Tag Archives: city politics

Stamp of Approval (Elections 2014)

Glen Farris and Sean Starr sport their new creation for Denton: lil 'd' bike racks. Credit: Kevin Roden

District 2 candidate Glen Farris and Ron Swanson Sean Starr of Starr Studios sport their new creation for Denton: lil ‘d’ bike racks.
Credit: Kevin Roden


For a few years now, BikeDenton has authored City Council candidate questionnaires with a slightly hands-off approach; just let the candidates answer. This year however, we initially debated on doing the same, but with the lack of progress on badly needed and desired livability/mobility infrastructure -significantly so in the recent years since the Bicycle & Pedestrian Mobility Plan’s approval- we decided hands-off wasn’t going to cut it this year.

So we went to the candidate forums, catalogued their relevant platforms, and took into consideration their past actions and direction to provide the following:

The BikeDenton endorsed candidates for the 2014 May Election

 

District 2: Glen Farris (Squibb)

Glen, proprietor of the ever-popular Denton culture blog We Denton Do It, is seeking his first term for District 2. This term will only serve the remaining year of seat being vacated by Dalton Gregory in favor of Place 5 and will be up for election again next year. Farris has served on a few boards and commissions within the City but most notably formed the Downtown Denton Neighborhood Association and currently serves as its President.

There’s a noticeable lack of platform across both his official site and Facebook page, but in our estimation, Glen has continually championed the compact growth models that demand better active mobility and interconnectivity – and not just of his own district, but towards SE Denton and other more traditionally neglected portions of Denton. Specifically, he has stated that a shake-up in City development code is required to meet the desires of Denton citizens.

lil 'd' racks

Glen recently saw to fruition a Neighborhood Empowerment Grant that has brought the above stylized lil ‘d’ bike racks to soon proliferate the Square and beyond. These racks came under collaboration with Denton Parks & Recreation and Starr Studios. We’d like to especially thank Glen and P&R for seeking us out for input regarding the racks’ design and functionality, and then actually heeding our comments.

What we hope to see from Glen Farris in the future is not only an enthusiasm for these individual projects, but a dedication to mobility in office.

 

At-Large Place 5: Dalton Gregory

Dalton, the current District 2 Council Member and retired DISD principal, has been the primary champion of active mobility efforts on the City Council for the last few years. There have certainly been others on Council who share our values, but Dalton has always been the most ardent, vocal supporter and policy-maker in these regards.

A speedy bicyclist himself, Dalton has been Denton’s primary City official attuned to BikeTexas, NAACTO, and the progressive efforts both in-state and abroad.

In the frustrating years since the Denton Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan has passed and been adopted, Gregory has continually attacked to the root of stalled implementation: an apathetic and stubborn City Engineering staff. On account of staff continually failing his requested reports and policy-directed criteria, they will need to start being held accountable. We know Dalton will be at the head of that process.

 

At-Large Place 6: Greg Johnson (uncontested)

You will know Greg Johnson at this point more for the development footprint of Verus Real Estate, of which he is CEO. Their recent and rapid foray into prime locations of Denton property has received mixed reviews and success, but there appears to be a willingness on his part to develop primarily where livability is easiest, and to perpetuate doing so.

He has vocally shared Dalton Gregory’s frustrations over City staff and more directly wants to see them replaced. (!) His grievances seem to lie more with the difficulty in getting right-of-way, sidewalks, and general pedestrian mobility to gel but have met hampering by the City code and staff to do so.

We say godspeed to you Greg in helping to clear such messes up.

 

Mayoral Race

In this case, we feel it important to note the cases of each candidate, and to highlight their varying degrees in prioritizing active mobility in Denton.

Donna Woodfork

Most notably a community-access television show host, Donna has volunteered in various capacities in Denton for the last decade. While we have not heard a direct desire or discussion on active mobility, Woodfork is quick to champion a cause to expand access and availability to public transportation across and beyond Denton. Her desire for a more comprehensive and reliable transportation service is duly appreciated by us here at BikeDenton, but we would like to see a stronger commitment to mobility beyond the confines of four to six wheels.

Chris Watts

A former District 4 Council Member and real-estate investor, Chris is re-entering the Denton political sphere for the Mayoral race. His mantra is one of balancing the City’s budget and taking a particular approach to economic development. From his website, Watts dedicates one single line to issues of bikes:

  • Continue to increase number of bike-lane miles.

This is fine and all, but we really wish to have seen more from Chris this election cycle in regards to our causes.

