Dallas Has Fewer Bike Commuters Than Any Other City. Even Arlington.

Categories: Transportation

Thumbnail image for DeepEllumSharedBikeLane.jpg
Dallas Trinity Trails
Few people in Dallas ride bikes for transportation. Dallas is a car city, and it will probably still be a car city when future archaeologists comb through the ruins of human civilization and pull our desiccated husks from fossilized car frames.

Everyone knows that, but Dallas is far from the only place where car-centric urban planning, a drive-thru culture and scorching summer heat make cycling particularly unappealing. Certainly some other city, Houston or Atlanta or Phoenix or somewhere is equally averse to commuting by bike, right? RIGHT?

Wrong. The Census Bureau released a report this morning on the modest growth in bike/pedestrian commuting over the past decade.

See also: Max Kalhammer, the Architect of Dallas' Bike Plan, Is Leaving City Hall

The actual number of bike commuters nationwide grew by about 50 percent between the 2000 census and the Census Bureau's 2008-2012 American Community Survey, from 488,000 to 786,000. In the 50 largest cities, the percentage of cyclists jumped from 0.6 to 1 percent of the working population.

In Dallas, by contrast, 0.1 percent of residents bike to work. To put that in perspective, that's way less than Phoenix (0.7 percent); Houston (0.4 percent); and Atlanta (0.3 percent). Even Arlington, the local byword for suburban dystopia, has twice the percentage bike commuters as Dallas. Fort Worth is the only city to match Dallas' aversion to bikes, tying us for last place for bike commuting on the among the 50 largest U.S. cities.

City Hall is working to change that. There's a task force now. And a a new bike coordinator, Ashley Haire, who cut her teeth doing bike/pedestrian design research in Portland. Maybe they won't chase this one off.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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38 comments
MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

DART service, trains and buses, in city is fairly widespread though maybe not as frequent.  It is heated and air conditioned.  If DART is available why would you ride a bike to work?  Bike Commuting only works when home and work are relatively close and I'd expect a strong correlation between campus presence and bike commuting.  Dallas only has commuter schools (SMU is in UP).

BobLowlaw
BobLowlaw

I think a big part of the problem is that it's difficult to get across Central.  Any bridge South of Montecello or North of McCommas is a death trap.  And if you leave the Katy Trail, Uptown has to be the worst place in Dallas to ride a bike--traffic is heavy and frantic.

lebowski300
lebowski300

Dallas will die the second the economy slows measurably. It is a coffin.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

sorry to go off topic, but wondering where Gavin is as nature unleashes her fury out here near Observer HQ.

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

Most of the people riding bikes in Dallas are unemployed/unemployable. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

One of the cooks at a bar I frequent bikes to his job.  He really is a lazy fuck, he lives less than a 1000ft from the bar and should be walking, asshat.  But at least he contributes to Arlington having a higher biking % than Dallas

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Maybe the choice of a flattened bicycle on the pavement to denote a bike lane wasn't such a good idea after all.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

It takes a lot of guts to slow rush hour traffic to eight miles per hour.

BobLowlaw
BobLowlaw

@lebowski300 I moved here in the mid-80s.  It has never, ever been anywhere close to that bad since.


TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@lebowski300

If a Dallas didn't die in the last six years, and with the economy arguably on an upswing, that's a hard case to make.

gavin.cleaver
gavin.cleaver moderator

@ChrisYu  I'm kind of the opinion it should be policy we don't do the silly weather stuff for serious events. It's not exactly the right vehicle for "hey, three people just died in a tornado!" kind of coverage. Half an inch of ice, yes, absolutely. Tornados in built-up areas? Not so much.

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

Most of the people not riding bikes in Dallas are enormous.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin

Is it downhill both ways?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  

Ha!  good'n.

Vonciel Hill, who weighs in as a Sumo wrestler, toured the bike lanes in 3/4 ton city van.

I think she's our expert.

BobLowlaw
BobLowlaw

@holmantx  Go to any traffic jam in Dallas,--any one,--and show me the bicycle that is causing the problem.  Bicycles are not the problem, cars are the problem.

Oxtail
Oxtail

@holmantx  Rush hour traffic in Dallas exceeds 8 miles an hour?

lebowski300
lebowski300

@TheRuddSki  Upswing? Hardly. A flat line respite before the real fall. Not one issue that caused the last was meaningfully addressed.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@gavin.cleaver

By these standards, in the tornado belt, you shouldn't post humorously on incoming bad weather at all.

We used to make earthquake jokes all the time in LA. People in the tornado belt always make trailer-park jokes.

As long as you don't make jokes about events actually transpired, it's ok, amigo.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

@gavin.cleaver @ChrisYu  good point, hope everybody's staying safe out there. This evening's Katy Trail 5k just got canceled, pretty sure most participants already making other plans.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@MikeDunlap The dozens of runners I know, not many of whom even own a bike much less ride one regularly, might take exception to your gross generalization.

