Tag Archives: Denton

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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The State of Mobility in Denton, 20 years hence.

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Tonight in the upper room of Denton Square Donuts (208 West Oak St), City staff will be on hand to discuss the bike community of Denton and what it is we wish it to evolve into.

The input they receive will help mold the Comprehensive Plan for our fair town for the next 20 years. The Plan itself is a series of guideposts from which Council and staff can refer to develop policy and implementation for the future.

From the DentonPlan2030 website:

The Comprehensive Plan is:

  • A reflection of community values and aspirations – What do we want Denton to be?
  • A guide for the management of growth and change
  • A reference point for decision-making
  • A 20-year, community “to-do” list

For us, this could be how the Pedestrian & Bike Mobility Plan evolves; how road management, design and construction are handled; how trails and pedestrian pathways are made sensible and responsible to Denton’s walking public.

So, if you’d like to have a say in the future make-up of mobility in Denton, I would suggest showing up to DSD at either of the two sessions at 6:30 and 8:00 PM.

- Christopher

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Plan, Set, Match. Now what?

Of the many things Denton is known for, resident advocacy and passion for issues can certainly be considered the norm.

You see it with the public input towards the natural gas drilling ordinance rewrite. You see it with food trucks. And we most certainly saw it / participated in / reveled in the passing of the Pedestrian and Bike Linkage components to the Denton Mobility Plan.

Denton was passionate, Denton showed up, and Denton got a plan with funding.

But what happens after advocacy pays off?

Since the Bike/Ped Plan was unanimously approved by Council in late February, seemingly little has tangibly been put into effect. There has of course been time and energy spent in engineering of the plan, but where and when can we expect any infrastructure to be installed?

In August, we posted that the priorities of the plan were reshuffled following the slight debacle of Pennsylvania Drive. With last week’s Traffic Safety Commission meeting, we now have further details on the reshuffling from city engineers.

1. Windsor

After the stately residents adjoining Pennsylvania Dr vehemently expressed their disapproval of the free-per-county commissioner bike lane options along their street, the city backtracked. County Commissioner Hugh Coleman was gracious enough to stay his $50,000 contribution to the plan, as long as it went to a project still within his territory. Thus comes Windsor.

Windsor has a lot of great tenants to it: Safe Routes To Schools, in between a couple of parks, connects a few great Denton locations, etc., and represents a significant length of on-road infrastructure.

Staff’s update to the TSC last week is that the engineering is 90% complete on this project, and its implementation is shortly forthcoming. Awesome.

However, the last word we had on its installation (not mentioned last week) is baffling: 500 foot individual segments of bike lanes over the course of a few years. Not as awesome.

If its a matter of compliance with the grander Denton schedule of road-reconstruction, might we suggest striping the lanes now? A small redundancy of such will pay off better in the long run by setting the social and behavioral cues now of what will eventually be fully implemented.

2. Sycamore as UNT-DCTA connecting route (via Mulberry)

All parts of this are confusing.

The proposal calls for Sycamore to be accessed from Mulberry, because it has the stop lights at Carroll, whereas Sycamore does not.

TFC Commissioner Patricia Lyke pressed engineering Director Jim Coulter on how Sycamore ever came to be proposed as the connecting route between UNT and the DCTA Transit Center. Mr Coulter was a little ambiguous at first, but settled on the proposal coming from Council directive. This was quite puzzling, as it is our understanding that staff brought the proposal to Council who discussed it, but made no decision either way. We’re waiting on confirmation either way from Council on this one.

By Mr Coulter’s ready admission though, public input on the UNT-DCTA route has always been in favor of utilizing Oak/Hickory streets. More on this in a second.

3. To Be Determined

We can’t quite understand this one either, as staff indicated that there has not been anything offered, but they are open to suggestion.

4. Oak / Hickory

The DRC had a recent article prescribing Oak and Hickory streets as being re-signed and striped for uniform one-way directions, and that bike lanes were imminent. As hopeful as that is, it is a little misleading.

The re-directional striping and signage is effective only on these streets west of Ave C / Jagoe. The City is removing the parking on the north side of Oak, and the few spots on the south side of Hickory to accomodate bike infrastructure. All of this stems from a 2009 ordinance whose consideration was implemented into the Bike/Ped Plan.

Along this length, Oak will have a full bike lane. Hickory will likewise have a bike lane between Bonnie Brae and North Texas Blvd, but due to described spacing issues, will have an urban shoulder with signage between that point and Ave C. This all will supposedly be implemented by January 7, 2013.

This of course does not address Oak and Hickory to the eastof Ave C / Jagoe. According to engineer Frank Payne, additional spacing issues in these sections make it difficult to implement the infrastructure desired, unless the roads were reclassified as “commercial collectors” from their current designation as “arterials”.

This, again, does not make sense. Per the current Denton Development Code (in 35.20.2.A.4-5), arterials are supposed to have bike lanes attributed to them. It is not fully understood why any reclassification is in any way required.

Additionally, when TSC commissioners pressed Mr Payne on why $35,000 of the $200,000 available is needed for a study on whether its even possible to reclassify these streets, he answered with, “Well, since it is having to do with bike things, I would think it would come from that.” Given the current DDC, we’re inclined to disagree. It would not seem well to use significant portions of the funds set aside for the Bike/Ped Plan for anything other than physical implementation of infrastructure.

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Other projects were additionally touched upon in last week’s meeting, such as the completed engineering for the Bonnie Brae and Mayhill road expansions. These two will also have bike/pedestrian components, though not necessarily on the roads themselves.

