Health & Fitness - 10/6/2014
Biking on the Rise
As the demand for a more bike-able city grows, the Dallas City Council is teaming up with North Texas regional governments and bike advocacy groups to make streets and trails friendlier for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The city has already formed a Dallas Bicycle Task Force, named a city bicycle coordinator and opened Centralink, a new network of sharrows (shared car/bike lanes) in downtown that connect the Katy Trail, the Santa Fe Trail and east Dallas neighborhoods. In addition to creating a network of bike lanes, Centralink connects to Oak Cliff via the viaduct at Young and Market Streets, and to the Trinity Strand Trail with shared lanes through Victory Park.
Jared White, the Dallas County Bicycle Transportation Manager, recently presented the Dallas County Bikeway System plans at our Membership meeting. Download & View the Presentation
Wilshire Heights residents have probably noticed more and more bicyclists crisscrossing our neighborhood as they enjoy our shaded streets or head to White Rock Lake. Work on the Mockingbird Bridge to link trails south of Mockingbird Lane to those on its north side is scheduled to begin in early 2015, giving our neighborhood cyclists a safe and easy way to head north.
Our district city councilman, Philip Kingston, has been active in promoting these initiatives as well as a bike-sharing program. The bike-share program would set up bike rental stands in various parts of the city to encourage more cycling and less dependence on automobiles. Many cities throughout the US and Europe already have very successful bikeshare programs. Dallas would start small with the program, the first station to be installed in Fair Park this fall, and then expand to other parts of the city. One major impediment to the success of such a program was the city’s bicycle helmet ordinance, which required all cyclists to wear one. The City Council partially repealed that ordinance but left in place a requirement that all cyclists ages 17 and younger wear helmets. Not surprisingly, another challenge to implementing the bike-share program, bike trails and other bike friendly amenities is the funding needed for these projects. Kingston says that won’t be easy with the city’s streets in need of some $900 million of badly needed repairs and in this time of austerity, the city budget will be dominated by our infrastructure needs for the foreseeable future.
But Kingston, other city leaders and bicycling enthusiasts remain optimistic that Dallas will continue to emerge as a bike friendly city. DART buses now sport bicycle racks and the trains have designated areas for bicycles. The growing community of cyclists that bike for fun, transportation and exercise is counting on the spirit of regionalism and cooperation to expand transportation choices and increase safe mobility. For more information on Centralink and biking in the Dallas area, go to: www.biketexas.org.