Tag Archives: bike lanes

Future Denton Streets: No Bike Lanes?

Hey y’all. Remember all of the meetings and work we did on the Bike Plan back in 2011? The city held meetings and discussions and got input on where we wanted bike lanes, sharrows, paths, and trails, and it turned out that we want them in every neighborhood and connecting all parts of Denton. The plan that we came up with will let people get from almost anywhere to almost anywhere in town. Unfortunately, our older roads are often too narrow, or lack sensors that can detect lights, or otherwise need to be reconfigured or repainted, so it is going to take years to pay for and retrofit all of the streets in the bike plan.

The bike plan didn’t include future streets, because those unbuilt streets were going to be built to new standards that include bike lanes and other amenities. There were going to be updates to our Transportation Design Criteria Manual, and they would make sure that all future neighborhoods and connecting streets had the proper accommodations. Well, the proposed revisions to the Criteria Manual are out, and they don’t have any bike lanes on any types of streets:

Urban Shoulder

New Arterials (large streets that connect different areas of town, like University, Carroll, McKinney, Bonnie Brae, Oak, Hickory, Elm, Windsor and Teasley) will have a 4 ft “urban shoulder”, described by the Denton Bike Plan as, “The draft 2010 AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design and Operation of Bicycle Facilities contains guidance that when retrofitting roads for bicycle facilities on constrained roadways, where the width guidelines for bike lanes and paved shoulders are not possible, undesignated paved shoulders can improve conditions for bicyclists more so than providing no designated shoulder at all.” But wait, we’re not retrofitting, we’re building new roads! Why are we putting a 4 ft feature designed for retrofitting onto narrow roads on brand new roadways? And how is an “undesignated shoulder” a bike accommodation?

Collectors (streets that lead to or from neighborhoods, and often connect to schools or shopping areas, like Scripture, Stuart, Panhandle, Ave A, Malone, and Hinkle) will have either 4 ft shoulders or sidewalks as bike accommodations. There will be no bike lanes or shared lanes to provide room for bikes on these roads, even though they generally are the type of road that runs in front of elementary and middle schools, and the bike plan puts a bike lane on almost every collector in Denton.

Where will this leave us in 20 years? Will we have another hundred miles of road too narrow for bike lanes? Will we have another 100,000 residents that have no safe bike route to their local elementary schools, neighborhood shops, or restaurants? Will we be fighting to just get a little paint on streets so that all of the newly built neighborhoods will be safely ride their bikes to the rest of Denton?

If you don’t want the future of Denton to be built without bike lanes, send your comments or lodge a protest here.
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Ross Ave Better-Boulevard recon

Last weekend, I went down to Dallas to see the BikeFriendlyOakCliff/BetterBlock Ross Ave Better Boulevard. They took a neglected block and made it inviting by adding shade, traffic calming, water, crosswalks, bike lanes, entertainment, and food. The NYTimes even mentions the Ross Ramblas event in their article about tactical urbanism.

In one swoop, Jason Roberts of BetterBlock sums up the gist of rebalancing streets to meet the needs for people (and not just cars), while saving millions on maintenance, creating new jobs and revenue, encouraging entrepreneurship, and debunking the myth that gas taxes actually pay for road costs.

For Ross Avenue, we took a 6 lane road and developed a pedestrianized center that allowed entrepreneurs an opportunity to test their business while creating greater economics to the area. Normally, we’d generate no money from this street and actually spend millions to fill in potholes and repave. The wider the street, the more costly the maintenance, which directly affects our property taxes…repaving one mile of a 6 lane road in Dallas costs millions and we have hundreds of miles of these throughout the city. An assumption often made is that our roads are paid for by gas taxes. The reality is that none of our residential and non-highway/interstate roads are covered at all by gas taxes…it’s soley property taxes. To make matters worse, when business opportunity erodes in an area, we typically raise taxes to continue maintenance which pushes business away and creates an undue burden on residents to fill in the void. The money we’d save by reclaiming portions of the streets for businesses and people would go far to helping our city’s balance sheet. Fewer potholes to fill while increased area business tax revenue would help cover the costs of pedestrian amenities like lighting, watering trees, et cetera.

