Dallas Plans (Again) to Make the City More Bike Friendly

Dallas plans to expand bikeway paths around the city, which has increased in popularity since COVID-19
Dallas plans to expand bikeway paths around the city, which has increased in popularity since COVID-19 Photo by Febiyan on Unsplash
CORRECTION, 7/8/2022: This story was updated to correct the full name of Phillip Hiatt Haigh.

Late last year, Dallas City Council allocated $2 million to rebuild the city’s bicycling infrastructure, and recently they released an update to this plan and a timeline to complete it.

The new bikeway master plan is meant to be an update to the 2011 version and includes identifying and updating the core bicycle network, updating design standards for facilities and ensuring route feasibility based on traffic engineering and safety.

The planning process for the Dallas bikeway began in January this year and is set to be completed in April 2023. The April deadline is just for completing the planning stage and not the completion of the bikeway itself.

Dallas first introduced plans to build a more bike-friendly city in 2011. That program, known as the City's 2011 Bike Plan, laid out far-reaching goals, but there are only a little more than five miles of protected bike lanes on Dallas streets, D Magazine reported in December.

This new design will span the city with the goal of creating a safe, accessible and comfortable bicycle network. Dallas, as of now, doesn’t have that great of a record when it comes to public transportation, including ease of cycling routes.

Still, Dallas has high hopes that this new project will provide something that avid cyclists would look forward to, even if they remain a bit skeptical.

“It’s getting better every year,” said Richard Hellberg, the operations manager at Dallas Bike Works, a popular bike shop near White Rock Lake. “Will it ever be great? It’s pretty questionable for Dallas.”

The city has provided a detailed document outlining its plan for public involvement in this project, citing that “at the heart of updating the Dallas Bike Plan is including the voices of the community it will serve.”

This new project is not the only plan in Dallas to increase bicycling accessibility around the city. The Circuit Trail Conservancy (CTC) plans to create The Loop, a 50-mile path for pedestrians and cyclists.

While these are two separate projects, both the CTC and the city have worked together to create a new Dallas bike system.

“The bikeway update is for what’s considered on-street facilities, and the Loop is off-street facilities,” said Philip Hiatt Haigh, The Loop's executive director. “So, really it makes sense for those two to be connected because, you know, trails aren’t going to be able to lead you everywhere, and so you need a really comprehensive on-street system in order to make it really effective.”

Hiatt Haigh has seen an increase in public interest in The Loop, which he said has had a lot of momentum and fundraising success.

“I think the big thing was COVID,” Hiatt Haigh said. “The number of people who needed a space to be out and to do things just skyrocketed. … This is our opportunity to take advantage of that shift and make sure that it’s sustained into the future.”

He supports Dallas’ new bikeway plans and has been working directly with the city to integrate street paths with The Loop's trail system.

Meanwhile, the city has started the first phase of public engagement with a survey, which will be available until Sunday, July 17. Survey takers can also add comments to an interactive web map where they can draw lines and drop waypoints.

“I’m super excited for the city, and I think this is the right time for them to be doing the bikeway,”  Hiatt Haigh said. “I think that the biggest … piece that they’re going to need, though, is the support from the public to actually deliver these projects … because if not, then, you know, that’s just another missed opportunity.”
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Kate Pezzulli, an editorial fellow for the Observer, is a graduate student at the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT. Besides storytelling, she likes sailing, working on Jeeps, camping, potting and baking. Voted No. 1 friend in an apocalypse.
Contact: Kate Pezzulli

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