Archive for the ‘Bike Destinations’ Category
I started this as part of a recap for 2015, but as I started writing, I realized there was more to say about New Orleans.
During this past summer, we took our first family vacation in 5 years – a much needed break. This time, we went to New Orleans – close enough to drive, but far enough to feel like we went somewhere. We stayed in an Airbnb in the north side of town, outside of the touristy French Quarter. I discovered that the locals weren’t fans of out-of-town folks staying in their neighborhoods. I overheard one woman in a coffee shop say, “I don’t like them…They’re not invested in the neighborhood…They just park anywhere (parking was awful and extremely limited)…They’re just using it like a hotel room.” As a homeowner, I completely understand how they feel and would probably think the same way if there were some Airbnbs in my neighborhood. However, as a visitor, I highly recommend an Airbnb stay. It’s much better than a hotel room, where we felt like out-of-town guests, instead of tourists. Just try to be respectful and treat each neighborhood as if it were your own.
I brought my bike and I’ll discuss that in a bit. First, I want to give my overall view of New Orleans. Although I’ve been there a few times, it’s always been in the tourist areas, eating lots of touristy foods, drinking lots of touristy booze. Going as a family, we wanted to get a taste of how a local would experience the city – with a little bit of sightseeing in the mix. We drove a lot, and now I have a love/hate relationship with the Google GPS App. Since the streets are extremely confusing to a non-local, the GPS was helpful, until it took us 10 blocks out of our way to get to a place just down the street. Once we were more familiar with the area, we only used it for pre-trip mapping and going the last mile(s). It was funny listening to the voice prompt attempting to pronounce some of the French street names. Dupre was referred to as “Dupper.”
As expected, New Orleans is truly different than my north Texas suburb. If you’ve ever coveted the idea of living in a more dense city infrastructure, you should visit a city like New Orleans. At first, you’ll find yourself complaining about how crowded and overlapped the buildings are, as well as how narrow the streets get with limited parking. But when you settle in, you start to notice how well the people exist around each other, how well transportations syncs and how nearby destinations are actually more of a convenience—because they are actually nearby. I started to view the wide-open space of my suburban sprawled neighborhood as less of a luxury and more of a burden. There is something really nice about and old, dense neighborhood with local coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants within walking distance. It makes you hate those drive-thru Starbucks and mega-marts even more.
Riding a bike in the city of New Orleans is much different than in my city. My first impression of a cyclist in the Big Easy was more of a shock, than a familiar comfort. As we were driving back from dinner, our first night, I saw a cyclist queue-jumping and running red lights. It was late, she didn’t have any lights or helmet and she was weaving all over the road. We saw a few cyclist who rode like this, so I started to equate all New Orleans cyclists as scofflaws. As it turns out, everybody is like this in New Orleans—cyclist, drivers AND pedestrians. Transportation was an awkward, clumsy ballet of wrong, where everybody was making up their own rules—but somehow, it all synchronized well.
I was able to sneak in a few morning rides around town. I even managed to ride down to the French Quarter. I discovered, even riding my slowest, I was still one of the fastest cyclists around. Slow and easy was the pace in New Orleans, and I was ok with that. I was also one of the few wearing a helmet. For a while, I was worried that it would give me away as a tourist, but I think having air in my tires was already doing that (see pic above). In the end I realized that nobody cared about me, my full tires or my helmet head and I was able to enjoy some really nice rides around town. There were also some nice bike lanes, with more on the way, which made the slow pace easier around the not-so-slow traffic. Riding early in the morning helped as well. Overall, if I lived in that area and with parking as bad as it was, I would definitely ride my bike much more often.
We loved visiting New Orleans. It was good to get a new perspective of an old city. Although the city is known more for it’s tourist attractions, and less about it’s strong neighborhoods communities, I can see how folks are proud to call it home.
Four great Dallas amenities opened this past weekend during an event called the Trinity River Revel, and it was celebrated with a Rolling Ribbon Cutting. A large group of a few hundred cyclist, which included a few of Dallas’ elected officials, representatives from local and state bicycling groups as well as surprise visitor Gary Fisher, all set out on a slow paced rally around the Trinity River to officially reveal these great new open spaces.
This is what opened:
The Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge – A new linear park build on the old Continental Street Bridge, which spans the Trinity River west of downtown Dallas. It includes 39 trellis and shade structures, a meditation labyrinth, bocce court, spray fountain and playground.