Dr. Jean Schaake

Schaake, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for UNT’s College of Arts & Sciences and current chair to the Denton Planning & Zoning board, has continually expressed a need for Denton development to highlight a walkable, urban culture. She champions Better Block initiatives and we have personally witnessed her advocacy for pedestrian- and bicycle-scalable (not vehicle-scalable) planning when it comes to block sizes and code. It’s again, not among the forefront of her campaign, but Jean exhibits a more active line of thinking that we of BikeDenton also subscribe to.

 

We were reminded recently that while any candidate can publicly include active mobility and complete streets, scaled livability, etc. to their official platforms, it’s how high of a priority those items are that tends to matter. For this reason, we endorse Dr. Jean Schaake for Mayor of the City of Denton.

 

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Now, it’s very important to note that the issues of BikeDenton are one or two in a whole slew of important topics facing our fair City. So while we greatly encourage you to take our endorsements into consideration, we even more strongly encourage your own in-depth analysis of the candidates and how their ideas could impact your day-to-day lives and futures.

http://votedenton.org/

But do so quickly; Early Voting begins next week from April 28th – May 3rd (8 AM to 5 PM), resumes again May 5th & 6th (7 AM to 7 PM), and then election day will be upon us Saturday, May 10th (7 AM to 7 PM).

We greatly look forward to working with whomever is elected to serve and guide our beloved Denton this year, especially looking first to secure and affirm primary rather than supplemenatal budgetary funding for bicycle infrastructure.

Go get ‘em, Dentonites.

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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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2013 Council Candidate Questionaire

BikeDenton ballot

*Updated with responses from Kevin Roden, Brendan Carroll and Jim Engelbrecht*

Howard always did really well to ask simple, pointed questions of our local politicians ahead of elections in years past. This year should be no different, as much of the concerns in the post-Denton Mobility Plan-approval world are much the same as before – with give or take marginal progress.

But first, the quick info:

Denton City Elections will take place Saturday, May 11 with early voting starting on April 29. You can find info on all of the candidates as well as whether you’re up to date on registration on VoteDenton, an excellent new elections resource. The cool kids over at WeDentonDoIt also have a slew of questionnaire articles of the candidates as part of their Politics Week a few back.

But now for our own.

“A recent BikeTexas study found that Denton, among the state’s largest 35 cities, leads with the most per capita cycling mode share at 1.5%. Additionally, we are second in pedestrian walking mode share at 5.1% to San Angelo (6.9%). Despite these metrics, Denton has consistently proven itself behind the curve in meeting the needs of appropriate bicycle and pedestrian accommodation, and has been consistently outdone by the core and even peripheral cities of the DFW metroplex.

1. Though we have had a vetted, approved Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan on the books for nearly a year and half, only one major priority has been addressed thus far in the Hickory and Oak street corridors – and even then in only the area between Bonnie Brae and Malone/Jagoe/Ave C streets. Most dedicated funding has been reported to be used in engineering costs by City staff. How will you as a Denton City Council member help ensure that the plan sees true implementation and can fulfill more tangible actions within a beneficial timeline?

2. What do you envision as the nature of mobility in Denton in the future – 5 years, 10 years, 20 years – and can our city support this vision?

Please answer with pragmatism.”

Candidates were given until Friday, April 19 to give their responses. Kevin Roden, Dalton Gregory, Alfredo Sanchez, Griffen Rice, Brendan Carroll, Jim Engelbrecht, Joey Hawkins and Phil Kregel got back to us; Kevin Roden did not. Brendan Carroll plans on getting to us later today.

District 1

Kevin Roden

1. During last year’s budget talks, we agreed on a dedicated fund for the bike plan. What that means is money unused during a given fiscal year will be rolled-over and accumulated for the next year. That was an important step as we get our street and engineering team geared up to begin implementing the plan. I don’t know the veracity of your allegation that “most dedicated funding has been reported to be used for engineering costs.” Any street realignment where stripes are concerned will necessarily involve engineering to properly align the road. What we don’t want coming from that fund – and this is something council made clear in the last budget cycle – is money associated with public hearings and notifications relating to new lane projects and other such costs.

Several significant projects are in the works, including lanes on Windsor (which will connect several neighborhoods to two elementary schools, a middle school, a library, several parks, etc.). We also made sure the recently passed $20 million street bond program included data on streets which are designated for lanes in the bike plan. While those streets are being redone (and that starts this year), bike lanes will be added at no additional cost to the bike lane funding (it is included in the cost to redo the streets and comes out of the bond program).

