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The crashes came about in a rare rapid succession. From June 8 to June 14, seven cyclists were injured or killed.

ELIZABETH M. CLAFFEY / DMN

Two were killed while pedaling near Grand Prairie. Another remains in intensive care after being hit on Mockingbird Lane. Three others were struck and injured in Carrollton while riding in a larger group. And an 8-year-old was hit while walking her bike across a Dallas street.

Now an area cyclist advocacy group is seeking more protection for riders.

Bike DFW launched its petition Sunday to raise awareness of the two-wheel riders – and to encourage local governments to find ways to increase safety, such as bike lanes on some roads.

More than 3,600 people had signed the petition as of Thursday night, but the group hopes to rack up 100,000 signatures.

"Cyclists are like an invisible population," said Chris Phelan, one of the petition's authors and founder of the annual Ride of Silence, which honors cyclists killed while riding. "They're just not seen by motorists or city government."

In a recent issue of Bicycling magazine, Dallas was rated one of the worst cities in the country for cyclists, based on factors such as traffic congestion and lack of traffic laws to protect cyclists. For example, a proposal to require motorists to give cyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing didn't make it through the state House in 2007.

Changes to protect riders need quick attention, advocates say, because the cycling community is growing quickly.

At Richardson Bike Mart, the largest bike retailer in the area, with three stores, owner Jim Hoyt said he's selling as many as 500 bikes a week, which he said is unprecedented.

With gasoline prices soaring, more and more people are hopping on a bike rather than getting behind the wheel – whether to go to the corner store or to work – Mr. Phelan said.



No car-stopping paint

Dallas has 90 miles of biking trails. But it's the increasing number of cyclists on the city's 800 miles of roads marked for bikes that makes it necessary for local governments to be more safety-conscious, said Michelle Holcomb, another architect of the petition and the secretary and treasurer for Bike DFW.

P.M. Summer, transportation alternatives coordinator for Dallas, said the city is examining areas that could be good candidates for bike lanes.

"We always look at what we can do better," he said.

But in general, bike lanes are "not a physically viable operation" in a city such as Dallas, where the street grid is less consistent and people don't yet embrace cycling as much as in other cities, Mr. Summer said.

And a strip of paint on the road doesn't mean cyclists will be safe, he said. "The streets are serious business. We still haven't found that paint that stops cars from crossing the line."


Progress seen

While Dallas hasn't found a way for cyclists and motorists to get around in complete harmony, Bud Melton , chairman of the Texas Bicycle Coalition, sees progress.

He disagrees with the description of Dallas as unwelcoming to cyclists.

Some measures are already in place to ensure cyclists and motorists don't get in each other's way, Mr. Melton said.


Dallas Area Rapid Transit, for instance, allows bicycles on buses and trains at all hours. And the agency will begin installing bike racks on its bus fleet and at bus stops this summer.

The North Texas Council of Governments is working on a "veloweb," a planned 644-mile hike-and-bike route that would lace Dallas, Tarrant, Denton and Collin counties via off-street trails.

As of October 2007, 112 miles had been completed; the initiative began in 1994.

"It's making pretty good progress," Mr. Melton said.

Any progress – whether through infrastructure or education – is a victory for those who have signed the petition.

"If awareness is the next step, it's past due," said Randy Silvagni, a cyclist for 25 years who has seen friends injured or killed in crashes.

"There has to be a little more cooperation with people we share the road with," Mr. Silvagni said. "There has to be something better than the way it is right now."

KEY POINTS: Texas bicycle law
•Ride near the curb, unless passing, and go in the same direction as other traffic.

•Use hand and arm signals.

•May ride two abreast as long as they don't impede traffic.

•Carry only one rider per seat.

•Keep at least one hand on the handlebars.

•Have brakes capable of making the braked wheel skid.

•Shouldn't carry any more people than the bikes are designed for.

•Cannot attach a bike to a streetcar or vehicle on a roadway.

