It’s tough going for Dallas cyclists. Outside of designated bike trails away from downtown, city cycling is hazardous at best and reckless at worst.
The Dallas Morning News reported that in the last four years the city went from 8 to 39.3 miles of bike lanes. But 32 of those miles aren’t dedicated bike lanes, just normal roads with bikes and arrows on them.
This does little to nothing to prevent aggressive driving toward cyclists. And the frustration goes both ways as cyclists are put in danger despite having a legal right to the road. Dallas can’t afford to ignore cyclists when all of its highways show we can’t afford to box out other options for transportation.
Dallas’ “Bike Score” comes in at a weak 44 out of 100, which is calculated by the level of bike infrastructure and road connectivity in a city. A higher score means that residents have more options to bike safely, but a lower score means you’re stuck using a car to travel almost any distance.
The city’s last bike plan was published way back in 2011, and the map above from the plan shows a series of disjointed shared lanes across Dallas. The small amounts of blue indicate dedicated bike lanes, which are usually blended with shared bike lanes on the same street.
On the plan’s page it even links to the “Bikeable Dallas” blog, which is now just a dead link.
The Dallas Bicycle Coalition has been fighting for better cycling infrastructure for years. Its president, Jonathan Braddick, says that that bike plan was created by a former city bicycle engineer who helped the cycling community. But after leaving the job several years ago, the vacant position has left cyclists stranded.
“No one on the Dallas city council makes it a top priority,” … “And advocates are getting burnt out from the lack of progress.” ~Jonathan Braddick, President of Dallas Bicycle Coalition
Braddick says that in some areas, they’re even losing bike lanes. Whenever public works tears up a road to do maintenance, it’s often a struggle to get the bike lanes re-striped.
In addition, any project that involves adding something like bike lanes has to go through a glacial process that can take up to two years. Braddick says one of the biggest and most immediate changes that should be made is streamlining decision making on projects like bike lanes.
A previous Dallas plan that never came to fruition was to create bike lanes separated from traffic by putting them on the opposite side of parked cars.
This type of lane has been used to great success in places like New York City to protect cyclists while keeping costs low by avoiding the costs of building barriers.
Braddick said that ultimately, it’s up to the people to care about bike options and that the city ultimately needs someone from the city to advocate for them.
“If we can get someone to fight this ambivalence and apathy, I think that can make changes,” he said.