Griggs and Hunt: Why Weren't We Told Bike Plan Would Be Hard, Expensive to Carry Out?

Screen shot 2011-12-12 at 1.13.57 PM.png
Dallas' bike lanes will be painted in gold. OK, maybe not, but they could be quite expensive.
Turns out, the city's new bike plan, unanimously approved by council in June, is far more complex than drawing lines along the street in patterns deemed good ideas by city consultants. Before we get into the meat of the issue, here are some basic stats to catch you up to speed:

General reactions when council approved the plan: "Cool." "Rad." "We're kinda like Portland, in a good way."

Miles of the plan that have been implemented to date: Zero

Best recent metaphor used to describe the plan: As hopeful and ambitious as the Christmas list of director of Sustainable Development and Construction Theresa O'Donnell's daughter.

How much it'll cost: Exponentially more than expected.

Sources of funding: Um, er.

The 840 miles of on-street bike routes included in the city's Bike Plan would cost nearly $16 million for signage and markings. Granted, it would be implemented gradually, Assistant Director of Street Services Elizabeth Ramirez, said this morning during a presentation to the city's Quality of Life Committee.

Maintenance and upkeep of the entire plan's bike lanes would cost another $3.2 million annually. If that doesn't widen your eyes, consider that the street services budget was $728,000 this year, and that annually fluctuating amount determines how much maintenance is done on all street markings -- which is why some highly trodden crosswalks exist more as theories than real things. Currently, Ramirez said, the city doesn't have enough money to even maintain them and must prioritize crosswalks near schools.

To look at it another way, this is the cost-per-mile of street markings: $871 for run-of-the-mill striping versus $17,400 to add the most basic bike lanes.

But even if Dallas had the money, the city couldn't just go wild painting bike lanes. Lanes along thoroughfares require a public hearing process similar to zoning.

So, bike lanes --- not that cheap, not that easy. But also not impossible.

There are 18 reconstruction projects that either partially or fully include bike lane striping in their costs. Council member Scott Griggs requested that city staff provide a list and timeline detailing these projects. Yep, committee chair Angela Hunt agreed -- and have it by this week.

Hunt was neither pleased nor amused by much that was presented to her today. When the council approved the plan in June, "no staff member jumped up and said, 'Wait, wait, wait, we don't have the funding for that,'" she said.

"Why weren't we told that?" she asked after a second presentation by O'Donnell. Back then, the council had been under the impression that the costs would be small, almost negligible additions to regular maintenance and reconstructions. Basically: If the road painting truck is already rolling around town, what's it matter if it slaps a couple bike graphics and arrows up and down the streets?

As of today's presentation, it's clear that it matters quite a bit.

"There was not funding identified," O'Donnell said. "This was the ideal plan. This was my daughter's Santa Claus list."

Hunt called out to Lee Kleinman, the Park Board member who had been closely involved with the bike plan and who happened to be in the audience. He had her back, agreeing that yes, this was never made clear. Kleinman also made the point that a sizable portion of the bike plan is not located on thoroughfares, and therefore would not need a public approval process for implementation.

O'Donnell presented four implementation options of varying design and permanency.

Griggs questioned why there wasn't a streamlined process developed before the bike plan got to the point of planning both around and despite other coinciding plans. O'Donnell said that's why the bike plan is now being folded into the Complete Streets project to make the streets of Dallas more accessible to pedestrians and bikers.

"I don't want us to go from plan to plan to plan and never implement," Hunt said. "We want to make sure that were breaking down as many barriers for this as possible."

After the meeting, Kleinman told Unfair Park he couldn't understand why there were suddenly so many obstacles. "Why are we not getting a 'we can do this' approach?" he asked. He speculated that since this plan is less glamorous and more practical than things like the Calatrava Bridge and the Trinity plan, perhaps it's more easily overlooked.

No matter, he said, "I think the plan's moving forward." It's just taking much more time than expected.

My Voice Nation Help
27 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
GAA
GAA

I could paint the road for the low price of 24.99 plus tax.  On a serious note, I could make my own bike lane in my neighborhood with some spray paint and a cut out. 

Richard Wharton
Richard Wharton

And if they'd just taken the time to learn how to actually ride their bikes, on the roads, as-is, none of this would have even come up. Safe, effective, cheap, immediate: www.cyclingsavvydfw.com

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

It seems to me that the city first can not plan anything. They have no proven ability to do ANYTHING right. The second observation is that they have no money smarts. They constantly are moaning about budget shortfalls, only to when the budget is set, go off on a spending spree. I look at the costs and wonder if the city is positioning itself for more tax dollars to squander. Or perhaps the cost of the bike lanes include hidden other projects too. In short I do not think that the city staff or council can do anything right nor manage money. Their view is that there is always more tax money-just hit the citizens of Dallas up for more. Keep this in mind in 2012 when they come to us to approve more bonds.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I'm not sure I understand the math here.  Total annual budget this past year for street maintenance was $785,000.  Estimated annual requirement for maintaining the 841 miles of bike-lane streets is $3.2million.  I tried to find out how many miles of paved streets Dallas has, but i gave up.  I would guess it is a number significantly higher than 841 miles.  My question is, if the bike lanes represent a fraction of total miles of paved streets, and presuming that the 'street' portion of those bike-friendly streets are already covered in the maintenance budget then why would the bike lane maintenance be roughly 4x's greater?