•Must have a white light on the front and a red reflector or red light on the rear when riding at night.

•Have the same rights as motor vehicles to use roads and highways as long as they follow the standard traffic laws.


SOURCE: Texas Legislature


AT A GLANCE: Cyclists killed
North Texas cyclists killed by passing vehicles in recent years include several accomplished and safe riders:

MEREDITH HATCH, 38, and MICHAEL ALFARO, 36, were killed shortly before 8:30 a.m. on June 8 as they were riding on Camp Wisdom Road near Grand Prairie when a Lincoln Navigator hit them from behind. The friends from Mansfield died at the scene. The driver told Grand Prairie police that he had been at a bachelorette party that ended about 2 a.m., then stayed up the rest of the night visiting friends. His blood was drawn at a local hospital to determine his blood-alcohol level. Ms. Hatch was an accomplished triathlete, a former president of the Mansfield Rotary Club, a member of the Methodist Church and a volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program. She owned Primrose School day care centers in Mansfield and Grand Prairie. No additional information was available on Mr. Alfaro.

PHYLLIS HASSAN, 73, was killed in May 2004 by an inattentive driver. Ms. Hassan had served on the Texas Bicycle Coalition's safety panel. The case has not been brought to trial.

LARRY SCHWARTZ, 42, rode 260,000 miles on his bicycle in 2002. He was killed in May 2003 north of McKinney when the side mirror of a passing school bus hit him. The bus driver was sentenced to 180 days in the county jail and five years' probation for leaving the scene of the crash. Chris Phelan founded the Ride of Silence after the death.

CARLOS S. RODRIGUEZ, 66, cycled for more than 40 years. A speeding driver hit and killed the one-time competitive cyclist in October 1999 in East Dallas. The case was brought before a Dallas County grand jury, but no charges were filed against the driver.

Link: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/062108dnmetcycling.435d86a.html
 

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I have lived in the DFW for 3 years now and I am by far more scared of riding here than anywhere else I have ridden (7 states), including towns that don't even have bike shops and look at cyclist as if they are from outer space. I stopped riding road for over a year in hopes of avoiding this problem after being hit in the back with a side mirror from a car load of punk teens who were trying to scare me, not hit me, so they claimed.

I now ride well north of the metro on back county and farm to market roads, even there I still find aggressive drives who tell me that I don't belong on the road and to get on the side walk "where I belong!"

Comments like this make me wonder if the lack of awareness and education of bicycle rules/laws are the reason why so many drivers neglect to give us the room and caution we deserve. Maybe the DMV needs to do a better job of educating new as well as renewing drivers about the safety and rights of cyclist. Most of my non-cycling friends weren't even aware that bikes had the same rights as vehicles on the road.

The best thing is to ride as defensively as possible, be well illuminated at night, wear highly visible colors and attempt to leave yourself an out when possible. Group riding is great too, but the article above goes to show you that no matter the number of riders you are with or experience you have, we are simply at the mercy of drivers and their ability to avoid us.

Scary indeed, sad of course, but we can make this better and I for one will have my name on that petition. Be safe out there!!!
 

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Its comforting (in a way) to know that others feel this way about Texas roads. I moved from Phoenix and thought it would be an improvement. Now, I look back fondly at my years there. :mad: :cryin:
 

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Magsdad said:
.....feel this way about Texas roads........
Texas roads? I read about cycling issues and accidents all over the world. Texas certainly isn't unique.

We have to realize that there are bad things that happen on highways. Last Sunday, 5 people were killed in Plano after leaving church. If that had been 5 cyclists, "we" would be terribly upset and look at it differently. Fact is, when people drive too fast and/or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, everyone in range is at risk. Motorists, cyclists and pededtrians.

Maybe I have to rationalize some of these things to keep myself out there riding.

