Dallas Should Take Bold Steps on Bike Plan

Dallas is not a bike-friendly city.

Over the last two years, the city has been taking baby steps to change that: We completed a new bike plan last year, put several millions of dollars into the upcoming bond package for hike and bike trails as well as several “complete streets” projects, painted bike lanes and “sharrows” on a handful of city streets, and proposed a vulnerable road user law that will protect bicyclists from cars.

But this isn’t nearly enough. Continue reading

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Dallas: The City That Loves to Plan

In June, the Dallas City Council approved a sweeping bike plan update that envisions hundreds of miles of on-street bike lanes that will link neighborhoods with off-street trails, DART light rail, schools, the downtown business district, public parks, and major city venues.  Bike ridership has spiked in cities that have invested in bicycle infrastructure, and the hundreds of people who turned out to the dozens of city meetings in anticipation of Dallas’ bike plan were a testament to the pent up demand for such options.

At more than one of these meetings, after the bold vision of new bike lanes, buffered bike paths, and cycle tracks were laid out, an audience member would invariably (and reasonably) ask, “So, all this is great, but how do you propose to pay for it?”

Our consultant team responded:  Future bond funds.  Grants.  And a little something called “routine accommodation.”

“Routine accommodation,” the lead consultant explained at the May 2010 public meeting, would allow much of the bike plan to be implemented as part of our city’s regular street re-paving and re-striping process.  By piggy-backing on Dallas’ already-scheduled (and -budgeted) street maintenance, we would see the bike plan implemented quickly at negligible cost, then implement the rest of the plan as future funding allowed.

Fast forward to today, and a different tune is playing at Dallas City Hall.  Now we learn that “routine accommodation” ain’t so routine, or cheap.  Or accommodating.  In fact, it’s going to cost millions if we want to piggy-back onto regular street re-striping.  According to city staff, it costs $871 per mile to stripe a typical four lane street.  To paint a bike lane on that same street would cost$24,500.  Yes, you did read that right.

I’m at a loss to understand why this is being explained months after the city council approved the bike plan.  I mean, city staff attended every one of the bike plan meetings.  Never once, when the consultants assured the audience that “routine accommodation” would allow us to quickly and cheaply implement the bike plan, never once did city staff jump up and say, “That’s not feasible, Mr. Consultant.  By our estimates it’ll cost about 30 times more to put in bike lanes as we restripe, and we don’t have the funding so don’t give anyone false hope.”

Not once did any staff member pull me or my co-chair Sheffie Kadane aside and say, “Look, this ‘routine accommodation’ business is much more costly than is being explained here.  We’ll get you the actual figures but the bottom line is, striping new bike lanes costs a lot of money even if we’re already restriping the road.”

Never during the city council approval process earlier this year did staff interject that “routine accommodation” was a farce.  Nor did staff shed any light on the matter during this year’s budget process.

It wasn’t until Fort Worth Avenue was about to be restriped without its planned bike lanes — and several of us councilmembers questioned why — that staff explained how incredibly expensive and onerous it is to put in bike lanes as part of regular street maintenance.

Now, I’m being somewhat facetious here because I still don’t buy that bike lanes are quite as expensive as staff is claiming.  But putting that aside, what really troubles me is the utter silence from city staff as we went through the motions of approving a robust and exciting bike plan, if they knew that they would ultimately object to “routine accommodation” as impractical.”

When I asked why no one spoke up during the bike plan process, the silence was deafening.

It seems to me, the city loves to plan, plan, and plan some more.  It’s implementing we’ve got a problem with.

Join Me for ‘Tour Dallas’ Cycling Event

Join me and over 3,000 other cyclists for tomorrow’s Tour Dallas, where I’ll be the “Official Starter” of the ride.

Tour Dallas is an annual cycling event with an emphasis on fun. The Tour is a relaxed ride — not a race — and there are three different routes of varying lengths so riders of all skill levels can participate.