We need to have an annual or semi-annual review and status update of the plan and the funding. We are heading into another budget cycle, so that always gives us an opportunity to find out where we are and retool from there.

2. You are going to see a significant increase in density in the core of the city (downtown and surrounding neighborhoods) in the next 20 years. That is a signal that more people want to put themselves in a geographical living condition where walking, biking, or public transit is more accessible. I also recommend that we increase the amount of neighborhood/commercial districts in order to create this possibility in other areas of town. Consider, for instance, what has developed organically on Congress Street between the Greenhouse and Seven Mile and how that connects to the TWU neighborhoods, the Bolivar Street neighborhood, and the Panhandle/Congress/Egan neighborhood. Understanding how this works and how it can be fostered in other parts of town will go a long way to creating more walkable/bikable pockets throughout the city.

District 2

Dalton Gregory

1. I have been pushing staff to produce tangible results that address the bike plan. As long as I am on council I will be insisting on action to accomplish the plan. Since it is a ten-year plan, we should see an average of 10% accomplished each year. I expected it to start slowly since it takes some time to gear up. But there are some other factors that have exacerbated the delays.

We had a false start to add bike lanes on Pennsylvania in the Southridge subdivision when those who had been lobbying for the facilities did not show up to public hearings and those opposed were well represented. Also, some engineering effort has gone into a bike route on Sycamore from the Downtown Denton Transit Center to UNT but there is an interest in shifting that route over to Oak and Hickory.

Here is the good news. The Traffic Safety Commission and the Council Mobility Committee have both received reports in April regarding the Windsor bike route, which will include bike lanes, road diets, and road sharing features in different segments. That route will connect to two other bike lanes, three parks, three schools, a public library, a recreation center, and an off street bike path along Cooper Creek from Sherman Drive that will eventually connect with UNT’s Discovery Park. The city has applied for a state grant to help fund the Cooper Creek path. And the pedestrian/bike bridge over Loop 288 parallel to the A-Train line is almost complete.

2. I expect to see the ten-year bike plan to be fully operational on time. In the seventh or eighth year of the plan, we need to review what has been accomplished and develop a plan for the next ten years. We need to add a component for educating motorist and bicyclists – probably by adding a “bicycle manager” to the staff. Schools must start teaching bike safety to children and their parents with the support of the city and volunteer groups such as yours. Supporting the plan and the vision to provide adequate pedestrian and bike accommodations will only happen if citizens communicate their desires and elect council members who will are knowledgeable advocates.

Citizen advocacy and involvement is crucial. Howard Draper helped educate other council members and me about what was possible. His advocacy was not just complaining but offering real solutions. He was both idealistic and pragmatic.

You ask if we can support the vision. It is important to understand that there are other areas competing for limited funds. Good roads make bike accommodations possible. In 2009, we should have been spending about $10 million a year to keep our roads repaired but we were only spending $1.9 million. Now we are up to $4.2 but that is still far short of the amount needed. We should celebrate a 52% increase during some very tough budget years but council must require staff to present a plan to fully fund our road budget in the next five years.

Alfredo Sanchez

1. As a federal employee with the USDA Forest Service, the thing we dreaded most was that our projects would go through Engineering because funds would be spent with little to show for it. From your letter it seems that you are facing the same issue. As a citizen you can request to know how much funding was available and how that funding was utilized. That is the only way to put a stop to spending on salaries rather than projects.

As a council member we are not directly involved with the budget. We should be influencing project development based on citizen interest. As a citizen and member of a concerned group, you should be taking every opportunity to speak at council meetings to make your concerns known.

As a council member I do see a need for bicycle lanes. We have many students who do not own a car and the only means of transportation is their bicycle. There are others in the city who utilize bicycles as a form of needed transportation because they do not have a car or cannot afford any other means of transportation. Because of the great weather we have here in Denton, weekends are a great time for many groups to take to the street and ride their bikes. Denton is very unique in that it has two Universities. Denton should be made more bike friendly and I would throw my full support for this project.

Pedestrian accommodation is also crucial in that it improves the quality of life for many that do not have a car. There are many who utilize their wheel chairs on roads which is very dangerous. Denton citizens who decide to walk should not feel threatened by traffic speeding on right next to them.