Dallas Bikeways sign

Ross Ave Better Blvd bike lane

Ross Ave Better Blvd sign

Dallas' Ross Ave Better Boulevard crosswalk

Ross Ave Better Blvd crepery

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ssahmbbq kimchi tacos

Ryan Thomas Becker (of Denton) plays the Ross Better Boulevard

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Bike Plan meeting recap

route advice

So that was good. Not amazing, but the Bike Plan appears to be moving forward. The turnout was modest, maybe 40 people, but perhaps fewer than the input meeting from 2010, a similar event that preceded this plan initiative. City engineer Noreen Houseright introduced Wednesday’s meeting, and consultant Kevin St. Jacques explained the goals of the plan, saying “If you see people out riding bikes, that’s a sign of community vitality.” Water Utilities director Jim Coulter spoke to the crowd about funding and timeline, describing the short, medium, and long term goals. Jim’s straightforward support bodes well for the plan, as Streets/Traffic is under Water Utilities in Denton. Similar support from other departments like Planning and Parks & Rec could really make the bike-friendly push well-rounded with bike-parking requirements downtown and trail building. As Ft. Worth follows through on its ambitious bike plan, we call attention to the fact that it was championed by their Planning department.

Cyclists again (like 2010) marked desired destinations and routes on city road maps, and at separate tables they talked with members of the Bicycle Plan focus group. See the proposed route map here, which includes a curious gap on W. Oak St in the historic neighborhood. Previous conflict was caused by a city plan to widen the traffic lanes, which would squeeze out either parking or bike lanes, and that created a polarizing divide between the neighborhood and cyclists. Recent conversations with neighborhood residents indicates support for bike lanes, especially since they help calm traffic, as long as the lane widths stay the same (or shrink) and parking remains intact.

Below, you can see the citizens’ spending priorities ranked with yellow stickers, with bike-lane expansion as the overwhelming top priority.

Bike Plan spending preferences

The city also showed maps with of potential bike and pedestrian paths crossing under I35E, which would have to wait till the $4 billion TXDOT I35E expansion plan receives funding. A few large suggestion sheets showed citizen comments for increased bicycle and vehicle enforcement, education for drivers and cyclists, and a recommendation for the city to hire a full-time Bicycle/Pedestrian coordinator.

While the meeting was good overall, it mostly covered street accommodations for bikes, and didn’t address bike parking or signal timing, two common requests from cyclists. Water Utilities director Jim Coulter explained that the short range plan would include restriping, signage, and bicycle accommodations in ongoing projects like Mayhill and Bonnie Brae. Longer term plans would include CIP and grant funding and an expansion of the city’s Mobility Plan.

With city council elections nearing in May, and the possibility of having even more council members supporting biking and walking, the Bike Plan will move forward.

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City to host public Bike Plan input meeting – April 13

logo for City of Denton

Per an official release this week, the City of Denton will host a public input meeting for the “Pedestrian and Bicycle Accommodation Plan” next Wednesday, April 13, at the Civic Center from 5:30-7:00PM. City staff will present a preliminary bicycle route map, and citizens are encouraged to give input. As far as we can tell, this is the only official input meeting for the Bike Plan, so don’t miss this opportunity to help shape Denton’s bike-friendly future.

The inclusion of pedestrian-related input is a surprise, so spread the word that this meeting won’t apply only to people who ride bicycles. Facebook event for RSVP.

For more information, contact Noreen Housewright at 940-349-7121 or at Noreen.housewright@cityofdenton.com.
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Bicycle Advisory Committee member wants your input

Amber Briggle

Meet Amber Briggle: mother, massage therapist, and focus group member for Denton’s Bicycle Plan consultancy. The focus group helps formulate the plan goals and timeline, and Amber wants your input. You can talk to her this Sunday at Fuzzy’s Taco shop, at 6PM, on the back porch. You can RSVP to the Facebook event here, and if you can’t make it, you can email her directly.

