It has been brought to our attention that the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce is recommending a change to the 2011 Dallas Bike Plan that would directly endanger the lives of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers by removing safety buffers originally developed by roadway engineering experts, the community, and city leaders. This alternate solution dramatically changes the existing plan and places the roadway’s most marginalized users (children, and seniors) directly at risk of exposure to high-speed ambulance traffic without any protective measures to reduce accident risks. This revision also is in direct opposition to safer “complete street” recommendations encouraged by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Association for Retired People (AARP). Finally, this change would expose our city to potential lawsuits by accident victims who would reference the removal of safety measures recommended within the original plan.
The buffered bike lane recommendation by the 2011 Dallas Bike Plan for Colorado Boulevard (from Bishop to Beckley) allows a “safety zone” for children and seniors who regularly access Lake Cliff Park, James Hogg Elementary School, and minimizes their conflict potential when crossing by converting the street to a 2 lane vehicular road, with center turn lane. The center turn lane also acts as an added layer of protection as dedicated emergency ambulance traffic is focused toward the center and away from the edges which minimizes the potential for accidents by pedestrians and bicyclists. A recommendation is being made by the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce to remove these safety measures and maintain a wider, high-speed 4 lane vehicular-focused road with shared bike lane markings only which increases the potential for conflict by ambulance traffic and area school children. Adding to the potential for accidents, the inclusion of a proposed level 2 trauma center off of Colorado which will only double the exposure to risk if the road is maintained as a 4-lane vehicular (with center turn lane) focused street. Currently, seniors who cross Colorado by foot and motorized scooter are greatly exposed to danger by the road’s wider lanes and curved landscape which creates limited sight-lines and places them in a larger zone of risk as they cross multiple roads.
As an advocate for safer streets for all uses, our organization cannot endorse a plan that removes safety guards and purposely exposes area children, seniors, and bicyclists to greater risks by high-speed ambulance traffic. The buffered bike lane proposal was recommended by nationally renowned engineering consultants who have designed streets throughout the country and have years of expertise in safely planning roads in front of hospitals, fire departments, schools, residential zones, and commercial districts. Recent studies in New York City have shown that streets with bicycle infrastructure lower accident rates for all users (pedestrian, bicycle, and auto) by 40-50% (http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/bike_lanes_memo.pdf). Throughout the Oak Cliff Gateway study area, we recommend maintaining or bolstering the current 2011 Dallas Bike Plan recommendations. There are two options available for this segment of Colorado Boulevard: a roadway that exposes people to greater risk, and a roadway that mitigates exposure and limits accident potential. The two lane, buffered bike lane recommendation fulfills the latter.