Professor Fred Murtz
22 June 2012
Bicycle Lanes are Overdue in Dallas
Bicycles have been a major part of our transportation system for over a hundred years. There are more than a billion bicycles in the world and they outnumber the automobile 2:1. Yet in Dallas, we have been very slow to take steps that would make them an integral part of our transportation system. Bike lanes and the lack of them are an excellent example. Texans have always prided themselves on their wide open spaces and have long had a love affair with their cars. This may partially explain why Dallas has not made a priority of alternative means of getting around town. However, with changes in the economy and the environment, the city would be well served to start looking at all options for commuting. Dependence on foreign oil has made gas-guzzling cars both an economic and a foreign policy matter. And the pollution that these cars generate affects not only us, but the world as a whole. Bike lanes are a way to encourage people to be less dependent on their cars. First, where are we starting from? Since 1980, while other cities added hundreds of miles of bike lanes, Dallas chose to sit idly by. According to Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, “by the 2000s, Dallas had one of the lowest bike-commuting percentages in the nation, and one of the highest accident rates. The publication twice gave Dallas the ignominious title of worst cycling city in the United States, in 2008 and 2012” (Roberts). Opponents of bike lanes point to our current traffic congestion and wonder how taking lanes away from cars can possibly improve the situation. First, a bike lane frequently does not require the removal of an automobile lane. It can be accomplished by narrowing existing auto lanes, using median space, and other techniques. Second, while some auto lanes are inevitably lost, this is offset by the fact that there are fewer automobiles on the roads, because their former...
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