Tuesday, January 31, 2023 Jan 31, 2023
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Person of Interest

The Man Behind The Loop, a 50-Mile Trail Coming Soon to Dallas

Philip Hiatt Haigh, the executive director of the Circuit Trail Conservancy, tells all about the newest bike trail that will be winding its way through Dallas in 2026. Plus, a little bit of relationship advice.
By | |Photograph by Elizabeth Lavin
philip haigh
Elizabeth Lavin

As the executive director of the Circuit Trail Conservancy, Philip Hiatt Haigh (aka P2H) is working with public and private partners to build The LOOP, a 50-mile paved trail around the heart of Dallas that will fully open in 2026. This month, one important part was slated to be approved, a leg of the Trinity Forest Spine Trail through the new Creekside Park, 1 mile south of White Rock Lake.


Accepted wisdom holds that the optimal number of bikes to own is n-1, where n is the number at which your significant other leaves you. What is your n, and for someone like me who has only two bikes and yet is always in danger of getting divorced, how does one increase one’s n? I’m at 11 bikes and one tandem. The trick is getting your spouse into bike riding as well. That way, you alternate who gets a new bike next. Ashley and I just go back and forth. The problem is, you wind up with a garage full of bikes. That’s a challenge.

Riding a tandem always struck me as like paddling a canoe. It requires a lot of communication and forgiveness. It’s a great way to catalyze a divorce. Well, you’ll have to come over to my house, and we can take out the tandem.

Absolutely this is something that will never happen. The stoker, the back seat, is great because you get all the benefits of cycling—the wind and being outside—but you don’t have to work.

What is your take on electric bikes? I think electric bikes are going to revolutionize transportation. And I’m not even joking about that. They take one of the world’s greatest inventions, a bicycle, and make it more accessible for any level of rider. If you commute to work by bike and you don’t want to sweat in the Texas summer, you ride an e-bike.

Now that part of the Trinity Forest Spine Trail has opened through the new Creekside Park, how far along are you on executing my idea of building a secret trail-access-only beer garden back in the woods? I guess you didn’t get the invite. That’s how secret it is. [laughs] I mean, that’s still a great opportunity. This actually isn’t a new idea. It’s just not in Dallas yet. The best example that’s not too far away is called Airship in Bentonville, Arkansas. They put a coffee shop and a beer garden in a huge park that is only accessible by bike trail. The great part about The LOOP is that what we’re doing is best practices. We are inspired by these other projects that have happened in other developments that are happening all over the country and all over the world. Look at the Katy Trail Ice House, the most well-known example in Dallas of how a business will be successful when it is associated with the outdoors and trails, a community that comes together around a shared amenity.

How much of The LOOP’s mission is about transportation, how much is about recreation, and how much is about equity? Equal thirds. The transportation and the green space don’t have to compete. From our public funding, $55 million comes from transportation and infrastructure dollars. The other $20 million is from the 2017 bond, which was the park proposition. But it’s all about implementing equity, building projects in parts of the city that have never had this type of investment. If you live in Pleasant Grove, the Trinity Forest Spine Trail is coming your way. This is a citywide project that’s going to bring our neighborhoods together.

How far away do you think we are from being able to credibly claim that Dallas is a great bicycle town? I think over the next few years, you’re going to see a huge shift. With the new Dallas bike plan, you’ll be able to see a lot of these connections come to life.

Has anyone else started calling you P2H yet? Oh, man. After you wrote that first blog post about Creekside Park and made up that name, I got more comments on that than I’ve gotten on maybe anything else that we have put out in public. So congratulations. 

Five miles of off-road trails set to open in 2023. Video by Elizabeth Lavin.

This story originally appeared in the January issue of D Magazine with the headline, “The Wheelman.” Write to [email protected]

Author

Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…

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