Author Archives: howrad

Casey Sparks, 1978 – 2012

Photo from 11:40 (band) Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/1140/191236354249654

On the night of April 27th, Casey Sparks was riding home from the Denton Arts & Jazz fest when he had a solo bicycle accident on Locust, near the North Branch Library. He passed away six days later on May 3rd. The police did not file a report, and the accident details are a bit vague, so I’m waiting to hear back from the Fire Department.

This tragedy marks the first bicycle-related loss in Denton since 2005.

Casey played drums in the band 11:40, and they’re hosting a memorial at Banter on Friday, May 18th from 6-8PM and a benefit show at Andy’s from 9PM-2AM.

Without knowing Casey, I can say that he left a big impression on everyone who knew him. One of Querencia’s dedicated shop coordinators, Nate, got into bikes because of Casey. To quote someone’s epitaph from the BikeDenton Facebook wall:

Permanent sad face, he was one of my favorite people in this damn world. Nobody loved riding bikes as much Casey, we lost a great one. Denton will never be the same, without his smiling face.

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Rail trail bridge construction to start this summer

In 2008, citizens asked the city council for a biking & walking bridge over Loop 288.

In 2010, the city council approved initial funding to build the bridge.

Now, in 2012, Denton will build the bridge.

Proposed design:
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2012 council candidate questionnaire

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

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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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Red River Riot recap

I’ve spent much of my life driving past interesting roads, especially those dirt and gravel ones you never have a reason to drive down. I feel a burning curiosity to go down those roads that don’t have stores, parking lots, or even houses. Sometimes the roads stretch to the horizon, and sometimes they curve and disappear into a tunnel of trees. The emptiness that draws us in isn’t actually empty.

Gravel grinding is celebration of those roads.

Last Saturday, I went up to the Texas/Oklahoma border to ride Spinistry’s Red River Riot gravel grinder. 130 miles of desolate roads through rolling prairie and tough hills. The terrain just north of Muenster is far more rocky and hilly than I’m used to seeing around Denton. The elevation was killer, something like ~6800 feet total in the first 70 miles. The second leg of 57 miles was less hilly but just as scenic. I only saw a handful of cars in 10 hours on the bike, but I did see a big brown snake, a few dogs, sheep, horses, cattle, the wind farm, and a nice glimpse of the Red River. I had a blast, and I felt honored to finish. Only 13 out of 78 finished, which is a 17% completion rate. The community that surrounds these events is strong and small, yet it’s growing every year. It’s egalitarian and you don’t need expensive gear, just self-sufficiency and a burning desire to keep going. Cross-bikes, mountain bikes, they both work. The distinction is less important than the will to finish.

All in all, I met some great folks, got lost twice, and I would absolutely do this again. Congrats to Sheila Blank-Torres, 2011 Tour Divide veteran and first woman to complete the full Red River Riot! Check out that HUGE trophy flask. All the photos are on Flickr, and here are a few:

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Sunday lake tour

Riding up to Lake Ray Roberts is an OYB, Out-Your-Backdoor adventure. You don’t need to drive there, just pack some snacks, spare tubes, and roll out of the driveway. I do this route every year, and I’ve done it on all different kinds of bikes. Sherman Rd has a huge, smooth shoulder that’s not scary to ride.

Today, Remington and I cruised a 40 mile loop out Sherman, up the Greenbelt, over the dam, and we stopped at the Culp Branch free swimming spot where we met friends from Cardo’s Farm for a dip and some sandcastling. We covered all kinds of terrain: pavement, gravel, mud, and rocks. Check out the cobwebs that covered Remington as we crossed the 455 dam road!

Full set on Flickr.

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Gallus Cycles visit

Last fall, I stopped by Gallus Cycles in Fort Worth to see what Jeremy Schlacter was working on. Jeremy hand builds (brazes) bike frames, and his work has been turning heads at the Southwest Swap Meet and NAHBS. He studied framebuilding with Doug Fattic and Koichi Yamaguchi, and he’s been making frames ever since, without power tools.

Jeremy is a great, modest guy, and he has a real passion for riding and building. I’d like to own one of his bikes, someday.

Here are a few photos, and you can see the rest on Flickr.

Fork crown with threaded rack mounts.
http://galluscycles.com/ fork crown

shop detritus:
Gallus' trappings

Brazed, flux-covered bottom bracket:
Flux covered bottom bracket
Hand files:
Jeremy's files
Super clean, belt drive, fixed gear:
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Custom-machined belt-drive dropout for the white fixed-gear:
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Seat mast with invisible clamp mechanism — see if you can figure out how it works:
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Stainless-steel, travel-ready randoneurring bike that Jeremy rode for 70+ hours in Paris-Brest-Paris this year:
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stainless crown detail:
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saturday shots

When life gives you lemons, or in my case, a handlebar stab in the calf, you make blog posts. I’ll be resting up this week as my leg heals, so inevitably I’ll be getting some posts out of my (brain) queue.

Here are random shots from yesterday, an all around great day that started with mountain biking at Johnson’s Branch, working at Querencia, and rolling down to the new Oak St Drafthouse for pints.

lush Johnson's Branch trail

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Bullseye Bike Shop hiring

bullseye shop logo

Aspiring bicycle mechanics, we got this job listing from Marty at Bullseye this week:

Bullseye Bike Shop is hiring for a bicycle mechanic position. Shop experience strongly  preferred, but not required. Looking for 20-25 hours per week of availability.

Apply in person at Bullseye Bike Shop, resume preferred.

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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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