Tag Archives: bike plan

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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Bike Plan update, Oak/Hickory $35,000 study proposed

At the city council 2:30PM work session today, Public Works staff will report Bike Plan progress to the council, and the council members will discuss and give direction back to staff. The new priorities are listed as:

1. Windsor (Old North to Bonnie Brae)

2. Sycamore (DCTA station to UNT)

3. To Be Determined

4. Oak & Hickory.

The Windsor proposal is simply a redirection of county bike plan funds, and it will add bike lanes without removing any parking. The Sycamore route also uses county money, but from Commissioner Andy Eads, and the focus is on designating a route between the downtown transit center and UNT. Since Sycamore has no signal at Carroll, the new proposal favors Mulberry as a designated, non-bike lane route. (The Mulberry/Carroll timing and activation are also problematic)

Lastly, the Oak & Hickory bike lane proposal brings a new, untimely challenge. City staff says the roads need to be re-designated as “commercial collectors”, and that will require a $35,000 traffic consulting study. That’s nearly 18% of the total $200,000 allocated for the bike plan first year.

Oak & Hickory will be studied to determine if they can be re-designated as a commercial collector. If these roads can be re-designated there will be one way bike lanes on Oak and Hickory. The cost of the traffic study for this type of re-designation is estimated in the $35,000 range. Staff will work with a traffic consultant to verify the cost associated with this type of study.

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City council unanimously approves Bike Plan

Tomorrow, I’ll write a followup article with detail on tonight’s city council bike plan hearing. For now, these three photos will do.

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City Council to vote on Bike Plan next Tuesday 2/21

city hall and a classic

After years of work and growing momentum, Denton’s Bike Plan is finally going to city council next Tuesday for a vote. I’ll keep this short and say this is the time to show up and support the plan, if you want it to pass. Even if you think it’ll pass, simply showing up and filling out a comment card or speaking will add tremendous weight to the plan. Weight that will help get the ball rolling avoid the first-year delays that Dallas is fighting.

This is a landmark moment in Denton’s history, and your participation and pressure can keep this plan from collecting dust on a shelf. The plan already has $200k funding for the first year, and at least $50k for every year after that. Let’s get this plan approved so we can get to the real work, the paint on the ground.

See you at City Hall - 215 E. McKinney, next Tuesday, at 6:30PM.

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Planning and Zoning board approves Bike Plan

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Last night, Denton’s P&Z board voted 7-0 to approve the Bike Plan after spoken support from 7 year old Zarian (pictured above) and Amber Briggle, and supportive comment cards. Nobody opposed the plan.

The next and final stop for the Bike Plan is at city council in February, and that is the public’s last opportunity to give input and show support.

The turnout (for the Bike Plan agenda item) at last night’s meeting was low, but that’s unsurprising given the number of public Bike Plan meetings held since the effort started in 2009. It just seems easier to get turnout for something people are fighting against rather than fighting for. Also, a general lack of controversy might convey an impression that the Bike Plan has enough momentum to carry itself all the way through to fruition. Regardless, the final passage will have a celebratory element and I’d wager that turnout + passage = party.

Strangely, the P&Z chair (Jay Thomas) somehow neglected to read the citizen comment cards aloud, ignoring a standard public hearing protocol. The agenda discussion was also halted abruptly and put to a vote, while it was obvious some commissioners wanted to continue discussion. While the resulting vote was positive, the process was stunted.

Commissioner Devin Taylor pressed engineering staff to ask how the public would continue to give input on the plan (for route preferences, etc), and the staff replied that citizens can continue to email in suggestions. That’s a bit guarded, and I think resurrecting the Bike Plan Advisory Committee is more openly engaging of the public. An official 311 system for reporting street issues (amongst others) could also be of huge value to Denton. Austin has it, Dallas has it, Plano has it, and we could use it.

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Traffic Safety to discuss bike education, safe passing signs

photo excerpt of Austin Bike Plan education chapter

On tonight’s Traffic Safety commission agenda, they’re set to discuss a bike safety education program for Denton. The agenda backup includes bike safety promotional material from the Austin Bike Plan, BikeTexas, and a Maine advocacy group. The commission will also preview road signs for the Safe Passing ordinance.  Since the federal road manual (MUTCD) doesn’t have a Safe Passing sign, this will be a preview of a proposed sign, possibly one used by another city or state.

Since tonight’s meeting isn’t a public hearing, there’s no opportunity for public input, but spectating is always welcome. 5:30 PM, Service Center Training Room – 901 A Texas Street.

One last tidbit: page 33 of the agenda mentions that the Bike Plan will go to city council for final approval in February 2012.

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Jagoe street reopens with sharrows, wider sidewalk

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The freshly resurfaced Jagoe St block between Oak and Scripture reopened with new sharrows, bike signs, and a widened sidewalk. City engineer Noreen Housewright explained that road was narrowed to fit a 5’ sidewalk while keeping parking on both sides, and sharrows and “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs were added. Sharrows encourage riding outside of the car door zone, riding the right direction, and they signal to cars that “bikes belong here.” Anyone that’s ridden this road with car traffic can attest to the friction and confusion, if not outright driver impatience when people ride safely outside the door zone. As our first taste of what’s to come from the Bike Plan, Jagoe got these improvements from the proposed “shared roadway” designation in the plan appendix.

