The city of Dallas has been criticized at times for the agonizingly slow implementation of its 2011 Dallas Bike Plan. Two years after its adoption, only about 10 percent of the planned 1,127 miles of bike lanes and trails have been been put in place. That would seem to indicate that the city is behind.
Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan told a City Council briefing this morning that's not the case. The first phase of the program, which cost $1 million and runs through 2014, is fully funded through the street department budget. That means an additional 70 or so miles of bike infrastructure will be laid down within 20 months.
So the city's network of trails and bike lanes will go from this
As for the medium- and long-term parts of the 10-year plan? "It will take us many, many years to do it," Jordan said. "Not 10."
Unless, of course, the City Council decides to put a lot more bike money in the budget or includes it in a future bond program, which, given the past appetite for funding the bike plan, seems unlikely. Other than that, City Manager Mary Suhm said there are grants that can be applied for.
It's more than a lack of money that could trip up the bike program, though. There's also classic pork-barrel politics. After Jordan finished, council members lined up to voice their desire for certain bike facilities in their respective districts. Tennell Atkins wondered why more trails aren't slated for southern Dallas and asked Jordan to "go back and kind of tweak" the plan to add more.
Dwaine Caraway was next. "My constituents cannot and will not be left out," he said. "So we need to find out a way to get a connection between Cedar Crest and Bishop Arts." And then there was Jerry Allen: "I'm gonna look for the exactly same thing in my neck of the woods."
All that input from the council could end up improving the plan, or the various pet projects and demands for funding could muck things up even further.
Angela Hunt was the only council member who advocated for a wholesale rethinking of the bike plan, which she suggests puts too much focus on shared bike lanes and not enough on cycle tracks like the one that just opened on Jefferson.
She urged Jordan to survey bike traffic on each type of facility "to see if they're an effective tool in our tool box."
"I think if you look at the bike counts on streets that have these markings, I think it's going to be effectively nil." In that case, she said, the city should focus on encouraging ridership by building more separated bike lanes and nixing its helmet law.