Tag Archives: Denton

Trails to Sales

katy trail map

 

In today’s “Bicycle Retailer and Industry News” feed, there’s a little story explaining the positive economic impact of bike trails in Dallas.  Although lacking in figures like Portland’s $90 million & 1,000 job bike-conomy, the article still makes a positive correlation between bike path creation, ridership, and economic benefit.

Storeowners in central Dallas can thank the local bike paths for much of their business success. Retailers visited on the last day of the Dallas Dealer Tour reported strong sales of fitness hybrids that they attributed largely to the popularity of the Katy Trail, the White Rock Lake loop and the White Rock Creek path.

Since you can’t thank a bike path (being inanimate, and all), I’d like to publicly thank Eric Van Steenburg for his 7 years of hard work, and anyone else who helped him see the Katy Trail to fruition. It’s increasing ridership, and for that folks are healthier, bike businesses profit, and jobs are created.  There’s even more benefit than this article hints at.  Real estate that brags of close trail proximity says a lot about property values near the trail.  Eric is a doctoral Business student at UNT now, and he writes an editorial column in the Dallas Morning News, where you can find hard-truth articles like “Our Growing Highway Addiction.”

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Photo of the week

Travis Kincaid submitted this beautiful photo of dirt jump hangtime in Denton.  Bravo!  Travis on Flickr.

Click to embiggen:

beautiful photo of a guy in mid-flight above a series of dirt jumps

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Xtracycle: one year review

3 words: Desert, Island, Bike.

xtracycle against beautiful cloudy sky background

  • It can carry heavy things, big things, or nothing
  • It rides like a cruiser: easy and comfortable
  • I installed the kit on a free 1980’s Diamondback Ascent frame
  • Installation is easy: add the rear frame, chain extension, longer brake and shifter cables
  • It can carry 200 pounds, but over 125-150 feels kinda wobbly and scary
  • Long distances are no problem; I commute on it, and I’ve ridden it 30 miles at a time
  • It is heavy, and I wouldn’t want to lug it up stairs
  • It’s long, so I put it wherever it fits and is out of the way
  • It excels at carrying balanced loads and long things

When I sold my car three years ago, I could carry about two bags of groceries home on my road bike in panniers.  With that much weight over just the rear, steering got wobbly and scary, and I couldn’t carry as much as I wanted to.  So I bought a used Burley D’lite trailer off Craigslist for $100.  Now I could haul 100 lb loads, but I had to plan accordingly and hook up the trailer.  The bike and trailer were a little long to park at some bike racks, and the connection & disconnection was a little tedious.  Finally, I bought an xtracycle kit.  Why didn’t I buy a Big Dummy?  Because this was much cheaper and I liked the way this uses a repurposed bike frame.

I combined the kit with a free 1980’s Diamondback Ascent MTB frame, and some cheap parts from Querencia Community Bike Shop.  Installation was easy and took about an hour, and you get the rear xtra frame + long brake/shifter cables, and a chain extension.  I added a CETMA cargo rack on the front, Ergon GP1 grips, Schwalbe Big Apple tires, and a Brooks B17 saddle.  I wanted the bulletproof tires because getting the bike upside down or raised to remove the rear wheel is quite a task, so I opted for the Schwalbe tires plus slime tubes.

So far, I’ve carried six bags of groceries at once, one person, an amp and a guitar, two folding tables, and hundreds of parts for Querencia.  It carries almost anything with ease.  Almost.  When I’ve tried to carry an unbalanced load, such as a guitar amp on one side only, the bike leans unless I carry a counterweight (a cinderblock does fine).  If I carry the amp up on the wooden snapdeck, then the bike feels like it wants to tip over.  In the absence of a counterweight, I still prefer to carry dense and heavy things, like my 3 ton floor jack, on my trailer.

To carry children, xtracycle sells their own Peapod seat.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I wonder if you can carry more than one child?

To carry large side loads, I purchased the wideloaders, which stick out like wings and can support large, heavy loads.  To be fair, I hardly ever use them, but when I need them, they’re really useful.  90% of the time I can carry anything I need to with the normal (now old style) Freeloader side bags, which have straps that can extend surprisingly far to go over really big objects.

So beyond this discussion of cargo capacity, the xtracycle does something that none of my other bikes do: it connects with people, and it brings out a friendly curiosity.  Strangers regularly ask me “did you make that yourself” and pay compliments to the extreme practicality. No other bicycle I own receives this much attention, particularly from people who don’t cycle.  There’s something to be said for that intrigue.  I know, a bakfiet would get just as much attention, but I simply can’t afford one.  A bakfiet, with the cargo-forward design, carries loads up front, which gives it a range of advantages and disadvantages well-covered by the Austin-On-Two-Wheels blog.

In short, this is my desert island bike, the one I would keep over all others.  It’s just too damn useful to do without.  It rides like a cruiser, and that makes me a relaxed rider.  The extended wheelbase makes it feel very stable and predictable, loaded or unloaded.  I don’t mind riding it long distances.  Neither do these folks, who rode from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina.  There aren’t many things in this world that make you feel capable of anything.  This is one of them.