This Bicycle Plan is Denton’s strongest push towards creating bicycle facilities and encouraging more riding. Amber provides a rare opportunity to share your ideas at this critical time in the plan development.

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SUV hits cyclist on Fry St

I haven’t liked covering so many recent accidents, but they deserve public attention, especially as the city bike plan is underway. We received a phone tip about this last night, and the NTDaily ran an article today about the accident.

Nathan Hardy was riding south on Fry St from City Parc to UNT, when he was struck by a Lincoln Navigator that was turning onto Oak. Both approached the green light, and the SUV failed to yield and struck Nathan. Denton police cited the driver for failure to yield.

Hardy was flung from his bike and slid about 20 feet, said Steven Schroeder, Hardy’s friend and roommate, who was cycling just behind him at the time of the accident.

“His bone was sticking out of his leg and he was screaming,” said Schroeder, a communication design sophomore.

The driver immediately pulled over and called 911, witnesses said. Emergency personnel arrived in less than five minutes and Hardy was transported to Denton Regional Hospital, Schroeder said.

According to a friend, Hardy rides a bike for his primary transportation and hadn’t driven in a year.

The accident scenario (car fails to yield and hits cyclist head on while turning) is eerily similar to another accident this week where local BMX photographer, Travis Kincaid, was struck head-on.

On a related note, I recently found a 1970′s plan by UNT and Denton to add bike lanes to Fry. Fry businesses (including one Curtis Loveless) fought the plan (to save a few parking spots), and obviously the project didn’t go through.

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Bike Plan update

freese-logo

Last November, we learned that Denton hired a bike consultant for $69,564 to research and propose bike-friendly changes to Denton’s Mobility Plan. We hadn’t heard much since then, so we asked for an update last week.

City engineer Frank Payne says that during December and January, consultant Kevin St. Jacques identified bicycling destinations, residential routes, the Trails Master Plan (absent from city website), and Kevin prepared reports and street concept designs for the Bicycle Plan Task Force. Once the task force is assembled, it will interface between the city and the public, possibly to include the city council Mobility Committee.

The task force will review Bicycle Plan goals, theology of on-street accommodations, public input, plan framework, and facility financing.

In addition to the ongoing Bicycle Plan, the soon-to-be-reformed Traffic Safety Commission will explicitly include bicycle and pedestrian safety in the commission’s charge. Although we don’t see paint on the ground yet, these two developments indicate a much needed level of conversation about bicycling and pedestrian facilities in Denton. Progress seems slow, but the public will very soon be able to provide input and participate in the discussion.

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Ft Worth – Panther City closes, Trinity grows

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Today is the last day Panther City bikes will be open, ever. After 6 years, they’re closing. Cheers guys. It was definitely one of the cozier bike shops I’ve visited. There were couches, a keg of Rahr beer, Masi and Indy Fab bikes, and a great location next to the Spiral Diner. What a nice final portrait, gentlemen.  Just look at the spirit of adventure in that pose.

Outside the shop I found a beautiful Indy Fab bike with wooden fenders; a nice fit with long-reach Tektro sidepull brakes:

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Fort Worth has an increasing number of nice staple racks around town, especially on the south side, as Fortworthology reports.

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Magnolia has bike lanes that help encourage riding in the area, and I was pleasantly surprised to see some middle-aged women on bikes. The bike lanes seemed too narrow, though, and they passed right in the parallel parking door zones.  From the photo below, you can see Magnolia’s lanes might be wide enough to fit some wider bike lanes and narrower car lanes.

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A few miles away, Trinity Bikes seems to be growing quickly. We went there a year ago when Russ and Laura from Path Less Pedaled came to speak about long-distance bike touring. Trinity had so many interesting things in the shop, like this strange labyrinth Alex Moulton small-wheeled bike.

