Some good news for cyclists in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex: The three major cities in the United States’ fourth-largest urban agglomeration either have ambitious bicycle transportation plans in place or have plans in the works.
— The City Council of Fort Worth, where I live, approved last Feb. 9 a “comprehensive bicycle transportation plan” that aims to attain for the city “official designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community through the League of American Cyclists” by 2015.
Fort Worth has long had an excellent network of paved trails, mostly along the Clear and West forks of the Trinity River.
The council-approved comprehensive plan, “Bike Fort Worth,” calls for expansion of the bike transportation network to nearly 1,000 miles, including off-street trails, dedicated on-street bike lanes and shared-roadway bike routes, over the next couple decades.
— On Thursday night in Dallas, bicycle activists packed the City Council chamber for the third and final public meeting on that city’s bike transportation plan. The Dallas Morning News reported that “the plan would cover 770 on-street and 418 off-street miles of bike lanes” and that it “would be rolled out over 10 years as a revision of the 1985 city bike plan.” The council is scheduled to vote on the plan April 13.
“We’re going to transform this city,” said council member Angela Hunt, an advocate of the project. “Ten years from now, it’s going to be a different one than you see today.”
The Morning News quoted Andy Clark, president of the Washington, D.C.-based League of American Cyclists, as saying that implementation of the plan would send a positive message to the rest of the nation.
“People have the idea that Dallas is the quintessential automobile city and it’s huge and it’s sprawling,” Clark said. “You are going to help set the standard for a new generation of cities.”
— In Arlington, a city of about 380,000 between Dallas and Fort Worth, plans to make this huge swath of urban sprawl more bicycle friendly are not on such a firm footing. On Wednesday, the city’s planning and zoning commission held its first public hearing on a “Hike and Bike Master Plan” and a related “Thoroughfare Development Plan.” A loose group of cycling advocates, Bike Friendly Arlington, organized a ride to Wednesday’s P&Z meeting to demonstrate support.
“We had a good showing of supporters and some great speakers who made rational, positive comments,” Bike Friendly Arlington said on its blog. But it noted that “there was also a force of people speaking in opposition to both plans.”
The P&Z commission decided to postpone a decision on the plans and scheduled another public hearing for Feb. 2. If the commission approves the plans, they would go before the Arlington City Council on Feb. 22.
“Dozens of residents and business owners appeared to weigh in on the plans, which call for adding more than 100 miles of bike lanes throughout the city,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said in a brief report on the P&Z meeting. “Some supported any effort to make Arlington more bike and pedestrian friendly, but others said they were concerned that roads would become more congested and less safe.”
It’s worth noting that Arlington is the largest city in the United States without public transit, even though it is home to the Texas Rangers ballpark and Cowboys Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys football team and the venue for Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6. A vocal minority has helped defeat every initiative to bring mass transit to the city.
Most of the opposition to Arlington’s bike and hike plan has been organized by Buddy Saunders, owner of Lone Star Comics, a comic book store franchise. Saunders’ organization, called “Save Our Streets Arlington,” echoes Tea Party rhetoric in describing the plan as a “traffic congestion-creating, job-killing, tax-raising disaster for Arlington.”
So we wait to see what will happen in Arlington and cautiously hope that one day a cyclist will be able to jump onto a bike in downtown Fort Worth and ride the 30-plus miles to downtown Dallas on a seamless network of paved trails.