2. Because of how our cities are built, spread out, I still see vehicles as the major form of transportation. I do see people moving to smaller vehicles as gas prices continue to escalate. I also see people moving toward other means of transportation like motor cycles/scooters and bicycles. Long term, we need to better plan our cities to be more energy efficient and more environmental friendly but that only comes from people educating themselves and understanding their options.

District 3

Brendan Carroll

1. Denton is a maturing city that is enduring a period of significant population growth. This growth factor coupled with an already high ad valorem tax rate makes allocating funds for new initiatives difficult if not impossible. While there is an approved mobility plan in place with a clear implementation plan, the true costs haven’t been calculated – nor have all of the funding sources been identified. As a council member, I would advocate a serious evaluation of what we consider our priorities. In the case of safe mobility throughout our city, we have placed too much significance on the single occupant motor vehicle. Perhaps we should apply the funds from civil fines collected through traffic camera violations to fund our Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan. I’d certainly like to see more progress, but it is important to remember that a beneficial timeline is part of one’s perspective, while those that are making the compromise now might see the project as a failure, in years to come, those that witness a fully implemented, maintained and progressing plan will see it in a different light.

2. Part of what I envision is happening right now and being planned for in the Denton Comprehensive Plan. I’d like to see special districts with greater density and mixed uses than we currently see in our city. This would curtail an unsustainable sprawl, reduce impact on all types of city infrastructure and shape our community in a positive manner. The types of districts that I am suggesting would provide goods and services, entertainment, education and employment opportunities within smaller geographic areas than are currently planned for in our city. A perfect example of this type of design is represented by the Sterling project in the Fry St. area. While this development was quite contentious for many of the long time residents of Denton, myself included, the final results for those residents that it accommodates is quite nice. Mobility in Denton will be significantly impacted by this type of planning and development.

Jim Engelbrecht

1. The city is finishing an $800,000+ bridge over Loop 288 to complete the hike/bike trail from the DCTA station Downtown to Lake Dallas. In time, as the I-35E corridor is expanded, the trail will extend all the way to Dallas. Meanwhile, Windsor Street on the north side is on the cusp of being restriped to include bike lanes in some sections and share the road in others.

2. Discussions have been ongoing to link the rail trail to the hike/bike trail north of Denton leading to Lake Ray Roberts and beyond. Continued funding through the annual budget will ensure the city continues to implement other aspects of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility Plan.

Griffen Rice

1. I think bike lanes are extremely important and as the only candidate who depends on biking as my main form of transportation this subject is near and dear to me.

Right now Denton is still recovering from the recession, which is why implementation has been so slow. I think the budget does need to be reevaluated and roads/bike lanes do need more attention.

2. As for the long term vision, I think building restrictions right now are harmful to Denton’s city planning. We allow buildings to be built to close to the curb, which makes it more expensive if not impossible to widen roads. There is also a height restriction on buildings, which will cause urban sprawl as the city grows and put more pressure on the roads budget. If we grow up instead of out we will not only be creating a more environmentally friendly city, but one that also is cost effective. The density of the city will also encourage more people to walk and/or bike because of their proximity to all the places they need to go.

District 4

Joey Hawkins

1. Let me start by saying that I am not fully informed on the status of this project, but I will attempt to answer based on general information I have gathered. I will also say that, like most residents, I am all for better safety and accessibility for cyclists, pedestrians, and users of other alternatives to cars. We voted for it – we want it! Many of my employees’ only means of transportation are bicycles and feet. Many more of us would choose to utilize a healthier and cheaper way to get around in town if there were appropriate lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks. We all know that it is more fiscally responsible to have less wear and tear on the roads that would have to be repaired eventually. I don’t think there is any argument about that.

Practically, however, I imagine that this process will take longer than anyone wants. Again, I don’t know the details. I do know that there are several factors that have to be successfully addressed. For example, one of the main projects (which you referred to in your question) will be for the Hickory and Oak Street Corridors. These streets offer their own particular concerns because they span the UNT district, our beautiful district of private homes on the Historic Registry, retail space, the Courthouse Square, and crossing tracks into the Denton Terminus of the A Train. This is an area with diverse existing infrastructure and varying concerns by property and business owners. The plan has to be as perfect as we can make it and, to my understanding, it is still going through adjustments. As anyone who has started a building project will tell you, this is one of the most tedious and sometimes frustrating steps. The residents of Denton have agreed to fund this development, but I doubt we would be so agreeable if asked for more funding to redo it in five or ten years because it didn’t meet our needs or take into account plans currently in the pipeline.