Back to what I really wanted to say. Having visited family in Dallas over the years, and thinking in my mind as to how a cyclist would fare on the streets down there, I came to the conclusion that "there is no way". I'm not real excited about driving on Mockingbird, much less riding a bicycle.

It's going to take major changes for Dallas to ever be bicycle safe.
 

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Dallas is awful....

Dallas is full of $30k / year millionaires! They drive their leased beemers and lexuses (sp?) while repeatedly wearing the one Armani suit they can afford and have egos and attitudes (big) inversely proportional to their bank rolls (small). They hate everything around them and blame everything and everyone for their failure to break through the glass ceiling. What better way to take out your anger than on a bunch of lycra clad wimps who clearly have disposable income (major jealous there) and no way of retaliating other than to shoot you the bird and start ranting and raving?

Kidding, I'm from Austin. Different way of life here. Driver's, however, are probably worse...just in different ways. Here we have too many distracted drivers and illegals with no licenses or practical experience driving (though some actually drive BETTER than red-blooded Mericans - yes Mericans). In any case, it's dangerous wherever you ride. It's a calculated risk we all take every day.
 

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MerlinAma said:
Maybe I have to rationalize some of these things to keep myself out there riding.
Oh, I am by no means saying Texas is unique; quite the contrary. These problems do exist all over the world. But in my own personal experience, DFW is WITHOUT QUESTION the worst I have experienced. The total disregard for others by drivers here is astounding. Not just cyclists, but anyone who is near a road.

As for the other point, I agree with the statement above. I have found myself often rationalizing what happens on the roads to help me cope with all of the crap out here.
 

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How about this!

Pro-cyclist crackdown nets 233 tickets

June 23, 2008Recommend (10)

A three-month-old ordinance targeting motorists who endanger bicycle riders has so far netted 233 citations, including 95 for improper left turns and 11 for driving on bicycle paths, Chicago Police said.

"It's a good start. It shows that they're taking it seriously," said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation.

"I'm a little surprised, actually."

The ordinance, pushed by bike enthusiast Mayor Daley, raised fines for motorists who endanger bicyclists and clarified situations where bikes have the right of way.

The citations were issued between March 12 and May 31. Five bicyclists had been killed in collisions with vehicles in Chicago this year.

Sadowsky said drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians all have to exercise more care. He said he thinks the best news pedestrians and cyclists have had lately was not the ordinance, but the police sting targeting drivers who didn't stop for a cop posing as a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

"That will have a great application for bicyclists as well, because now we get people saying, 'Wow, they're actually looking at the rules of the road,'" Sadowsky said.

SOURCE http://www.suntimes.com/news/transportation/1019518,CST-NWS-ride23a.article
 

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Magsdad said:
Oh, I am by no means saying Texas is unique; quite the contrary. These problems do exist all over the world. But in my own personal experience, DFW is WITHOUT QUESTION the worst I have experienced. The total disregard for others by drivers here is astounding. Not just cyclists, but anyone who is near a road.

As for the other point, I agree with the statement above. I have found myself often rationalizing what happens on the roads to help me cope with all of the crap out here.


I agree. There are bad drivers everywhere, but Dallas has BY FAR, the worst drivers anywhere. If you have a road bike and cycling shorts on, you have a big target on your back. The total lack of respect for cyclists in Dallas is horrible. And I've ridden everywhere. The lack of bike lanes plus Dallas motorists is a danger for all of us.
 

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I cannot speak for other cities as I have not ridden on them. I did notice a lot of bike lanes in Austin. Just curious if that helps.

I get nervous when I ride on the roads by myself. I try to stay close to the curb but not too close since there also a lot of trash there. I have started riding with the Plano group (used to ride trails only) and I do feel safe with them. However, one time there were approx 8 riders and a cop (over his pa) told us to get in single file instead of being staggered. I personally like when we are staggered since we are more visible and cars are not tempted to drive in our lane right next to us (happened to me several times). As I ride more on the roads, I notice a few drivers yell at us, honk at us, cuss us out.
 

