Dallas city officials haven't even begun to grapple with questions of how quickly they can implement the Dallas Bike Plan or where they'll find money to pay for it, as consultant Peter Lagerway readily concedes.
But if time and money are problematic, Lagerway has good news on the space front.
"One of my great discoveries was how much extra capacity you have," Lagerway, senior planner for the Toole Design Group, told a crowd of 125 people at the plan's second public meeting last night. "A lot of the arterial streets we looked at are carrying one-third or one-quarter of the cars they could."
Lagerway first met with city cyclists at an open house in late May: Attendees at that event were asked to point out problems with the current bikeway system and suggest improvements. Lagerway then spent the summer exploring identified trouble spots, surveying more than 500 miles of streets.
"I had this stereotype that every street was going to be full," said Lagerway.
While many Dallas streets are consistently clogged, under-utilized streets are great candidates for "road diets." Lagerway specializes in slimming streets by creating bike lanes, buffered lanes, counter-flow bike lanes, cycle traps, climbing lanes, pedestrian medians and an array of other traffic tweaks he outlined in an hour long Power Point presentation. According to Lagerway, road diets make streets safer for all users - drivers included - and improve an area's economic vitality.
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Few audience members, the majority of whom indicated they'd ridden bikes to the meeting, needed to be persuaded. But cyclists who've been closely following the plan's progress say the meeting was partly a performance for city officials, who they fear might be skeptical of the plan and its price tag. There was symbolic power to the dashed and dotted lines Lagerway drew all over detailed Dallas maps, showing how the city could better accommodate cyclists.
"I want to underline and capitalize the word 'draft'," Lagerway said of the maps. "It can and will change. When you make your comments, remember, we're going to fundamentally change these maps."
Lagerway last night did not reveal results of the public survey his team's using to develop the official draft, set for release in December, nor did he speak to any specific street networks. But he repeatedly emphasized the importance of bridges:
"We heard loud and clear that bridges are very important," he said. "One of the things I'd urge you to think about is in an era of scarce dollars, we want to be really smart about how we spend our money. If you can't get across these pinch points, if you can't get across these freeways, the whole system falls apart."