There are Bike Lanes Downtown, But it Might Take a While for Everyone to Play Nicely

Categories: Transportation

DeepEllumSharedBikeLane.jpg
Dallas Trinity Trails
The four, soon-to-be five miles of new bike lanes downtown got the front-page treatment this morning in the Morning News (paywall), and deservedly so. Sure, they're not bike-only lanes, and it's taken the city a lot longer than it should of to paint stripes and little bicycle-man icons on the pavement. (The first bike lanes were striped more than 40 years ago, in Davis, California.) Still: It's the clearest signal yet of a new mindset among city planners, who are coming to view cycling not just as a pastime for 12-year-old and spandex-clad weekend warriors but as a viable means of transportation.

That's City Hall. The Dallas driver has been slower to embrace this new way of thinking. Things are better now than they were a decade ago, when, anecdotally at least, lumbering pickups were more liable to buzz you and an over-muscled guy on Main Street in Richardson were more apt to threaten to kick your ass for taking up a whole lane before being talked down by his girlfriend. But the prevailing view is still that roads are made for cars and that it's a bicyclist's responsibility to get the hell out of the way.

Case in point: yesterday afternoon, a shade before 6 p.m., I was riding through the Arts District to pick up my kid from preschool. As I headed west down the short stub of Flora Street by the AT&T Performing Arts Center and Meyerson, a black Mercedes pulled behind me. The light at Akard, some 75 yards ahead, was red, so there was no need to peddle terribly hard. This did not please the woman in the Mercedes, who revved her engine and sped past, giving me the angry eyes.

She reached the light a good five seconds before me, and it was still red when I pulled beside her. She already had her window down for a friendly chat. She demanded to know just what I thought I was doing riding my bicycle in the middle of the road. She grew up in Europe where lots of people ride bikes, she said. One can't just ride in the middle of the street where cars are supposed to go!

I explained to her that my Kona had just as much right to the lane as her Mercedes did.

"This is the law in Texas?"

I nodded.

"I will Google this," she concluded defiantly as the light turned green and she sped away.

Google will take her to the Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 551, the basic gist of which is this: "A person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle." A further provision stipulates that a cyclist moving more slowly than traffic ride "as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway," which I was not doing. I'd argue that the lengthy red light at Akard made how fast we got there irrelevant; she'd argue I should have just gotten out of her way.

Shared bike lanes might mitigate some of these clashes. It will take time for people to drive on the roads and equate the little painted bike people on the road with the actual bike people on it, but it could happen. The Morning News, which is accompanied by a sort-of training video for drivers and bikers, implies that the new shared lanes are baffling drivers. But the most confused person they could find actually understands things perfectly:

"I've seen them, but I have no idea," Rhiannon Buono, a valet at the Omni Dallas Hotel, told the Morning News. "I just drive and watch out for bicyclists."

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57 comments
arthurposter
arthurposter

Really??

 

"...it's taken the city a lot longer than it should of to paint stripes and little bicycle-man icons..."

 

That should be, "should HAVE" not "should of" which makes no sense at all.

 

Can the Observer open the purse strings to hire journalists with some sense of grammar or at least a copy editor here & there?   This should not be that hard. 

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Note to cyclists I will be happy to change lanes to go around you..He He He He...

I hope for your sake that the driver who was riding my bumper has a chance to see you as they speed  into the space I just opened up..

roo_ster
roo_ster

I sure hope the bike lane symbols' resemblance to a cyclist who has been smooshed flat by a steam roller doesn't give motorists any ideas...

IcanOVERPOWERyou
IcanOVERPOWERyou

ITT: Cyclists don't stop at stop signs, cyclists don't stop at stop lights, cyclists are rich twats that wear funny gay little outfits, cyclists don't pay for the roads, cyclists should be on the sidewalks, blah blah blah. XOXO

ObserverHatesFacts
ObserverHatesFacts

Did you ever stop to think that you get shot with paintballs, because you ride your bike like an asshole and people "just don't like you?"

MattL11
MattL11

Moral of the Story: People who drive German luxury cars are just assholes. 

todd
todd

Slower moving traffic to the right.  It's oh so simple yet so many fail to understand. 

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

PRETTY SURE THAT TAXPAYERS THAT PAID FOR STREETS DID NOT INTEND TO SUBSIDIZE BIKE RIDERS ANYMORE THAN FOLKS THAT PAID FOR CITY PARKS INTENDED TO HAVE OIL PRODUCTION SQUEEZED OFF BY TREE HUGGERS.

 

IF YOU THINK THE LADY IN THE MERCEDES IS YOUR PROBLEM, MAYBE YOU OUGHT TO ACTUALLY PAY ATTENTION TO THE DART BUS THAT CROSSES MULTILANES AND CROWDS OUT EVERYONE WHEN THEY AREN'T RUNNING OVER THE CURB FIRST.

