Tag Archives: Accomodations

UNT installs bike-repair stations

UNT installed two bike-repair stations with Park tools and air pumps near two entrances for the Union building. When I stopped by to check these out, students were already using the tools and commenting how useful the stations are. If you appreciate these (or notice they’re broken), tell union@unt.edu.

You can suspend a bike by the saddle; just insert the seatpost between the two tubes on top of the repair stations.

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Bike Boxes explained

Portland bike box where cyclist had been killed

photo credit: bikeportland.org

At last week’s focus group input meeting, the term “bike boxes” came up during a discussion of intersection accommodations for bicycles. You’ll soon see them installed in Dallas as part of the Bike Plan along with cycletracks, bike lanes, and sharrows. Here’s a primer on how they work:

A Bike Box, or Advanced Stop Line (ASL) is a designated safe place at the front of an intersection so people on bikes queue up in front of car traffic. The National Association of City Transportation officials lists the benefits:

  • Increases visibility of bicyclists.
  • Reduces signal delay for bicyclists.
  • Facilitates bicyclist left turn positioning at intersections during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Facilitates the transition from a right-side bike lane to a left-side bike lane during red signal indication. This only applies to bike boxes that extend across the entire intersection.
  • Helps prevent ‘right-hook’ conflicts with turning vehicles at the start of the green indication.
  • Provides priority for bicyclists at signalized bicycle boulevard crossings of major streets.
  • Groups bicyclists together to clear an intersection quickly, minimizing impediment to transit or other traffic.
  • Bicyclists can avoid breathing exhaust while queued at the signal.
  • Contributes to the perception of safety among users of the bicycle network.
  • Pedestrians benefit from reduced vehicle encroachment into the crosswalk.

Portland started deploying them in 2007 after two right-hook cyclist fatalities, as have other cities (New York, Austin, San Francisco). Researchers in Portland studied bike box response behavior and found that a majority of drivers were made more aware of bicyclists:

89 percent of motorists surveyed prefer the green-colored bike boxes to those that consist only of a white outline. Also, 43 percent of motorists surveyed feel the bike boxes make driving less convenient at the intersections, while 55 percent believe the bike boxes make drivers more aware of bicyclists generally.

Here’s a Streetsblog article showing installation of bike boxes in San Francisco; notice their boxes aren’t painted, but applied like stickers, and they feature a grippy surface to aid stopping.

If you want the full video experience, this Streetsblog film shows the Portland boxes in action.

Portland (Green) Bike Box! from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

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March 9th Council bicycle/pedestrian work session

March 9th, 6PM, City Hall: be there to show support for this council discussion and effort.  It’s a work session, so you can’t give input, but your presence at this meeting will amplify the council’s interest in bike/ped improvements in Denton.  If you care at all about the future of walking and biking in Denton, you should attend and observe. The fact that this meeting is occurring means that the ball is rolling, and you helped start that by riding a bike, walking, sending an email to council, or voicing your opinion that you want improved livability in this town.  RSVP via Facebook here.

I’ve been to a fair number of council meetings, and let me tell you.  In general, people don’t go.  So when they do show up in significant numbers (10+), council notices and realizes the topic at hand is very important to citizens.  That’s right, it’s that easy.  Show up, preferably on a bicycle or on foot, and council members can see that you care about this discussion. City Council has heard the citizens asking for improvements and expansion of Denton’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, our push for Complete Streets.  We all deserve the same thing: fair accommodation in planning and roadway design with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.  A safer, more welcoming, livable environment.

The timing for this discussion is key, as we’re a year from having a commuter train arrive downtown, and we have 40,000 students at two state universities here in town.  Right now, there’s no easy way for people to get between the universities and downtown, even by car.  We are overdue in planning to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists in this transit corridor, and the city council knows it.  Council has seen the ever increasing support for Complete Streets, and we need look no further than Fort Worth or Dallas to see that other regional cities are leading by example. This meeting has no publicly viewable agenda, but my gut feeling is that council might discuss some of the following topics:

  • creating an actual Bicycle Master Plan
  • creating a bicycle/pedestrian citizen advisory committee
  • hiring consultants to perform feasibility studies on bike/ped connectivity
  • revising the Mobility Plan
  • questioning city staff why we haven’t improved bike/ped transit as promised in the official Denton Plan
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Fort Worth Bike Plan looks incredible, faces vote tomorrow

Kevin Buchanan at the Fortworthology New Urbanism blog provides a great overview of the ambitious Fort Worth Bike Plan.  His article is so comprehensive and good, that I won’t do it disservice by summarizing.  The entire text is available as a huge pdf from the city.

