November Elections could make it easier to be Bike Friendly!

October 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

While the Governor’s race is dominating the election news in Texas, there are significant Propositions that could impact both State and Dallas County transportation and governance issues. The sample ballot  reveals a Proposed Constitutional Amendment called Proposition 1:

“The constitutional amendment providing for the use and dedication of certain money transferred to the state highway fund to assist in the completion of transportation construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation projects, not to include toll roads.”

Sounds good, we all want nice roads, even cyclist enjoy new pavement to ride on. Problem is the agency that would receive the funding the Texas Department of Transportation sees little benefit from diversifying the transportation options for Texans. The current budget heavily favors (80%) building more roads, designing new roads and maintaining infrastructure that is biased to motor vehicles.

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A budget has not been released for what TxDOT would do with the approximately $1.7 billion per year the new fund would produce, but if current trends persist you can count on at least 80% of that going to the same old transportation infrastructure that has gotten us into the transportation crisis we are in now. Awarding this agency for their archaic approach to transportation planning, design and execution is not a good message for voters to send. A smart approach would be to reform the agency in the form of a new partnership with cities to create transportation options for all and not just focus on interstate mobility and reducing congestion for a few.

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The Dallas High Five project cost taxpayers $1billion dollars, results have been more congestion and no clear economic development impact.

Voting against sends a clear message that there needs to be a plan for how to use these funds and reform of the agency that is administering them. The rainy day fund is not going anywhere soon and we need to get this right before throwing Billions at building outdated infrastructure that will only induce more demand on the transportation system and not resolve the transportation option crisis we face in Dallas and the State of Texas as a whole. Ask yourself if we give TXDOT more money to build roads what future fund are we going to rob to maintain them?

The good news is that the special charter amendment for Dallas County includes several smart measures that should improve the ability of the city to advance smart plans and governance. Proposition 1 is all about truth in bonding:

“Requiring Additional Disclosures on Ballots for Bond Programs. Shall Chapter XXI, Section 2 of the Dallas City Charter be amended to require that the ballot for the approval of a bond program must state the amount of bond issuance authorization, estimated amount of repayment including principal and interest based on current market conditions, and the purpose of the bonds?”

Council Member Scott Griggs led the charge on this measure that is aimed at letting voters know the exact cost of future bonds…think of it like when you buy a car, you don’t look at the sale price, but at the gross price after interest. Maybe we need more Kia’s and less Mercedes in Dallas given our $6.7 Billion dollar current debt that will result in over $100 million in interest. A FOR vote will give you this information up front before voting on future bonds.

The best news comes on Proposition 3, which would remove the arduous process of changing the legal description of a street in Dallas:

“Allowing Certain Changes to the Thoroughfare Plan Without Mailing Notice to Adjacent Property Owners. Shall Chapter XV, Section 8 of the Dallas City Charter be amended to allow changes to the Thoroughfare Plan that affect any area larger than one square mile and that does not increase the dimensional classification of a thoroughfare to be noticed through an alternate notice authorized by city council?”

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The story goes that a group in East Dallas got this measure passed to prevent the widening of Swiss Avenue from two lanes to six in the 1960s or 70s. The unintended consequence of the law was that it made it a lengthy process to reduce lanes to include bicycle, transit and pedestrian infrastructure. Currently for projects like Ft Worth Avenue it took over one year to complete the legal changes to convert two lanes to bike lanes. Voting For this measure would remove the public notice requirement for doing such projects and should result in a much quicker process for building bike lanes on streets! Wisely the proposition does not retract the provision for widening streets…those will still need a public notice process and multiple public meetings to move forward, win win!

Thank you to all those leaders and advocates for getting these measures on the Ballot, now get out there and vote!

Cyclesomatic | Spooky Cross, November 1st & 2nd, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

October 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

_D3S2170 copyThe Spooky Cross fun returns November 1 & 2!  Not only is this one of the best cyclocross races in the state, it’s also a great time for family, non racers, bike enthusiasts, kids, and anyone with a pulse.  Saturday November 1st we’ll be at Rosemont Elementary from 10-4pm.  This will be a special day for the little ones. We’ll have face painting, Kidical Mass Ride, bike obstacle course, and spooky kids race – FREE!

The fun continues at Dallas Heritage Village Sunday.  We’ll have bike racing from 10-4 with special prizes for wacky costumed racers. An antique bike show is also planned for the day.  In addition to that, Oddfellows will be setting up a beer garden in the park making for a wonderful time. Beer, Oddfellows food, Live music, Bikes – all ingredients for a perfect day!

