The Two-Wheeling Future of Fort Worth

When you think of the best bicycling cities in the US, Fort Worth, TX,
probably doesn’t spring to mind. But there are some changes coming.
Hundreds of miles of new bike lanes, "road diets" and a proposed streetcar system could fundamentally change the way people think about getting around town there.

2722177975_b8e67ae386.jpgExchange Avenue, Fort Worth. How will bikes fit into this picture? Photo by Tabitha & Simon Chasing the Dream via Flickr.

Fort Worth is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, and Streetsblog Network member blog Fort Worthology has been doing a great job of documenting the challenges that growth poses. Today, member blog Bike Friendly Oak Cliff
of Dallas has an interview with Don Koski, one of the planners who is
helping shape Fort Worth’s streetscape. He talked about the role of
transit-oriented development, how to incorporate bikes into road design
from the beginning, and why Fort Worth isn’t too hot for bike
commuting:

[I]n Fort Worth we are planning and developing
more mixed-use centers and urban villages and redeveloping and
infilling downtown and other neighborhoods near downtown. We are also
planning for higher-density development along existing and future
commuter rail stations and potential streetcar lines. Making these
areas and the city as a whole more accessible by bicycle is consistent
with these plans and visions.…

Regarding temperature, I
don’t buy the argument that people won’t bike because it’s too
hot/cold/wet/etc. Look at the cities that have the highest bicycle
commute rates in the country: Portland (wet), Minneapolis (cold),
Seattle (wet), and Tucson (hot). Certainly there are many cyclists who
won’t bike for transportation purposes when it’s hot, but there are
other ways to address that, like by promoting the provision of shower
and change facilities at major employers. In fact, I would say Fort
Worth has great potential as a bicycling city: relatively flat, decent
street block pattern, great trail system to which to make connections,
great cycling weather 8 months out of the year, etc.…

While
we don’t yet have quantitative data, we definitely feel that bicycling
is beginning to take off as a mode of transportation in Fort Worth.
When gas rose to $4 a gallon a year ago, bicycles began showing up all
over, and even with the cost of gas relieved somewhat, anecdotally we
believe the numbers are still higher than they’ve been in a long time.
For a long time Fort Worth has had a number of substantial bike clubs
primarily interested in cycling for recreation. We believe a good piece
of that advocacy has crossed over into a call to make the city’s
transportation network more accommodating of cyclists as well.

Other items of interest from around the network: Fifty Car Pile Up writes about race, class and bike-jacking on the trails of New Haven; Where looks at how dachas, or summer cottages, have provided food for urban Russians in economic hard times; and The Infrastructurist
breaks down the NY Times magazine special issue on infrastructure this
weekend, so you don’t have to feel guilty for not reading every word.

  • marcos

    My parents forced me to live in Texas during the 1970s and 1980s, and I got around exclusively by bicycle in Austin during the late 1980s. When it is > 90F and > 80% relative humidity for 1/3 of the year, cycling even a short distance becomes difficult. It is a little less humid in the metroplex of North Texas where Fart Worse is than in the migasplex of Central Texas, but it is also hotter up north.

    Cycling the five blocks from my West Campus housing cooperative to my office or class on campus was a drenching experience for half of the year. Biking for fun down Shoal Creek to the Barton Creek Greenbelt bike path was possible because the creek would be running (not yet with the effluent of the affluent caused by subsequent rampant development) or the springs were there for a cool off. Of course that Austin had a fully fleshed out bicycle lane network in place by the early 1980s made matters easier.

    Tucson is often above 100F but enjoys relative humidities that approach the single digits; you just don’t sweat.

    -marc

  • Felix Landry

    I am an Urban Planning grad student at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas (between Houston and Dallas). I ride almost everywhere. Yes its extremely hot in the summer, but it also get pretty cold in the winter. Anywhere you go there is gong to be some excuse not to bike: weather, terrain, crime rates, distance, etc. I think terrain and crime rates are much tougher issues to deal with than weather.

    I don’t really have to dress up for work yet, but when I do I plan on getting up a little earlier to avoid the heat. After work, who cares I going home sweat it up. I employ some odor fighting practices and ignore the sweat, which is saying quite a bit because I can really sweat.

    The biggest obstacles in College Station are the six lane racetrack (Texas Ave) dividing the city in half and some childish mentalities still held by some “Texas Men” about cyclists on the roads.

    I think biking is worth it. I’ll bike despite the elements.

    Felix

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