Mary Suhm: Why doesn’t the Continental pedestrian bridge have bicycle infrastructure?

Crazy clown thanks to Don Raines!

An opinion editorial from BFOC Board Member, Jonathan Braddick:

Last week, Robert Wilonsky at the DMN reported about the delays in converting the old Continental bridge into a pedestrian park.  Because I was curious about bicycle infrastructure, and hadn’t fully seen the design plans for the new park.  I wasn’t shocked to find there are no plans for separated bicycle infrastructure in the plans. Yes, you’ll be able to ride your bicycle over the bridge, but no dedicated bicycle lanes separating bicycle traffic and pedestrian traffic.  This certainly backs up why Bicycling Magazine voted us Worst city for Bicycling.  See the full planning document below:

TRC_ContinentalBridgeWestDallasGateway_010912

I quickly reviewed the 2011 Dallas Bike Plan, and noticed the bridge was designated as “Needs Further Review”.  Of course, I understood when I voted on the plan, that the plan for closing the bridge to traffic and making it into a park had already been made public, so that made sense to me.

But now that we’ve passed the plan, it turns out the City Council voted NOT to include bicycle infrastructure on the bridge.  I learned this from a quick email and quick reply from my council person, Scott Griggs.  He informed me that he was apart of a minority vote to include infrastructure, which the rest of the council voted against.

So, now we come to the purpose of this post’s headline:  “Mary Suhm, why doesn’t Continental pedestrian bridge have bicycle infrastructure?”  A simple question, deserves a simple answer.  Here are my many reasons why it should be included:

  1. The new bridge right next door doesn’t have bicycle infrastructure.  For good reason, it’s a highway. Period.
  2. Mixing commuting/recreational bicycle traffic with meandering pedestrians is not a good idea.  @KatyTrail, #Deaths
  3. Peter Laguerway, from Tool Design who helped the city put together our 2011 Dallas Bike Plan, spoke that we need to get our bridges right, because they are here for at least 50 years and in this case over a 100 years, in order to be a great bicycle friendly city
  4. The public didn’t get a vote on whether to include bicycle infrastructure or not.  If a route says, “Needs Further Review”, it means that “We’re not ready to make a decision right now on what type of infrastructure to include, not “We’re not going to include it at all”.  Since our council members also heard Peter say this about our bridge, I automatically assumed it was a no brainer.
  5. Because 8  and 80 year olds in West Dallas and Oak Cliff need safe connections across the Trinity too!
  6. Per the recent Ciclovia de Dallas and the Cedar Crest Better Bridge project, you can’t program the entire length of bridge, which this current design suggests with clowns and purple rainbows!  Creating nodes of activity throughout the bridge worked for Ciclovia de Dallas, with large sections open up to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.  This would then open up space for bicycle infrastructure.

Here are examples  of demonstrations done on the Cedar Crest bridge and the Houston St. Viaduct where both park amenities, bicycles, and bicycle  infrastructure co-existed.  By the way, these events where partially  funded or supported by the City of Dallas and implemented by Team Better Block and BFOC:

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4 comments

  1. This seems like the one case where including bicycling infrastructure would reduce the upfront costs of improvement. The bridge is already paved, the work proposed involves installing planters and trees. Why not just reserve one of the four existing lanes for cycling, and then improve the rest. It would reduce the scope of work on that bridge by 25%.

  2. I wonder how my city councilman, Sheffie Kadane, district 9, voted, but I think I know. He co-chaired the bike plan along with Angela Hunt, but did not even show up for the third and final public meeting and presentation. Not exactly a stellar advocate of the Bike Plan.

    District 9 had a high concentration of blacked out streets (Garland Rd, Mockingbird Lane at White Rock Lake, and Northwest Highway), but I do not expect them to ever have bike lanes. Mockingbird has a White Rock Lake bike path (too narrow and prone to bike and bike/pedestrian accidents) but it is poorly connected to the rest of the city. Northwest highway will get a bike path paid part of the way and paid for by State of Texas funds, but it’s benefit is basically to expand the recreational trail around White Rock (also incomplete, waiting for funds). One cannot use either of these two paths to access the White Rock DART station within feet of White Rock Trail, and I’ve heard of no firm plans to do so. Sheffie has already stated in his Garland Road Vision Plan, “no bikes”

  3. […] when it’ll be finished. All they can tell you is what it won’t have — bike lanes, much to the chagrin of the Bike Friendly Oak Cliff-dwellers. Says Parrish, the bridge is just too narrow to accommodate a bike lane — and “it was […]

  4. I live in North Dallas on the Northaven Trail, and bicyclists are everywhere in my neighborhood. Bicycle use is becoming more popular in our increasingly urban city, but the limiting factor is most definitely enough safe places to ride.

    The DMN article notes that there is “not enough room in the plan” for a dedicated bike lane. Umm… excuse me? It’s a four lane road people. More bikers are going to want to cross it than pedestrians simply due to the length. The idea of putting in places for people to meditate and play chess would make sense if there were housing or parking within a quarter to a half mile of the center of the bridge, but there isn’t any. It will be a ghost town.

    This is a singular chance Dallas has to connect North and South in a pedestrian and bike friendly manner, but our council is focused on “meditation plazas” and “kid climbing parks.” Save those for the urban parks that have housing and/or parking nearby. This is infrastructure that should help move and connect people.

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