Council Gets Specific About New Bike Ordinance

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First, let's clear up once and for all the notion that cyclists in Dallas are renegade scofflaws whose disregard for traffic safety endangers the lives of the unfailingly law-abiding drivers everywhere: In the 89 car-on-bike accidents reported in the city so far this year, 58 percent were the fault of the driver of the car, not the bike.

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That fact was delivered today by DPD Assistant Chief Tom Lawrence to a joint meeting of the City Council's Public Safety and Quality of Life committees, which met to discuss the proposed ordinance requiring drivers to behave nicely around bicycles and refrain from hurling things at them from their vehicles.

The idea behind the ordinance -- that drivers shouldn't be allowed to run cyclists off the road -- was well received when it first went before the full council two weeks ago, but the discussion today quickly fell into a legalistic back-and-forth about what the details of the ordinance should be: Should it define a safe passing distance; should the maximum fine be $300 like for running a school bus stop-arm, as Councilwoman Ann Margolin suggested, instead of the $500 currently proposed; perhaps there can be a reminder that cyclists have to obey traffic laws, Sandy Greyson proposed; and Dwaine Caraway wondered why on earth there was no language addressing pumping, which he went on to define as "somebody riding on the handlebars, two people riding on one bicycle."

Councilwoman Carolyn Davis, then Angela Hunt, pulled the discussion out of the weeds a bit. Davis observed that the shared bike lanes the city has put down downtown and on MLK do little to protect cyclists and wondered, for the millionth time in the past year, why the city isn't making more of an effort to establish lanes designated exclusively for bikes. (Transportation planner Keith Manoy said the city is already doing that, when circumstances permit).

Hunt, when her turn came, went on something of a rant. The shared bike lanes and wrist-slap ordinance are only going to make drivers angry at they perceive as smug, entitled cyclists while doing little to protect their safety. The prevailing view at City Hall, Hunt said, is that Dallas is a car-centric city that lacks the culture needed for cycling to become a common mode of transportation. So, while officials are making a lot of noise about bike friendliness, they will soon declare their current, half-hearted efforts a failure, paint over the shared bike lanes like a bad memory, and hold on to their conviction that Dallas is constitutionally incapable of embracing bicycles.

Hunt disagrees, of course, but said for more people in Dallas to take up cycling as a means of transportation, getting around on a bike must be safe enough for her 80-year-old mother and her young daughters. And that will take a more concerted effort.

"Let's not take baby steps," Hunt said. "Let's take big people steps and get it done."

But baby steps seem to be the order of the day, so cyclists will have to take heart in the fact that it will soon be illegal to intentionally thrown things at cyclists, which "seems to happen a lot," Lawrence said. Water bottles, mostly.

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So just so I get this right, motorists in the City of Dallas will resent entitled cyclists for shared bike lanes and a city ordinance, but won't resent losing available lanes on busy streets to cycling only infrastructure and having to stop or yield for right turns, for which no gas tax is paid by cycling only riders?  Motorists resent anything that gets in the way of their distracted and dangerous commute, and that includes other motorists who are obeying traffic laws.  Just try crossing the Houston Street Viaduct while going the speed limit and see how other drivers will react.  If Dallas wants to crack down on throwing objects at cyclists, which I have not yet personally encountered, then criminally prosecute as deadly assault, not as some civil matter with a fine, and actually ask the police to take the matter seriously.  


"First, let's clear up once and for all the notion that cyclists in Dallas are renegade scofflaws whose disregard for traffic safety endangers the lives of the unfailingly law-abiding drivers everywhere"


Best opener to an article on the Observer I have ever read.


Run ALL the lawbreakers on bikes in barditch!


So in 100% of crashes someone or some thing is at fault .


The ultimate personal responsibility of safe travel still falls to the the one who faces the greater peril should such a collision take place.





Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I almost got knocked down on the Akard St. sidewalk the other day by one of those damn delivery cyclists from Jimmy John's.


Still not sure how/why we have to make things so complicated. Baby steps, big steps; it's all just jargon. If we're traveling down that avenue (get it!), I say we do Smart Steps. Put the bike lanes in the paths of least resistance (and again!).


Elm Street from Fair Park to JFK (one-way, rarely every completely filled with traffic.)

Commerce Street from river to Fair park (see above)

Live Oak in East Dallas (wide open, much less used than Ross or Gaston).

McKinney Ave is a lost cause but I'm sure Copenhagen would figure it out.

Same goes for Henderson Ave.

Lower Greenville is begging for it with wide single lanes. At least up until Mockingbird.

SMU Blvd, between SMU and Mockingbird.

Any others?

scottindallas topcommenter

any reports of bigfeet throwing rocks at cyclists?  This is getting out of hand.

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I've made my feelings known here on this issue over and over and today Eric presented me with proof that my argument wins.  We shall call ya'll (drumroll please.....)  the 42%

RTGolden1 topcommenter

Let's check your numbers a bit.  Others have already pointed out that 42% were the fault cyclists.  Now consider unreported accidents.  If a cyclists plows into my 16-year old piece of crap truck, I'm going to get out, check if the fool is ok, and either call for help or laugh my ass off.  I'm not going to report it, what would be the point.  If the cyclist is unhurt, I'm willing to bet he's not going to report that he was a dumbass and rammed a vehicle.  Wonder what those numbers are?


Face it Eric, cyclists in Dallas are tarred by the brush the less discerning among them wield.  (You, by your own admission, are one of those 'less discerning' cyclists).  So, when you and the cyclists who share your attitude toward traffic screw your heads on straight, THEN you can bitch and whine about the automotive Rambo's out there.  Until then, shut up and pay attention.  And follow the damn laws (both the legislated laws and the laws of applied physics and common sense.)


58% were the fault of the driver.  Which means that 42% if the cyclists that got into accidents were so reckless (stupid, entitled... pick your own adjective) that they decided they didn't have to follow the law and could just will that 2 ton piece of steel into not hurting them.

Seriously, these are not statistics that pro-bike people should be pointing out. Also the math on that doesn't work out. 58% of 89 is 51.62.  How do you have 0.62 accidents?

Oh and as far as semantics only those 51.62 accidents were car-on-bike.  the other 37.38 accidents were bike-on-car.



First, let's clear up once and for all the notion that cyclists in Dallas are renegade scofflaws whose disregard for traffic safety endangers the lives of the unfailingly law-abiding drivers everywhere: In the 89 car-on-bike accidents reported in the city so far this year, 58 percent were the fault of the driver of the car, not the bike.


All that tell me is cyclist need to be very careful around cars or they can  become an unwilling part of the next  58 percent .where the cyclists weren't  at fault ..


Damn little consolation to realize the Asshole that hit you is also in the wrong you are still leaving the scene in an ambulance.


Keep your  head on a swivel .



 @LoweandBehold Henderson can be serviced by a Fitzhugh bike lane instead. It's easy to cut over to from Fitzhugh and way less traffic.



Holy crap!  It's like you don't know how people use and write percentages. 58.426966292134831460674157303371% just doesn't look as good and is superfulous.


 @oakclifftownie ".......58 percent were the fault of the driver of the car, not the bike." ----- I would be more impressed if it was more like 80-90%. The reality is that 42% of those accidents are the cyclists' fault. 


Nothing to be impressed about.  It stands to reason that both drivers and cyclists are going to be a fault.  Both groups are comprised of stupid humans.

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