Trinity Skyline Trail – This is a paved hike, bike and skate trail in the Trinity River basin that leisurely rolls between Sylvan Avenue and West Commerce Street. This is a great place to take your family for a nice bike ride or walk, and see lots of nature around the Trinity River.
Sylvan Avenue Bridge – The bridge has been redesigned as a six-lane bridge with two six-foot sidewalks on the shoulders. Even better, is the Trinity Skyline Trail crosses the river below.
West Dallas Gateway Plaza – This is located between the western end of the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge and Trinity Groves. This is a perfect spot to visit, with great views of the Dallas skyline.
It was a great day to ride and be part of this historic event. It was also inspiring to see such a large group participate, letting the City of Dallas know that bicycling and walking are important to the people who live here.
Here are some pics from the event. Click here to see the entire set.
One of my favorite destinations, on my weekend morning ride, is the Starbucks down the street (about 2.5 miles). Some mornings are way too beautiful to just stop there, so I choose to go to the Pearl Cup, which is much further away from my house. The coffee is really good, but when you ride a little more, it tastes a lot better.
A couple of new businesses have opened near me, and both have really cool rack systems for bike parking.
The first is Whole Foods in Addison. Although it’s bittersweet that they closed the store that was closer to me, their new store in Addison is pretty impressive. What makes it even more impressive is their cool bike racks that are in the shape of bicycles.
The next business is the new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Richardson. Not only has this become one of the hottest destinations in town, it also has an amazing lineup of bike racks that are in the shape of film reels.
I’m glad that both of these businesses care enough about cyclists, and got really creative with their bike parking. This shows that there are some forward-thinking business owners that care about supporting alternate transportation, the local bike culture and a strong community.
I hope that bike parking, like this, continues to be an ongoing trend with new construction around town.
I’m a strong believer that if you build a good network of bike parking, more people will ride their bikes. Better destinations that accommodate cyclists and provide safe places to secure their bikes is a win for any community. What I often wonder is, what impression are people getting when they see empty racks? Do they think that the racks are a waste of money and use up ‘precious’ sidewalk and parking lot space?
Are they really working to get more cyclists out?
In contrast – at locations where there aren’t bike racks – I wonder what people think when they see bikes locked to things like fences, benches, street signs, gas meters or shopping cart returns? I find it quite frustrating to see this unbalance of empty bike racks in some areas, where in others, you see bikes locked to random things. The problem is, where do you put bike parking racks so that they actually get used?
My solution is, everywhere.
One of my biggest complaints about my suburban town, Richardson, is that there aren’t enough cool, local destinations. The city is building some amazing trails and bike lanes, but they really don’t lead to many great stops. Sure, we have a quite a few parks, city amenities, chain restaurants, grocery stores, and even a couple of bike shops, but there aren’t very many places to just hang out and relax.
That’s why I’m glad that Pearl Cup Coffee has opened in Richardson. In a town that has at least 5 nearby Starbucks, you’d think another coffee shop would be overkill. Not for me, because it goes beyond the fix of caffeine. It’s about having a nice destination that’s easy to access by bike. Being right off one of the city’s bike lanes, Pearl Cup Coffee could potentially be a great, bike friendly hangout. Unfortunately, they’re not set up with any bike racks. There are a few in the shopping center, but none close to the coffee shop.
Pearl Cup Coffee has a couple other locations in Dallas. Both are very successful destinations that pull in a nice crowds and build stronger communities. I’m hoping the same thing happens in Richardson.
Be sure to politely ask them for some bike racks out front.
Being one of the oldest Dallas suburbs, Richardson, Texas could be seen as a bit run down and dated in some parts. Quite honestly, we thought so – years before moving here. But, the homes are nice and reasonably priced, and the city’s location is perfectly snug just north of Dallas, but south of all the newer amenities of suburban sprawl.
In spite of it’s age, the city is making continuous and diligent efforts to improve and update. Infrastructure and amenities are improved annually, and there are plans to continue those improvements to make the city a viable place for young families to settle as the original residents get older and move away. Our bike plan is a great example of this.
Because of this, companies like Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (based out of Austin) have recognized the potential of this town and are moving in. We are getting Dallas’ first location of one of the coolest movie theater concepts available. To prove that, they hosted a fantastic, free event in the parking lot of where their theater is going to be built. It included a free movie screening of a cult classic, food trucks and local beer. It was a great way to introduce themselves to the city and community, and we hope to see more events like this.
I was glad to see that local bicyclist were out in force to show the need of bike parking.