An update was also given in regards to the Education component of the Bike/Ped Plan. Police Lt. Tom Woods is tasked with providing these components with the League of American Cyclists certification program – the same “vehicular cyclist” course used to certify our police force. I will be taking the next offered course in December, weather permitting, and will give an assessment of its effectiveness then.

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So Denton, what happens when advocacy pays off? Great things, but it is still up to those advocates to push and see that those great things happen in a timely and sensical manner.

If you have opinions or concerns on such, we certainly invite you to message your local Council member or staff engineer about it.

- Christopher

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Denton, Dallas, Ft Worth weekend events

There’s no shortage of bikey events around DFW this weekend, so take your pick! Outstanding.

1. Querencia is doing a Tubes, Tires, and Flats educational event from 2-3PM on Sat.

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2. Bike Friendly Oak Cliff Cyclesomatic & RBM bike fair on Sat. BMX freestyle, repair workshops

Cyclesomatic 2011 Oct event calendar

3. Bike Friendly Oak Cliff urban chicken coop bike tour:

chicken coop bike tour in Oak Cliff

4. Bike Friendly Oak Cliff “Hit the Road, Jack” historic Ray Charles ride:

Bike Friendly Oak Cliff Ray Charles history ride

5. Doom Presents Drunkenshlagen alleycat, 6PM, Union Station.

Doom Presents alleycat, 6PM, Union Station

6. Fort Worth Open-Streets carfree festival on Sunday:

Fort Worth southside Open Streets carfree festival

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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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Denton council unanimously approves Safe Passing ordinance

safe passing bill

Denton is the eighth Texas city to approve the Vulnerable Road User ordinance, aka Safe Passing, by a unanimous city council vote. Council member Dalton Gregory first brought up the idea in February of 2010, and after discussion this afternoon, the ordinance sailed through council at the evening meeting. The ordinance says cars must give 3 feet minimum passing distance, and commercial vehicles must give 6 feet passing distance. The law also criminalizes harassment of cyclists and right-hook accidents, and it explains that cyclists may ride two abreast as long as they don’t impede reasonable flow of traffic.

Gregory explained that the ordinance was one of many steps the city needs to take to encourage active transportation (biking and walking). He also said he’d like to see some educational signs representing the ordinance to replace the standard “Share the Road” signs seen around town.

During afternoon discussion of the ordinance, district 3 council member Jim Engelbrecht said the city should study cyclist ridership and accident statistics.

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City to vote on Safe Passing ordinance

safe passing bill

Tomorrow at 3PM, city council will hold a work session at which citizens may speak regarding the Vulnerable Road User ordinance, aka Safe Passing. In addition to requiring safe passing distance, the ordinance also criminalizes harassment or intimidation of a vulnerable road user. The ordinance seeks to protect cyclists, pedestrians, disabled persons, utility workers, and even stranded motorists. Violators may face fines up to $200.

For the full text, we’ve excerpted the applicable section from the 720 page agenda.

Councilman Dalton Gregory has championed the cause since February 2010, and the ordinance stands to pass with a single sweeping vote, along with the other Consent Agenda items. Anyone wishing to provide comment on the proposed ordinance may speak at the beginning of the work session meeting, 3PM, in the city council work-session room, 215 E. Mckinney.

The ordinance text includes a section that touts the city’s recent push towards biking and walking:

a safe passing ordinance provides the foundation for an education campaign of tolerance and acceptance for “active” forms of alternative transportation, which furthers the City’s goals of promoting Denton as a bicycle friendly community, as well as for the enhancement of walkable streets and neighborhoods.
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Council to discuss Safe Passing ordinance

safe passing bill

At tomorrow’s afternoon council work session, council members will discuss the terms of a Vulnerable Road User ordinance, aka Safe Passing. If you’re wondering about the name change, it’s because the Vulnerable Road User protects includes pedestrians, runners, physically disabled persons, children, skaters, construction and maintenance workers, stranded motorists, equestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and unprotected farm equipment operators.

Dalton Gregory proposed the ordinance in February 2010 to help encourage safer passing by motorists in the same spirit as the bipartisan bill that Rick Perry vetoed. Several Texas cities have since passed their own similar ordinance.

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Snowbiking

Slushbiking

It doesn’t snow often here, so when it does, it’s a treat to go riding in it.  The roads are mostly empty of cars, especially out in the unpaved areas.  All the old familiar routes look and feel different.  Heading out west on Oak/Jim Christal is a wonderful gateway to a network of gravel roads.

 

 

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City hires consultant for Master Bike Plan

This Thanksgiving weekend brought some exciting news from the Denton Record Chronicle that the city has hired a consulting firm to develop a Bicycle Master Plan.  We’ve requested the contract details from the city and should have more information to share this week.

City Manager George Campbell approved a $69,564 contract last month with consulting firm Freese and Nichols Inc. to help develop plans for improving pedestrian and bicycle mobility. A draft report is expected by next summer.

Kevin St Jacques, the consultant, will moderate public meetings with citizens, staff, and the Traffic Safety Commission, we’ll have more announcements about public meetings as the contract moves forward.  Kevin St Jacques recently worked in Denton on the Safe-Routes-To-School contract to improve cycling and pedestrian conditions near Denton’s elementary schools.  We’ve asked the city for any results or findings from the study.

A well executed Master Bike Plan with realistic and implemented results could transform Denton’s streets into a safer, more livable place.   But as we learned from the Downtown Implementation Plan, unrealistic results (like the Sycamore bike route proposed by Jacobs) breed mistrust and skepticism.  This is a huge opportunity to improve Denton; and the plan’s success is contingent on public involvement and willing implementation.  Stay tuned for future announcements and chances for public input, and we’ll share any information we hear.

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