Archive for the ‘Richardson’ Category
It’s no surprise to me, since I ride in this city all the time.
With the announcement of 42 new and renewing BFCs today, Richardson joins a leading group of communities, in all 50 states, that are transforming our neighborhoods.
“We applaud this new round of communities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their residents and beyond,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “The growing number of leaders taking up bicycling as a way of solving many complex community problems is encouraging. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone.”
The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now 350 BFCs in all 50 states. The Bronze BFC award recognizes Richardson’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.
This is a big deal in north Texas. Even though many cities in the area – including Fort Worth, Plano and Frisco – have received an Honorable Mention, Richardson is the first north Texas city to be recognized as a Bike Friendly Community. With it’s many bike lanes, growing trail network and interconnecting neighborhoods, this is a well deserved recognition.
There were many other variables involved in earning this status, including a great city management team – encouraged by a city council with a vision to create a great city. Richardson is also growing a strong bike community – supported by local and regional advocates like Bike Friendly Richardson and BikeDFW.
Richardson is just getting started. They’re hoping that Bronze is just a stepping stone to an even better, more robust bike community. They also hope to see that the many great efforts of their neighboring cities get recognized by the League as well.
I hope that this recognition becomes a way to motivate other north Texas cities to work harder to become bike friendly as well. Let’s keep this momentum going.
I shared this on Facebook, but wanted to record it here for future reference as well as for those who are not friends with me on my social network.
Let me set the stage first. Today was a rare snow day in north Texas, but I usually try to get out and get a little bit of exercise before going to work – no matter what the conditions are. It was still dark and the sidewalk was covered in snow, ice and sleet.
I was walking out of my neighborhood to do my morning loop around it’s perimeter. Because it was dark and cold, I was sporting my reflective vest and full head coverage (now that I think of it, I can see how the head covering might have looked suspicious). As I was walking I crossed paths with some guy. Folks usually ignore each other this early in the morning, but this guy begged me for my help. He had a bike, so – at first – I thought he might have had a flat or some other mechanical issue. Instead, he said he needed help rolling both of his bikes to the next corner. He then pointed to his other bike a few feet over. The snow was so thick, that he was having trouble rolling both bikes.
The absolute first thing I asked was, “why do you have two bikes?” Without missing a beat, his immediate response was that it belonged to his old roommate and that it was left for him. At this point, I’m still suspicious, but I also started reasoning in my head. If he were a bike thief, he picked a hell of a time to steal bikes. He didn’t seem nervous, so perhaps, I should take him at face value.
My other reluctance to help was that I was heading the other way and I was on a time limit. However, I didn’t want him to just get away, so I tried to test/bluff him. I said I would help him roll is bikes a few feet, but only if he let me take a picture of him and his bikes. Without hesitation, he said yes.
He called my bluff.
I took the pics and he actually posed for his. He even offered me a few bucks to buy my breakfast, for helping. I declined. Keeping my word, I helped this stranger roll one of his bikes a few feet. Before we got too far, I sensed that he was having second thoughts. He immediately, turned and said that he could get it from there. Worried that he might try to grab my camera, I agreed, handed him the second bike and then walked the other direction. My goal share the pics online once I finished my walk. I thought about calling 911, but figured it was horrible out and emergency services are probably busy, dealing with actual emergencies.
As I was continuing my walk, a man in a truck pulled over (down the street where I had come out of my neighborhood). He got out and started following me. He was in plain clothes, but he flashed me his badge, stating that he was a police officer.
He saw me with one of the bikes, so he immediately started questioning me about the other guy, the bikes, who I was, where I lived, why I was out there, etc. We walked back to his truck as I explained the situation. I also tried to explain who I was, my involvement with the local bike community, and how I had taken pics of the guy and his bikes. Still suspicious of me, he asked if he could take a pic of my drivers license (not being in his squad car, he had no way to run my ID). Not having anything to hide, I agreed. He then stated that he would ‘destroy’ the photo, once they were done.
During this time, another police officer, in a Richardson Police Department squad SUV, pulled the guy with the bikes over. He radioed over to the officer with me, to inquire about me. My officer replied with, “he’s just a concerned citizen.” I took a sigh of relief, since I feared that I could be considered an accomplice. This was something I didn’t think about, when I agreed to interact with this guy.
After that, I continued on my walk, where I was able to reflect on a few things. First, in a situation like this, even though I was suspicious and took precautions, it’s hard to judge a person’s true intentions. Because of my lack of better judgement, I actually assisted this guy for a few feet. Next, I am grateful that we have such a great system of police, who actually catch people in the act. Finally, all being said, I still cannot say with certainty, that this guy was actually stealing bikes. I’m am not a police officer, prosecutor or judge, and I do not have any proof that this person is an actual bike thief. All I have is speculation.
My wife says that I’m too trusting with people. Perhaps, in this situation, she is right.
I’m curious as to how other people would have reacted in this situation. What would you have done?
Update: Because I can’t say for certain if this guy was actually stealing bikes, I decided it was only fair to distort his face in the image.
Richardson continues to impress me with their network of great bike and pedestrian access routes throughout the city. As part of that, we have some really nice multi-purpose trails. However, over time and through excessive usage, they have’ve gotten covered in litter, animal waste and broken glass. Instead of complaining about the mess, my local bike advocacy group, Bike Friendly Richardson, decided to take the maintenance and care of our trail network into our own hands.
We scheduled our first, hopefully of many, Trail Clean Up Days. Given such short notice, and everybody’s busy schedules, our first turnout wasn’t that great. We did get a few volunteers from all around the city, as well as somebody from our neighboring city, Plano. The plan was to try and fill as many trash bags (provided by the city) as possible in two hours.
