If all goes according to plan, this year’s iBike Rosemont event might be the last one that requires assistance from Dallas police.
No, the kids (who are learning to ride their bikes safely in traffic) didn’t get especially rowdy, but the traffic on the way to those celebratory root beer floats at Eno’s wasn’t conducive to taking a bunch of elementary school kids on bikes without police there to direct traffic.
“Crossing Polk and Tyler meant you had to have police there at those intersections to be safe,” said Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Chad West, who represents the district.
At 2 p.m. today, two things will happen to the area. Tyler and Polk will open to two-way traffic and a roundabout at the northern junction of the two streets will be in use. Both things, city staff said, will help calm traffic and provide safer roadways for the neighborhood.
It could also bring back some of the area’s retail density, too, West said. “When you take a street to one-way, it becomes more of a thoroughfare,” he said. Moving it two-way means “retail can grow because there are more pedestrians.”
Construction began in 2020, but West said that he can remember attending meetings about the project as a constituent, prior to his run for office. The city began holding a series of community meetings in 2016 to explain the plan.
What changes today? Tyler and Polk streets from Canty Street to Pembroke Avenue will become two-way streets, with a roundabout on the northern end from Canty Street to Winston Street, and a new traffic signal on the southern end, near the Tyler/Polk/Page intersection.
“We’re changing it back from a commuter thoroughfare to more of a neighborhood street,” West said. “It will still be a thoroughfare, but safer.”
Studies show that two-way streets serve to calm traffic, too. Drivers generally slow down, and accidents—especially those between motorists and pedestrians—are fewer.
“There are simply more (typically 30–40 percent) vehicle/pedestrian conflicts within a one-way street network than in a comparable two-way system,” according to a study by a Florida city planning firm.
The slower traffic, combined with better signage and road markings, could result in fewer cars on those two roads, something West says he’s fine with.
“Maybe more people will walk and bike to Bishop Arts now that it’s safer to do that,” he said.
Now, if you find yourself intimidated by roundabouts, here’s what you need to know:
- Yield to traffic in all lanes on your left before entering.
- Stay in your lane.
- If you’re going straight from the main street, stay in the right lane. If you’re going straight from a side street, follow the lane you are in. If you’re turning left from the main street, use the left lane and follow the spiral stripe to turn left. If you’re turning left from a side street, follow the spiral stripe, but stay in the outside lane. To turn right from a main street, use the right lane. If you’re turning right from a side street, turn right into the outside lane.
If you’re a visual learner, here’s a video from the Federal Highway Administration. Deep breaths, folks. We’ll get through this.