1975 – “Denton is a city of bikes”

Do bicycles outsell cars in Denton?  A Denton bicycle salesman from 1975 declared that, and I wonder if it holds true 34 years later?

In 2009, we have three active commercial shops in Denton (Bullseye, Denton Bicycle, and Bicycle Path) and one community shop (Querencia).  Two weeks ago, both Bullseye and Bicycle Path employees reported strong sales at the beginning of the fall semester, and both shops appeared to have sold out of the most practical commuter-style bikes.

June 15, 1975, John W. Moody wrote a Denton Record Chronicle article about the prominence and growth of cycle commuting in Denton.  Highlights from the article include a statement from a bicycle salesman that bikes were outselling cars two-to-one, a description of the Yellow Jacket Gang, and general discussion of the relative ease of cycle commuting to UNT and TWU.  Photos by Jim Mahoney.

Photos and text from newspaperarchive.com via the Denton Library research portal:

VW rider

Not long ago, a Denton auto dealer and a bicycle salesman were having an argument. It was a friendly type of argument, one of those discussions where there was more joking than anything else.  But this conversation was on a subject close to each of the men’s hearts – the merits of various cars and bicycles.  “I don’t care what car you like,” said the bike man, “but whatever it is, it’s being outsold by bicycles in Denton two to one.”  Obviously, bicycles are cheaper than autos.  And the gasoline expense are certainly only less than a car, they are nonexistent.

NTSUtowerrider

But other than all that, anyone driving down any neighborhood in any part of the city will soon learn that Denton is a city of bikes.  In fact, it has been that way for some time.  Bicycles swarm down Mingo Road and for that matter in the downtown areas.  Bicycle Clubs practically each weekend take long rides and the clubs are gaining members at practically every bend of the road.  Denton Police officers have a strong interest in bicycle safety, and pains have been taken in recent years to hold bicycle clinics.  Bicycles are also changing the face of the downtown area, as bicycle racks have suddenly appeared on the downtown square.  More are scheduled to appear if the first ones are actually put to use.

rider-past-cars

And the change is not only due to the number of bicycles and growing public notice of the fact.  There are also a complete change in the riders.  Time was in Denton when bicycle riders were youngsters somewhere between junior high age and those just on the verge of applying for a driver’s license.  Not so, any more.  Young adults – and old adults – are seen pedaling down the street at nearly every other intersection.  And those who feel that they’ve reached the age where a bicycle might be a bit dangerous, there’s always a tricycle.  For several senior citizens have banded together for tricycle trips.  But these three-wheelers are not ordinarily tricycles.  They are giant tricycles and it takes more skill than you would believe to operate one.  Bicycle riders are generally lost until they get the feel of the big tricycles.  One group of oldsters take trips around the neighborhood and go shopping together.  They were bright yellow jackets and call themselves the “Yellow Jacket Gang.”  But the bulk of the bicycle riders in Denton are more likely students.  And their reasons are more than fun or economics, although both of these probably play a part.  Students use the bicycles because they are handy.

Yellow Jacket Gang

With parking space at a premium around North Texas State University, a bicycle is perhaps the most convenient method of traveling from one end of the campus to another.  Bicycles racks abound at NTSU and there is no question about these being used.  Some students find a bicycle so much a necessity they transport them back and forth from Dallas and Fort Worth by their cars.  They still have to find a parking place, but after that they take off on their bikes and save a good deal of shoe leather.

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2 thoughts on “1975 – “Denton is a city of bikes”

  1. Dav says:

    Where did the tricycle generation go? I’ve only seen two consistent tricyclists around town, both of which are older. I wonder if they bore witness to the Yellow Jacket Gang.

  2. Mel says:

    Great find! Thanks for posting.

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