What Makes a Bike Friendly City?

June 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

In the latest Bicycling Magazine issue, Dallas came out on top.  That’s the top of the Worst Bicycle Friendly city in the country.  We all know there’s great bicycle culture here.  It’s been here for years going back to 1973 when the Greater Dallas Bicyclists first organized.  We also have claim to Lance Armstrong, spending part of his time growing up in Plano, and winning 7 Tour de France titles.  Hopefully he can keep them…

Then there are all of the Bike Friendly groups, Bike DFW, Dallas Area Tandem Enthusiasts, countless bike shops and many other bicycle inspired groups and businesses.  It’s thriving yes, but according to what Bicycling Magazine uses to evaluate a city with populations of 95,000 or more, we’re not there…yet.  Here’s their list in the July 2012 issue, page 70 & the status of each in Dallas, TX:

  • Protected bike lanes on bridges

  • Free tune-up stations

    • StatusUnchecked, RisingBike Friendly Richardson hosted an event during Bike to Work Day event that provided free tune ups for those commuters stopping by.  Even though it wasn’t in Dallas, they set a pretty cool bar for other bicycle groups to shoot for, and opened up the possibility of something like happening next to your route.  Bicycle shops should be encouraged to open along routes and provide free air and other services to build their clientele.
  • Car-free hours in parks

    • StatusUnchecked, Neutral:  Not even people here have thought of it, but Kiest Park would be a great park to test this out.  So would White Rock Lake.
  • Elevated bike paths

    • StatusUnchecked, Falling:  The Sante Fe bridge is probably still considered just a bridge, but it’s “elevated”.  It’s also not yet officially open and behind schedule.  But, no we have nothing remotely like an elevated bike path
  • Striped bike lanes

  • Bike boxes at intersections

    • StatusUnchecked, Neutral:  Can’t say these are going to be used at intersections in Dallas, but another item we don’t have
  • Bicycle commuter stations

    • StatusUnchecked, Rising:  This idea was discussed during meetings held for the 2011 Bike Plan, but I don’t see the city taking it on.  It will have to come from the private sector most likely, much like the Dallas Bicycle Cafe provides lockers and storage for commuters & recreational cyclists in East Dallas.  We can’t place a Check for this one, because bicycle commuter stations like the one in Chicago aren’t in existence yet here.
  • Bike-share programs

    • Status:  Unchecked, Falling:  Costs associated with these programs and the lack of funds from the city foresee no city shared bicycle program
  • Bike-themed festivals

    • StatusCheck, RisingCyclesomatic was the first bicycle themed festival in Dallas when it started in October 2009 as a one week festival.  Since then it’s grown to a full month worth of bicycle related events and activities for all
  • Elementary-school bicycle trains

    • StatusHalf-Check, RisingiBike Rosemont is a week long event at Rosemont Elementary school in Oak Cliff that encourages children to ride a bicycle to school.  Because is happens twice a school year, and the kids don’t ride all together at once, we can’t call it a bike train, but the program has increased awareness amongst the school’s parents, teachers and administration.  They also host a kiddical mass group ride at the end of the week for root beer floats, which is awesome to be apart of!
  • Cyclist-friendly cafe’s

    • StatusCheck, Rising:  From Oddfellows’ bicycle parking and discount (yes, it’s more of a restaurant we know) to Pearl Cup ride meet ups, the aforementioned Dallas Bicycle Cafe and countless other bicycle friendly businesses, we can go ahead and say we’re doing pretty good in this department.  Businesses are recognizing the economic value of catering to bicycles through parking, discounts and overall theme.
  • Bicycle parking

    • Status: Half-check, Rising:  There are fine examples in Oak Cliff where a business has made extra space for bicycle parking.  Glorias added a rack to their new location on Bishop, there are racks along Jefferson, though some need to be replaced (Texas Theatre).  Furthermore the Parks Department has put in some very nice parking at their latest downtown parks, however we can’t fully check this one yet.  Big box developments and large retailers need to join the effort, too.  For instance, at Colorado and Beckley, the Walgreens is a frequent stop for people heading into downtown or west onto Bishop, but yet there is no bicycle parking there.  Furthermore, we’re seeing a trend in the design of bicycle parking that tends to lend more toward creative design over practical function.  It’s good businesses want parking that fits their aesthetic or theme, but bicyclists wont’ use it if it doesn’t properly secure their property.  And just to be fair, other bicycle friendly areas in Dallas are still not quite there yet when it comes to this area either.
  • Bike racks on buses

    • StatusCheck, Complete:  Back in 2006- 2007 I was lucky enough to be on the DART Bicycle Advisory Committee.  This was when DART was still the largest transportation system without bicycle racks on their buses.  With a NCTCOG grant, DART finally installed the racks on all of the buses by early 2009  and they get steady use.  DART also updated their bicycle rider policy back then to make it easier to transport your bicycle on DART Rail as well.
  • Closed-street cycling events

    • StatusHalf Check, Rising:  To date, we’ve had one closed street event or Ciclovia here in Dallas.  Back in October of 2011, BFOC hosted the cities first on the Houston St Viaduct with a grant provided by Bikes Belong.  We’re hoping that the city takes this event on in the future and makes it even bigger and better!

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