Overall, we were pretty successful in filling 8-10 bags—not bad for a small group of people. Think about what we could have accomplished with more volunteers. There was still a lot more trash on the trail that we couldn’t get to. Perhaps we’ll get it all the next time.
Our goal is to do this more often than not—hopefully in other parts of the city as well. My only hope is that we’ve inspired other people to get out there and care for the public areas near them. This is our city, and we need to take responsibility for it.
This past weekend, I rode with my local bike advocacy group, Bike Friendly Richardson, in the City of Richardson’s 42nd Annual Christmas Parade. Of all the rides I do, this is one of my favorites. It’s not because of the great speeds or distance, but rather the opposite. Since this is a parade, the route is extremely short and equally as slow, which opens it up for people I don’t normally get to ride with, families.
Many folks decorated their bikes and brought candy to hand out to spectators. My neighbor, Howard, even brought his goat on a trailer, pulled by a tandem. My friend, Jenny, brought her young baby for his first parade. Both the goat and the baby were big hits with the crowd.
Riding with families in a parade accomplishes many goals – two of which are important to me. First, it allows families with kids (and goats) to be part of the bike culture, which hopefully builds a stronger bike community. Also, it allows the other folks, who weren’t riding, to see that cycling is something that’s fun and can be shared by all.
Participating in the parade definitely requires a lot of patience. Since you have to get there early, there is a more waiting than there is riding. I suggest that if you want to be part of a Christmas parade, folks with families, should try to arrive a bit later or have ways to entertain the kids until the start. Also, bring plenty of candy to hand out. I always seem to run out in the first 200 feet.
Here are a few pics from the parade. Click here to see the full set.
Since last year’s Scavenger Hunt was such a great success, I decided to do it again this year.
Introducing Richardson’s 2nd Annual Ride And Seek, Photo Scavenger Hunt. From mid-October to mid-November, I’m inviting and motivating folks to get out and ride their bikes, explore their neighborhoods and win prizes!
This year’s theme will be “The Bike Racks of Richardson”.
My local advocacy group, Bike Friendly Richardson, is working with the City of Richardson to gather data on the current inventory of available bicycle parking throughout the city. I thought this would be a fun way to involve the bike community and collect valuable information that will help make my city more bike friendly.
If you happen to be in north Texas this month, I encourage you to participate. Click here for details.
When you become a bike rider, you quickly learn the importance of keeping an eye on the weather. You never want to get caught in a Texas thunderstorm. Unlike my days living in the northwest – where the rain is frequent, consistently light and often drizzly – rain is rare in north Texas during the summer. But when it comes, it comes hard – usually with lightning and rolling thunder. It’s very intimidating, when you’re on a bike and typically avoided – especially by me.
I knew that there was a storm rolling through yesterday morning, but as I scanned the online radar and checked the hourly forecast, it looked like I had a small window to run an errand and grab a quick cup of coffee. My prediction was slightly off.
I did manage to get my mail sent off at the post office without a drop of rain, but as I rolled towards my coffee shop, I saw the dark clouds and lightning moving into my area very quickly. I decided to park it at my Starbucks and wait it out. Another interesting thing about Texas thunderstorms is that they usually leave as fast as they come.
With my tall, black coffee and the sound of pounding rain and thunder just outside, I comfortably read through a chapter of my book. Before I was able to get into the next chapter, my wife called and, after reminding me how crazy I was, asked if she needed to come get me. The rain was much lighter at this point, but she warned me that another wave was heading our way.
With a bit of pride and a lot of stubbornness, I declined her offer and told her riding home wouldn’t be a problem. I packed my book back into it’s Ziplock baggy and hit the road. Fortunately, most of the ride back was light and drizzly, just like my days up north. The streets, however, were still flooded from the storm and because I didn’t have fenders, I got soaked.
Aside from that, riding in the rain was actually pretty fun. I’ll still avoid the thunderstorms, though.
Thanks to Bruce, over at the Bike Friendly Richardson Facebook page, for spotting the new Bike Lanes on the eastern section of Collins Boulevard – in my city: Richardson, Texas. Although not complete, lacking ‘bike’ markings on the pavement and ‘bike lane’ signage, they are ready for riding. Eventually, these bike lanes will continue east, right into my neighborhood, where more bike lanes are scheduled. Unfortunately, the bike lanes will not continue west, right now, and connect to the other bike lanes on the western section of Collins.
I got word from the City of Richardson‘s Asst. Director of Development Services, Transportation and Traffic, Dave Carter, who reports:
This Bike Lane will connect from Alma all the way to Jupiter. The portion east of Plano Rd is being paid for with Safe Route To School (SRTS) funding. The western half is Richardson funding. We wanted to get it all done at the same time. There is a new trail that will be going in adjacent to the Apartments under construction that will connect from Alma down to Greenville. There is also trail along Alma that will lead down to the Arapaho DART station so getting this Bike Lane in now really connects quite a few projects.
As for the Collins bridge over US75 – we don’t have enough funding to make all the improvements we need yet. However, we will be adding some “Bikes may use Full Lane” signs and sharrow markings across the bridge for now.
From a personal perspective, I ride down this part of Collins, almost every time I ride. The traffic is usually very light and having it three lanes in each direction, made it very accessible for me – even without bike lanes. My first thought was that these bike lanes might be overkill for this road. I was completely wrong.
First, having these bike lanes opens this section of Collins Boulevard for many, less confident, cyclists who would never attempt to ride on this road. This creates a great connection between east Richardson neighborhoods and the Central Trail. Also, it wasn’t until I actually rode the bike lanes, before I realized how much more relaxed I am riding down Collins. This has become a great upgrade to my commute.
As you can see from the map we’ve made of completed bike lanes, the City of Richardson is doing a great job at making bike connections all around town.
Update: Apologies. I had the map set to private. It should be visible, now.