More information here

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Bicycle Ride And Seek – Photo Scavenger Hunt 2014

October 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

turnerwinstonoc:

Our good friends, Bike Friendly Richardson is having their Photo Scavenger Hunt, similar to our PhotoVelo Scavenger Hunt this past Saturday. If you missed our’s here’s another great opportunity to meet some new friends and have a great time!

Originally posted on Bike Friendly Richardson:

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You are invited to participate in Richardson’s 2nd Annual Ride And Seek, Photo Scavenger Hunt. From mid-October to mid-November, we are inviting and motivating folks to get out and ride their bikes, explore their neighborhoods and win prizes!

This year’s theme will be “The Bike Racks of Richardson”.

Bike Friendly Richardson is working with the City of Richardson to gather data on the current inventory of available bicycle parking throughout the city. We thought this would be a fun way to involve the bike community and collect valuable information that will help make our city more bike friendly.

DETAILS:
Date: October 15- November 16 (a whole month)
Place: Various Richardson Locations. We need cyclists to explore every corner of our city.
Prizes: A few partners have donated prizes that we will give away to participants via raffle
Sponsors:Richardson Bike Mart, Alamo Drafthouse, Ten50 BBQ

HOW TO PLAY:
– Self-paced…

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Bike Friendly Oak Cliff is on Instagram!

August 22, 2014 Comments Off

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Bike Friendly Oak Cliff is now on Instagram to share daily photos of local cycling advocacy issues, BFOC events, rides, and anything else that promotes cycling in our great city.  We hand over the account every two weeks or so to a different BFOC board member to give you a fresh perspective on everything cycling related in Oak Cliff and the surrounding areas.

Riding the NETT

November 6, 2013 § 6 Comments

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The trail least traveled yields the most adventure!

written by Jonathan Braddick

I love rail corridors that are no longer in service, have been rail banked, or abandoned for private purchase.  They have layers of history that end up over lapping with new ones when rail trails are developed, like a palimpsest does.  They provide a glimpse into our past when this form of transportation dominated our country’s landscapes, our industries, and was the most often used form of transportation.  In our area of the nation’s prairie land, we have a fair share of these rail corridors.  However, one in particular is special and provides a unique adventure unlike no other can in North Texas.

Last Saturday, I rode 50 miles of the 130 mile long, North East Texas Trail, starting at the western trail head in Farmersville, TX.  Located approximately one hour from Dallas’ city center, it’s a complete escape and contrast to our urban trail environments.

First a brief history lesson…

The land for the NETT and other rail-trails was first made available by the National Trails System Act in 1983.  At no cost to the rail bank entities, it preserves established railroad right-of-ways for future reactivation of rail service, protects rail transportation corridors, and encourages energy efficient transportation use.  Trail advocates along the entire route have been developing plans and fighting court battles with some land owners since the 80s.  Now, quite a bit of the trail has been developed by several of the rail banking agencies that oversee it’s development.  The NETT is now a functioning, 501c3 non-profit able to accept donations to continue it’s development into the future.

Riding the NETT

I’d been hearing quite a bit about the NETT since growing up in Collin County, where Farmersville is located.  However, it wasn’t until I recently watched Dean Nix, a local cyclist and all around bad ass, talk about being the first to ride the entire distance from end to end and back, a total distance of 260 miles.  He did it in 3 days by the way!

Anyway, I heard through my Bearded Women Racing team members that Spinistry, a local race promoter, was organizing the first cycling event to ride the trail.  I have a full mountain bike racing season on my legs, so I took the challenge to ride the full 65 mile distance from Farmersville to Paris, one way, so I could be back in time for a mountain bike race the following day.

After a warm up start through Farmersville quaint and attractive downtown and onto local county roads, the ride put us on the first section called the Chaparral Trail .  The segment is owned by the city, and they’re very proud of their work to date on making it a true city trail.  They have lighting, benches, recently installed sod and other landscaping like you’d see on any local city trail.  The difference is that it’s not paved, a good thing for long term maintenance and use.  What make rail beds the ideal trail lies just at the surface.  Rails were built with rail ballast, tons of small portioned rock that drains very well and provides a solid foundation for the ties and steel rail.  When the ties and steel are removed, you can simply lay down layers of trail material to make it into a mult-use trail that everyone can enjoy!

Once we past through this section and out of the city owned section, the trail quickly showed it’s true grit. Think unimproved jeep trail in most sections, and that’s what the trail looks like.  We ran into a section where someone had removed a chunk of the rail ballast for some unknown reason.  This was the only section where standing water and mud was an issue.  A distance of probably 50 yards or so.  Most riders were either on mountain bikes or cross bikes.  All of the mountain bikers made it through this section with ease, however a few of the cyclecross riders did not ;).  Other than a bit of mud, the only other brief impediments are the multiple rail bridges.  We were instructed at the pre-ride meeting to not ride them, get off the bicycle and walk it.  Most of them are definitely NOT ride able, though a handful make for a fun, bumpy traverse.  You’ve got to be aware of the loose and brittle ties and the gaps between them.  They certainly made the trip more interesting, as your mind wanders back the over 150 years or so when they were first erected to ensure the train made it’s stops on time along the entire route.

