By 2021 the city of Dallas hopes to have 1,296 miles of here-to-there dedicated to cyclists, 456 of which would be off-road -- trails, let's say. Which leaves the rest, 840 miles, spread up and down the cracked concrete, bike lanes and cycle tracks chief among the options. So, then, how to roll out the new bike plan approved by the council over the summer? The answer's contained in a briefing sent to council last night in advance of the Quality of Life Committee's meeting Monday morning, during which they'll take up Bike Plan Implementation.
As Theresa O'Donnell, head of Sustainable Development, told me last night: The Bike Plan will be treated like the forwardDallas! Comprehensive Plan, which more or less tells developers where they can kinda do what, but not exactly.
Says O'Donnell, "You can go to the forwardDallas! plan and look for the general location of your property and see some fuzzy brown color on it, which means it's appropriate for high density mixed-use transit-oriented development. But that doesn't mean you can build something 300 feet high there. You have to go through the zoning process, and if you make it through and if the property is suitable and you can plat it, then the vision becomes the reality. The Bike Plan is exactly the same way: It provides policy guidance about proper location and priority areas, but in most instances you're going to have to go through a thoroughfare amendment process before you stripe lanes."
And a thoroughfare amendment is no simple slam-dunk: There would more than likely be a series of town halls followed by the requisite public hearings in front of the CPC and council before their respective votes. Says O'Donnell, there are a lot of folks to consider when remaking a roadway: "commuters, residents, merchants, developers with beautiful grand visions. But public input and public consensus is a good thing and something we appreciate."
We'll get into this more on Monday; I know, you can't wait. But to see how this is going to play itself out, time and time and time again, the council's being presented with its first concrete look-see: creating a dedicated bike lane for Fort Worth Avenue, between Beckley and Hampton, in an effort to get cyclists in Oak Cliff and West Dallas into (or at least close to?) downtown. But how? Oh, the options.
First off, as the briefing explains, Public Works and Economic Development looked at this stretch of concrete (running past the Belmont and the proposed Sylvan Thirty development) and took a particular interest in it, even though it's not high on the Bike Plan's to-do list. (Per the briefing: "Although an important part of the ultimate citywide bike network, this corridor does not currently link many destinations and poses potential safety concerns for bicyclists without the critical Downtown linkage.")
Huitt-Zollars, the engineering firm that worked on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, has already been brought in to conceptually redevelop Fort Worth Ave.-West Commerce from Beckley to Westmoreland. The firm's 50 percent done with its redo and has four options for the city, including shared bike lanes, buffered bike lanes and a complete Complete Streets do-over. Some would be temporary (90 days, the max allowed by City Code at the moment); others, permanent.
"But there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered about the actual operation," says O'Donnell. Such as: "What happens at the intersection? Should we do buffered bike lanes? How do you get into downtown? Getting through Dealey Plaza is a feat in and of itself. And folks like you and Jason Roberts will get out there and mix in with the traffic. But me, with my 4- and 6-year-old trailing behind, where do we go?
"Those things have to be vetted and gone through. Same with Sylvan. For that section do we want to try the reverse-angle parking or are we good with parallel? Will it be on private or public property. And if it's public, do we go to the bank and Valero and say they need to dedicate more. When you try to execute practical application of a theory, that's when the warts begin to appear."
Theresa: The Bike Plan, what I am trying to lay out,
It's like the Forward Dallas masterplan.