Friday Night Ride: Checking out the Christmas Lights Around Edinburg

Tour de Holiday LightsThis Friday night CU is rock’n & roll’n around the Christmas Tree and headed-out on a tour of holiday lights (Christmas lights) in Edinburg. Cyclists will gather at Mark and Michelle Peña’s home and ride out at 7pm. Everyone is encouraged to decorate and light-up their bikes for this holiday night ride. After the ride, all are invited to the Peña’s for holiday libations, snacks and fun.

Make sure to prepare your bikes for night riding. State law requires at least a front white light and a rear red reflector. Both front and rear lights are highly recommended. Cyclists are also encouraged to wear helmets, brightly colored clothing, and bring a water bottle. Make sure to also bring along a spare tube and pump in case of a flat tire along the way. All cyclists ride at their own risk, and minors must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Ciclistas Urbanos was formed by citizens to support cycling infrastructure and amenities and to cultivate a culture of cycling. We are dedicated to the urban cyclist and the urban cycling experience. We advocate for a vibrant livable community and the development of a bicycling network that provides an alternate transportation option making important destinations throughout the region accessible by bicycle.
Contact Mark for directions to his home on the Ciclistas Urbanos Facebook page.
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CU Haunted Tour of Edinburg on Bike

This years Haunted Tour on Bike (Spooks and Spokes 2012) took place last Saturday evening. It was a smaller group but that only made it more intimate for everyone. We donned our costumes and gathered in front of the Pena’s home for the start of the haunted tour of Edinburg on bike.

Some of us had some interesting costumes while others simply went as is. The first stop is the Hillcrest Memorial Park. Why it is a park I don’t know but it is a cemetery. Make no mistake about that! By the time we arrived it was already dark and the little blood suckers were out scouring for a meal. After hearing some stories about the place including some that were close to home we moved on to the next destination.

stephen-f-austinStephen F Austin Elementary school is one of the older schools in Edinburg and is believed to be haunted by a little girl roaming the hallways of the school. Many people who went to that school have personal tales of seeing the apparition and other strange sounds and happenings. Luckily nothing happened while we were there!

citrus-theater2Moving along to the next stop is the old Citrus Theater in downtown Edinburg. This theater was built around 1945 its style is found throughout the Valley. What makes this interesting is that at the time of its heyday, local projectionist, Jerry Martinez had his personal experience with “Shadow People”. Jerry does a great job reliving the past with his story telling that is fun to witness.

hidalgo-county-jailThe next stop was just around the corner at the Museum of South Texas History, the site of the old Hidalgo County Jail. This is the site of the first official hanging and one other death. Many employees of the old and new facility have heard voices coming from the upper deck when there was no one in the building other than themselves. Voices, strange noises, unexplained events makes this an exciting haunted site.

The following stop is the Chamber of Commerce which is the old Southern Pacific Railroad Station. Believe it or not, the Valley had several train depot such the one here in Edinburg, McAllen and Mission to name a few. Of course the train doesn’t stop here anymore and the buildings have been converted to other uses. Ghostly passengers, strange unexplained bells and music makes this an interesting site for all sorts of spooky stories.

By this time we were ready to head on back for the party but there was one quick stop at the Ebony Hills Golf Course and it’s canal where people recounted the same tale told in many different cultures of a woman killing her children in the river and dies on the spot with grief of what she had done and now haunts the river banks for all eternity. After spending some time in the fantastic moon lite sky, we headed on back for the PARTY!

Lots of good food, drink, wine, foreign beer, company made a great closure for a fun-filled evening of taking a haunted tour of Edinburg on bike.

I took some video with my GoPro Hero 1 on my helmet cam. It started out great but as the sun settled it doesn’t do too well at night. I did capture Jerry Martinez telling of his experience with shadow people while he worked as a projectionist. Video is dark but the audio is there.

The following video is the start of the ride combined with still pictures of the various sites. Take a look at it. If you hear a thump, that’s the helmet cam strap fluttering in the breeze. I finally stuffed the excess strap in the helmet vents.

Finally, here is a picture slide show for those that want a few pictures to browse through. Enjoy!

Hillcrest Memorial Park cemetery

Picture 1 of 11

Hillcrest Memorial Park but really a cemetery

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Supporting a Super Bike Box Initiative in Edinburg

bike-boxEdinburg was the first valley city to pass a three-foot passing ordinance and now they are on the verge of leading by example with a creation of a Bike Box. With the planning of a new intersection in front of the University of Texas – Pan American, many cycling advocates including Cicilistas Urbanos (CU) want to take advantage of it and propose a Bike Box to the Edinburg City Council at their next meeting.

For those not familiar with the concept of a Bike Box they are designated areas at an intersection that is devoted to cyclists, a safe zone. There are several variations to this. The simplest version is a box at the front of the intersection in line with a shoulder or bike lane. Usually it is painted green but that is not necessary, but a box out line is present along with appropriate bike only symbols.

The one we are pushing for incorporates a left turn into it (see pic above). The cyclist approaches the intersection and while the signal is RED they follow the path to the left to the designated waiting zone. When the signal indicates a left turn they proceed to make the turn. This doesn’t stop a cyclist that wants to make the left turn the traditional way, but provides the option of doing an alternate way.

This intersection is a prime location to implement a Bike Box as it is three lanes both ways with a divided median. It is the main entrance to the campus and I’ve seen regular staff or faculty members ride their bike and enter at this location including myself when I’m coming back from an after work ride.

city-council-meeting

Presenting at the Edinburg City Council Meeting

Recently there was a rally to attend Edinburg’s City Council meeting to present to them the idea of a Bike Box and how it this variation would work. Mark Pena, of CU, was the spokes person for the group to present the concept to the city council members followed by David Moreno of Bike Edinburg to present some bike census data that has been gathered at the University of Texas – Pan American over the past year. He also presented some data that the Hidalgo County MPO took of bike traffic in front of the university. Other members, of what I call “independents” that have no affiliation to any organized club, also got up and expressed their desire to have a safer method of turning left or letting the motorist know that this area is for cyclists. These are students, staff, or faculty that ride to school every day because that is their only mode of transportation or transportation of choice.

The council turned out to be very receptive of the idea and since they are at the early stage of planning that they will get together with the university representative and look over the feasibility of incorporating a Bike Box. An invitation was also extended to have someone from the group participate or at the very least submit plans for the left turn Bike Box and how it works.

All looks good for the project but we must stay on top of it and follow-up and not let it stall on some lack of detail.

Just found out that Edinburg is in competition with Brownsville as they passed both the same passing ordinance as well as a Complete Streets project. So, while Edinburg might not be the first, it is still good. Perhaps this will spur other cities to get with the program.

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