At 6:30 this evening, the city's Park and Recreation Department is hosting a White Rock Lake Users Summit at Winfrey Point to address a problem first explained by Yogi Berra about a popular New York restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded."
As an avid runner, I've noticed that on Saturday mornings particularly, the main loop around the lake is jam-packed with walkers, marathon training groups, cyclists, pet owners and hung-over couples. If you chug around the lake at a decent pace, you could pass as many as 300 people. One Saturday this summer--at 6 a.m., no less--there was actually traffic congestion leading into the Buckner Road entrance into the lake, no doubt from people looking to run before the temperature hit its customary 159-degree high. Naturally, many of my running friends avoid White Rock Lake entirely, even though it's the best place in Dallas to train and probably one of the best urban parks in the country.
The Users Summit will last till 8:30 tonight, and police and transportation officials are scheduled to give presentations and discuss their plans for White Rock Lake. In addition, everyday users of the lake will be allowed to ask questions, like, "What the hell can be done to deal with how popular the lake has become?" After the jump, a few suggestions:
Close West Lawther Drive, except for thru traffic on weekend mornings. That would get just about all the cyclists off the west end of the loop and provide more room for everyone else.
Figure out a way to fix the trails by the spillway sooner rather than later. Right now, the city is not supposed to fix the flood-ravaged spillway wall until the end of next year, due to a host of inane bureaucratic reasons. As it stands now, that area is exceedingly dangerous. Because cyclists can't squeeze onto the adjacent Garland Road, just about all of humanity is supposed to fit in a space that's barely wider than an office hallway, generating a host of near-misses between bikes and pedestrians. Surely, the city can figure out a way to cut the red tape and widen that area immediately before some little kid gets struck by a Cannondale. Or alternately, you can close one lane of Garland Road from the Arboretum to Winstead Drive.
Have a come to Jesus meeting with area cycling groups. Simply put, the cyclists are making life difficult for everyone else. At a 15K road race around the lake recently, several cyclists refused to get out of the way of the lead runners, reflecting a broader sense of entitlement a majority of people on bikes have. There are just too many weekend warriors dressed in their tight-fitting T-Mobile jerseys who think that just because they have a $3,000 bike, they can bark at the average Mexican family fishing off a bridge to jump out of their way. It never occurs to many cyclists that White Rock Lake is not their own personal Tour De Dallas and that they could, every now and then, slow the hell down rather than yell at people to move. OK, I'm finished now.
Have a come to Jesus meeting with local marathon training groups. A few things here: First, there is no need for people to run seven- to eight-wide along the path. Second, some of the local running stores who sponsor training groups, including Luke's Locker and Run On, could try to stagger their meeting times so that every beginning runner in Dallas is not showing up to the lake at the same exact time. Just a thought. --Matt Pulle
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