Hopeful news in a car-centric city

“I’ve been honked at. I’ve had stuff thrown at me. I’ve been hit once.”
— Mike Zerr, a bicycle commuter in Arlington

Arlington, Texas, the largest city in the United States with no public transit and the venue for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV, took some steps Thursday night toward making the urban sprawl between Fort Worth and Dallas more friendly to bicyclists.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved two related proposals that are expected to be considered by the Arlington City Council on March 1. The P&Z Commission voted 6-2 to recommend approval of the Hike and Bike Master Plan and 7-1 for the Thoroughfare Development Plan.
The plans are “designed to map out Arlington’s transportation and recreation vision and goals for the next 20 to 30 years,” reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. They “call for adding more than 100 miles of bike lanes on streets throughout the city as well as removing 132 miles of planned roadway expansions.”

Friend and fellow cyclist Zac Ford lobbies for bike lanes in Arlington

A vocal minority has helped defeat every initiative to bring mass transit to Arlington, a city of 380,000 that calls itself “Fun Central” because it is home to Cowboys Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, the amusement park Six Flags Over Texas and the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. The bias has always been for more roads catering to cars. Riff-raff ride buses, and presumably bicycles as well, some have argued in opposing alternative means of transit.
And opposition to bike lanes was on display Thursday night. Among the speakers for the opposition was Mike Hale, a member of the Arlington Board of Realtors’ board of directors. “Developers base their development on traffic flow, not bike flow,” Hale said. “We do feel this will impose an impact on future development. Arlington is a commuter city. Reducing the lanes will cause congestion.”
Other opposition has come from a group called “Save Our Streets Arlington,” organized by Buddy Saunders, owner of Lone Star Comics, a comic book store franchise. SOS Arlington has described plans to make the city more bike-friendly as a “traffic congestion-creating, job-killing, tax-raising disaster for Arlington.”
The Star-Telegram reported that “one of the most controversial recommendations is to convert 37 lane miles currently designated for vehicles to be specifically used for bicycles.”
The Hike and Bike Master Plan calls for creation of a 110-mile network of striped bike lanes on roads throughout the city that would connect cyclists to key destinations, such as parks, the Star-Telegram said.
“Besides special designated lanes, the plan also calls for 56 miles of paved shoulders, wide outside lanes and other improvements designed to make it safer for cyclists.”
The city currently has only two miles of on-street bike lanes and 30 miles of off-street bike trails.

Rangers Ballpark and Cowboys Stadium in Arlington

Mike Zerr, who has commuted to work on his bike for nearly 15 years, was one of dozens of residents who spoke in favor of striped bike lanes, the Star-Telegram reported.
“I’ve been honked at. I’ve had stuff thrown at me. I’ve been hit once,” Zerr said. “I feel now we have an opportunity with this Hike and Bike Plan to move forward and make it safer.”
Thursday’s votes by the P&Z Commission were small steps — but in the right direction. We now wait to see what the Arlington City Council will do, and, as I wrote in a previous post, we “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 and bike lanes — passing through Arlington along the way.


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Filed under Politics, Texana, Urban cycling

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