By Jada Brazell     

Has Dallas outgrown the bicycle? The massive freeways jutting through the city might suggest it has. So might its 340 square miles, not counting the outlying areas, which add up to more than 14,000 square miles.

The Texas Department of Transportation reports that nearly 2 million motor vehicles are registered in Dallas County and nearly 40 million miles are driven in the county each day.

Yet despite appearances, change is afoot thanks to groups for whom these daunting facts pose no obstacle. There's now a small army of bicycle-friendly advocates,including Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, who are so determined to ride safely through the city that they're stopping motorized vehicles in their tracks and taking control.

At Cyclovia de Dallas, an event organized by BFOC and the City of Dallas, the Houston Street Bridge (celebrating its 100th anniversary) will be off limits to cars and trucks while pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and other non-motorized travelers practice greener ways of getting around.

The bridge connects Oak Cliff to downtown Dallas and will be closed to motorists during the event, from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.

Activities will include kite flying, line dancing, bicycle races, skateboarding, live music, yoga, a bicycle safety rodeo, an urban market, healthy food trucks, a dog park, and more.

Dallas City Councilmember Scott Griggs anticipates that there will be virtually no traffic delays, which he said speaks to the fact that Dallas is well-equipped to make way for bicyclers.

“That’s almost the point to it,” he said. “Look at how much capacity we can remove, and cars can still get to where they are going.”

Griggs has been actively involved with BFOC, as well as the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, for many years, after he bought a bicycle and started pedaling around the city.

“I wanted to really be a voice for having a choice in transportation,” he said.

The Oak Cliff infrastructure is naturally more hospitable for cyclists and pedestrians, Griggs said. Areas farther north were created after World War II and were geared specifically for the automobile.

“It’s really about retrofitting our structure,” he said, adding that the goal is to add more bicycle lane miles. The Dallas Bike Plan recommends a total of 583 miles of bikeways. “It would be more livable, healthy, sustainable and safe – all the goals you want to see in a city.”

While bike-friendly initiatives aimed at promoting green living in Dallas are slowed by resistance to change, Griggs said awareness and invitation to participate will be a catalyst for growth.

“After enough time, people end up demanding a bicycle infrastructure that is safe, that allows people of all ages to use it,” he said.

The following are the goals and objectives listed as part of the plan to make Dallas a better place to bike:

  • Create a fully interconnected, seamless bikeway system that connects to all areas in the City and to every adjacent jurisdiction
  • Improve education and enforcement, establish supporting policies
  • Promote and install end-of-trip facilities
  • Identify funding sources for all projects and programs in the Plan
  • Provide strategies to measure and evaluate success of Plan over time
  • Provide a set of standards in the Plan that can be used as a regional template for other jurisdictions in the North Central Texas region.

Jada Brazell is a freelance writer who also consults for fashion- and art-based businesses on branding. She has written for the Odessa American, edited for the Texas Senate and RadioShack, and contributed to several magazines and newspapers in Central and South Texas.