Oak Cliffers Say Methodist Hospital Killed a Plan to Make Streets More Bike-Friendly

Oak Cliff Gateway.jpg

Update at 3:46 p.m.Methodist says nuh uh. Spokeswoman Sandra Minatra sends word via email:

Thanks for contacting us for a response to the release of a statement by a small subset of members of the Oak Cliff Gateway committee.

It is our understanding that the full recommendations of the committee have not yet been released to the City. As Methodist Health System was just one of many key community stakeholders - both private and commercial - that participated in this public process, we will respectfully decline comment until the full committee has reviewed the complete plan and both majority and minority opinions are submitted to the City.

We were privileged to serve on the Oak Cliff Gateway committee and commend all its members for their efforts to listen to divergent voices from all stakeholders and make recommendations that are consistent with the goals and objectives of the committee outlined by the City.

Back in 2009, the City Coucil approved a comprehensive plan designed to make a portion of Oak Cliff -- roughly bounded by I-30, Davis, Beckley, and I-35 -- into a more livable, bike- and pedestrian-friendly place that more closely resembled Jason Roberts' daydreams.

For the past 15 months, something called the Oak Cliff Gateway Steering Committee, a collection of citizens appointed by City Council members Delia Jasso and Dave Neumann, has been fleshing out the details of the plan that will eventually be implemented by the city. Things hummed along smoothly until fairly recently when, according to a scathing letter posted by several committee members on the committee's blog, Methodist Hospital torpedoed important parts of the plan:

Again and again, both commercial stakeholders and neighborhood citizens expressed preferences for design standards that reduce vehicular speeds, address parking, provide safety amenities for pedestrians and cyclists, increase public space and offer more transitional and mixed-use opportunities. Yest, it is the opinion of the minority that as work unfolded into the winter months of 2011, the committee experienced a heavy handed campaign to invalidate neighborhood desires and to advance private agendas at the exclusion of promoting what is best for the area as a whole.

Specifically, Methodist blocked parts of the plan that would have made Beckley Avenue and Colorado Boulevard complete streets, places where pedestrians, cyclists and cars could coexist in a comfortable space. Other roads in the plan will be made complete streets, but Beckley and Colorado were particularly important, said committee member Michael Mendoza.

"Those two roads are key to connecting neighborhoods, right?" Mendoza said. "You can't get from East Kessler to Lake Cliff Park without using Colorado, without using the streets that connect you to it." Similarly, Beckley will connect residents to the parks planned for the Trinity. Keeping them as they are will discourage walkers and bikers and go against the spirit of the city's 2009 vision.

Methodist, however, was adamant that adding bike lanes, allowing on-street parking, and otherwise limiting the space available for cars, would be dangerous. (That's from Mendoza. I'm waiting for a response from Methodist.)

Of course, the minority's points are moot now, since the plan was passed by a majority of the committee and will move forward through the city's zoning process. Mendoza says they just thought it was important to air their grievances publicly.

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16 comments
kduble
kduble

I also heard on good authority that the OC streetcar could have gone right up to Methodist rather than stopping a block short, but that the hospital killed that, too.

Really
Really

If I am being brought for emergency care, I really want the driver to have the fastest entrance to the ER as possible. How ludicrous to think this is about profit. This is about saving lives. Or I guess they spend millions and move the ER to the other side of the hospital to appease those who might or might not ever ride their bike on either Colorado and Beckley. And really, there are no other streets that connect East Kessler with Lake Cliff? What about Greenbriar to name one of many!

BAM520
BAM520

We've been battling Methodist for years...from the efforts they pushed to have the Trinity Tollway go on the Oak Cliff side of town to the parking garage they put up at a major intersection (Beckley/Colorado) and ruined the economic development potential for that corner. Nice to be thought of as young, but we are not.  We have been working toward improving the quality of life for NOC for 17 years. We are diverse and we are moving in a direction that supports the focus on community not cars.  The fruits of our labors are visible in our neighborhoods and along Jefferson and Davis and Bishop.   

Branden Helms
Branden Helms

I don't take this post seriously. Does that count?

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

Neumann is gone now, and Jasso will soon be gone as well. Good riddance to both.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I don't really follow this saga, because really I could care less about bike friendly anything.  I'm a little more concerned about job-friendly environments than bike friendly ones. However, I do think Methodist, in the spirit of BFOC, should close their entrance to the ER on Colorado.  Put a great big sign there that says: "Closed At the Request of BFOC - Bike Friendly!"  Then they could put bollards across the Beckley entrance, say, a bike lane apart.  Ambulances could then drop off patients at parking circles near the beginnings of the bike lanes and BFOC volunteers could deliver the patients, via bicycle rickshaw, to the ER.

Lakewood by the theater
Lakewood by the theater

When did cyclists become such whiney babies? Is it when they started growing old timey mustaches for their old timey "tweed rides?" Or when they realized no one takes a full grown adult dressed like a clown on a children's toy seriously.

Kenneth Denson
Kenneth Denson

Like most things, I'm sure the truth will end up lying in the middle, somewhere in between "Methodist Hospital killed complete streets!" and "BFOC told ambulance drivers to go around to the other side of the hospital!" I wish we had some specifics instead of both statements being relatively vague. I love Methodist Hospital and I'm a fan of Bike Friendly. It's a shame this couldn't have worked out better.

Kenneth Denson
Kenneth Denson

I've never heard it called a "cockucker" hat, is that what it's called?! And no, I think he may sleep in it. But he is a nice guy.

biff
biff

Of course a hospital would be against it, you'd be cutting into a profit center if you had healthier people.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Pardon the silly ass grin but I do get tickled when folks on this side of the river get Stonewalled by POWERS  that may or may not be .

elbueno
elbueno

This just reiterates a trend I'm seeing where private institutions are roadblocks to creating fundamental change in the culture of this city.

Rob Shearer
Rob Shearer

The people who signed the Minority Report are well respected, long time neighbors who in many cases own businesses in North Oak Cliff as well. These aren't tweed wearing hipsters - they are thoughtful folks who volunteered their time to try to make our city a better place. Huge thanks to them for standing up to the pressure from Methodist Hospital and the Oak Cliff Chamber.  While we love having Methodist in the neighborhood and respect their influence as one of the larger employers in the area... their needs don't trump the needs of the citizens who live around the hospital. And how ironic that an effort to get more people to walk & bike ride was negatively impacted by an institution focused on "health".

Anon
Anon

BFOC and a small minority of people have been harping on and on about Methodist and their preference to "kill" complete streets in North OC, and frankly, I've lost a lot of respect for that organization (BFOC) for the misleading depictions and descriptions they have made of keeping Colorado a 4 lane road between Bishop and Beckley. The Bike Friendly crowd doesn't speak for Oak Cliff. Methodist has, in the past, expressed a preference for streets that allow for ambulances to reach their emergency room, the entrance of which is on Colorado. The response of BFOC was that they should just enter on Beckley because there is already an entrance there. Sorry, but that's a ridiculous response.

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