That said, I imagine there are ways that some parts of the project could be expedited. It reviewing some of the City Council minutes, as well as this BikeDenton website, I am curious about the change in the plan from Pennsylvania Avenue to Windsor Drive, due to the Pennsylvania residents’ complaints. I will use that as an example, although I repeat that I am speaking without information about why that incident happened. However, I think that, had the neighborhood been properly informed and consulted about the proposal before it actually became a plan, that delay and expense might have been avoided. That is the kind of thing that looks, from the outside, like and area for improvement that I would be diligent about addressing. Some things just take a lot of time, but we don’t have to waste time.

2. We are obviously still a very car-centric society in Texas. That is changing slowly and will continue to do so as people have to change their way of thinking. Just to name a few factors that could act as catalysts in that change: rising fuel costs; nationwide and local economy; relations with oil producing countries; advances in alternative fuel technologies; greater awareness of environmental concerns; aging populations; more local businesses to provide employment, reducing distance commuting; increased number of businesses and residents providing larger tax base for infrastructure; increased ridership on buses and trains once the schedules are more frequent and flexible . . . So, to answer your question, my best guesses would be:

5 years – small increase in regular usage of bicycles and public transportation

10 years – technological advances in alternative fuel sources will affect automobiles and public transportation; if the city starts growing up instead of out, there could be a greater dependence on walking and cycling

20 years – Hovercrafts! But seriously, as fast as technology is changing, even the experts admit that we have no idea where we’ll be.

Can our City support that vision? Absolutely, as long as we continue to be fiscally responsible, true to our identity, welcoming to new business, conservative of natural resources, and cooperative and considerate with each other, we will be a great city that embraces our future in a uniquely Denton way.

Phil Kregel

1. I will stay vigilant and in the ears of city staff to help ensure implementation. I will also attempt to get the community involved more in the process so they, too, can hold the staff accountable. We have a very large deficit in pedestrian friendly roads and as an avid bike rider, I would be a stern voice to communicate the bike communities needs and wants to the city staff and colleagues on the council.

2. I would love if the square became an all pedestrian area on the weekend by detouring car traffic around the square, I think it would add a great vibrancy to already unique culture on the square. I honestly don’t think our mobility rationale will change any time soon, unfortunately. I see the roads continue to fall behind and lack maintenance and with more people moving to Denton, means more cars on the road, so our elected officials really need to re consider investing more monies in our roads rather than convention centers.

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2012 council candidate questionnaire

*Update May 8, 2012 – added late response from candidate James King.

city hall and a classic

In years past, I’ve asked questions about biking to city council candidates, so we can see where the politicians stand. This year, I’ve narrowed the questions down to two, and I bring up a question about Denton’s walking infrastructure, because currently there is no dialogue or organized advocacy for better sidewalks and crossings. It’s long overdue.

Early voting starts today. The city site lists the times and locations, and this League of Women Voters guide is a nice, succinct summary of candidate stances.

Zoltner, Durrance, and Sutton responded to my questions. Woodfork, Burroughs, Kamp, King, and Frederick didn’t respond.

1. After years of constant citizen support and input, Denton’s city
council unanimously approved a new Bike Plan with detailed plans to
make Denton’s streets safer and more conducive to bicycling for folks
of all ages. How will you help ensure that the city builds out the
plan and doesn’t let it collect dust?

2. Denton’s sidewalks are notoriously broken, disconnected, and
blocked by dumpsters. How would you address this basic accessibility
problem?

Zoltner:

From the day I filed (to unseat Pete Kamp as Job 1) one of my stated issues has been “Back to basics” which means that streets and crumbling infrastructure should be high priority items. As I’m sure you’re aware, bike lane development will be tied to CIP street projects where we have been notoriously neglectful in Denton. Even at our current spending levels we’re falling further behind. And that includes the sidewalks as well. All any single council memeber can do is “remind” city manager staff of our commitment to safe bike lanes every year at budget time. I live on Planet Reality and realize that whether or not one is “bike friendly” is far less important that whether one is “Staff-friendly” when they present “alternatives” and higher priorities at budget time. (Your question actually reminds me of how long firefighters have been promised a training facility with no results? 25yrs+ if I recall? So it becomes a matter for citizens as well as council to keep the issue front-and-center. On the practical side, the Sterling Fry development on Hickory will mean another 600+ residents very soon (with cars) living near campus and creating even more need for safe bike lanes. The Campus to Downtown/Atrain corridor should be maintained/enforced as more and more folks rely on bikes for primary transportation and not just recreation.

