June 29, 2011
By Brandolon Barnett
Discussing Biking as Green Business, the Bike Friendly Concept, and Dallas's New Bike Plan
It’s a summer ritual by now; as familiar to many in the car centric regions of the US as the backyard barbecue or the pool party. Every year as temperatures begin a slow climb to higher degrees gas prices begin their own ascent towards the stratosphere. In the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro a lack of transport alternatives which might help some to ditch their cars and alleviate the pressure of these high prices is in many minds a major obstacle to efforts at “greening” North Texas.
Into this picture steps the 2011 Dallas Bike Plan, unanimously approved by the Dallas city council in early June 2011. The plan is a blueprint for what, if successfully carried out, would amount to years of sustained effort. You can see the planned routes on the website of Bike Friendly Dallas. Once enacted over a thousand bike lanes would crisscross the city. Though there are numerous voices insisting the new bike plan is unnecessary, supporters believe the infrastructural improvements can make biking a more safe and practical transportation alternative for everyday use.
Among the most vocal of those supporters have been the “Bike Friendly” groups which arose originally to represent OakCliff and later various parts of Dallas. The “Bike Friendly” concept has expanded in size and influence over the course of the last decade, culminating in the recent creation of Bike Friendly Dallas. As part of a Green Source weekly conversation on issues important to the green movement in Dallas I corresponded with Jonathan Braddick of Bike Friendly Dallas about transportation options in the city, bike shops as green business, and of course the new bike plan with its potential to completely reshape the landscape of Dallas.
What's behind the recent expansion of the "Bike Friendly" concept, including the recent creation of Bike Friendly Dallas? Can you explain a bit about the origins and goals of the organization for those readers unfamiliar with your efforts?
Bike Friendly Dallas was created to help promote all Dallas bike friendly and friends of trails groups websites, as well as promote and advocate for the new 2011 Dallas Bike Plan. These are our primary focus right now; however, as things evolve [we] could grow into other areas. It was created by and is run by the board members of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff and came out of one of our recent board meetings
While it's difficult to nail down, popular opinion seems to be that Dallas is not the "Greenest" or most sustainable city. How do you feel about this perception? Does BikeFriendly Dallas view part of its goal to counteract this view?
Part of being bike friendly automatically means you're environmentally conscious; however, it's not the driving force behind the concept in my opinion. More importantly, we're demonstrating and advocating an alternative mode of transportation that needs proper infrastructure throughout the city of Dallas. Being "green" is a bonus!
Do you view the Bike Friendly concept as a "green" concept? If so, what is its role in the green movement in Dallas? Does this perhaps include cooperation with environmentally conscious organizations and businesses in DFW?
We're always looking to be collaborative with other groups/organization in Dallas in order to help promote Dallas as a bicycle friendly city. Our role is simply to demonstrate and advocate for bicycles as an alternative mode of transportation in the city of Dallas.
What is the view of Bike Friendly Dallas regarding the city's new bike plan? Is it a plus or minus to efforts to add transportation options and/or "green" Dallas from a sustainability standpoint.
Obviously we're focused on accountability for the city's new bike plan. We've setup a new interactive map you can view new routes coming on-line and their progress, and make sure that the plan doesn't become a dusty plan destined to sit on someone's shelf. Having this new plan is a huge deal! We have turned the corner from the old days of being bicycle unfriendly to being one that can be proud of a home-grown bicycle friendly culture. We didn't have to hire outside consultants to tell us to form these neighborhood groups - we did it ourselves. We did need outside help putting the bike plan together and spent money wisely on hiring one of the best bicycle consultants in the country.
With the hubbub over Green business and innovation do you think it's fair to say bikes and thus bike shops, old hands at sustainable transport that they are, are representative of a "green industry"?
Bicycles are definitely green as they only require the food we put in our bodies to be operated and don't give off bad emissions. [Yet] for bicycle shops to be green they need to work with manufacturers that have green concepts in their manufacturing process and also run their shops green as well. I'm no expert in that so I'll leave it up to someone else to make that argument.