I suspect that the NETT group will focus on repairing and making these bridges safe and ride able in the near future.  However, one in particular made me stop and remember that I’m afraid of heights, before I did a tight rope like walk across a 6 foot gaping hole.  This particular bridge crosses the Sulphur river, one of the main tributaries in North East Texas.  The bridge lies between Pecan Gap and Franklin, a designated un-passable section of the trail per the NETT group.  Anyway, the section you see in the following picture is the gap in the Sulphur bridge crossing.  IMG_2442

Here’s a look at the gap from another angle..  IMG_2444

Besides the adventure crossing these rail bridges, some of the most interesting sections of the trial came with the over growth.  We prepared ourselves like most riders would not that day by bring a few tools to help us make our way through anything we came upon.  I tied a machete to the side of my mountain bike and welded it like a soldier in the cavalry would have down.  While not necessary to traverse these sections, it was a blast to do.  Really, most of it can be bushwhacked by simply riding through it and avoiding the treacherous Honey Locust tree that have huge 3-4 inch thorns reaching out over the trail like spider webs ready to puncture any tubeless tire it comes across.  30 years or so since the National Trail Act leaves plenty of time for some gnarly over growth to leave it’s mark!  I definitely recommend having tubeless tires through most of this section of the trail, but not necessary.

Our adventure took us through some great, little slices of Texas’ beautiful country side.  Along the way we saw active farmers and ranches doing the same things they’ve been doing when the trail passed regularly, and kept the small towns economically viable and perfect places to raise a family and earn a living.  Now, the rail trial can pump new economic development back into them by adventure seekers ready to traverse the trail.  You can contribute by spending money in each town you pass through, filling up your car, eating at Pecan Gap’s all you can eat catfish buffet or another restaurant along the way or simply donate to the NETT.  Be apart of this resurgent effort to create a beautiful recreational resource for everyone to enjoy!

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Shifting Gears Lecture series with transportation expert Dr. John Pucher

April 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

This came to us from Bike Texas:BikeTexas_Primary_600

We’re bringing the expert and the elected officials and press to you. We need the cycling community to show up in force.

Join BikeTexas, the Irving Chamber of Commerce, state and local elected officials, and supporting organizations on Saturday, April 13 for the Shifting Gears Lecture series with transportation expert Dr. John Pucher!

Dr. Pucher is an excellent and engaging speaker and a world-renowned expert in the planning and policy field.

Dr. Pucher will discuss the impact of Complete Streets on cities across Texas and around the world. He will show how making biking and walking safer and more efficient has huge benefits to health outcomes and local economies. This discussion is timely as new bike plans await implementation across the state, and particularly in Irving and other DFW cities.

Drawing from his newest book, City Cycling, Mr. Pucher will inspire local leaders to take simple actions towards ensuring Texans have the freedom to bike and walk in their communities.

2pm to 3pm — VIP reception with elected officials and John Pucher in the Irving Chamber of Commerce Lobby. Light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails provided. All VIP reception attendees will receive signed copy of City Cycling.

3pm to 5pm — Public presentation in the historic Vault at the Irving Chamber of Commerce (entrance via parking garage). Suggested donation $20. Signed copies of City Cycling will be available for purchase.

Parking is free.

Note: CAPACITY IS LIMITED. Please register early to reserve your place!  Register Here

Texas Bike Lobby Day, March 25th

February 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Want to do something that can actually make a difference for bicycling in Dallas?  Attend Texas Bike Lobby Day on Monday, March 25th.

Bike Texas is organizing the event that takes place during our great state’s legislative session.  This year, Bike DFW, our regional bicycle advocacy organization, is handling the registration process and organizing transportation down to Austin and back for the DFW area.

BFOC is helping to rally the advocates by pledging 20 attendees to get a pick up in Oak Cliff!  The cost is $30, which includes breakfast, transportation, and the cost of organizing the day.  Here are the details:

Date:  Monday, March 25, 2013

Time:  5:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Bus Pickup Location:  TBD (working on an Oak Cliff pick up if we get enough attendees)

Where:  Texas State Capitol in Austin

Cost:  $30 per person; includes breakfast; will need $10 for lunch

Register Here!

RSVP on Facebook

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