Dallas still has a ways to go to be considered bike-friendly. But while it's no New York, Chicago or Portland, there are definitely signs that the bike culture here is growing, and especially in Deep Ellum. Since the neighborhood connects downtown and the White Rock Lake area, plenty of bikers pass through. The Local Hub Bicycle Company, which opened on Main Street in late 2015, couldn't have come on the scene at a better time.
Local Club is close to two bicycle fix-it stations, one near Adair's on Commerce Street and the other at Main Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. They were installed a couple of years ago but what they had to offer was very limited. The pumps were often broken and the stations were frequently vandalized. Rather than a useful service, their ineffectiveness became a symbol of Dallas' half-hearted attempts to accommodate bikers.
In an Instagram post from last week, Local Hub announced that the station on Main is back to being fully functional. That means it has an air pump and repair stand with tire levers and wrenches. For people who live in lofts or condos and have no backyard, these stations are their best, and sometimes only, option.
"Sometimes you're riding after hours and you just find yourself at a point where you need a repair," says Sean Clancy of Bike Friendly Deep Ellum. "You have a tube, but you don't have a pump. So it's good to know you have locations around the city you can roll up to when you're in a social environment like Deep Ellum."
Clancy believes biking is important because, aside from its recreational value, it's a reliable mode of transportation for people of all ages and economic backgrounds.
The upgraded stations were a joint effort by Local Hub, the Deep Ellum Foundation, the Deep Ellum Community Association and Bike Friendly. Local Hub's mechanic John Kendall saw the project through. "I think this repair stand is a larger piece about how we can really repair our infrastructure in a positive way," Clancy says.
Unfortunately it's always a possibility that the stations will continue to be vandalized, and there isn't much that can be done to prevent it. "Control your own environment, so those five people you hang around the most aren't stealing things," Clancy says. "Hopefully that will create an environment of keeping those things pristine."
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Deep Ellum is only growing busier as more retail businesses move into the neighborhood, adding daytime traffic to the crowds that come out for bars, clubs and restaurants in the evening. Local Hub caters primarily to commuters who work in the area and don't feel like paying for parking.
Kristie Holt, who co-owns Local Hub with her boyfriend Justin Shannon, used to live in New York and wants people to ride on Dallas' streets the same way they do in NYC. That will of course require more bike lanes. Granted, plenty of bikers just use the right lane on streets without them, but that's not ideal. "If there are bike lanes, people feel safer," Holt says.
Getting approval from the city to add more bike lanes will take time, but Holt thinks getting more people on the streets to begin with will help motivate the city to act. "I think a way to improve it without involving the city is to get more people on bikes, riding on the street," Holt says. "If people see they can ride on the streets, that will influence other people to ride on the streets and that will influence our city councilmen to do something about it."
Already, the response to the fix-it station on Main has been positive. "I have people come in the shop saying they used the station on the way to work," Holt says. "I've had people tag me on posts on Instagram and Facebook to tell me how much they appreciate the station is working. I even had to use it the other day because I had a flat tire and couldn't make it to the shop. It's a really positive thing and lets people know that Deep Ellum is really a community that cares about people on bikes."