Monday, January 18, 2010

Sharing The Road In Texas

The Texas Observer is a great publication much like our own Inlander. They recently published an article about bicycling in Texas.

There’s really only one factor that makes streets safe for bikes—more cyclists. In cities where bicycle infrastructure is embraced, cyclists fair well. After doubling the number of bike lanes in New York City over the last three years (including a lane through Times Square), commuter cycling increased by 45 percent while the accident rate remained the same. Wiley Norvell, communications director for Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates for bike lanes, said “documentation shows every time you triple the number of cyclists in a city, you halve the crash rate.”

The city of Dallas has pretty much ignored the needs of cyclists and done nothing to promote cycling.

Other Texas cities are riding right by Dallas. Last year, Austin approved a plan to install nearly 900 miles of bike lanes by 2030. The city recently made it illegal to turn right across a bike lane if a cyclist is present.

In Houston, new bike coordinator Dan Raine says, “All I’ve been doing is cutting ribbons.” The city recently installed 15 miles of bike trails and will begin building a bike link from downtown to the Heights neighborhood this spring.

El Paso is a national leader in bicycling. Every Sunday during spring and summer, the city shuts its Scenic Drive for a ciclovia, and the road morphs into public space for cyclists and pedestrians.

As Dallas has fallen behind, citizens have picked up the slack. The city had long refused to build bike lanes in the hip urban neighborhood of Oak Cliff. So last spring the residents did it themselves. Late at night, with spray paint and stencils, the dissenters painted “sharrows,” images of bikes and arrows, along street sides. While not official bike lanes, sharrows indicate that bikes belong in the street. While these vigilante methods can reduce overall public support for bike infrastructure, they tell city officials how frustrated urban bikers are.

Not that I'm trying to give anyone ideas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although I love that kind of civil disobiedience. Not that I am getting any ideas.