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Here in Austin...

we play a game called: "what will someone throw at/on you today?!" Yesterday for me was a Route66 beverage from Sonic lobbed at me from behind from some kids in a late model Maxima. Thankfully they missed. But, it whizzed by me and splashed all over the road in front of me. Oh well, better than the beer bottle last week and the 10' 2x4 launched off the roof of a construction van that took my girlfriend out a few months ago.

Bike lanes help a little, but Austin is REAL good about ending them several hundred yards before intersections...we call those sections "the gauntlet".

On a side note, I sure wish people would get more creative with what they yell at us cyclists. It seems they only know "get on the sidewalk", "LANCE" (popular here in Austin) and "FA**OT".
 

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I live only 9 miles from where I work. North Carrollton to Farmers Branch. Because of the rising gas prices, I would love to ride my bike to work. But the roads are just too dangerous to ride. If there were better bike trail systems in this area it would make it easier to consider riding my bike to work.
 

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There was talk from the mayor, or city council, or some people, can't remember who. It was about building a bike pathway outside the city limits so that the cyclists could ride there unobstructed by traffic. The thinking by the city officials is that it would make things safer for cyclists. It sounded like an expensive proposition that they wanted to do. Not sure if the idea was put off, like all there other ideas or not. What do you think?
 

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dwb2620 said:
I live only 9 miles from where I work. North Carrollton to Farmers Branch. Because of the rising gas prices, I would love to ride my bike to work. But the roads are just too dangerous to ride. If there were better bike trail systems in this area it would make it easier to consider riding my bike to work.
If you post your start and end points, I bet we could work you up a safe route. You don't have to ride on Josey Ln. There are plenty of side streets and neighborhoods.
 

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barbedwire said:
There was talk from the mayor, or city council, or some people, can't remember who. It was about building a bike pathway outside the city limits so that the cyclists could ride there unobstructed by traffic. The thinking by the city officials is that it would make things safer for cyclists. It sounded like an expensive proposition that they wanted to do. Not sure if the idea was put off, like all there other ideas or not. What do you think?
I'm all for more places to ride bicycles without traffic, but they are probably talking about a MUT type thing. That won't cut it for roadies. And what are we supposed to do, get in our car and drive up to Collin Co. to go take a spin on a 5 mile loop? What they need to do is pick up the pace on building more interconnected MUT's, esp. going east-west of which there are virtually none, to promote commuting.

There is a sign on NW Hwy across from the DART station that says something like "Coming Soon! The White Rock extension to the Katy Trail." That sign has been up for at least 5 years and nothing has been done. There are also lots of miles of abandoned railroad tracks in Dallas. If the city worked with the Rails to Trails Conservancy, they could use that land to build out more trails.
 

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Sorry folks but I have to disagree here.

The DFW area isn't Portland or Boulder but I manage to ride 8,000 miles per year on these roads and I have very few instances of driver problems....

That's not to say, things couldn't be improved........IMHO, it's wrong to call this the worst.. I've ridden in MANY other areas that I consider worse than DFW..
 

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Dave Hickey said:
Sorry folks but I have to disagree here.

The DFW area isn't Portland or Boulder but I manage to ride 8,000 miles per year on these roads and I have very few instances of driver problems....

That's not to say, things couldn't be improved........IMHO, it's wrong to call this the worst.. I've ridden in MANY other areas that I consider worse than DFW..
Well IMHO.... I think Dallas is pretty bad, don't know if it is THE worst, but I think pretty close......And yes Dallas is not alone, stuff happens everywhere.... I don't think Fort Worth is bad and has many more miles of MUT's... (the 90 miles in the article is wrong, more like 30 miles in Dallas) I've been riding for years and like you Dave have been pretty lucky and haven't been hit by any cars.... Have had a few close calls... knocking on wood now.

