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Bicycle Commuting in Dallas

by Warren T

Bike Texas

“We have this picture of cycling commuters as being like supermen, and that discourages other people from doing it,” said P.M. Summer, transportation alternatives coordinator for the city of Dallas. “When I came into this job, our thinking was we needed to enable cyclists to make 40-mile bike trips. Now my thinking is we need to have development in place that allows a cyclist to make a one-mile bike trip.”

I’m spending the week in my company’s Dallas, Texas office and added to the week and a half of riding I missed due to an ice storm, I’m going a bit stir crazy. Also, I’m having to drive around in Dallas rush hour traffic. Ick. I’ve tried to convince a couple people here that they could seriously improve their commute time by getting out of the car and onto a bike; so far one person has actually made the transition to a scooter and is considering making the commute by bike.

As I was searching for something I could use to bolster my case I came across this article on Dallas News’ website. This article starts out like most bicycle commuter features — urban planners looking for ways to battle air-pollution and traffic congestion, followed by a profile of a normal, guy next door who decided to ride his bike and has found that he is saving money and his health and quality of life has improved.

The article then presents some promising news:

The city of Dallas has started the construction bidding process for the East Dallas Veloway, which will link the Fair Park area to the White Rock Lake trail by late 2009.

Late last month, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert announced a land donation that would allow the Katy Trail to link with proposed trails along the Trinity River.

And construction is set to begin next summer on the four remaining segments of the Cottonwood Creek Trail that will open a bicycle-pedestrian corridor to ultimately link downtown Dallas to similar projects in Collin County.

and

“Ultimately you’ll be able to get on a bicycle from downtown Dallas up to Frisco and up to Plano.”

The article is a nice read and I’ll be sharing it with a few people while I’m down here. I would appreciate any comments those of you in the Dallas – Ft. Worth area care to share.

Side note: I’m trying to convince the powers that be to buy a bike that I could use on my trips down here. Think about it — I can take the shuttle from the airport to the hotel and then ride the bike to the office. The cost of the car rental for one trip would pay for the bike and there are actually a couple of us that come down several times throughout the year that would be willing to do this… Wish me luck.

Image from the Bike Texas! website.

 
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15 Responses to “Bicycle Commuting in Dallas”

  1. Peter Wang says:

    I think everything you said could equally be applied to commuting here in Houston. Bike commuting is a big time saver, after you subtract out the “workout time” to get pure transportation time. It’s really quite fast compared to cars.

  2. Noah says:

    If you convince them to fork over for a folding bike, that’d be even slicker. Just fold it, take it up to the hotel room. Store it in any of the faceless storage closets at the office when it’s not in use… Good for everyone. Let us know if they go for it!

  3. Fritz says:

    Thanks for the local report, Warren. My first job out of college was in Irving, TX, adjacent to DFW Airport on the 8th floor of that black glass building on Valley View Lane at Airport Freeway. I bike commuted 20 miles (one way) every day across the airport perimeter road, into Euless, across Bedford (where the teenage girls in their bikinis cat-called me every evening from their swimming pool), through Hurst, across North Richland Hills and to Haltom City where I lived near Denton Highway and Wautauga Road. This would have been almost 20 years ago. Traffic was very heavy and there was no such thing as bike lanes back then in Texas, but the drivers were accommodating — I only very rarely encountered harassment of any kind.

  4. megan says:

    We live on Swiss Ave. between downtown Dallas and Lower Greenville. It is an extremely convenient location for short commutes. As long as you are on the east side of Central Expressway and the south side of Northwest Highway, commuting is an total breeze. I don’t see why everyone isn’t doing it. You can ride almost exclusively on reasonably quiet (for Dallas) residential streets. You can take the lane and feel completely safe in most areas, and we’ve only run into a few cases of rudeness and have had only one near accident. It gets a little harrier when you need to cross the highway, but it can still be done. My boyfriend rides the two miles to and from work almost every day. Some days, I meet him after work and we twist through the neighborhoods to extend the ride. We can easily get to three grocery stores, the post office, the movie theater, Deep Ellum, the farmer’s market, multiple libraries, White Rock Lake, a few different shopping centers, the fairgrounds, the hospital, the tennis courts, several museums and maybe 100 or so restaurants. We are NOT hardcore cyclists. We are totally out of shape, ride our $25 70′s three speeds in jeans and t-shirts, and knew absolutely nothing about bikes when we started riding (and still don’t know much). All of those places are within 5 miles and require short pleasant bike trips that are generally faster than driving in Dallas traffic If you need to go to the suburbs and you don’t mind a longer trip, you can toss your bike on the bus and get pretty much anywhere that you need to go. Riding downtown is actually really pleasant and parking your bike is much easier (and cheaper) than trying to find a place to park your car. Obviously, I would recommend it!

  5. David says:

    The East Dallas Veloway will be a great thing for East Dallas. It will be the East Dallas version of the Katy Trail, and will spark residential development along it from Deep Ellum/Exposition Park to White Rock Lake. Think how cool it will be to live along the Veloway, and be a 5-10 minute bike ride to Deep Ellum, Fair Park and White Rock Lake!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Who/what is the source of that opening quote? I like it.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Whoops, nevermind. I was skimming.

