Tag Archives: new urbanism

Ross Ave Better-Boulevard recon

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

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

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

Dallas Bikeways sign

Ross Ave Better Blvd bike lane

Ross Ave Better Blvd sign

Dallas' Ross Ave Better Boulevard crosswalk

Ross Ave Better Blvd crepery

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ssahmbbq kimchi tacos

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

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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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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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Dallas Council Members Oct 7th Bike to City Hall

So I haven’t yet made a big announcement of the 10-day Cyclesomatic bike fest in Oak Cliff, Dallas, but I should.  The problem is, it’s so awesome and so expansive that I’ve had a hard time summing it up.   So whatever, I’ll break it down and dish it out in ADD-friendly sizes.

Today I’m crazy excited about the Bike To City Hall event on Oct 7, in which Bike Friendly Oak Cliff will ride with 5 Dallas City Council Members to City Hall.

Awaiting others now. Also, we’re still working on the Mayor, a State Rep, and a Senator! Will update soon.

Oh, and Good Morning, Texas! Host, Robert McCollum may be riding with us on a tandem with a news crew! Stay Tuned…

The event description is no less exciting:

October 7th, the City of Dallas Promotes Dallas Bikes to City Hall on October 7th 2009. Arriving at 8:30AM and Unveiling of Complete Streets Initiatives

The city of Dallas, in cooperation with DART, the City Parks Department, and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff invites all to bicycle to City Hall to promote greater bicycle awareness on the morning of October 7th, 2009. Several Council Members have signed on to ride starting at Union Station to City Hall on bicycles that we’ll provide, but all others are encouraged to ride from home to City Hall Plaza. We’ll arrive at the Plaza at 8:30AM, and Council Members will unveil upcoming projects that embrace future citywide Complete Streets initiatives, and introduce the city’s new bicycle coordinator, Max Kalhammer. More details on routes coming soon.

On October 8th, at 7:30PM, Council Member Angela Hunt will host the evening and discuss infrastructure developments and initiatives noted from recent trips to Portland, Vancouver, and Copenhagen at the historic Texas Theatre. Afterward, the documentary Contested Streets, will be featured, which profiles New York’s streetscape history, and its efforts to become more pedestrian friendly. Large cities around the world are showcased along with some of the most renowned urban planners.

If you come at 7PM, the North Texas Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism will be holding a discussion in the lobby of the theatre. Should be fun!

Get Tickets today at Brownpapertickets.com: 

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Reminder: Public Hearing on Oak/Hickory Bike Lanes, 5:30 today


weneedyou

If you can be here, please try and make it, this is really really important to the future of cycling infrastructure in Denton.

The Denton Record Chronicle covered this in last Saturday’s paper, and we encourage as much public input and attendance as possible.  If you register to speak your opinion, you get 3 minutes, so brevity is the key here.

I’m not sure if Denton has ever had mass civic interaction with cyclists like this, so I think that major cyclist attendance tonight could have a really significant impact on city staff/political awareness of the Denton cycling community.

There’s a good chance we could go to eat/drink at Banter Coffee afterwards, so feel free to ride from City Hall to Banter with us after the hearing.

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Oldest Denton Bicycle?

Seen here in the lower right corner is a bicycle, at rest, during the opening era of automobile use.  We’d love to find an older picture of Denton bikes before cars were invented.  Thanks to Colin Carter for finding this photo.

Old school fixed gear, I bet.

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oldestdentonbike?

Photo credit to the UNT-hosted Portal to Texas History, a great resource for archived information.  Direct link to photo.

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Fort Worth City Planner, Don Koski

Bike Friendly Oak Cliff published an interview with Fort Worth City Planner, Don Koski, discussing how he incorporates consideration for bike/pedestrian planning into his overall design philosophy.  Fort Worth has committed itself to an incredibly ambitious people-first multi-modal transit plan, and Don is the key player who will oversee execution of the transit plan.

I have a lot of experience in the planning of bicycle and pedestrian transportation systems and the development of bicycle and pedestrian transportation projects. Bicycle and pedestrian planning has always just been one of the many duties that I have had, along with arterial street system planning, project identification and prioritization, capital program development, and others. I jumped at the opportunity in Fort Worth because of the tremendous challenges and opportunities the city has with its rapid pace of growth and evolving development strategies.

I was intrigued by Fort Worth’s walkable downtown, investment in mixed-use urban villages, relatively unconstrained growth potential, and interest in improving its bicycle and pedestrian transportation systems.

Cool, that sounds like Denton too: rapid pace of growth, evolving development strategies, walkable downtown, mixed-use investment, unconstrained growth potential, interest in improving bicycle and pedestrian transit.

Fort Worth has had some great recreational trails along the Trinity River and elsewhere for many years. What was lacking was a way to make connections for people interested in cycling for transportation purposes. In 1999, the city worked with the North Central Texas Council of Governments to develop an on-street bicycle route network plan that would create linkages between downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods. The City came across some difficulties implementing the plan and the bicycling advocates in Fort Worth became frustrated with the lack of progress.

That reminds me of the Denton Mobility Plan, which proposed ambitious changes.  The bicycle component was never fully realized.

When I came on board in December 2006, I was immediately approached by the late Dr. Byron de Sousa – a community leader who had been Chair of the Fort Worth Plan Commission and was an avid proponent of bicycle transportation infrastructure – to develop a truly comprehensive bicycle transportation system plan encompassing infrastructure, education, encouragement, city policies and programs, and law enforcement. That was when we kicked off the effort that led to the Bike Fort Worth plan.

