as part of their daily commute. Those on bike, sometimes known as invisible riders, are especially vulnerable because they lack the infrastructure and protection to safely ride down major streets. Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico are considered “sister cities”, adjacent to one another and sharing both economic vitality and challenges. In 2016, the nation’s only dedicated bike lane in an international bridge was developed there, enabling social equity to a vulnerable population on the border. The new, low-traffic bridge bike lane together with the inherent affordability and convenience of bicycling led to a rise in bicycle use in the city. However, the infrastructure to support the new bicyclists was lacking. This became an opportunity for advocates and state and city officials and staff to work together in developing solutions. The City of Laredo Traffic, Planning, Health, Parks & Leisure, Police, and Public Transportation departments along with the Texas Department of Transportation and local advocates worked together to build on the momentum of the bridge bike lane. These agencies partnered to initiate efforts that facilitate the ‘first mile, last mile’ stretches for bicyclists, including bike racks, repair stations, bike racks on all buses, bike safety ordinances, educational programs, and awareness campaigns. With a comprehensive and equitable approach, we are bringing invisible riders into the light.

Frank Rotnofsky

Frank Rotnofsky, AIA, is a partner of Able City, a family of professional architects, urbanists, economic developers and planners bound together by shared passions for making places in which people can thrive. His team believes that “if the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right, then access to a happy life is the main purpose of cities”.

Frank’s commitment and perspective in transportation connectivity and mobility issues make him a key member in Able City as he practices efficient and sustainable ways to connect people to places.

His passion for mobility led him to become a founding member of Bike Laredo, an advocacy group focused on diversifying transportation. He is an avid road and mountain bicyclist engaged in making Texas a safer, more rideable and walkable state.

He currently serves on the Texas Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Advisory Committee as well as the State Bikeway Design Working Group. He is a certified group fitness instructor (AFAA), a League Certified Instructor (LCI) with The League of American Bicyclists, and has recently become a Fitwel Ambassador, which was created by the Center for Disease Control and the General Services Administration and is administered by the Center for Active Design. Fitwel works towards transforming design and development practices that support health and wellness in private and public space.

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