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The below beauty is a vintage Raleigh Professional, painted by Brian Baylis of Masi USA fame. Velo Orange hammered fenders.

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This is the new 3-speed fixed Sturmey Archer hub, which the Trinity guys said has a little bit of backward play before engaging. Perhaps good for touring, but not so good for freestyle.

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Bernie of Trinity rode this pink Surly 1 x 1 fixie (yes, a 26″ mountain bike frame) all the way to Austin earlier this year. If nothing else, it’s got the most mud clearance I’ve ever seen.  This bike makes me feel sweaty and weird, and I’m ok with that.

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SUV hits cyclist on Eagle

accident aftermath from SUV striking cyclist who rode on sidewalk

Today around 5:00PM, an SUV struck a man who was cycling on Eagle Drive near Welch, mangling the bicycle, injuring the cyclist, and scattering belongings across the ground.  The injured cyclist was taken to an area hospital and is reportedly in stable condition, although a large blood stain is visible in the photo near the cloth bag and shoes.  No arrests or charges were made.

According to officers at the scene, the cyclist was riding east in the same direction as traffic, on the south sidewalk, and the SUV was traveling west on Eagle, making a left turn across the street where it hit the cyclist head-on.

In April 2010, city engineers produced a whitepaper and presentation that both suggested Eagle and Welch as possible candidates for bike lane installation.

Sidewalk riding is considered extremely dangerous by most cycling advocates, and it is studied and endlessly debated within the cycling community.  We always recommend riding in the street and avoiding the sidewalk, but it’s going to happen, especially in the absence of bike lanes and education.  Adding to the confusion, many UNT students ride on sidewalks within the campus and continue to do so off campus.  There are at least four college dormitories along Eagle, two of them carfree, so there is quite a bit of walking and biking in the vicinity.

This is a pretty hot topic, so keep the comments civil, please.

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City changes signs on Hinkle, plans immediate restriping

New signs on Hinkle

Hinkle lane has been confusing for years, if not decades.  The signage and lane striping confuses all: pedestrians, cyclists, drivers.  Developers have sought to remove it, a cyclist was killed on it decades ago, it’s a critical route between UNT and UNT Discovery Park (page 21), and cars drive and pass dangerously in the bike lane.

Hinkle is about to change.

I (Howard) have brought it up on the Traffic Safety Commission as a confusing situation needing clarification for all transit types.  Another commissioner concurred and sought clarification of the lane configuration.

Yesterday, I noticed the previous signs which read “keep left [cars]” and “keep right[bikes]” had changed to the new signs in the above photo.  City engineer Frank Payne explains that the city seeks to discourage cars from passing in the bike lane by defining two spaces: a 5′ lane for bicycles and an 8′ lane for parking.  As a two-phased approach, the reflective buttons will be remove, and the bike & parking lanes temporarily striped.  Eventually, he says the bike lane will grow to 6′ wide when the city can afford to resurface the street, which has been said to cost approximately $1,200,000.

Payne states “the purpose of the revised signs is to start the education process with the motorists as soon as possible in an attempt to get them to stop passing on the right and usurping the space for the bicycles.”  Payne also explains that if they had made the entire West side into a huge bike lane, they fear that cars would still drive and pass there.

I’m not sure if this will actually work, but I’m glad to see the engineers working on this and trying a solution.  The freshly defined bike lane will be a great improvement, since the old bike lane markings are worn away to almost nothing.  The parking lane is admittedly a bit odd, since there’s no demand for anyone to park there.  Honestly, I wonder if the neighborhood might like a pedestrian defined space there, since there’s no sidewalk for most of Hinkle, and I often encounter folks walking and using wheelchairs in this space.  Given the excess of road width, no demand for parking, and significant pedestrian and cycling needs, I’d like to see a separated or buffered facility here eventually.  Cars, buffer, bikes, pedestrians.  I ride Hinkle daily, and when I ride in the defined bike lane, cars seem very close, and I am very uncomfortable.

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