Read it and imagine a similar plan for Denton:

Fortworthology Bike Plan Article

If you don’t have time to read that article, here are some tasty snippets:

  • Increasing bicycling in Fort Worth.  Double the rate of cycling for all trip purposes and triple the bicycle commuter rate from 0.2% (approx. 645 daily commuters) at present to 0.6% (approx. 2,000 daily commuters) by the year 2020.
  • Improve bicyclist safety.  Establish a system to track bike crashes, and reduce the rate of crashes by ten percent by 2020.
  • National recognition.  Earn a “Bicycle Friendly Community” designation from the League of American Bicyclists by 2015 (Austin is currently the only city in Texas with such a designation).

Network expansion:

Currently, Fort Worth’s bicycle transportation system (such as it is) totals 102.6 miles.  57.3 miles are off-street trails (think the Trinity Trails, etc.), a scant 6.4 miles are on-street bike lanes, and 38.9 miles are on-street signed routes (the existing green “bike route” signs and on-street sharrow icons).

Under Bike Fort Worth, it is proposed that the bicycle transportation network be radically enlarged, and a much greater focus be given to on-street infrastructure.  Under the proposal, Fort Worth’s bicycle transportation network would increase from the existing 102.6 miles to 924.7 miles.  224.7 miles of that would be off-street paths & trails, with the other 700 miles being dedicated to on-street infrastructure:  480.3 miles of on-street dedicated bike lanes, 218.3 miles of on-street signed routes (sharrow routes), and 1.4 miles of bus & bike-only lanes in Downtown Fort Worth.

Bike rack design and placement:

Recommended bike rack designs have common factors that include supporting the bicycle frame in at least two contact points and accommodating the most widely used locking devices such as U-locks. Ribbon-style racks and racks that only secure the bike by the front wheel are discouraged. Racks should have a protective coating that will preserve the rack material and limit replacement needs. Cyclists and the public should easily recognize preferred bike racks.

On innovative street marking designs:

The plan also states that the city should look into a variety of on-street infrastructure designs for different situations (shown in one of the images above), including Portland-style Bicycle Boulevards, Bike Boxes, colored bike lanes, bicycle-only traffic signals, contra-flow bike lanes, and cycle tracks.

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US cycling up 25% since 2001

The League of American Bicyclists just leaked some new data from the National Household Transportation survey about bicycling’s share of all trips in the US.

Bicycling has finally climbed to 1% of all trips in the US.  I know, we’re nowhere near Copenhagen’s 37% or Amsterdam’s 38%,  but I gladly celebrate a 25% increase in the US across the last decade.

There’s hope and there’s change.  This is change.

How did Copenhagen experience their change?

“I think the inspiration in Copenhagen came with the big cyclist demonstrations that first happened in the 1980s. It was tens of thousands of people showing up demanding better bicycling facilities. It surprised politicians… so they decided something should be done and then they told the engineers to do it. There was some resistance in the beginning, but they had to do what they were told to do.”

-Niels Jensen, Senior Traffic Planner, Copenhagen

Stay tuned, Denton.  March 9, you can show the politicians that you demand better bicycling facilities here.

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Dallas to get dedicated cycle track on Bishop Ave

What’s a cycle-track, you ask?  It’s a bike lane physically separated from the automotive roadway, like this one in NYC:

As written about in the Dallas Morning News and BFOC, planners are seeking to utilize $3.7 million in bond money for Bishop Avenue to add a dedicated cycle track.  The project also covers landscaping improvements, utility replacement, and rebuilding Bishop as a concrete roadway from Colorado Boulevard to north of Davis Street.

Many issues and concerns still need to be addressed, said Max Kalhammer, the city’s bicycle coordinator, citing safety, traffic flow and whether bike lanes should be built on one side of the street or separated as shown in the proposal.

Bishop’s existing 100-foot right-of-way makes the corridor especially suitable for building what would be the city’s first barrier-protected bicycle lanes, he said.

Kalhammer also mentions that Dallas will soon be hiring a consultant and drafting a new city bicycle plan.

Kalhammer and others have begun developing a new city bicycle plan. A consultant should be hired by mid-March, he said. A plan will be crafted in committees and after public meetings.

City Council member Delia Jasso has said she likes the idea of segregating bicycle lanes along this stretch of Bishop.

So how about it, Denton?  Where would you like to put a cycle track here?  Carroll?  University?  Avenue C?  Teasley?

I’d advise you Denton readers to keep an eye out for bond-funded road improvement projects, and direct your cycling infrastructure suggestions toward those already-funded projects.

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City Council to Request $2 million in Bike/Ped Funds Tonight

As we previously mentioned on Oct 21, TXDOT has about $70 million dollars to give out as part of their State Transportation Enhancement Program, or STEP.  Denton city planning staff doesn’t have any shovel-ready bike/pedestrian proposals, and so they won’t be applying for the STEP money this year.

