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.
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.
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.
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.