Council Says Bike System Needs ‘North Star’

bike system
Bike lane | Image by Jorge Salcedo

City officials want to make Dallas more bike-friendly, but some council members believe staff need to develop a more focused plan.

Department of Transportation director Ghassan Khankarli and chief planner Kathryn Rush briefed council members on potential updates to Dallas’ bikeway system on Wednesday.

Staff are recommending various changes and additions to the bikeway system, including new bike lanes throughout the city, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.

However, some council members believe staff must develop clearer goals before moving forward. Every official on the horseshoe spoke on the Bike Plan during Wednesday’s briefing, which Mayor Eric Johnson said rarely happens.

Council Member Jaynie Schultz remarked that the plan has “a lot of goals, but none of them are articulated.”

“I think what will help in a significant way to make the Bike Plan be taken as seriously as the Thoroughfare Plan is if we clearly articulate what those goals are,” she continued. “Do we have a percentage of transportation that we want to be by bicycle? Do we have a percentage of roads that we want to be bicycle-safe?”

Schultz said the City made a deliberate decision years ago to make Dallas “a suburban city” with car-centric transportation plans, and for the City to succeed in making Dallas more bike-friendly, a similar level of focus and deliberateness will be required.

“I want you to come back to this council and say, ‘Are these the goals that you want adopted for bicycle transportation?'” she told staff.

Council Member Paula Blackmon echoed Schultz’s comments.

“What are we trying to accomplish here?” she asked. “What is our north star?”

Chief planner Rush cited the Bike Plan’s vision statement for a “safe, accessible, and comfortable” bikeway system “unique to our city.” She also referenced “other north stars,” such as the CECAP Plan and the Vision Zero Plan.

“You can’t have multiple north stars. Sorry,” replied Blackmon. “Talk to a sailor. No — one north star.”

She said a single north star must be identified so the resources can be allocated appropriately to the Bike Plan.

Council Member Cara Mendelsohn added that District 12, which she represents, has little interest in more bike facilities, while other districts, such as Council Member Chad West’s District 1, do want more accessibility for bicycles.

She said these disparities in demand between districts should be noted, and resources should be allocated accordingly.

Council members also suggested staff gather more community feedback through additional public engagement meetings before moving forward.

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