Suburban Assault

Posts Tagged ‘Biking

Riding On Texas Sidewalks

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Random Commuter On A Sidewalk

Random Commuter On A Sidewalk

I prefer to take back streets, bike lanes and trails when I ride. However, when I cycle across town I’ll find myself on routes that involve very busy, high speed streets. Although I completely support them, I’m not a vehicular cyclist, so I don’t feel comfortable riding these types of roads. Don’t hate me, but I choose to ride on the sidewalk in these situations.

The purpose of this post is not to start a debate. I’ve read countless discussions about how riding on streets is safer than riding on the sidewalks. I’ve even learned that sidewalks aren’t always the safest places either. For  me, it’s a perspective of Texas drivers and the fear of bike verses SUV physics. I feel more comfortable distancing myself from fast moving, heavy traffic.

Vehicular Cyclist

Cyclist Taking The Lane During Rush Hour

The actual purpose of this post is to raise the question: Is there an actual Texas law that states whether riding a bike on Texas sidewalks is legal or not?

I’ve been all over Google and discovered several links to similar information like this on biketexas.org. The laws are very specific when it comes to cyclist’s rights on Texas roads. However, I cannot find any law that says it is illegal to ride on Texas sidewalks. IF there is, please post links to official, Texas state approved information (not somebody’s opinion or interpretation of the law). I just want to know if I am breaking any laws when I ride these routes.

Sidewalk Riders in Austin

Sidewalk Riders in Austin - Respecting Peds

Again, this is not a debate on the safety of sidewalk verses street riding – this will always be subjective based on each rider’s perspective. I just want to have the right knowledge so that I can make informed decisions when I ride.

Comfortable Riding Back Streets

Comfortable Riding Back Streets

Written by dickdavid

October 30, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in General Cycling

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My Journey To The CycleBABBLE Ride

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I took a bike ride in Fort Worth yesterday with some really cool cyclists from across the DFW Metroplex. The ride was put together by a bunch of North Texas bloggers who are calling themselves BABBLE (Bicycling Authors, Bloggers, Bold-face Liars, & Exaggerators). The group that showed up was a wonderful mix of all types of riders including general cyclists, fixed gear folks,  a guy on a cruiser, a guy on a recumbent AND a guy pulling a trailer with his kid in the back. All complete strangers with one common passion for cycling.

I won’t write too much about the ride since Myles with Rat Trap Press has done a great job at that. Read about it here.

What I want to write about is my journey to Fort Worth – getting to the ride. I live in Richardson, which is at the opposite end of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Yes, I could have easily tossed the bike on the back of the car and drove it to the ride, but I’ve been wanting to see if the area mass transit system would work for me.

I was very optimistic about the journey, but it’s not without its flaws. When you’re trying to reach a destination at a specific time, you need to do alot of planning. I’m sure if I used the DART system more often, planning would have been a bit easier. The night before, I got online and pulled up train schedules – working backwards from my destination. I also had to do a bit of research to find out how much money I needed for ride tickets and if bringing my bike was allowed. Again, something I wouldn’t need to do if I used mass transit more often.

The Start:

I got an early start because the last thing I wanted was miss my first train and throw off my route schedule. I took a slow, pre-dawn ride to the Arapaho Rail Station. Since I was working with very limited light, I had to take my time and keep an eye out for the 2 or 3 cars that were on the road at the time. When I got to the station, I completely expected to be the only person there. Was I ever wrong. Apparently, the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure run was happening in Dallas that morning as well. The train platform was full of pink T-shirts and sleepy, suburban, race supporters.

The Red Line:

Since the bike ride to the Arapaho Station was quicker than I thought, I was able to catch an earlier train. As the pink crowd boarded the train, I asked the operator if he had room for me and my bike. I could tell from his expression that he didn’t think it was a good idea, but he kindly agreed to let me on. I did my best to squeeze into the smallest corner of the train and the other passengers were surprisingly accommodating.

The train stopped a few more times, taking on more Race supporters, until we finally reached their destination – the Park Lane station. All at once, a sea of pink exited the train leaving just a few folks with me and my bike. A few stops later, I arrived at my first destination, Mockingbird Station.

