Cyclists, neighborhood residents, and business owners filled the city council chambers last night. After about two hours of nonstop public commentary, the traffic safety commission moved to table the Oak/Hickory bike lane proposal. Although the majority of those in attendance supported bike lanes, frustration over loss of parking elicited other frustrations from residents of the Oak/Hickory historic district regarding speeding vehicles, cyclists on sidewalks, and general lack of police enforcement.
Cyclists were the first speakers to question the math used by the city planners to purport that parking and bike lanes are mutually incompatible. Mike Cochran concurred by also asking why the plan couldn’t provision for a 7-8′ parking lane, two 10′ drive lanes, and one 5′ bike lane.
Denton’s senior engineer, Frank Payne, opened commentary by alluding to alternative solutions with a wider shared car/bicycle curb lane. Bud Voukoun, Denton’s traffic engineer, stated that this solution would only accommodate experienced cyclists who feel comfortable sharing space with traffic. Several cyclists spoke in favor of a striped bike lane in order to accommodate riders of all skill levels. Stearns La Seur and Kevin Marshall, representing the Bicycle Path and Bullseye Bikes businesses spoke in favor of the bike lanes.
The historic neighborhood residents and business owners from the square expressed concern about safety of routing cyclists through the square. Oak St homeowner Donna Morris said that it would be equivalent to saying “Let’s kill all the bikers”. However, most cyclists seemed to prefer the Oak/Hickory routes and didn’t feel threatened by riding on the square. After the meeting, some cyclists expressed dismay that business owners and residents didn’t recognize that many cyclists ride politely, obey traffic laws, and repeatedly patronize thriving businesses on the town square.
Many residents urged exploration of alternate bike routes, such as on Mulberry and Sycamore. However, Bud Voukoun of city staff explained that those streets lack width and signalization to properly accommodate bike lanes. Nobody mentioned that non-Hickory/Oak lanes would neglect the western portion of the proposed plan, which would include bike lanes to accommodate students at the new dorms and apartments off Bonnie Brae.
Since the proposal was tabled, city staff will now explore alternate solutions before appearing again before the traffic commission. Peggy Capps, of the Historic Landmark Commission, lambasted city staff for not running the proposal past the HLC first, an inclusion that she claimed is required by city ordinance. Once the revised proposals have come to the HLC, if indeed required, they’ll still have to go to the traffic commission, mobility committee, and city council before any implementation.
The city staff stated that they’d like to hold town-hall style meetings to solicit public input before redrawing the plans. They didn’t announce a date, but keeping in mind that Mayor Burroughs called for bike infrastructure to compliment the DCTA commuter train in 2010, time is short.