Jagoe improvements add to last year’s sharrow installation through the UNT campus and extend it northward, an eventual bike route to UNT’s Discovery Park campus and north Denton.

In the below photo, taken from the Mr. Chopsticks patio, you might remember that the previous sidewalk disappeared into the parking lot. All along the street, you can see the narrowed curb width and fresh sod where yards were extended. The sidewalk improvement is a big deal, since it was previously hard to navigate on foot and even less convenient in a wheelchair.

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Advocates call for Bike Plan jumpstart funding

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To quote PathLessPedaled,”Moms and families on bikes are key to bike advocacy.”

Last night, a crowd of around sixty people asked city council for initial funding for the Bike Plan. Since it was first announced, the city budget surplus rose from $192,000 to 333,676, making Bike Plan jumpstart funds even more plausible.

Among those who spoke in favor, a senior woman (who said she rode 10 miles from Robson Ranch!) and two elementary school girls had the council rapt with attention. Another citizen gave a powerful presentation that showed how Denton could paint 20 miles of bike accommodations in the first year for $232,295, if done efficiently. Parent and advocate, Amber Briggle, explained that bike infrastructure can raise property values by 11%, and that even a modest 3% increase would bring almost $1,000,000 in revenue to Denton.

The supporters spanned an age range of 8-80 years old, which is the ideal range that Complete Streets says we should design our roads for. What’s more, the supporters were roughly even in gender split, which is ultra-super-mega-important in bike advocacy. Crazy important.

So how did the council react? Well, the mayor dispelled any notion that council would make an immediate decision, because they vote on the overall budget on Sept 20. Shortly after that, the Bike Plan comes to council for approval in October. Immediate decisions aside, the overwhelming citizen support made an obvious impression on council. Councilman Jim Engelbrecht said it was rare to see so many younger people participating in the civil discourse, and he said “these people deserve an answer.” Mayor Burroughs opined that the city should consider integrating bicycle accommodations with maintenance work, to conserve money and effort. Additionally, the mayor called for traffic signals to detect bikes and education to “get the word out.” Councilman Roden asked for a staff report on why no significant progress had been made in the last 12 years, despite stated goals to expand bicycle infrastructure.

Bike Plan momentum is high, and the council members know that. Within the next month, we’ll know more about specific monetary allocation to the plan, and we’ll see the Bike Plan make its way through the Traffic Safety and Planning & Zoning boards before final approval from council.

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Tuesday city council meeting reminder

Tomorrow night, Denton’s city council will consider allocating $200-300k of budget surplus towards jumpstarting the recently completed Bike Plan. Without any jumpstart funding, Denton has allocated only $50,000 yearly for Bike Plan implementation.

If spent well, this money could fund priority projects that set the tone for continued rollout of the plan. This council seems aware of the momentum that propels the plan, and given the bike-friendly makeup of this council, advocates know this is a historic opportunity to see real-world progress towards Complete Streets in Denton.

The meeting is tomorrow at 6PM in the council chambers at city hall, 215 E. McKinney St. There’s a Facebook event (with 100+ RSVP’d!), although in-person testimony is the most compelling show of support. If you’d like to express an opinion without speaking, you can show up just before the meeting and fill out a yellow comment card.

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City council considers allocating $192,000 to bicycle plan

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Denton has a budget surplus of $192,000, and some city council members suggest allocating it to the Bicycle Plan. Public hearing on Sept 6, vote on Sept 20.

Council member Dalton Gregory advocated using the money to help implement the city’s ongoing bicycle plan, which would receive only $50,000 under the proposed budget.

“I completely agree with Chris that we need to not spend money that’s not there,” Gregory said during the meeting. “But on the other hand, we’ve invested some money on this plan. We’ve actually been talking about bike and pedestrian needs for over 30 years and not really invested a lot. … If we’re really serious about this, we’ve got to do more than plan.”

As councilman Gregory points out, discussions of bicycle accommodation stretches back decades in Denton’s history, but there were never any long strides. The fragments of those discussions are what we have now: the UNT Language Building bike “parking mall”, failed plans to paint lanes on Fry and Welch, previous P&Z discussions of bike lanes here and here, and the short (yet popular) W. Hickory bike lane.

Here’s some context on the $192,000:

  • one four-way traffic signal intersection costs $225,000+
  • $192K is only 3.3% of the target $5.8M street maintenance budget
  • $192K is .032% of Denton’s overall $585M city budget
  • cost of Hickory and Industrial restriping to add ~10 parking spots: $60,000
Council will hold a public hearing at the Sept 6 council meeting, and then they vote on the spending on Sept 20. Expressing support is as simple as coming to the meeting and filling out a comment card, or you may speak to the council for three minutes.
You can RSVP to the Facebook event, or just show up.
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