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Urbanism

Want to Tell Dallas That Cycling in the City Is Unsafe? Here’s Your Chance.

Dallas wants you to fill out a survey to help inform its update to the 11-year-old bike plan. Let’s talk about it.
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Matt Goodman

The city of Dallas has launched a survey to help inform how it will update its 11-year-old bike plan. That survey is live through July 17.

But first, an anecdote.

I live in Oak Cliff, where the city recently reverted Polk and Tyler streets into two-way thoroughfares. The city began this process in 2016 with a goal of slowing traffic and encouraging more pedestrian activity along these streets. When they were one-ways, they were raceways in and out of the neighborhood.

There’s a new roundabout that allows drivers to access both directions of Tyler and Polk at their northern junction, a few blocks above Davis Street. Past Davis, Polk Street splits into a driving lane, a bike lane, and another lane for on-street parking abutting a dozen or so new homes.

When there are no cars parked in those spots, drivers take the lane as their own, zooming perilously close to the designated bike lane, as the gentleman in the red Hummer did in the photo above this post. I’ve seen some cars even wait for the traffic light at Jefferson Boulevard while idling in that bike lane. (That light and others in the corridor still blink red six weeks after the street opened up to traffic, for some reason.)

This is the sort of thing I would like to share with the city.

I believe cyclists in Dallas would be safer with what the city calls “dedicated bike facilities,” so that the two-wheelers don’t have to share a space with motorized automobiles. And, indeed, one of the questions asks about the types of bicycle trips you take—and includes the caveat “I don’t bike right now, but I would like to if my circumstances changed (ex. felt more comfortable or safe, was better educated on how to ride a bike through the city, had dedicated bike facilities near where I lived, etc.)”

I checked that last one. Anyway.

Drivers in this town are not always kind to pedestrian infrastructure. Just look at any of the bridges over the Trinity that have bike lanes: drivers have practically made it a sport to cruise into those flimsy posts that separate cars from bikes. In East Dallas, the city removed a bus island because drivers kept plowing into it. That island also kept cars out of a protected bike lane.

What may come of the survey? Ostensibly, it’ll help city staff gather some sort of an idea for public support for more bike infrastructure. And whether taxpayers are “very willing to support” the city’s budget allocating dollars for such a thing.

Late last year, the firm Gresham Smith won a five-year, $450,000 contract to update the bike plan. Last year’s overarching mobility planning document, called Connect Dallas, ordered the city to update the plan. As I reported then:

Eleven years after the bike plan envisioned a “fully interconnected, seamless, and safe Dallas Bikeway System that connects all areas of the City and adjacent jurisdictions,” there are only 5.3 miles of on-street protected bike lanes, where cyclists are physically separated from vehicles.

So tell the city what you think. It has a long way to go. Might as well make your voice heard. Here’s a link to the survey.

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Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…

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