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Local Government

Will the Knox Street Redo Move the Most Dangerous Valet Stand in Dallas?

It's a menace to drivers and pedestrians on that road.
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Looks peaceful in this Google Street View image, but much of the time this valet stand is a menace.
Looks peaceful in this Google Street View image, but much of the time this valet stand is a menace.

Tomorrow the Dallas City Council is expected to approve the Complete Streets Design Manual, a long-gestating project that’s the result of a $400,000 federal grant received in 2010 that in turn spawned the city’s Complete Streets Initiative.

The resulting document (see it in the council’s posted agenda) is intended to serve as a “comprehensive policy guide for all public or private projects that impact the planning, design, construction, and operation of streets.”

You may recall that in September 2012, the city authorized an experiment — with the help of the Better Block Foundation — wherein Knox Street between Central Expressway and the Katy Trail was narrowed, with bike lanes added and street parking rearranged. That effort was part of the development of a vision of building “streets that are safe and comfortable for everyone: young and old; motorists and bicyclists; walker and wheelchair users; bus and train riders alike,” as the Complete Streets Design Manual puts it.

While not part of Wednesday’s council vote, the city is right now also planning a redo of Knox that will adopt many of these ideas permanently into the streetscape. Sidewalks would be widened, landscaping and bike racks would be added, intersections would be gussied up, and the road might be narrowed to three lanes. The best idea on the to-do list is to switch the street parking to an angled rather than perpendicular configuration. Anyone who regularly drives on Knox will vouch for the wisdom of that change, as the current setup often makes pulling out of a space a death-defying experience.

But what I really want to know is what’s going to be done about the valet stand in front of Toulouse and Taverna, right next to the Katy Trail? Any night of the week, if you drive through there you’re bound to encounter a dangerous mix of pedestrians coming off of and entering the Katy Trail, while also having to look out for valet parkers darting back and forth across the road to the empty lot of the former 7-11. Cars often are forced to the middle of the road to navigate around all the hazards.

I asked Peer Chacko, the city’s chief planning officer, whether Knox upgrades will do anything to remedy the situation. He told me that so far not much has been considered in the way of improvements for the segment between Travis Street and the Katy Trail (which is already narrower than the rest of Knox), however, “as the project moves forward we will certainly also be looking at specific operational improvements (including valet) from the standpoint of safety. We are coordinating on this with the Streets Department and the Police Department that are responsible for street operations and valet licensing respectively.”

There’s no question that valet stand needs to me moved off to a side street (probably Travis), right?

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