Cycling in Dallas may soon become easier and safer — and perhaps a lot more popular as a result.
The Dallas Department of Transportation (DDT) received $2.5 million of taxpayer money from the City for the development and implementation of better cycling infrastructure citywide.
According to the DDT, there are approximately 150 miles of bike lanes in Dallas, of which 54 miles are exclusive lanes and 92 miles are shared or non-exclusive.
Between 2007 and 2015, there was an upswing in the number of Americans commuting to work by bike. Yet only an estimated 0.2% of Texans are reported as doing so.
In a 2022 study, Dallas was named the least bike-friendly of the cities studied in the United States at No.50, a ranking derived from its absence of bike-friendly amenities. For instance, Dallas had 75% fewer bike shops, 80% fewer workers commuting by bike, and 16% fewer bike trails (1.4 per 100,000 people) than the average city.
Perhaps relatedly, the DFW area is currently ranked as the 27th most obese metro in the nation.
Other Texas cities fared a bit better in terms of “bikeability”: Austin was No.16, Houston No.29, and San Antonio No.30.
There is also a statewide initiative to improve cycling in the Lone Star State.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced on December 1 that $250 million of federal taxpayer funds will go towards constructing sidewalks, bike lanes, shared-use paths, and other infrastructure to improve pedestrian and biking routes across Texas.
The TxDOT 2023 Transportation Alternatives Call for Projects was subsequently opened, which calls on representatives of counties, cities, metro planning associations, and non-profits to get involved.
Safety is also a large factor in these plans. TxDOT reported that the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed on Texas roads has risen over recent years. The agency said that pedestrian fatalities increased by 15% and cyclist fatalities by 14% in 2021.
“Making it safer and easier to walk and bike is an important part of our mission of ‘Connecting You with Texas,’” explained TxDOT Transportation Commissioner Robert Vaughn. “I’m thrilled to see this increase in funding that’ll help communities build impactful improvements for its citizens.”
In Dallas, the Crash Records Information System (CRIS) reported that Dallas had 95 bicycle accidents in 2021. Three of these crashes resulted in fatal injuries and 15% of the total produced serious injuries and hospitalization. Of these incidents, 92 were caused by a vehicle impacting a bike.
Nonetheless, David Morrison, a South Oak Cliff resident and cyclist, told The Dallas Morning News that he feels relatively safe when cycling, except when the sun sets and there are no working streetlights.
For her part, Tameca Harris, an employee at Bike Friendly South Dallas, suggested that there need to be more concrete barriers in bike lanes and better roadways.
“The streets are a big, big problem,” she explained. “There’s lots of potholes and just trash depending on where you are. You got to be careful that you’re not riding over glass or screws or nails.”
The City held a series of public input meetings in mid-November which will help the DDT create a new bike plan, adding new infrastructure, trails, and other facilities, for 2023.
Page Jones, a public information officer for Dallas, said that the City has plans for about 36 more miles of bike lanes across Dallas.
The new bicycle master plan will focus on updating the bicycle network map, updating design standards for bike facilities, and identifying “quick win” priority facilities and capital improvements.
Talks of improving biking infrastructure come as rentable scooters and bikes are expected to return to the city, as reported by The Dallas Express. Dallas expects to contract with companies Lime, Bird, and Superpedestrian with up to 500 rental vehicles each.
The City of Dallas will reach out for public comment again on the infrastructure project in the spring of 2023.