Tag Archives: change

change afoot

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When I started this website, five years ago, I thought of it as a social experiment — writing about something I considered dearly important to Denton — something I saw in other towns and loved them for it. Easy, everyday biking, everywhere. If I wasn’t moving away to seek it out, why not fight and write for it here? I thought “if it makes a difference, then great. If not, I’m sure I’ll learn some things along the way.” I was attracted to biking normalcy and culture other places. I wondered if Denton had it in spades, would more people stay after graduating from college? If more people rode, would they be healthier, would it reduce air pollution, would it save them money?

Most importantly, would it bring them joy as it does for me?

I hoped that if nothing else, the act of documenting people biking in Denton could create a context — a gravity to bring people together. Normalization. When I started riding in Denton, it didn’t feel normal. I used to drive absurdly short distances. I started riding, then riding more, and then I finally started writing about riding. Inspired by bikeportland.org, I registered this blog URL and made my first post after Jasmine was hit-and-run by a car, and it didn’t make the newspaper. She moved away to Austin, and I kept writing even though I was sure there was no audience. Now she’s back in Denton, and now I know there’s an audience.

My original premise was shortsighted or shy. This isn’t an experiment, it’s real life in the real world. We can make a difference much easier than I knew. In that sense, writing for BikeDenton has made me less cynical. I went from feeling like an anonymous person in town to serving on Denton’s Traffic Safety Commission, and I’ve encouraged others volunteer for similar roles. Same goes for Querencia, the community bike shop. Making a difference is as easy as getting off the couch, showing up, and sharing a civil opinion. That can improve your town forever, and the power is real.

So on to the point of this article. BikeDenton is changing hands (and feet). We’re moving our family to Portland, OR in two weeks because I accepted a new career there. I’m turning this site over to two people: Devin Taylor and Christopher Walker. They’ve both been involved and aware of city government, the ongoing fight for bike friendliness, and both have measured tones that fit the spirit of the blog. Seek them out if you’d like to contribute, I’m sure they’d love some contribution. I’ll make sure info@bikedenton.org goes to them.

Stepping away from this role is hard. But it’s life, and I accept the change and move on into new unknowns. I’ve lived 15 great years in Denton, and I became my adult self here. (Don’t worry, the child self never left.) Denton is a slow-cooker for ambition where shy folk can start with a tiny idea, build confidence, and grow it into something bigger than they’d ever imagined.

This won’t be my last post. I still have some ideas to share, especially some frank concern about the state of the Bike Plan. Who knows, perhaps I can remotely contribute, somehow. Maybe I’ll start a new blog. Anything can happen, and I’m ok with that.

-HD

(top photo taken at the top of Multnomah Falls, just east of Portland)

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Rail trail bridge construction to start this summer

In 2008, citizens asked the city council for a biking & walking bridge over Loop 288.

In 2010, the city council approved initial funding to build the bridge.

Now, in 2012, Denton will build the bridge.

Proposed design:
bridge

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City cancels March 9 bike/pedestrian meeting, to reschedule for April

We just received notice from Assistant City Manager Fred Greene that the March 9th council bike/ped work session has been canceled with the intent to reschedule the meeting for April.  Seeking clarification on the rescheduling reason, we received a response from Jim Coulter, Director of City Water Utilities (and Streets).

Jim stated that the reason for rescheduling is that the city would like to hold a public input meeting in early April, because they’d like to gather input from the cycling community before holding a council work session.

So stay tuned for our announcement of an April input meeting announcement, because that will be an incredible opportunity for cyclists and pedestrians to give input that will influence the following city council discussion.  If there ever was a time in Denton to rally for improved cycling infrastructure, it’ll be at the meeting in April.

Because we already had a March 9th Facebook event for the canceled council session, we’ll instead convene on the back patio at Dan’s Silverleaf to hold the first BikeDenton meeting.  Come out and share your ideas, because it’s going to take a lot of inertia this year to get the ball rolling on future progress.


March 9th, 6-7PM

Dan’s Silverleaf

103 Industrial St.

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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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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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What Do Women Want (in order to cycle more)?

BFOC just linked to a thoughtful Scientific American piece about a correlation between gender roles and cycling prevalence.

“If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can forget about all the detailed ‘bikeability indexes’—just measure the proportion of cyclists who are female,” says Jan Garrard, a senior lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and author of several studies on biking and gender differences.

This is fascinating, and I wonder if they have the data broken down by age?  In any case, it’s a well-rounded case that supports drastic need for cycling infrastructure.  As this study says, we should have “improved mobility options for everyone”.

Denton is easy to ride because of its relatively small size, but Denton can also be difficult to ride because automotive transport is exponentially prioritized over people-first transit.  That will only change if the citizens demand that people be prioritized over cars, a concept that I think the Denton square is struggling with right now.

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Bicycle Commuting Up 43% Since 2000

The 2008 Census Bureau results of the American Community Study, released today, show a 43% increase in use of bicycles as a primary means of getting to work.   2007-2008 saw a 14% increase.

I’m proud to be part of the 43% who switched.

Percent of Americans who bike to work
2000 Census: 0.38%
2005: 0.40%
2006: 0.45%
2007: 0.48%
2008: 0.55%
Percent Change
2000 to 2008: 43.40%
2005 to 2008: 35.80%
2007 to 2008: 14.30%
Percent of Americans who bike to work
2000 Census: 0.38%
2005: 0.40%
2006: 0.45%
2007: 0.48%
2008: 0.55%
Percent Change
2000 to 2008: 43.40%
2005 to 2008: 35.80%
2007 to 2008: 14.30%
Credit to League of American Bicyclists for the heads up.
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Free Ice Cream for Bike Lane Workers

via BikePortland.org:

Icicle Tricycles kicked off a new Bike Business League program, “Free Ice Cream for Bike Lane Builders” by thanking the PBOT crew responsible for building the new cycle track on SW Broadway.

The cycle track is a bike lane separated from traffic with a buffer zone, which can include parked cars on the left side.  The project removed a lane of car traffic to accommodate the cycle track, and it’s brought quite a bit of attention to the phenomenon.  Notice the nice painted left-turn lane in the photo above.

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