XXX
XXX

I'm still confused how one mile of stripping goes from $871 without bike lanes to $17,400 with bike lanes. If you use the suggestion to have one bike marker for every 250 ft, that implies every bike marker is roughly $785. Seems a bit exaggerated.

Montemalone
Montemalone

We have to hire World Class Artists from anywhere but here to paint.

Jason
Jason

All of these numbers seem a little out of whack, as others have pointed out about the $3.2m/yr.  I'm not real sure how you get to $17.4k for bike lanes vs. the $871, although I would say that it should cost a great more due to having to redo all of the car lanes to accommodate the bike lane so those would require new stripes.  The only other thing I can think of is that by having to redo the existing car lanes maybe they get into to additional personnel (planning/engineering, labor, road closures, etc.).

Imagepimp
Imagepimp

"Maintenance and upkeep...would cost another $3.2 million annually."

Could someone please explain to me what kind of yearly maintenance that is specific to on-road bike infrastructure would cost an additional $3.2 million annually? This sounds like a load of crap. If you're running a shared lane, a painted lane, or even a buffered lane (sans barrier), a damned streetsweeper can get in there and clean just the same, and it's not like you have to repaint/resign it all of the time. Am I missing something, and more importantly, how can I get in on that action?

speed over safety
speed over safety

dallas doens't have enough bike commuters for bike lanes nor will dallas have enough bike commuters for bike lanes if bike lanes are built.  as a bike commuter, I will honestly say that I would avoid bike lanes unless they were much faster than than the route I currently use (they won't be), and free of broken glass, nails, broken tail lights, etc (they won't be). 

Montemalone
Montemalone

"bike lanes would cost another $3.2 million annually."

Apparently, scraping up biker residue, blood and guts from the pavement ain't cheap.

Magic Paint
Magic Paint

"Apparently, scraping up biker residue, blood and guts from the pavement ain't cheap."

If you think paint can keep you safer than actually knowing how to ride a bicycle with people driving cars - then you had better keep those training wheels on!  Knowing how to communicate and be part of traffic will keep you safer than a false sense of security that only a painted bike lane can give.  And taking money for magic paint for bikes rather than actually fixing potholes is just plain dumb.  - Much greater chance in getting hurt on a bike by a pot hole rather than being rear ended by  a car!  Let's put well maintained and well designed roads first over bicycle consultants and segregated roads for bikes.   So how much has the City of Dallas spent thus far in bicycle consultants and PowerPoints?

Cliff Dweller
Cliff Dweller

I'm constantly amazed that our "leaders" have so little grasp of how things actually work. Did they think paint was free?  Not to mention labor, maintenance, signs, etc.  They've never heard of the thoroughfare plan?  Give me a break. 

OK, Griggs is new (ish). But the next time somebody tells me how smart he is, I'll remember this.  Hunt has no excuse; she's been around City Hall for six years + now.  They all should know better.

Gary
Gary

I'm constantly amazed that Angela bothers to reply to posters to explain herself when people don't read her words or reply directly to the points she has made.  Of course Pez dispenser liked it.

Cliff Dweller
Cliff Dweller

If the time stamps were finer, you'd see that I posted my comment before Angela posted hers. 

Gary
Gary

True that.  All taken back.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

We cant have bikes riding up to our city hotel or riding across our Calatravas' (yes there will be more) we want Bimmers, Audis, and Mercs and Bentleys driving to and on these things!

Bob
Bob

We're such a bunch of Freds.

Herman I May
Herman I May

Speak for yourself. Many of us attempted to tell council members, Peoples' Committee members and others that this was an expensive endeavor with many hidden costs.  We were branded haters and elitists. They ignored us and listened to the likes of Jason Roberts and the Toole tools. Now its time to pay the piper or abandon the boondoggle and move on with a more affordable, efficacious education program.

Branden Helms
Branden Helms

And you are...?

Herman I May
Herman I May

A transportation cyclist with nearly twenty years experience as a daily commuter in Dallas and its surrounding suburbs.

How about you? A CBD ambassador. Have much experience with bicycling issues, do you?

Oak Cliff Clavin
Oak Cliff Clavin

I have no idea what this means, but intuitively I agree.

pezhuevon
pezhuevon

As if Angela and the rest of the council didn't know they had not set aside funding for the bike plan's implementation. Come now...

Angela Hunt
Angela Hunt

No one thought implementing the entire bike plan was free. The plan itself spells out it's overall cost, roughly $15 million to fully implement. However, as we were developing the plan, the point was repeatedly made by the bike plan consultants that parts of the plan could be implemented with negligible additional cost by piggy-backing on already-funded street reconstruction and restriping projects. That was never contradicted by city staff, and it's only now, months later, that we're being told such "piggy-backing" is prohibitively expensive.

pezhuevon
pezhuevon

Thank you for the clarification. I'm disappointed in this setback. We should have been made more aware of the real cost of 'piggybacking' and we should have asked (staff) how much re-striping cost. ($17K instead of $1K)However, I'm more disappointed in the fact that we approved the plan without funding. If the street services budget was $728,000 this year how are we ever going to get to $15 million? Doubling their budget would still take us 20 years!

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...