When the city first began putting down bike lanes last year, it was hard to divine if there was any grander vision than simply flinging paint at random patches of asphalt. In a century or so, we figured, they'd coalesce into the long-awaited Dallas Bike Plan. Until then, we were left to puzzle over how a lonely mile of bike lane on Malcolm X Boulevard or Main Street was supposed to help cyclists get any place useful.
But wait. It seems that logic has emerged from the expanding tangle of bike paths. On Saturday, the city, DART and various trail groups will unveil the CentraLink, which is the somewhat awkward name for the cluster of bike lanes downtown that now connect all the downtown-area trails -- the Santa Fe, Katy and Trinity Strand -- with Union Station and the the Jefferson Cycle Track.
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Think about it. You can now get from White Rock to Uptown, or from Uptown to Oak Cliff, or from Oak Cliff to the Design District without ever leaving some form of bike infrastructure.
The city linked the Santa Fe and Katy Trail several months ago. DART chipped in recently to extend the network to the Trinity Strand and to Jefferson.
Jared White, a transportation planner with the city who lives downtown, says the bike lanes have already attracted more cyclists. He expects those numbers to grow now that additional connections are complete.
The fact that these are shared lanes with no barrier between bikes and cars will likely discourage some riders, but the mere existence of a clear way to get from Point A to Point B starts to make cycling seem like a reasonable transportation option. It's a step, anyway.