But to me there seems to be a total lack of respect from state and city leaders for cycling in general... as in the 3 foot safe passing bill that failed and here and in Dallas taking away the bike lane on Mockingbird.. the bike lane was about 50 or so yards going across the bridge @ WRL.. so once the foot/mut bridge was complete they take away that 50 yards to make 3 lanes of car traffic!! Was told because the cost of the bridge and the needed space for the cars... Give me a Freaking break, two lanes was plenty... there is not any big traffic tie up there.... And now a cyclist was hit on that bridge from behind two weeks ago and is still in critical condition... I emailed the city council person for this district to reconsider the lane last week... haven't heard back yet, I doubt I will.. I'll email again though... I like beating a dead horse.

I know there are several good projects in the works here in Dallas.. but they are in the works and far off.... Visiting other big cities, like Denver and Minneapolis and all the MUT's make me reliaze that the Dallas City Planners and PM Summer really missed the mark, big time here, yes it could be better, it could be SO MUCH BETTER...

And the grand plan by P.M. Summer with the Dallas blue bike route signs.... Hardly any education has been provided for there use, most people don't even know anything about them.. IMO Dallas needs to start with educaton about the plan they do have, with gas prices I'm seeing more and more bicycles on the busy roads they don't need to be on...... In Dallas the 'car is king'...

OK, off my rant... just really pissed about the 50 freaking yards on the Mockingbird bridge the city took away.. http://getwellsoonpaul.blogspot.com/
 

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Dave Hickey said:
Sorry folks but I have to disagree here.

The DFW area isn't Portland or Boulder but I manage to ride 8,000 miles per year on these roads and I have very few instances of driver problems....

That's not to say, things couldn't be improved........IMHO, it's wrong to call this the worst.. I've ridden in MANY other areas that I consider worse than DFW..
I've ridden hundreds (probably thousands but not as much as Dave) around DFW. For the most part, no problems. I'll ride on the 3 lane each direction main roads and be in traffic with hundreds of cars on a given ride. A lot of drivers will give me half a lane (as in they are half over the white line). It's just a few ignorant ones that honk, or pass me in my lane, or even more rarely yell something. I've only had maybe one or two things thrown at me. So, maybe 1% of drivers actively make bike riding here less than pleasant. I think the main problem is the contention for space - there is no good space for bikes so if you are in traffic you are in someone's way (see my rant below).

The cops here are friendly as well. I wave at all the cops and they wave back - and I've ridden in practically every town from Dallas to Fort Worth to Denton. Even the stone face state troopers will wave back. One cop who was directing traffic even called out something about "great gas mileage" with a smile. This morning a cop pulled over a car in the lane next to me - not sure if it was something the driver did in relation to me or not - but it was reassuring that local law enforcement seems educated and generally fair. I'm sure a few here can post less positive anecdotes, but thankfully all my encounters have been good.

This is a different post entirely, but as long as we're on the subject: If I ran the metroplex, I'd mandate driver education about bikes. I think it is already in the handbook, but apparently no one read it. I'd also like to see the infrastructure improved - especially wide lanes where there is enough room for a car and a bike. The few roads around here that are wide are a joy to ride on. There's no tension when there's nothing to fight about. Paved trails are nice but for a commuter they don't go everywhere they need to be and still have many of the same problems as sidewalks: slow moving pedestrians, dogs on leashes, wandering kids, frequent traffic crossings. I'm trying to get somewhere - sidewalks and MUTs are the bike equivalent of putting speedbumps and right angle on ramps on the freeway. Dallas' current idea of a bike route is to post a small blue sign that says "bike route" with the route number, sort of like a bus stop sign. The routes are inadequate, usually ignored, and many people are not even aware they exist.

Spread the word - make sure all your friends, family, and coworkers know you ride so they will be on the look out for you and for all bikes, tell them what the laws are, how to coexist with bikes on the road, and encourage them to ride as well.
 
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