 

I watch bike riders in my neighborhood, on their titanium megaexpensive elitist bikes and cute helmets and lycra shorts pedaling furiously through all stop signs and onto major streets and sidewalks as though they should get a privilege because they RIDE A BIKE.  sorry charlie, this isn't Europe, and american bike riders are mostly aholes.

guest
guest

Why can't we just make separate bike lines...these shared lanes are a joke, at least until someone gets hurt or killed.  Drivers aren't going to notice them - they're too busy texting and talking on their cellphones.  

IcanOVERPOWERyou
IcanOVERPOWERyou

I can't wait to move the fuck out of Dallas based on the comments. Just waiting on a few more things to fall into place and then you rednecks can suck it. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

So, actually Eric, you were not in compliance with applicable traffic laws, and the woman had every reason to be irritated with you.  Not to mention the fact that she was right and you were wrong.

 

Had you been following the provisions of the code, your little anecdote would have been a gem in the crown of cycling.  As things stand, you're just another cyclist doing whatever he damn well pleases, regardless of what laws, common sense and common decency would dictate be done.  I'm not a cyclist.  I don't have a problem sharing lanes with bikes, hell, I don't even mind getting caught up behind one with no way to get around.  I can't stand cyclists who take the "have every right to the lane" portions of the laws to heart, and ignore or find convenient 'interpretations' of caveats in those laws.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Just remember The Right Of Way is given not taken .

 

 

 

 

TSTS
TSTS

We're a long way from enlightenment when it comes to bicyclists getting room or respect but the lanes are a good start. I think a lot of drivers still don't recognize what the little bicycle stencil on the street is, it being such an unfamiliar image. The other day, I was riding on a street that had construction, and the right lane was blocked off, and I enjoyed a brief spell of being able to ride on the street and not gripping my handlebars in fear.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

How do you stay on Flora and get to Akard? Is there a bike path through the Nasher and Hunt complex I have not seen? I suspect you were really on Ross. Ross is a very dicy road for a cyclist during rush hour. Vaya con Dios with that approach. That is why all those churches are on Ross.

tacosryummy
tacosryummy

I'm a person who understands that me getting home after work might irritate someone in a car, but I just don't care.  you can just suck it irritated car driver person.  

cheeseburger
cheeseburger

 @todd This is correct.  What makes this confusing is the sharrows.  Sharrows kind of imply that you can keep the entire lane.  Otherwise, why put them there?

roo_ster
roo_ster

 @rufuslevin I pay beau coup taxes 'round here: fuel, property, & sales to name just three. IOW, I am a taxpayer.

cheeseburger
cheeseburger

 @rufuslevin That makes no sense.  At all.  Taxpayers didn't pay for city parks with the intent of allowing oil production on them either.  They paid for a park.  The allowance of oil production is completely unrelated to how it was paid for.

 

As for the streets that taxpayers paid for, you'd better include cyclists in that as well.  They pay the same property and sales that that everyone else pays to maintain these roads.  And before you start, no, gas taxes and vehicle registration taxes do not pay for any roads cyclists are permitted to ride on.  That is, non-highway roads.  Besides that, bikes were here first.  It was cyclists that started the whole smooth paved road phenomenon you enjoy in your car today.  Thank the League of American Wheelmen for paved streets.

roo_ster
roo_ster

 @guest Separate bike lanes are a Bad Idea and a good way to get smashed.  Following the law while taking the lane when it is busy & hairy are much safer.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @guest take out a few bikes...maybe the riders will go get a car and a gym membership.

oMoMoM_I_LIKE_CHEESE
oMoMoM_I_LIKE_CHEESE

 @IcanOVERPOWERyou In the summer months I like to travel to the coast and visit a cove where I can be all alone. It is there that I contemplate life and all it has given me. Alone, I stare into the water. At times I lose myself but then I remember why I am there. I take the sunscreen I bring along and smear it all over myself. It is then I role on the beach for half an hour and get a nice even coating of sand on my skin. Sitting there afterwards, I like to eat fruit rollups and continue thinking about my life. 

anon
anon

 @RTGolden1 Why wasn't he in compliance? As a hybrid vehicle driver, I'd have approached the situation in exactly the same way and probably at the same exact speed. Seeing a red light in the distance I'd have removed my foot from the pedal and let my car just coast to the intersection so as to use at little gas as possible. Which means the answer to whether he was moving more slowly than traffic is not clear cut. The law is surely intended to ensure that bicycles travel at the speed of comparable car traffic, not whoever happens to want to travel at a certain speed on a certain road at any given time. If cars all want to travel at 50 on a road with a speed limit of 30, surely the cyclist is not required under the law to yield to their lawbreaking.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @TSTS heck...I hate the electric fat-card drivers in WalMart too.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @tacosryummy Please, next time you're riding around White Rock, shout "suck it irritated car driver person" instead of "on your left" as you approach runners.  That way, I'll know to get right in the middle of the path and impede your progress with my plodding jog.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @joe.tone  @ObserverHatesFacts I hope that's a blanket admonishment Mr. Tone, as several others (including myself) have tossed that particular invective into today's stew.