Excellent!  A comprehensive program touching all aspects of a properly planned endeavor: infrastructure, education, encouragment, city policy, and enforcement.  Bike lanes alone won’t do it, this holistic approach is the most likely to succeed, and the only logical choice.

However, there are a number of streets that are oversized for the level of vehicular traffic that they experience today or are likely to have in the future. In some of those cases, a “road diet” may be possible that could provide dedicated space for cyclists. We look at these on a case-by-case basis to determine how best to accommodate cyclists, based on the criteria established in the plan.

Bike lanes are a nice accomodation, bike racks are a nice accomodation, road diets would show incredible commitment to the growing Denton cycle community.  Does Carroll Blvd need to be 6 lanes wide?  I don’t know, but perhaps that could be asked of every huge artery which squeezes out cyclists and pedestrians and encourages traffic congestion and high speeds.

Regarding temperature, I don’t buy the argument that people won’t bike because it’s too hot/cold/wet/etc. Look at the cities that have the highest bicycle commute rates in the country: Portland (wet), Minneapolis (cold), Seattle (wet), and Tucson (hot). Certainly there are many cyclists who won’t bike for transportation purposes when it’s hot, but there are other ways to address that, like by promoting the provision of shower and change facilities at major employers. In fact, I would say Fort Worth has great potential as a bicycling city: relatively flat, decent street block pattern, great trail system to which to make connections, great cycling weather 8 months out of the year, etc.

Ditto.  Here, Denton has an advantage over Ft Worth in smaller size, reducing complexity and cost of cycling infrastruction improvements.

From the city’s perspective, the impetus behind this effort today are many, but include making transit service (bus and rail) more accessible and attractive, making the city more attractive to the creative types who want to live and work in bicycle-friendly communities, helping residents lead more active and healthy lifestyles, and giving people more transportation options – especially those that help alleviate air quality problems and that are easy on the wallet during these tough economic times.

All true, and very reassuring to see a comprehensive, progressive, sustainable vision from the transportation head.  I’d like to do an interview with the Denton transportation czar for comparison.

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BFOC Bike Lane Primer

Bike Friendly Oak Cliff posted a nice primer on bike lane basics, which is important, because bike lanes are often installed haphazardly and this can lead to more accidents than no bike lane at all.  We’ve all seen these: bike lanes that disappear into vehicle right-turn lanes, bike lanes without enough buffer, tiny bike lanes, bike lanes without no-parking signs, etc.

I really love the idea of bike-boxes, as they would prevent right-hook collisions, which are at great potential for the Hickory St/Carroll intersection in Denton.

Here’s a shot of a Portland bike box during installation:


I’ve been out measuring the street and bike lane dimensions on Hickory St recently, and I’m planning an upcoming post comparing the Denton bike lane designs to the recommended AASHTO standards.   AASHTO sets the industry standards for bicycle facility design.

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Madison, WI: Going Beyond Gold

On a bus ride this morning, I was reading the new issue of Bicycle Times, an excellent new commuter cycling magazine.  A short, pg 16 article about the Wisconsin Bike Summit had some quotes that I wanted to share.  

From Bicycle Times writer Mark Parman:

Madison mayor, and more importantly bicyclist, David Cieslewicz, led off the Monday evening speakers, addressing the issue of making communities more bikeable, hence more livable.  He was unambiguous about his goal of making Madison the most bike-friendly place in the country, just as BFW director Andy Hardman was unequivocal about the Federation’s goal of making the Badger State the most bike-friendly in the nation.  “A city that’s good to bike in is a city that’s good to live in,” said Cieslewicz.

“If we can’t do it now [get funding from a bike-friendly Obama administration], we should all be fired,” said Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists. 

Madison is 84.7 square miles with a population of 221,551.  

Denton is 62.3 square miles with a population of 115,506.

From the bikeleague.org entry for Madison

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz formed the Platinum Biking City Planning Committee, members included leaders from the business and advocacy communities, to work in concert with city staff and the police department. The committee’s goals include achieving the Platinum BFC designation and to create a roadmap for Madison to become the best city in the country for bicycling.

The bicycle is considered at every level of planning, design and engineering. Specific bicycle policies include a provision of all needed bicycle facilities when constructing or reconstructing city streets and including the requirements of bicycle traffic in the design of all traffic control devices. All or almost all roadway projects funded with STP-Urban Program funding over the past 10 years have included bike lanes.

On University Avenue, in the heart of downtown Madison and the University of Wisconsin campus, the city recorded 10,000-12,000 bicycle trips per day at the peak and 2,000 plus trips per day in January’s bitter cold when the University is out of session for 3 weeks.

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Fortworthology Goes To Portland

I’ve been to Portland quite a few times, and I really enjoy the transit variety there.  Buses, streetcars, MET train (free in downtown, has bike hooks), tons of bike lanes, and even bike lanes on bridges.  Portland has a “Last Thursday” art-walk in Portland which is now car free, after the city agreed to repeating street closures.  For a Texan, the experience can be pretty overwhelming, and the openness towards multi-modal transit and new urbanism contributes to Portland’s appeal to the creative class.  

There are so many things I enjoy about Portland that they’re hard for me to succinctly articulate.  Lucky for me, Fortworthology has already written a series of articles about Portland, and this one is about cycling in Portland.

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