Dallas’ new bike plan may not need to touch all city districts, council members say


Dallas officials want to make it easier to bike in the city, but several council members are skeptical the changes are needed citywide.
At least four City Council members said Wednesday during a presentation by city transportation officials on Dallas’ bike plan, that they didn’t see the point of adding more bike lanes to every part of the city in the hopes it’ll increase ridership. A small network of dedicated and connected bike lanes, trails, and other paths may be the best option to address making cycling a more viable option for residents, they said.
“I think we’re missing the mark here if we feel that we have to find a project in every single district,” said council member Adam Bazaldua, who represents the South Dallas area. “But if…the end result doesn’t give us a more connected city and a bigger opportunity for us to have cycling as a means of transit, then I think we’ve totally missed what this investment should result in.”
Dallas is in the midst of updating its bike plan, a citywide guide meant to help the city address on- and off-street cycling options. The plan was first developed in 1985, but hasn’t been updated since 2011. City officials say a revamp is necessary to account for public safety and to better diversify options for people to move around Dallas.
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But some council members said Wednesday the city should consider a more targeted approach.
Council member Cara Mendelsohn said residents she represents in Far North Dallas likely wouldn’t support giving up a car traffic lane to instead dedicate it for bike travel. Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn King Arnold said residents she represents in South Oak Cliff are more likely to ask for road repairs rather than bike lanes.
“I think we really do need to take time to take into consideration the need to target where you have the most riders,” Arnold said. “We have bike trails that I’m looking at now that very few people are even on.”
The bike plan in 2011 called for Dallas to create 833 miles of on-street bikeways and 456 miles of off-street options like trails in 10 years. The city had no on-street bikeways, like bike lanes, at the time.
A June draft report of the latest bike plan says Dallas only has 73 miles of on-street bikeways and 147 miles of off-street paved trails. Only 11% of the city’s bike network has a painted line or a physical barrier separating riders from cars on Dallas streets. The city budgeted $2.5 million this fiscal year for biking infrastructure.
“In addition to being primarily located in central, north central and northeast Dallas, the existing bikeway system is disconnected with limited options for continuous travel between facilities and to community destinations,” according to the draft report, which also says highways further divide the city’s existing bike network.
Gus Khankarli, Dallas’ transportation director, told City Council members on Wednesday that trying to close biking gaps is part of the goal of the revised plan. He said one issue that needs to be addressed is how bike lanes in Dallas disappear without warning.
“You’ll be biking and then all of a sudden, you’re in the middle of an intersection that doesn’t connect to anything,” Khankarli said.
He said his department intends to have at least one more round of public feedback on the draft bike plan before it goes to the council for a final review. He didn’t say Wednesday when the latest opportunity would be for the public to weigh in on the bike plan revamp.
Khankarli said the City Council could adopt the final updated plan by early next year.
The new plan recommends boosting the overall city biking network to 536 miles of bike lanes, trails and other pathways. This includes prioritizing the creation of 15 major bike projects in various neighborhoods.
About half of the projects are in southern Dallas, such as a new almost 4-mile bike lane that would run from Fair Park in South Dallas to Stella Avenue in Oak Cliff. Altogether, the 15 projects are estimated to cost $9.6 million.
Kathryn Rush, chief planner in Dallas’ transportation department, told council members on Wednesday that the city plans to use a combination of grants, bond money and general fund cash to pay for those projects over five years.
She said the department would look into incorporating metrics to make sure the revamped bike plan can hit its goals.


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