Monday, October 22, 2012

BikeDFW Fall Meetup

This evening, I had a chance to attend BikeDFW's Fall Meetup at REI in Dallas.  I estimate around 60 people were in attendance from all over the Metroplex.  Among the attendees, it was pretty much a "who's who" of DFW cycling advocacy.  It was very cool to finally meet some of these guys.

Speaking at the event were the city of Richardson's Assistant Director of Traffic and Transportation Dave Carter, and the city of Fort Worth's Transportation and Planning Senior Planner Julia McCleeary. Also presenting on grass roots advocacy were Bike Friendly Fort Worth, and MaryAnn Means from the Fort Worth Mayor's Office.

Dave Carter showed how they've transformed a number of streets to be accommodating to cyclists by using an array of different types of infrastructure and signage.  The emphasis was that you have to choose what works best for any given situation, and sometimes the best solution is nothing at all.  The education and "training" of drivers was also emphasized.

He also gave us a glimpse of how some of this stuff actually gets done.  For instance, traffic calming was something that the citizens were demanding all over the city, so they used this demand for traffic calming and built bike lanes to accomplish it.  That's brilliant.

These are some of the criteria that the city of Richardson looks for when creating a bike route.  Mostly common sense, but good to keep in mind when asking "why not my favorite street?".

  • Collector streets with excess roadway capacity
  • Strong Potential for Demand
  • Safety
  • Minimal Intersections
Julia McCleeary presented for the city of Fort Worth.  In just two years after their bike plan was approved, they've done what so many said was impossible in North Texas.  They've built out comprehensive bicycle infrastructure that works, and people actually use.  Ridership is continually increasing, and cyclists are riding all over the city and downtown.

She gave these ideas on how to make a difference in your city:
  • Make a plan
  • Create bike friendly policies
  • Grassroots advocacy
  • Look for creative funding
  • Free bike corrals at events
  • Partner with transit, health, and safety agencies
  • Educate the public at community events
Finally, the message about grass roots advocacy was loud and clear:  We have to be out there advocating, educating, and riding!  There are a lot of great people working for the cities that could use our help in making noise.  They do all they can, but after a while, even they can get ignored.  If 10 citizens call about something, it tends to get noticed.  Organizing events and educating the public is crucial.  When people put a human face on cycling, there's a lot more acceptance and respect given.  This is something that Bike Friendly Fort Worth, Bike Friendly Richardson, and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff have been really great at.  I think it's easy to see how that's paid off for them and their communities.   -Jared


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