  8. Patrick says:

    I grew up in Plano, but now live in Boston. For my first job out of college, I seriously considered commuting by bike, though I never worked up the courage (in fact, I just now started). Some of the big things that you would have to worry about are the heat and the percentage of people with cars. It gets really hot in Texas, and stays that way for some time. If you are like me, you get pretty sweaty. Now, I don’t mind, but I would need a place to shower. I don’t know how many place of employment could accommodate this. Most importantly, pretty much everybody in Dallas has a car. DART is pretty unreliable, and the DART rail is very limited (it was not until I lived in Europe that understood what a decent mass transit system looks like). Not only that, parking is readily available and cheap/free (unlike Boston where you have to spend some serious cash to get a decent parking spot).

    Personally, I did not commute for those two reasons above. Though I could have showered at my place of employment, it “seemed like too much of a hassle”. Commuting by bike was a much easier decision because those barrier no longer seemed so imposing. So best of luck getting people to commute by bike, because it is an uphill battle.

  9. I’ve been commuting 14 miles one way from the Keller to Southlake just west of the DFW airport for about a year and a half now. My route takes me through a number of different suburbs and apart from the constant road construction I’ve had great success with commuting here. I’m lucky to work at an office that has secure bike racks and showers, which makes it all the more convenient.
    Everyone talks about the heat down here, and yes it’s hot in July and August. But I’ve found that if you’re consistent and keep yourself well hydrated your body tends to adapt to the seasons. Right now all the folks in the office are talking about how crazy I am to be riding when it’s 27 degrees… just like the heat, you adapt.

    If you get a chance while your in town, I’d highly recommend stopping by Trinity Bicycle in Irving and saying hi to Joey, a great little independent shop in the Dallas- Forth Worth area that’s very commuter oriented. (I’m not an employee just a happy customer) http://trinitybicycles.com/

    And if the boss doesn’t go for the office bike drop me a line, and we’ll find you loaner.

  10. Patrick says:

    Sweat dries within 30 minutes of arriving at work for me. I just put a towel on my chair and dry off in the bathroom a bit. After 30 minutes with a fan in my office, I’m dry enough to go change into my regular work clothes. I thought I would stink, but I take a shower before work, just like I would driving a car. I’ve asked guy friends at work if they notice a smell, and they are honest hopefully when they say no. Give it a try next summer and see. I live in Austin, and it’s very hot in the summers (6 months of summer, 6 months of cooler weather, then it’s back to summer again.) I’ve never taken a shower at work, and now that I can, I still think it’s too inconvenient. Riding in 27 degrees? Now that takes some balls.:-)

  11. Chris says:

    I’ve found that a reasonably healthy diet mixed with clean clothes and plenty of water and you won’t smell. The sweating keeps the toxins flushed out of your system.

  12. Joe says:

    I live in Dallas and agree with Chris that a shower (and deoderant and clean bike clothes) before the summer morning commute keeps the smell away. All the bacteria, old skin, and residues are washed off, and all you have when you get to work is fresh sweat, which, if you are lucky genetically, has no offensive odor. There may be some people who are unfortunate and will still smell. I have had several critical people tell me I did not, so I don’t worry anymore. A little “Vornado” fan in the office cools me off so fast when I’m changing into work clothes that I almost freeze. I have showers available, but my current routine seems easier for me with no downside. WARNING: Many people will assume you smell just by knowledge of the fact that you commute. They will want to hear that you shower, and may be offended if you don’t, even though they never smelled a bad odor or even get close to you. In fact, it’s the people who don’t work near you who may tell others that “he rides and doesn’t shower.” I spread the rumor that I shower if I break a sweat. That seems to keep everybody quiet since I never actually stink it up. Those close to me see I never shower but tell me it’s all cool.

  13. Jim Messick says:

    The bike to work is one of the pleasures I enjoy here in Dallas Texas. The ice cold in the winter and the blazing heat in the summer, I look forward to my daily ride to work-yes my co workers comment about the safety aspects and the weather conditions and my potential hazzards yet all in all they think it is a cool thing. I prefer to bike over using my jeep and would like to do a bike trip from here to visit my son in San Diego Calif. The ride to and around White Rock lake is very nice and I wish Dallas had more trails to more destinations- You have to watch out for the vehicles who think you should be on the side walk and not on their road-we are seeing the increase in bike riders as the gas prices go up and down-jim

  14. Great comment, love the design of the site too.

  15. Work is just a rest between bike rides.

    1200 miles so far this year. It is 7 miles each way but they add up.

    I am the only rider of the 100+ employees – I get to park by the time clock behind the drinking fountain. Indoor parking is great.

    I wear working clothing for the ride and wear a two size larger riding shorts over my pants. Before the shorts I was wearing the crotch out of a pair of pants in two months.

    The bike has fenders, a front hub generator and LED lighting front and rear. Also up front is a flashing LED rechargable. Wet roads don’t splash past the fenders.

    The same rout every day at the same time and after a while the drivers know I am going to be there.

    I turned 73 in March.

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