Maybe, just maybe, Dallas has shaken its reputation as the country's worst city for cycling. Bicycling magazine hasn't mentioned it in a couple of years, anyway.
The city has, however, earned another not-so-welcome distinction. It's the "least outdoorsy" city in America, according to Outside magazine. We are, apparently, less outdoorsy than Cleveland. Less outdoorsy than Detroit. Less outdoorsy than Memphis.
Outside reached this conclusion by considering several variables for each of the 50 most populous cities (its Park Score Index, the Siemens Green City Index, the number of bike shops per capita) and "rel[ying] heavily upon our in-depth knowledge of these cities."
Here's what their "in-depth knowledge" tells them about Dallas:
Dallas is the sprawling place of ten-gallon hats and gleaming ten-miles per gallon SUVs. It's the oil industry's heart and soul (if it has a heart or soul), where only half of the residents are within walking distance of the tiny smattering of parks within its borders. Not that people walk in Dallas -- or take advantage of the paltry public transportation system, or even bike on the scant number of bike lanes. The only way to get from point A to point B is generally to drive, and given the oversized amount of space, the route is hardly ever a short one. As for the park lands that do exist, one -- the Mountain Creek Lake reservoir -- is prohibited by the state health department from letting you from eat the bass or catfish caught there, because of PCB contamination.
One bright spot: Trinity River Corridor Project is a 10,000-acre preservation and reclamation area that spreads 20 miles along the Trinity River. About 60 percent of it is forested, and the park includes a nature center, more than 12 miles of trails and an equestrian center.
The driving stuff is on-point, but beyond that it doesn't seem that anyone from Outside has ever visited. Houston is the "oil industry's heart and soul," and the Trinity River Corridor Project isn't a bright spot but an enormous albatross that came into existence only so the city could choke off its most valuable natural asset with a toll road.
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Curiouser still, Dallas' Green City Index and Park Score put it firmly in the middle of the pack among U.S. cities. Among the five "least outdoorsy" runners up, Dallas has the highest Green City score, besting Cleveland and Detroit by enormous margins and squeaking by Charlotte (Memphis and Fresno, Outdoor's two other worsts, aren't even included on the index). Dallas' Park Score ranking (26) is one spot behind Cleveland, tied with Detroit, and better than Fresno (50), Charlotte (47) and Memphis (42).
True, there are fewer bike shops in Dallas than would be ideal, but how much does that really say about anything? Might we suggest that next time around Outside rely a bit less heavily on its "in-depth knowledge"?
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.