City News Roundup
Transportation is today's theme, with stories about bicycle shares, car shares, street repairs and potholes. If Troy Aikman says we have bad potholes, then it must be true. Here's the top news from the city of Dallas this week:
City survey says
Street repairs are the No. 1 priority for Dallas residents, according to an online survey conducted by the city to help establish priorities for the 2015-16 budget. The survey listed 12 city departments, and asked respondents which was most important. The top three were street & alley repair, police, and fire/ambulance. The other key point was which departments deserved more funding. Street & alley repair came out on top again, followed by animal services and police.
The survey was posted on TalkDallas.com, the city's online portal. It ran from June 8 through July 3 and drew 1,509 responses. Out of a population of 1.25 million people. But it's more than the 2014 survey, which drew 1,040 responses. That's an increase of 45 percent! Go Dallas.
Regarding the survey, a memo from city manager A.C. Gonzalez says it's not a "statistically significant representation." What's he talking about? 1,509 is like .0001 percent. Maybe the other 1.25 million citizens who did not participate are saving their input for the town hall meetings in August?
Speaking of street repair
Potholes in Dallas streets have become a cause celebre. So many cry out for repair, yet the city continues to entertain the fantastical idea of building a toll road inside the Trinity River levees. Our potholes even have a Facebook page.
But this week potholes truly moved into VIP status after scoring a tweet by local celebrity Troy Aikman:
Are there any worse roads in the country than we have in Dallas?? Not anywhere I've traveled. #potholeseverywhere— Troy Aikman (@TroyAikman) July 13, 2015
It is not for us to know where else Troy drives, but his tweet reached Mayor Mike Rawlings, who hopped like a bunny onto The Ticket and Fox 4 to acknowledge that yes, Dallas does have potholes, before laying it off on the city council, saying he looks forward to a "healthy debate" in the coming weeks.
Houston, ever with the Dallas chip on its shoulder, wrote a follow-up story called "Who has worse potholes: Houston or Dallas?" before handing the crown to Los Angeles.
But at least now we know what to do if we want to get a response from Mayor Mike.
"I listen to Troy, I love Troy," he told Fox 4.
Fair Park bike share
Dallas' efforts at bicycle sharing still need some work. According to the Dallas Observer, the bike share program launched in Fair Park in November 2014 with 16 bicycles is dismal, grossing a mere $795 between January 1 and July 1. During that time, 250 bikes were checked out (a little over 1 per day), but 80 of those were maintenance rides by city employees.
If those numbers are sad, so is the fact that author Eric Nicholson found them so difficult to obtain. Friends of Fair Park, the nonprofit that runs the program, refused to release the data in response to an open records request. Because bike share statistics are very very confidential. Friends of Fair Park is run by Craig Holcomb, who also heads the Trinity Commons Foundation, the entity behind the toll road.
Dallas' Zipcar pilot program, giving inner-city residents a transportation option, added two more vehicles, these at the Dallas Farmers Market. That makes 30 vehicles total, split between downtown, Uptown, Oak Lawn and at Love Field. During the second quarter of 2015, 184 more people registered as members for a grand total of 520, as of June 30. People are using them for shopping or doctor's appointments. Companies use Zipcar to supplement their DART commuter plans, as a way for their employees to get to meetings or run business errands.
Industry studies have shown that each car share vehicle can support the reduction of 15 personally owned vehicles, so the current Zipcars in service through the City of Dallas and DART represent as many as 450 personally owned vehicles taken off the road. Continued growth of members is crucial to the success of the Zipcar program. C'mon, move downtown already, sell your car and sign up.