The need to distance during the COVID-19 pandemic combined with people working from home or not working at all, combined with cabin fever, has created an unprecedented demand for trails and parks.
Major cities around the world have responded to this demand by closing streets to automotive traffic to make more room for pedestrians and bicycles with appropriate distancing.
In Paris, leadership hopes to reap a climate benefit after the pandemic by paying people to fix up their bikes, and other cities are considering paying residents to commute by bicycle.
Here in Dallas, we’ve chosen a novel approach of closing parks on weekends when people want to use them and restricting access to the Katy Trail using a system that banned some families from using the trail together on the same day. The explanation appears to be The New Cruelty. City staff is supposedly studying road closures. Maybe we’ll have a plan by the next pandemic.
While there may not be an urban planning reason to get out on your bike, there is a delicious incentive to ride: beer.
Multiple local breweries are located right off trails. Let’s talk about why you should go, then how to go.
The why is delicious beer. Peticolas Brewing Co. is probably most famous for its Velvet Hammer imperial red ale. Its rich, malted flavor and high specific gravity (9%) have sneaked up on many unsuspecting bar patrons back in Normal Times.
My favorite is Royal Scandal. Hardly anyone outside of England makes a convincing English bitter — this one is. And since this one’s in Texas and so are we, we can actually chill it before drinking it.
Everyone likes Community Beer Co.'s Mosaic IPA. In what might be a pattern: also try their Public Ale.
Buying and picking up from either place couldn’t be easier. Shop online and run by to pick up your purchase. If you have arrived by car, they’ll put your beer in the trunk or back seat. You stay put in the driver’s seat.
You can also use a different mode of transportation. Because of these places’ trailside locations and recent improved connections among Dallas trails, you can bike over there. You need the exercise, and exercise makes beer taste better.
I once got so hot and tired on a summer ride that I unironically enjoyed a PBR, and that stuff is swill. I ran a 10K a while back, and the organizer only had Michelob Ultra at the end. I’m still kinda mad.
Craft beer is a much better reward for your exertion. To get to the Design District from Lower Greenville, slide down to Henderson Avenue, and go across U.S. 75 to the Katy Trail. This is much safer than it will seem to those of you newer to biking. For one thing, there’s still no traffic on roads no matter how reopened we’re supposed to be.
If that’s just too much on-street for you, cut across Monticello Avenue or McCommas Boulevard to pick up the far north end of the trail. Then it’s all the way down the Katy to almost the very end. Cut off on the secret exit that leads to Victory Overlook just past the Alexan apartments.
You’ll be spit out on North Houston Street: Be careful here; there’s no ADA ramp. From there, take Victory Avenue under the highway where it becomes Hi Line Drive. If you’re headed to Community, turn left down the access road and right on Inspiration.
Stay on Hi Line for Peticolas. Once you pass Meddlesome Moth, you’ll see the entrance to the Trinity Strand Trail. Head west past the Krav Maga DFW and Mama’s Daughters and jump off the trail at Farrington Street.
Peticolas is half a block west on Pace Street.
You’re on streets for a bit on these routes, but it’s safe.
Prefer BrainDead Brewing or Deep Ellum Brewing? From East Dallas, cut straight across La Vista Drive to North Brookside Drive, and there’s the Santa Fe Trail. The southern end takes a hard right to Deep Ellum. You can either stay on trail until you get dumped out at Elm Street or take a quick jaunt on Main Street to its intersection with … Main. The streets in Deep Ellum are pretty safe, especially Main.
The Santa Fe has needed one improvement for its whole existence, and the Park Board was supposed to have been working on it. All the at-grade street crossings have stop signs for the trail: We just need to turn those 90 degrees toward the cars.
Or just take Swiss Avenue all the way down to Hall Street. It has barely any traffic during Normal Times, and it’s recently repaved. It is a very safe section of the on-street bike network.
You’re going to want to use a commuter bike for these trips. Beer weighs more than 8 pounds per gallon, and you’re going to want to buy at least 2 gallons. That’s no fun on a road bike, and there aren’t good storage solutions. A good bag for the beer run is the Topeak MTX. With the fold-out saddlebags, you can get 16 32-ounce crowlers home at max load. You could use a backpack if you’re not looking to carry that much beer.
“But,” you say, “I don’t live on Lower Greenville.” Because of some trail development, this travel advice may work for you anyway. White Rock Lake now has a beautiful, off-street connection to the Katy via the University Crossing trail (formerly Ridgewood).
You West Dallas folks, Cliffsters and Bottom residents can just jump onto the Trinity and take the Skyline Trail to the ramp up to the Sylvan bridge. There’s a gravel section, though, because city staff hasn’t finished the paving that was due two years ago and funded eight years ago.
“But, but,” you say, “isn’t the Katy crowded and dangerous?” Here, you’re going to have to use your judgment. At 2:30 p.m. on a beautiful Friday, it was lively but safe from a distancing perspective. But there are definitely times when it’s not like that.
During those times, cross the Katy on Knox Street, and take Abbott Avenue and Armstrong Avenue through Highland Park down to Turtle Creek Boulevard. Here again, these are very safe biking streets, especially right now. It’ll make you angry the city hasn’t closed a lane for bikes to use, but you’ll get there safely.
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Bike sales have skyrocketed in the pandemic. That means a lot of you are new to cycling or rediscovering it after years away. That’s great!
But you’re going to have a better time if you do a few simple things. Learn the rules. Get your bike fitted properly. Many people ride with low seats. Nothing will wear you out faster.
Take on new challenges as you feel comfortable. If you scare yourself or overdo it, you’ll quit. There’s also nothing wrong with riding slowly: If you’re riding to work, you don’t want to be sweaty when you get there. Slower speeds make biking practical, even in warmer weather.
Grab your bike, and grab some beer.