 

Diamondback Ascent MTB

before

 

 

xtracycle after conversion

after

 

 

xtracycle with 4 large grocery bags

4 large bags of groceries = no problem

 

 

xtracycle carrying a heavy guitar amplifier

guitar amp carried on top = tipsy

 

 

xtracycle carrying guitar amp on side

guitar amp on side + counterweight = stable

 

 

xtracycle carrying bike frames and wheels for qcbs.org

carrying frames for qcbs.org shop move

 

 

xtracycle carrying many qcbs.org supplies

carrying a very heavy load for qcbs.org

 

 

xtracycle towing another bike

towing another bike with just one bungee cord

 

 

xtracycle hauling air conditioner window unit

hauling an AC window unit

 

 

xtracycle hauling garage sale booty

xtracycle hauling garage sale bounty

 

 

xtracycle pulling trailer

Burley trailer carries heavy load better, attaches to xtracycle frame

 

xtracycle in field

xtracycle in field

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Bikefest weekend: Pedalpalooza, Cyclesomatic, Clear Air Bike Rally

This weekend is full of bikey events in DFW, if not the state:

Here in Denton, the Elm Fork Educational Center is putting on Pedalpalooza at the UNT campus. It looks to have some good programming for kids interested in cycling, and the Facebook event has more details.

cyclesomatic 2010 festival

In Dallas, Bike-Friendly-Oak-Cliff is putting on their 2nd annual Cyclesomatic fest.  Last year was absurdly fun, and worth the trek from Denton.  The festivities include a Friday bike-to-city-hall ride, Godzilla film screening (tonight), Alleycat race, Goldsprints, and general libations in the wonderful Bishop Arts neighborhood.

clean air bike rally

Also on Saturday, the T is hosting a Clean Air Bike Rally in Ft Worth at 9AM, and the map and details are here.

TX custom bike show

Finally, if you’re anywhere near Austin, check out the Texas Custom Bike Show on Saturday and Cyclocross race on Sunday.

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BikeDenton goes to Seattle

Inspired by the Fortworthology report on Portland, OR bike-friendliness, we took some photos during a recent trip to Seattle.  Bicycling Magazine recently rated Seattle as the #4 Bike Friendly US city (behind Minneapolis, Portland, and Boulder).  So what’s all the fuss about?

high contrast bike lane merge zone

Seattle is expanding it’s cycling road infrastructure.  In 2009, they added 30 miles of new bike lanes and sharrows.  In this photos, high contrast bike paint commands attention at a dicey merge zone.

seattle bike route map

The Seattle DOT Bicycle Program seeks to “facilitate bicycles as a viable transportation choice” and “Link major parks and open spaces with Seattle neighborhoods”.

commuter hub and repair shop

commuter hub

Seattle Bike Port: 24/7 secure indoor bike parking and repair tools, for $100 a year or $10 a month.

typical Seattle commuter

Here’s a typical seattle commuter with fenders, panniers, and helmet.  Most people riding bikes seemed to be going to and from work or the grocery store, and we didn’t see any wacky anarcho messengers-of-doom running red lights.  Cycling isn’t a fringe activity in Seattle. We saw a good mix of gender and age groups riding around as part of normal, daily life.

Burke-Gilman grass relaxation

The beautiful Burke-Gilman trail runs on 27 miles of reclaimed railway corridor.  To get from downtown to Ballard, Google estimates that it’s faster to ride this trail than to take the bus.

Burke-Gilman grass relaxation

This-grass lined section of the trail looks over the water and is a great place to rest.  Also, notice the front basket.  We hardly saw a Seattle bike without baskets or panniers.

Burke-Gilman markings

Since we were on foot, these pavement markings helped us figure out where to walk and stay out of the path of bicycles.

lane AND sharrow

There are quite a few bike lanes downtown, and we spotted this indulgence of a bike lane plus sharrows.  Driver’s should not be surprised to see cyclists, whether in the bike lane or not.

sharrow next to defined parking zone

These well-placed sharrows keep cyclists out of the door zone, and the parking stalls’ outer stripe keeps cars out of the roadway.

contraflow bike lane, reverse back-in parking

Contraflow bike lane running opposite to car traffic. Also note the reverse-in angled parking for cars.  Reverse-in parking reduces collisions when cars would typically back out blind, it’s compatible with bike traffic, and it’s easier for drivers to load and unload trunks.

bike lane

Here’s a well-defined bike lane next to parking cut-out.

Fremont bridge signage

This signage on the Fremont bridge reinforces the yielding hierarchy of cars < bikes < pedestrians.

sharrow

Fresh sharrows accompany newly developed areas of town, this one in the International District.

typical seattle neighborhood roundabout

A typical Seattle neighborhood four-way intersection lacks stop signs.  Instead, there is a forested roundabout that precludes t-bone accidents and allows cautious, uninterrupted traffic flow through the intersection.

neighborhood traffic flow restrictors

These bump-outs appear to calm and limit traffic entering this quiet neighborhood.

interesting bike racks

There are bike-racks aplenty in Seattle, especially at brand new developments like this one.  This innovative rack design stores bikes in less space than a normal rack.

artistic bollard

A simple galvanized, themed bollard rack advertises it’s purpose.

seattle parking cost, much higher than free

Unsubsidized parking in this particular neighborhood reflects the free-market value, so you can see the incentive to not drive.

delivery bike

This covered cargo trike delivers in style.