Mockingbird Station wasn’t what I was expecting either. Being so early on a Saturday, you’d expect the crowds to be thin, if nonexistent. Instead, there was a mass of NEW T-shirt colors. This time, instead of pink, it was maroon and burnt orange. Crap, I forgot it was Texas/OU weekend in Dallas. For those of you don’t know, this rival college football game has been a tradition with these schools and our city for many years. The game is always played at the Cotton Bowl which pulls mass crowds from every direction, making it a nightmare to get around Dallas. Fortunately, the next part of my route was down the Katy Trail – free of college football fans.

Katy Trail to Victory Park:

The next part of the route was the Katy Trail, which I’ve only been down once before with a Fleetwood’s Kit Kat cruiser group ride. This is a beautiful ride down an easy trail that leads to Victory Train Station located in Victory Park (next to the American Airlines Center). Since I caught the earlier Red Line train, I was able to take my time and shoot a few pics.

In no time, I arrived at Victory Park, a very nice part of uptown Dallas. Lots of money was spent in creating this awesome destination. Unfortunately, you need to have lots of money to really enjoy it – that is unless you’re riding your bike around. As witnessed earlier, the Texas/OU crowd was taking over this location as well – most of them were heading to the game via the new DART Green Line to Fair Park (and the Cotton Bowl). Fortunately for me, I was catching the TRE (Trinity Railway Express) going the other direction towards Fort Worth. I had a bit more time to kill before my train ride, so I rode around and took a few more pics.

The TRE to Fort Worth:

The time came to purchase my ticket for the TRE to Fort Worth. I rolled up to and through the Texas/OU crowds to find my way to platform 3. I didn’t plan on such a long line at the ticket machine but fortunately, there was a DART person helping out. It moved pretty fast. Within a few minutes, the TRE pulled up to the platform. That thing was HUGE!

Before I could board, I had to wait for another mass of maroon and burnt orange to pile out – big surprise. As I looked for a place to put my bike and sit, a nice lady gave up her seat to make room for me. The ride took about 50 minutes to cross the Metroplex into cow town. On the way, I spoke with one of the TRE workers and he mentioned that there were several folks with bikes in the other cars. I wondered if they were going to join the BABBLE ride.

Fort Worth:

When the train pulled into Fort Worth’s T&P Station, I got out and noticed several folks with bikes who were there for the ride. It ended up being a nice mix of 16 (including Rose – the little girl in the trailer) riders from all over the Metroplex. We gathered in the parking lot just outside the station and introduced ourselves as we waited for the rest of the riders to arrive.

The ride was AWESOME! We took a spin through some really nice older neighborhoods, just south of Fort Worth. We stopped for breaks at two really cool bike shops: Panther City Bicycles and Colonel’s Bicycles. We then, jumped onto the Trinity Trails and made our way back into town. The last stop for me was La Familia, a nice Mexican restaurant just off of 7th Street. There, I met up with my family and we had a nice lunch with the group. After that, the group went on to return to the T&P Station with one more downtown stop. Meanwhile, I loaded up the bike onto my wife’s car and did a little more exploring before heading home.

It was a great day and a great ride. Except for the unexpected crowds and being a bit slow, the transit ride was really pleasant. I’ll definitely be doing it again, hopefully with my family.

Click here to see more pics.

Here are other EXCELLENT blog post about this ride (added as I find them):

Rat Trap Press

Pondero

DFW, Point-To-Point

Doohickie

Green Commotion

ChipSeal

Written by dickdavid

October 18, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Garland, The Town Texas Forgot

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Run Down Garland

Run Down Garland

Or maybe not.

Garland is a suburban city just northeast of Dallas and east of my town, Richardson. Being tucked away from most major highways, many of the newer corporations (and their wealth) that are settling in north Texas, seemed to stay away – bringing better economy to the rest of the metroplex. With the exception of the growth along the PGB Tollway and the Firewheel Town Center, Garland seemed to truly be a forgotten town in north Texas.

On my typical drives through Garland I’m always left wondering, what has happened to this town? What seemed like grand, old shopping centers are abandoned and left for dust. Empty lots are ignored and overgrown. Sidewalks and streets are cracked and sprinkled with debris and litter. Used car lots, fast food restaurants and thrift shops seem to outnumber grocery stores. Garland is old and showing it’s years – at least to those driving by.