Cycling is great, and excellent for fitness, but it is far, far from the ONLY option for fitness, nor is it the most convenient or accessible option.  Shove your cycle arrogance up your wazoo.

MikeDunlap
MikeDunlap

In her defense, the whole bike-clueless (and mostly overweight) City Council did.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@BobLowlaw @holmantxActually, neither bicycles nor cars cause traffic jams.  Just like guns don't kill anything on their own.  It is the People riding, driving or wielding these implements that cause the problems.

Cyclists cause problems by their arrogant attitude that everyone owes them the enjoyment of their ride at the expense of safety and expediency.  Motorists cause problems by not understanding, in their own arrogance, that cyclists have equal use of public roadways.  Pedestrians (the group to which I often belong) cause problems mostly by having their heads up their asses.  Everyone focuses on their own wants instead of the community good and we get what we have today.  There are ways for bikes and pedestrians and motorists to coexist in harmony.  Courtesy and respect for each other would go a long way toward achieving that.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

@BobLowlaw @holmantx Go to Henderson and 75 at about 8:30 a.m.  There will be a cyclist a few cars back when the light is red.  She will then go between the cars to the front of the line.  Then she will attempt to cross in front of the lead car to get to the right.  As that accident is narrowly avoided she then pedals and cars are stuck behind her. 


OK, not really a traffic jam, but someday someone is going to have a collision with her and then there will be a traffic jam. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@BobLowlaw @holmantx  I saw first hand a cyclist cause a jam yesterday.  She was trying to make an illegal left turn from ross to Northbound Pearl.  that is a no left turn intersection, needless to say we sat through 2 cycles of lights bc she wouldn't go straight like she was supposed to

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Oxtail @holmantx  

A big chunk of the downtown crowd roars in and out of the CBD via Elm, Main and Commerce Streets, under I-345, through Deep Ellum to 2nd Avenue where they go East on R.L Thornton.

(pssst - it's why we elevated I-345)

The catchy new "bike lanes" jam up the angry hordes making for a pretty tense bike ride (ha!).

Elm has been totally screwed up by the walkability nerds ala lower Greenville in front of Trader Joes (anybody like how the city screwed that up?).  

BobLowlaw
BobLowlaw

@becoolerifyoudid  Well, there, I agree with you.  It is unbelievably dangerous to cross Central,--on a bike or walking,--which is bizarre because there is plenty of room on the bridges for a bike lane.  But I also agree with you,--not really a traffic jam.


And the situation at Pearl sounds like a "minor inconvenience" which could just have well been caused by a confused Yukon driver from Corinth.  It can't be compared to the dozens of traffic cluster-f--s everyday in Dallas which are 100% caused by too many cars.


I'm just saying "bikes cause traffic jams" isn't really a valid point.  If you have to slow down for a few seconds to pass a biker, you can make it up racing for the next stop light.



codypritchard99
codypritchard99

@holmantx  I bike down main daily, and have never felt tense, threatened, or otherwise in the way. The lights through downtown allow the traffic to back up comfortably, so that as long as I take my place in the line, I don't have to pedal like mad to keep up. 

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

@Oxtail @holmantx  Those curbs are tall for a reason. That reason being all of those streets are prone to flooding. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @holmantx  

"Werk" restaurant on Elm in Deep Ellum closed due to the construction and the choking of the street to one lane.

Retail rents are directly tied to  traffic counts.  50% of restaurants close in the 1st year.  90% don't make it 5 years.

If you have an hour for lunch, some percentage will avoid the "walkable" joints that are choked down by diminished access.

Of course, the Lebowskis of the world don't give a shit if the small retailer doesn't make it.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@holmantx

" Elm has been totally screwed up by the walkability nerds ala lower Greenville in front of Trader Joes (anybody like how the city screwed that up?).  "

I like how the landlords squatted on the sidewalks and drive up street parking, they got to keep that and the city turned part of the street into a sidewalk.  The Andres brothers are laughing all the way to the bank.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

That's a very odd position to take. Lowest Greenville hasn't looked this good or been this accessible in decades.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Oxtail @holmantx  

Cut the access, you cut the retail.

Retail lives and dies by the traffic count in front of it.

It's a given - If they ain't on the road in front of you, they can't turn in.

Oxtail
Oxtail

@holmantx  I used to live off lower Greenville and  office off NoMo Greenville 7 years ago. I only wish it was as nice back then as it is now. Call me a walkability/bikeability nerd. I was just downtown yesterday on Elm and also Main. The construction looks like a pain in the ass but it looks like it will be a vast improvement for Deep Ellum. And the improvements aren't just for walking or bicycling.They are lowering those 1 ft. tall old 1940's curbs so you scratch or dent the bottom of your car door when you park on the street and try to get out.

Lakewooder
Lakewooder

@holmantx

Had lunch at Char Bar, then drove to Trader Joes. Didn't notice any walkability issues.

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