However, tonight’s city council meeting includes consent agenda items D and E which would allow Denton to apply for STEP money for two bike/pedestrian projects totaling about $2.25 million in cost, for which the city must pay 20%.

D.  Consider approval of a resolution of the City Council of the City of Denton, Texas, certifying funding and support for the 2009 Statewide Transportation Enhancement Program Nomination Form with the Texas Department of Transportation, authorizing the City Manager to submit an application to receive funding to construct the Hickory Street corridor and entertainment district project under the program and, if the grant is approved, to execute the grant agreement and take other actions necessary to implement the grant; and providing an effective date. The Mobility Committee recommends approval (3-0).

E.  Consider approval of a resolution of the City of Denton, Texas, certifying funding and support for the 2009 State Wide Transportation Enhancement Program nomination form with the Texas Department of Transportation, authorizing the City Manager to submit an application to receive funding to construct the Cooper Creek Bike and Pedestrian Trail Project under the program and, if the grant is approved, to execute the grant agreement and take other actions necessary to implement the grant; and providing the effective date. The Mobility Committee recommends approval (3-0).

The first item is a call for significant sidewalk improvements on Hickory St, which the city has sought to revitalize for several years now.  They applied previously in 2006 when the state funding was cut, and as such, they surely had the plans ready to resubmit.

Linda Ratliff, director of Economic Development writes:

The proposed project will connect the historic Courthouse on the Square, the planned passenger rail platform and Downtown Transit Center and the University of North Texas. The Hickory Street Corridor and Entertainment District will begin at Carroll Boulevard and extend east to Elm Street, will exclude the block from Elm to Locust, and will then continue from Locust Street to the proposed multimodal transit station at Railroad Road. All of the existing sidewalks within both sections of the project will be removed and replaced with 11’ concrete sidewalks edged by a brick detail 1-2 feet in from the curb. Pedestrian lighting is proposed throughout the project, as are trashcans, benches, bike racks, street trees, landscaped corner beds and flowerpots at various intersections. An irrigation system will also be installed along the length of the project.

The current three driving lanes will be reduced to two lanes approximately 12’ wide. Angle-in parking and a possible bike lane may be incorporated following the recommendations of the Downtown Implementation Plan study.

The text of the actual application to NCTCOG reads less ambiguously when mentioning the bike lane:

The South side of the street will be devoted to an 8′ bike lane.

Answering the “Project Use and Benefits” section, Denton makes the case for connecting UNT/TWU/downtown via pedestrian and bicycle access:

The University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University, downtown and the future transit center are not fully connected.  People in one center cannot easily move to the other.  Establishing effective linkages depends on creating a pedestrian and bicyclist friendly environment.

It’s a shame that the tabled Oak/Hickory bike lane proposal isn’t applicable for the STEP program, because it would nicely compliment this Hickory STEP fund request.

Item E on the consent agenda asks for about $300K in STEP funds for a 1.4 mile paved non-road trail that spans north Denton

This project is viewed as an urgent need proposal to connect the existing Cooper Creek Trail at Evers Park extending northwestward into North Pointe Park along Cooper Creek at Fallmeadow Drive and continuing to the University of North Texas School of Engineering campus. This will accommodate neighborhood needs for a safe route to school and park facilities. The project includes an eight foot wide by 7,100 linear foot concrete paved trail and a 75′ linear foot prefabricated steel span pedestrian bridge across the creek.

The primary beneficiaries of this project will be two new growing neighborhoods with many families who need a pedestrian friendly way and safe route to school and parks. The proposed extension will provide new opportunities for the North Pointe and McKamy-Evers neighborhoods to access the elementary school and Evers Park.

Unfortunately, the Western end of the proposed trail is not near the actual entrance to the UNT Discovery Park campus.  The campus is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, and the only entrance is at the south end facing Elm/Hwy 77.  Hopefully this will not be a “Trail to Nowhere”.  I hope the city comes up with a similar plan to provide safer passage from downtown to Discovery Park, as cyclists and pedestrians still have to move along the 55mph shoulder-less highway to get to work/school.

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Austin Bike Infrastructure Moves Forward

So around DFW, many cities are talking about accommodating bicycles and pedestrians.  A few DFW cities are just starting to publish master bike plans and maybe stripe a lane or two.  Austin is charging forward and building bold infrastructure.  The Austin Master Bike Plan is good.  Really good.  So good that it won the very competitive State Planning Project Award.

