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Urban rant: Even with shared lanes, biking in Dallas ain't easy

Urban rant: Even with shared lanes, biking in Dallas ain't easy

Dallas bikers
Members of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff often take organized rides around the city.  Photo Courtesy of Andrea Roberts/Bike Friendly Oak Cliff
Dallas bike lanes
On September 5, city workers painted bike lanes on North Lamar Street in the West End.  Photo by Claire St. Amant
Horseshoe Project, downtown Dallas
It's benches like these that make downtown seem less than welcoming to those on two feet — or two wheels.  Photo courtesy of Horseshoe Project
Dallas bikers
Dallas bike lanes
Horseshoe Project, downtown Dallas

Downtown Dallas is poised for pedestrian and pedal traffic like never before. The opening of the State Fair and the arrival of newly painted bike lanes have hit the city at the same time as the seriously delayed entrance of fall. 

Most people would agree that increased walking and biking downtown is a good thing. If Dallas is to become the urban mecca that we'd all like it to be, then, more than we need parks over highways or plentiful food trucks, we need to encourage people to be comfortable on their own two feet.

 If Dallas is to become the urban mecca that we'd all like it to be, then we need to encourage people to be comfortable on their own two feet.

Name one bustling city where people don't mill about. From Portland to New York City and everywhere in between, the ability to go carless invigorates city life. As an avid DART user, bike rider and walk-to-luncher, I can attest to the freedom of such transportation.

Can't find a parking spot? Good thing you don't need one. Forgot cash for the valet? Not necessary. Missed your turn? Unlikely because you spotted the restaurant's sign two blocks away. 

Despite all the aforementioned benefits, city walkers and riders are a rare breed in Dallas. Discounting the wretched summer months, I can only deduce one real reason why throngs of people don't descend on the city under their own power: It can be life threatening.

I wish I was kidding, but the sad fact is that Dallas drivers have little to no awareness of anyone not driving a car. I regularly get flipped off — and almost run over — when properly using crosswalks.

Never mind that pedestrians have the right-of-way, Dallas drivers think they own the road at all times. This mentality causes many bike riders, myself included, to take to the sidewalks. This is technically illegal, although rarely enforced. How can you ticket someone and send them onto the mean streets of Dallas? A bike doesn't stand a chance against a Ford F-250. 

In Thursday's edition of the Dallas Morning News, Sarah Mervosh reports that the city has already painted four miles of shared lane markers downtown and is developing a "bicycle-passing ordinance" to explain how drivers and bikers ought to behave. 

Seems a bit backward to me. Shouldn't we have the rules of engagement before we, you know, engage in road warfare?