Dallas is “Walkable”? Really?!

On Friday, the Downtown Dallas Association held a luncheon at which keynote speaker Christopher Leinberger opined about the need for walkability in cities: the pendulum is swinging back from the post-war, sparsely populated, suburban model that required dependence on cars, to a more dense, urban model that encourages pedestrian accessibility and mixed-use planning.

I enjoyed Mr. Leinberger’s discussion, but found his conclusion that Dallas is on the cutting edge of pedestrianism curious. Because we aren’t. We aren’t neck-and-neck with Denver for creating a walkable city. We’re just starting out.

Our lack of good sidewalks in Uptown drives me crazy. They’re ridiculously narrow, particularly on McKinney, and we have utility poles, street sign poles, and other obstacles obstructing the walkways.

So what do we do? What I’ve been doing is an ad hoc response: when there are zoning change requests, I require the developer to do 10-12 foot sidewalks (the new Lincoln and Hanover buildings on McKinney). But that isn’t good enough.

So here’s what I’m going to do: First, I’m working with Uptown and Downtown stakeholders on a trail connector from the Katy Trail to the Arts District. That will be an awesome pedestrian amenity. Second, I’m going to work with Uptown Public Improvement District and the Downtown Dallas Association on improving sidewalks linking major venues, like Uptown, Victory, Woodall Rodgers Park, Arts District, West End, Convention Center, Main Street Gardens, Farmers Market, Deep Ellum, and the Cedars. We could make them more attractive, wider (?), line them with trees, encourage flowers and planters, standardize the location of, and move, signs/lamp poles/telephone poles. Third, I’m working on a streetcar system in Downtown Dallas that will get people out of their cars.

I welcome other ideas about making our city more walkable!