BTW, on the “bike-friendly” point, I’ve been an avid mtn biker for 30 years. I have over 4,200 miles on my cyclometer exclusively on single track at Erwin Park and RCP Preserve, I’ve been a DORBA member off/on for years and raced in DORBA Fall series as 50+ rider in Clydesdale class @ Erwin and Bar H in Muenster. No big deal but “I get it” when bike people talk.

Durrance:

1. This is an issue of trust and accountability for public officials. When I was on counsel the first time we passed the first by claims in Denton by which a by cyclist could ride from Eagle drive all the way to Loop 288 on the north side of Denton. However, the leadership of Denton must have a commitment to expanding bike facilities, making traffic signals and other traffic warnings compatible with bicycle traffic, and coordinate bicycle traffic in the master transportation plans the city. The inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan of bicycling transportation is another method by which we can insure a transportation plan which includes and make safe bicycling for our citizens of all ages.

Lastly, the Mayor and City Council must remain accountable in the funding through the bonds and obligations to the city for fulfilling the promise of the new Bike Plan. I will do so.

2. Once again, this is an issue of accountability and planning in the mass transportation plan for Denton. However, this is also matter of common sense. Many developments and developers refuse to install sidewalks as part of development. The city must require this. Also in planning for waste disposal, areas must be designated as part of plats and planning to insure that dumpsters do not block traffic of any kind. I have previously attempted on several occasions to include sidewalks in plans for developers. I was outvoted on many occasions. However, with a commitment that I have for making a livable, walkable city, this can be accomplished. But it must be done up front.

In addition, I would recommend that we acquire bond money for retrofitting of certain parts of our city who have not installed sidewalks or other methods of transportation. This must be done with citizen involvement and through the neighborhoods and their associations.

Sutton:

1. Too often our current City Council has made promises of improvements to our local infrastructure, but then diverted the necessary funding to other projects or to fill holes in the general budget. In an election year for districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 the candidates all supported expanded bike lanes and enhanced bicycle safety regulations for the city. When elected to the district 6 seat I will ensure that bike lanes are constructed as promised and will push for further development of cycling infrastructure in the city. Ultimately, Denton should be moving toward a system of bike lanes which are interconnected rather than constructing a few disparate lanes which do not necessarily form a continuous path. Since opening my business I have consistently supported our local cycling community. I have installed a bicycle rack for patrons and visitors to the Fry Street area and actively sponsor a local cycling team. I fully believe that alternative transportation is a critical measure for reducing our community’s dependence on ever more expensive fossil fuel driven vehicles.

2. I believe that sidewalks, streets and bike lanes can all be addressed in a single effort to improve the transportation infrastructure of Denton. I would fully support the construction of a continuous system of sidewalks and the improvement of our existing pathways. Our city has a tendency to put off maintenance sidewalks and residential streets in favor of using those funds for more “visible” projects or to provide a veneer of fiscal responsibility. I favor using the general fund to the benefit of our citizens and would pledge support for repair of sidewalks and streets with our tax revenue.

King

1. I would keep the accountability and excitement up by continuing the work the specific staff who put togetherthe bike proposal. I personally have a great working relationship with the staff members most responsible for implementation. I think it is a great thing that we have partnership of City and County funding this initiative. I think we are starting correctly by biting of small pieces at first. I think we should prove our success and build on it. I see the concept of paths for bikes as not just good for bikers, but as a way of adding a positive rnore citizen friendly quality to our community. I believe when people choose between cities when relocating, they will find this a trait adding high points in the plus column for Denton. This last fact is a way to get additional support from business in Denton.

2. There is no one perfect answer for this one. Here are a few of the things that are in the works: Complete streets- room for cars, bike, pedestrians in the downtown and going toward UNT. Increased street repair budget and bond program (voting and hopefully passing in November) that will have input from a new 21 member volunteer group. This will prioritize and allow work all over town including sidewalks. New developments now have to put dumpsters in more out of the way locations and allow access for the city trucks.

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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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Safe Passing signs

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In 2010, council member Dalton Gregory proposed the Safe Passing ordinance. In 2011, the council unanimously approved the ordinance. Pictured above is a new sign on W. Hickory to educate the public that cars must give 3 feet when passing, and trucks must give 6 feet. Since it protects far more than just people riding bikes, it’s called the “Vulnerable Road User” ordinance, and you can read about it in detail at the city website.

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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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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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