I took a spin through the heart of the city this morning expecting nothing more than a few colorful and well textured photos. I figured that I would at least get a nice ride and satisfy any curiosity I might have for exploring my neighboring town.

My first impression of Garland is that the drivers are less than friendly to cyclists. You can tell this by the way they over-rev their engines as they pass you. Like most Texas drivers, I expect that they are just not used to seeing too many bicycle riders around town and don’t have the patience to go around them. I mostly stick with back streets, but since I’m not too familiar with those in Garland, I had to keep to the sidewalks of the main streets.

As I rode into town, my expectations were met as I came across several run-down businesses and shopping centers. The discoveries were sad but interesting which lead me explore more and drive myself towards downtown.

As I got closer to downtown Garland, I started to notice that the surrounding homes were getting nicer. Some of the older buildings and churches appeared to be better maintained and, in contrast to some of the previous shopping centers, occupied. This looked promising.

Unexpectedly, when I arrived to the downtown area, I discovered a nice little town center that seemed on the verge of being completely revitalized. Some of the older buildings have been restored, and there was the presence of some new urban-type development. Loft like apartments were springing up just south of the DART rail station which complimented the new Patty Granville Art Center very well.

I’ve seen this type of suburban-urban development in Plano, Addison and Richardson, but somehow, they didn’t seem as well executed as what I saw in Garland. I’m starting to see a really nice destination being developed here and I hope to see it thrive.

Garland has taken me by surprise. I would never have expected to see this small pocket of cool in an area with such unappreciated surroundings. To be honest, I was feeling a bit jealous. It just goes to show you that you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover. If you have a town like Garland in your neck of the woods, don’t just write it off. Take a chance and explore it on your bike. You never know what you might find.

At this point, my only true criticism is that it isn’t very bicycle safe. I hope bike friendly routes are in the plan for Garland.

Written by dickdavid

September 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Took A Spin Around Addison Circle

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Addison Circle is a nice park area within the north Dallas suburban town of Addison. It’s been referred to as “… the place fun calls home.” Hidden just north of the Belt Line Road restaurant strip, Addison Circle Park appears to be the area near where many college graduates and young couples come to live when they start their first job in Dallas. It’s hip and urban-like with a small community of young professionals.

Riding around Addison Circle on a Saturday morning is less than exciting. Expecting a bustling, little urban/suburban community, I was left with what seemed like a ghost town. I guess the nightlife is what makes this place a destination. That’s okay, because it left all the roads to me.

Addison is one of the closest places in DFW to living an urban lifestyle without living downtown. Here’s a fun little PR video from their site.

Written by dickdavid

September 5, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Cyclesomatic Bike Festival

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Image from Bike Friendly OC. Please visit their site.

Image from Bike Friendly OC. Please visit their site.

When we were visiting the Oak Cliff Bicycle Company yesterday, I noticed a few posters that were promoting Cyclesomatic – a week long bicycle festival in North Oak Cliff. Of course, I had to look deeper into this to find out what it’s all about.

The festival will last from October 2nd to the 11th. The weather should be just about tolerable in north Texas by then.

Here is some info from their site:

Events will include a history-themed group ride, bicycle competitions, Biketoberfest! in Bishop, an Urban Bazaar/Bikefaire, a “Kiddical Mass” Ride, Bike to School Day, BBQ, Bands, Bicycle Films at the Texas Theatre, Art Bike Shows, and guest speaker councilwoman Angela Hunt. New Belgium brewery is sponsoring part of the week, and we’re coordinating efforts with DART, BikeDenton, the Oak Cliff Bicycle Company, the Cube Creative, Eno’s Tavern, and more.

The event will be put on by the Bike Friendly Oak Cliff Group, advocates promoting the creation of better cycling facilities and improved infrastructure in Oak Cliff. Oak Cliff is one of Dallas’ oldest and more eclectic neighborhoods that has done well through the years to remain a friendly and creative destination for folks in the DFW Metroplex.