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After visiting Seattle every two years over the last decade, we’ve seen a visible increase in the amount of normal, commuting cycling.  As the infrastructure expands, ridership appears to grow, and normalization of cycling with it.  This success is contagious, as Seattle’s former bike coordinator, Peter Lagerwey, is now consulting on the ambitious new Dallas Bike Plan.  And despite Seattle’s success, Portland has them beat with colored bike-boxes, proposed cycletracks, and bike boulevards.  If anything, we hope a friendly competitive spirit will motivate Seattle to rise even higher than #4 on the Bike-Friendly list.

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Weekend ramble

With cooler weather this last weekend, I’m sure we weren’t the only gravel ramblers inspired by the hint of sweater weather.   We paid tribute to legendary Cutter Bill and rambled down Masch Branch Rd, making a gentle loop back to Denton.

Remington and Jon rambling on Masch BranchCutter Bill memorialmerritt bois d'arc buffalo ranch

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Park(ing) Day recap

PARK(ing) Day has a very simple premise: “Citizen Activists around the globe turn parking spaces into mini-parks for a day to demonstrate the need for more urban green space.”
  1. we picked up trash, swept the spots
  2. fed the meters
  3. brought BikeDenton’s park materials via xtracycle
  4. set up plants along the roadway to define space
  5. invited inquisitive strangers to use the space
  6. spent money at nearby local businesses

We’ll let photos and video do the talking, since DRC wrote a nice article about it on the front page today.

Basic PARK(ing) Day office setup, moved via xtracycle

Xtracycled this basic setup. Isn't it inviting?

cleaning the PARK(ing) spots

cleaning the PARK(ing) spots

irresistible coziness

irresistible coziness

old friends meet new friends

old friends meet new friends

PARK(ing)day attracts curious onlookers

PARK(ing)day attracts curious onlookers

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Rail Trail/288 bridge designs proposed

Denton Parks and Rec hosts input meeting for cyclist/pedestrian bridge over Loop 288

At last Monday’s public input meeting, Denton Parks and Rec explained a general plan for the Rail Trail/288 bridge and solicited input from the twenty or so attendees.

  • bridge will be box-truss design, corten “weathering” steel
  • long ramps of gentle 3 degree incline, just like the train tracks
  • pedestrian stairs leading from bridge to Loop 288 sidewalk
  • rail trail is 8′ wide, bridge will be 10′ wide and 700′ long
  • bridge building will take 4-6 months, done by end of 2011
  • rail trail to be complete at same time as DCTA A-train line (aka, next few months)
  • city council already approved $1,165,000 funding from Hwy 121 toll revenue
  • send comments and suggestions to robert.tickner@cityofdenton.com

commuter cyclists discuss bridge design ideas outside the meeting

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Rail Trail/288 bike-ped bridge input meeting

hopeful loop 288 pedestrian bridge signDenton Parks & Rec invites the public to comment on plans for the bike/ped bridge over Loop 288, Monday, Sept 13 at 6PM, Denton Civic Center Community Room, 321 E. McKinney St. This is your chance, folks, to comment on this bridge that will parallel the commuter train bridge and link the rail trail across six lanes of highway traffic.

Two years ago, cyclists wrote letters urging the city to consider such a bridge.  After some initial doubts, it was just recently approved by city council for funding.  Eventually, this rail trail route is supposed to cross Lake Lewisville, according to DCTA and TXDOT.

The purpose of the bridge is to provide pedestrian and bicycle connectivity across Loop 288 to the DCTA rail station, located between Colorado Boulevard and Brinker Drive. In the open meeting, the public may review updated design concepts and provide comments or concerns. It is the intent of the City to analyze the gathered information for potential recommendations.

For more information, please contact Superintendent of Parks Planning Bob Tickner at (940) 349-8275 or by e-mail at robert.tickner@cityofdenton.com

We haven’t seen any preliminary designs, but we hope they incorporate stair ramps for bicycles, as we’ve seen in Austin on the Lance Armstrong Bikeway stairs.

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Alice St hit-and-run update

We now have a description of the car that intentionally backed over a cyclist on Alice St on Aug 30:  “White, Mazda 4-door, unknown model, driven by a middle-aged, white, male”

The description is vague, but it’s better than nothing, so keep an eye out, especially in the Alice/Egan area.  This driver is obviously dangerous, so if you see him, avoid confrontation and call the police.  That assault could have easily become murder, had the cyclist been fatally injured.

We still haven’t identified or heard from the cyclist who was hit, so email info@bikedenton.org if you have any tips.

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