Friday, January 23, 2009

Dallas gets more funding for bike lanes

Yay! Go BIG D! It's always good to see cities endeavoring to make a city more bicycle friendly. I can attest to the dangers of cycling in and around Dallas as well as the lack of separate facilities for cyclists. Thus, the addition of more bicycle lanes or "complete streets" would improve safety and also inspire more folks to ride to work, the cafe, or the grocery. For those who are not avid road-savvy cyclists, riding in traffic is scary and intimidating especially at big intersections and on high traffic thoroughfares. The addition of these lanes as well as safety education on how to ride in traffic would be a great utilization of the grant funding. Education because even though you're riding in the lane, you still need to be aware of the dangers of riding in such lanes. The right hooks, when to yield, how to navigate safely over and around obstacles/grates/etc, how to safely cross into the left lane to make a left turn, and what to do when your bike lane ends. They always end whenever the funding runs out and inevitably on major thoroughfares where traffic is heavy and shoulders/sidewalks are non-existent.

Bicycle Lanes Coming to DallasNorris Deajon, The 33 News
January 21, 2009

Travis James doesn't own a car. He doesn't need to. He lives in Uptown Dallas and he can ride his bicycle to and from work. Also, James figures this way he is getting more exercise, and reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

James admits sometimes riding on the city's streets scares him. He wishes the city had bike lanes. " It would give us a safe route down the streets as opposed to having to weave in and out of traffic," James said.

Those lanes are on the way. Dallas has received a a $375,000 grant from the North Texas Council of Governments to develop something called "complete streets." That refers to streets that actually accommodate all sorts of transit, whether it's cars, bicycles or pedestrians.

The program will mainly focus on bike lanes that lead to bus and rail stations. Also, bike lanes that lead to the Katy Trail, which is very popular with bicycle riders in Uptown. The program is modeled after cities like Chicago, Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Jane Smith won't ride her bicycle off the Katy Trail, but she says she might start that with the creation of new bike lanes. " Yeah, I would. Of course it still wouldn't be as safe as the trail. You know those Texas Drivers," Smith said.

The Dallas City Council is pitching in an additional $75,000 for the bike lane project. Councilmembers see the project as an investment. Councilmember Angela Hunt represents the downtown area. Hunt said, " We want to attract the creative class to Dallas. Folks who are young, who are educated, who are excited about living in an urban environment. They're really excited about alternative forms of transit. That means bicycles. That means allowing them to jump on their bike and get to work."

The hope is that Dallas will develop a plan for "complete streets" that can be recycled in cities all over North Texas. Work on the bike lanes is expected to start in Dallas in the Spring