The new model

As I fly towards the sixth most bike-friendly city in America, San Francisco, my eye catches a photo of happy, everyday cycle commuters on page 32 of The Economist.

If you’d like to read what conditions in Portland favored their rapid rise in bike-friendliness, I suggest you read this article. Of particular note:

1) limiting sprawl, so urban density increases, public transit is more efficient, and bike route design moves more people per mile. Denton has yet to stop sprawling, and we are spending tens of millions on expanding road infrastrucure while the urban core roads decay (nice sidewalk updates aside). Do we implement limits, as Portland did, or do we wait to hit the edges, like Plano? Either way, the end of sprawl will benefit the city immensely.

2) “keep Portland weird”. Yeah, we all know where they stole the slogan. But here’s the rub, Denton too is “weird” or “charming”, especially in contrast to the other DFW suburbs. Perhaps Denton’s unique character doesn’t need a slogan to reinforce it. “keep Denton beard” is funnier, at least.

3) Portland, San Fran, Boston are all “elite cities” that attract young, rich, and single. With the coming A-train, more and more residential density downtown, city intention to build bike infrastructure, creative gravity of music/NX35/art, Denton could be a new kind of model town, a hybrid Davis/Mini-Austin, perhaps in 10 years. Denton is a human-scale, walkable, bikeable, unique affordable town poised for some upgrades. Will that attract spendy elites? Maybe not, but younger families who own houses, have modest income, vote, pay taxes, and vocalize their preferences are a new, reshaping force in Denton. The Economist won’t write the Denton article until we’ve resiliently worked towards the new model for a decade. That and we stop sprawling one way or another.

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