For the first time in a decade, the city of Dallas is improving its bike system.
The city's new $4.35 billion budget, which was approved in September, allocates $2 million for Dallas' bike lane program. The city plans to extend the bike network’s coverage and connect it to more destinations.
Some of the money will be used to patch up some of the flaws found in the 2011 bike plan, which is thought to be severely lacking compared to other U.S cities.
In the next year, backed by a $2 million budget, Dallas officials plan to implement multiple projects simultaneously as they work to improve the city's bike lane program.
Their first step will be surveying the Texas metroplex and assessing which areas need the most improvement. This search will likely reveal multiple regions in desperate need of updates, as Dallas boasts one of the worst biking infrastructures in the U.S.
In 2008 and 2012, Dallas was named the worst city for cyclists by Bicycling magazine. In some parts of the city, shades of the 1985 Greater Dallas Bike Plan can be seen, like old street signs and faded blue lines on the concrete.
Just two years before, in 1983, a Texas law was passed that defined a bicycle as a vehicle, giving riders the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on the road- highlighting just how dated this plan truly is.
In 2011, Dallas crafted a new bike lane program that was supposed to rid the city of the 1985 version and usher is a much more promising plan.
This newer plan was supposed to create 1,300 miles of bike routes, bike lanes, street markings, and trails for public use to encourage more cycling in the city. The 2011 plan was also supposed to create an advisory board to monitor and track the implementation of the plan, which was set for completion in 2021.
Today, there is no such advisory board and only a fraction of the bike lanes and routes planned came to fruition.
Michael Rogers, who was then Dallas’ head of transportation, said plans changed after the city focused more on building safer, protected bike infrastructure, rather than focusing on the numeric goals laid out in the 2011 plan.
Regardless of how much truth that claim has, it can't be denied that the failed 2011 plan is a large reason the city's biking infrastructure is severely lacking.
For a city as large and densely populated as Dallas, it is simply unacceptable for the bike lane program to still be heavily influenced by a system from 1985.
City officials seem to share that sentiment, as evidenced by the lofty $2 million being invested into Dallas' biking infrastructure. Before this budget, Dallas had never fully funded a bike lane program per the plan requirements.
Hopefully, this new move is a signal of a turning of a new leaf for a city that has long neglected its cyclists.
For more information on Dallas' new bike lane funding plan, click here to view the official city memo and plan details.