Jason Roberts broke the news yesterday: Israel "Dallas" Torres, 32 years old and an experienced cyclist, was hit by a car Saturday afternoon while riding on the Jefferson Boulevard Viaduct. He was just beginning a 40-mile ride, a daily occurrence, when he was struck: "The impact threw him into the windshield and broke his neck," per WFAA's follow-up last night. He's now in the hospital, though there is word he's recovering following surgery.
News of the accident has once again highlighted an issue mentioned frequently in recent months: the city's inability, for whatever reason, to implement its own brand-new Bike Plan, in which adding bike lanes to the Jefferson Viaduct is high on the list of projects in need of early implementation. Roberts explains why.
"There's a reason you don't have high ridership between North Oak Cliff and downtown -- it's really hairy," he tells Unfair Park. "Right off the bat, if you're in a car you gun it when you get on the bridge -- it's a mile and a half with no lights and six lanes wide. When you're on a bike and come in from Zang, which is the widest entry point, you're always on the left of merging vehicles coming on from Marsalis.You have to cut over in a blind curve, and it's really scary. Cars don't expect to see bikes cutting across that merging ramp."
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Which is why tonight, Bike Friendly Oak Cliff will meet to discuss ways to pay for what the city cannot.
Roberts says BFOC may use Kickstarter or a different online fundraising source to find the money needed to install Jersey barriers on the bridge. "The city has talked about a Jersey barrier, like you'll see on the toll road, which would take up a full lane," Robert says, "and you can actually do a two-way cycle rack."
Just two weeks ago, as you'll recall, Fort Worth Avenue Development Group raised $25,000 for bike lanes along Fort Worth Avenue from Colorado Boulevard to Beckley Avenue. Once again, it's left to citizens to do what the city cannot, for whatever reason.
"Maybe we're just dealing with an economic time where there's no funds to get any of these projects off the ground," he says. "The upside is it gets folks feeling more ownership: 'These are our streets.' And you'll see people get more passionate about them. As we do more of these fund-raising projects, I really do think you'll see even more activism."