 

Including the comment immediately below this one...

cheeseburger
cheeseburger

 @rufuslevin  @guest You are a dinosaur.  Your kind is going extinct.  There are many more bikes on the road in your future.  You might even try it and find you like it.  The world is changing.  The younger generation just likes bikes.  If young people can't do that here, they will go elsewhere, and we need young people moving here.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @anon As Tim already pointed out, there is a caveat in the relevant code that states a bicycle, moving slower than present vehicle traffic, must move as far to the right as possible ( I assume that means safely possible).  Eric, by his own admission, chose to interpret the law, and the situation, in the way that suited his own whims best.  He was in the wrong.  Eric never said the woman was breaking the law, you are injecting that into the conversation.  What he DID say is that HE was breaking the law.

 

Like I said, I don't mind bike traffic.  Sometimes it's good for those of us motoring about our busy lives to slow down and notice what the hell we're driving through.  Personally, I'm a runner.  That's my exercise of choice.  On trails around town, I stay as far to the right as I can, so as to pose as little interference to the bike riders as possible.  Runners who don't are a$$holes.  The same applies to bike riders on the streets.

Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

 @anon  @RTGolden1 The stipulates that he move over to the curb when their is other traffic trying to pass. He chose not to do so for not other reason than he felt it wasn't necessary. It is cyclist like Eric Nicholson that gives the rest of us bad image.

MattL11
MattL11

 @RTGolden1  @joe.tone  That's true. I didn't realize that this sort of thing was frowned upon now. Had I known, I certainly would have used a more family-friendly adjective to jokingly knock the drivers of German luxury cars. 

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

 @RTGolden1  It really isn't. It's really just directed at the guy who throws 'bows in every thread.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @sidewalkastro  @roo_ster  @guest A cyclist who knows how to properly 'take the lane' and ride as part of the flow of traffic is much safer than a cyclist who has their own lane and is given a false sense of security.  Even with their own separate lane, cyclists will still have to interact with traffic at intersections, when turning left, when joggers (me) cross or block the bike lane and they have to dodge, etc etc (or dogwalkers, or cops on segways, or DART passengers disembarking).  These interactions with traffic seem to go more smoothly if the cyclist is already aware of and dealing with traffic than if they're breaking out of their cocoon suddenly.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @anon I think we're of a common mind on the central issue, but take differing views of Eric's behavior and thought process.  In my view, Eric was thinking only of himself, totally self-absorbed, which puts him right in the boat with 90% of Dallas residents, whether walking, running, riding or driving.

I know you, if you run Katy, know what I'm talking about.  The wide body who has to take two trips to haul ass wobbling down the middle of the trail, headphones on, sending bikes, runners and dogs dodging helter skelter in his/her wake.

anon
anon

 @RTGolden1  @anon Fair enough. The fact that he's thinking at all gives him an edge over about 90% of other drivers and cyclists. And like you, I run (never bike). So bikes annoy me the way cars annoy bikes (and yes, bikes are potentially fatal to runners, so the comparison is apt). 

 

But sadly, there are just people who are obnoxious no matter their chosen form of transit. The walkers on the Katy Trail who are 3 wide with 2 dogs absolutely make my skin crawl. Show some respect for shared resources, people, and we'll all hate each other a little less.

IcanOVERPOWERyou
IcanOVERPOWERyou

 @Tim.Covington  @anon  @RTGolden1 Move to the curb? As in, stop? Or as get as close as possible so that the car can get by?

 

Problem with getting right next to the curb (and a problem we'll probably end up seeing with bike lanes) is all the road garbage gets in that area: glass, metal, etc. Pop your front tire going over that and you might end up next to the car that's passing on your left. 

 

The law actually states that the cyclist move to the right as far as practicable. That allows the cyclist to make the informed decision if their safety is at risk by such a maneuver. 

 

Safety is not more important than a driver getting home to Monday Night Football and an ice cold Bud Light.  

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

 @rufuslevin  @TSTS I saw a whole family (3 people, same color, different ages) carting through the grocery section yesterday, together. One, I understand. Not all disability is obvious. 3? Not buying it. It's things like this that give repubs a glimmer of credibility.

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