The three routes are…

  • 8 miles – This route tours downtown Dallas and makes a quick trip across the Trinity River into Oak Cliff and back.
  • 20 Miles – This route takes in most of the sights of the 8 mile route, plus a route that tours Turtle Creek, Uptown, and much of East Dallas.
  • 30 Miles – This route follows the 20 mile route, with an added trip around White Rock Lake.

The beneficiary of this year’s tour is Spokes for Folks, a Dallas-based non-profit that provides bikes to the needy.

You can register for the event tomorrow morning at Dallas City Hall (where the tour begins and ends). Registration is $40 per rider, and registration begins at 6:30am. (Children 12 and under ride for $10.) The tour begins at 8am, and all participants get a T-Shirt. After the tour we’ll have a Finish Line Celebration at City Hall Plaza, where Pizza Patrón will supply pizza for all riders.

So dust off your bike, round up the kids, and join me and my family at City Hall tomorrow morning for a great event!

Snyder’s Union on Katy Trail Opens

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Today the Friends of the Katy Trail, along with trail users, neighbors, city councilmembers, and city staff, celebrated the opening of a new plaza/overlook at Carlisle Place.

After several years of planning, Snyder’s Union is now a reality thanks to the generosity of Bobbi and Dick Snyder. The plaza commemorates the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary and they were on hand with their family for the grand opening.

The Friends of the Katy Trail worked with the city, me, Inland America (responsible for the project at Lemmon at Cole), and the North Central Texas Council of Governments to create a ped- and bike-friendly entrance to the trail.

Bicycling Wrap-Up

We had a great turn-out for Friday’s second annual “Dallas Bikes to City Hall,” to promote greater bicycling awareness:

Dallas City Hall Blog

Dallas Morning News

Unfair Park

Last week, I met with city staff and Friends of the Katy Trail board members to discuss ways to make the trail safer in response to Lauren Huddleston’s tragic death. We will have a plan to address trail safety for all users within 45 days.

Last month’s unveiling of Dallas’ Bike Plan was a great success, with over 200 people attending the meeting at City Hall. Please take a look at the draft maps and give us your input.

The updated bike plan will help us address overcrowding on the Katy Trail by providing alternatives for cyclists. Right now, many cyclists feel that off-street trails are the only safe place to ride. As we develop safe on-street facilities like separated bike paths and well-marked bike lanes, as envisioned by the bike plan, cyclists will have more options and we can take some of the pressure off our trails.

Reminder: Dallas Bikes to City Hall on Friday, October 15

Want to ride bikes?  Then grab your Schwinn and meet me tomorrow morning (Friday, October 15th) at 7:40am at David’s Way (Knox at the Katy Trail) for “Dallas Bikes to City Hall.”  The ride promotes greater bicycle awareness and is sponsored by the City of Dallas in cooperation with DART, the City Parks Department, and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff.

We’ll ride to Union Station where we’ll meet up with other bicyclists from around the city and region.  Then we’ll all ride to Dallas City Hall where councilmembers will welcome everybody and present the draft of the new Dallas Bike Plan.

There are numerous other meet-ups for folks who want to ride in a group.  Here is an update on meet-ups from Bike Friendly Oak Cliff:

Oak Cliff Groups meeting in the Bishop Arts District at 7:30am and departing by 7:45am to arrive at Union Station by 8:10am.

Lakewood Group meeting at the Lakewood Theatre at 7:45am and departing at 8am heading up Live Oak.

Plano and North Dallas Groups leaving from the following:

Plano group (Mike Emmons, Gary Fowler, Warren Casteel and others) 15th and Independence, NW Corner, Big Lots: 6:00am departure

Frankford & Waterview – Far North Dallas: 6:10am

Top of White Rock Trail – North Dallas (Marc Mumby): 6:45am

Forest & Park Central – Medical City: 6:50am

Katy Trail – @ Airline – AMU Area: 7:35am

Union Station – Arrive: 8:00am

I hope to see you tomorrow!

East Dallas Veloway Master Plan Meeting Tonight

Join me tonight for an update on the East Dallas Veloway master plan.  The presentation will include information about the bike trail plan as well as project funding and schedule.

Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: The Ridgewood-Belcher Recreation Center, 6818 Fisher Road at Trammel Drive