A world of difference
Anyone who has ventured out beyond the confines of our metroplex lately has probably noticed that streets aren’t what they used to be. From New York to Montreal, from Paris to Tel Aviv, cities everywhere are making space for bicycles. Major streets without built-in bicycle lanes/paths/tracks are becoming as rare as computers without built-in modems.
Cleary, some cities have a long tradition of bicycling (Amsterdam, Boulder, Beijing), but these more recent street transformations are happening across the globe and across a wide variety of cultures and climates. New York and Tel Aviv, for example, have never been known for their bike cultures, yet both cities have experienced remarkable surges in bicycling just in the past couple of years since they began integrating bicycle infrastructure into their street designs.
So what about us? When is this trend going to sweep across North Texas? Dallas does have an extensive (although still mostly disconnected) network of bicycle trails such as the Katy Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, and the White Rock Trail, but for a variety of reasons these remain mostly recreational facilities. There are, however, hopeful signs ahead.
At the Federal level, the Department of Transportation has recently issued a new Policy Statement that encourages the integration of pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure into the wider transportation network. Although this statement alone cannot force any city or state to begin building “complete streets,” it does signal to them that from now on, any transportation project competing for federal grant funding will receive far more favorable consideration if it’s bike-friendly.
At the local level, bicycle lanes have recently been spotted in Richardson, and a very ambitious plan was just approved in Fort Worth. So, now it’s Dallas’ turn. The city has announced its intention to create a completely new bicycle master plan, and has hired a pretty reputable consulting firm to lead the effort. As with all modern-day public projects in our US of A, public involvement will be highly encouraged. We plan to do our part, and attend every public meeting, session, or charrette that we possibly can. We hope you’ll do the same, and with any luck, we’ll finally be on our way to joining the bike-friendly world.