From the Austin On Two Wheels Blog, they have a nice summary of the November infrastructure updates:

  • new sharrows on Lavaca Street to Martin Luther King Blvd
  • bike lanes on Martin Luther King Blvd
  • painted (green) bicycle lanes on Dean Keeton
  • Bike Box at the intersection of 38th Street and Speedway

In 2009 the City of Austin installed 20.7 miles of parking free bicycle facilities, more than doubling the 8.1 miles we installed in 2008.  In the third quarter of 2009 alone we installed 8.5 miles of bicycle facilities exceeding the total for any previous year.

So naturally, if you’re reading this and you live in Denton, you might be asking “why isn’t this happening in Denton?”

  1. Lack of shared vision and coordinated effort between council and planning staff.
  2. Denton public didn’t consistently advocate for bike lanes/Complete Streets till recently
  3. Many bicyclists are students, who have high turnover and low political involvement
  4. There is no representative group for cyclists, yet.
  5. Few recent bike/pedestrian tragedies to bring scrutiny of current infrastructure faults

Remember that Oak/Hickory bike lane proposal which the Traffic Safety Commission tabled earlier this year?  It’s not coming back until we demand it.

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Which City Is This?

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The Center For Transportation Excellence shows this ballot initiative up for funding:

Voters will be asked to approve an initiative to fund a diverse group of projects, including a new rail-based streetcar system, plus potential funding for other rail transit initiatives, such as commuter lines and a transit hub; sidewalks to be placed on major streets and near facilities used by the public and 57 miles of new public bicycling and walking trails throughout the city.

The so-called MAPS proposal calls for a seven-year, nine-month one-cent sales tax that will maintain the ________ sales tax rate where it currently stands.

Here are the hints.

It’s not Portland.

It’s not Austin.

It’s not Chicago.

It’s not Boulder.

It’s not Seattle.

It’s this city.

I’m not saying it’s a done deal, but at least it’s on the ballot.

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NCTCOG Oct 21, 2009 recap

So I made it to another NCTCOG meeting yesterday, and there were a couple interesting presentations I’d like to mention:

  • TXDOT just opened their program call for “Transportation Enhancement” project submissions.  They have about $70 million to give out, and bike/ped programs will get top priority.
    • I didn’t see any representatives from Denton present at the meeting.  Contact your council member and mayor if you want to encourage participation.
    • Caveat: TXDOT will give priority to shovel-ready projects, so if Denton’s planning department doesn’t have a proposal ready, we won’t have a good chance at getting funding.  You can call them at (940) 349-8541 and ask that they submit application to TXDOT.
    • Remember this opportunity, because next time you hear “we’re broke” as an excuse to not improve Denton’s bike/ped infrastructure, you’ll know we missed a chance at federal funding.
    • The program call closes in December.

The federally-funded program supports transportation-related activities that promote the quality of the environment through aesthetic enhancements associated with transportation.

Projects should go above and beyond standard transportation activities and be integrated into the surrounding environment in a sensitive and creative manner that contributes to the livelihood of the communities; promotes the quality of the environment; and enhances the aesthetics of our roadways.

Eligible projects must demonstrate a relationship to the surface transportation system through either function or impact. Project nominated must incorporate one of the following 12 categories:

  1. pedestrians and bicycles facilities
  2. safety and education activities for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Don Koski, respected planner for Ft Worth and BFOC interviewee, has left to work for the Federal Transit Administration.  Could this bode well for public transit in DFW?  We’ll see.  He was the chair of the NCTCOG bike/ped committee, so we’ll see who replaces him.  He’s left an impressive standard in Ft Worth to uphold.
  • Dave Carter of Richardson gave a presentation on their Bicycle Route Masterplan.  It’s a great start, and they worked hard with the community to include all angles.  The Canyon Creek HOA, stakeholders at Richardson Bike Mart, and cyclists were all included in the planning for this since 2007.  There are only a couple dedicated bike lanes, but it’s a start.
    • I liked Dave’s candid admission that post-WWII planning has been negligent of non-car transit.
    • Dave presented pictures of the Custer Rd bike lane, and it’s pretty interesting because it allows parking in the bike lane.  Now, that lane appears to be 11′ wide, so it may turn out to work just fine.  I’m skeptical, but I could see how this might work ok.
    • If you look at this diagram, you’ll see that the City of Richardson is just fine with a 10′ car lane, an 8′ parking lane, and a 4′ bike lane.
    • Denton’s traffic engineer, Bud Vokoun, uses totally different math, as seen at the controversial Oak/Hickory bike lane proposal, which was tabled and shows no signs of reappearing.
    • I am flabbergasted that the suburb (Richardson) in which I grew up is executing more progressive transit planning than Denton.  Is that because they’ve sprawled to capacity and are now looking inward for improvements?  When will Denton catch up/wake up?
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