I will be checking out some of the events during the festival and I’ll report back here. Looks like it’ll be a week of complete bike love, all within one of the coolest parts of Dallas. Please check the Cyclesomatic site for complete details, area info and an event calendar.

Written by dickdavid

August 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Down The Katy Trail With Fleetwood’s Kit Kat

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I wrote about Fleetwood’s Kit Kat in an earlier post and discussed how cool the shop and it’s owner were. When we were visiting, Fleetwood asked us to join in one of his group rides. Not being on a bike in years, I figured my wife would be less than interested. To my surprise, she scheduled us for one of his rides.

We were some of the first to arrive at the shop, off Mockingbird and Interstate 75, right next to the SMU campus. Since I had my own bike (non-cruiser), I opted to bring it and leave the loaner open for any extra riders. Wendy got a fancy pink cruiser as a loaner that totally clashed with her personality – it was the perfect bike for her first ride. As we waited for the ride to start, more folks, mostly couples and small groups of friends (all different in age and personality) began to arrive. Nobody looked like a seasoned rider, which was perfect for a casual ride like this. Instead of spandex, jerseys and cleats, there were dresses, shorts and flip flops. We were all like a bunch of kids, reconnecting with our youth on fun and stylish comfort bikes.

Eventually, the ride started. It was really cool seeing a huge mass of colorful bikes hitting the streets all at once. The pace was slow but perfect for a warm Saturday evening. We headed down one of the side streets which eventually connected with the head of the Katy Trail. A few minutes later, we were at our first stop – a wine bar called Crush on Knox Street. The plan was to hang out here and watch Fleetwood’s sister Kerri Arista perform a few sets. The place had a great atmosphere and the wine was tasty (even though my wife and I just shared one glass – we weren’t sure what to expect on the rest of the ride). Eventually, the sun went down and the streets started to cool off. The group sipped the last of their wine, then made it back to the bikes to continue the ride.

Cruising With Fleetwoods Kit Kat

The rest of the Katy Trail seemed to go downhill. Again, with a nice slow pace perfect for a Saturday evening, post wine bar ride. What was amazing about this part of the ride was seeing Dallas from a different perspective. Wendy, who lived in Dallas most of her life, got a new look at her old home town. Mark, Fleetwood’s bike guru, entertained us with a few fancy jumps and stunts while keeping an eye on the group’s emergency repair needs. No worries about flat tires on this ride.

A few miles later, and we arrived at the American Airlines Center in uptown Dallas. The main mall was lit with all sorts of lights and video screens which made it an exciting destination. We all lined up for a group shot, Mark made a few bike adjustments and we all took a free ride around the area. It was a blast.

The ride back to Fleetwood’s shop was fun as well. Since it got late, some of the Katy Trail’s lights went off. Fortunately, the loaner cruisers all came with riding lights and lit the whole way back. Fleetwood had some speakers and an iPod that blasted some great Michael Jackson tunes for us to enjoy. What a great time.

When we arrived back at Fleetwood’s shop, folks turned in their loaners, I loaded up my bike and we all gave our goodbyes. This was one of the best evening that I have spent in Dallas in a really long time. Wendy had a great time too and we hope to do it again soon. Next time, I may try one of Fleetwood’s cruisers.

If you want something fun to do in Dallas, keep an eye on the Fleetwood Facebook page for future bike rides. Seating is based on first come, first served so call and get scheduled. You’ll be happy you did.

Written by dickdavid

July 26, 2009 at 7:13 am

Route Artifacts

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I love making wrong turns.

I’m usually the guy that has a great sense of direction and knows exactly where I want to go. Occasionally, I am known to make mistakes (my wife would say more often than not), and find myself making new discoveries on my rides.

On one of my off-the-beaten path excursions, I happened to notice a little object sitting on the road. On closer observation, I realized it was a little toy – an action figure that resembled some sort of pro wrestler. I don’t know why this peaked my interest, but I went ahead and shot a picture of it.

Perhaps it was the little mystery of where it came from or maybe I was just interested in the fact that it was a random discovery, made possible by a previous mistake in direction. Either way, I’ve now captured it by photo.

I am now more aware of things that show up on my routes and shoot pics of them if they interest me. I’ve even started a flickr pool to share them with others. Hopefully, other folks can share their discoveries.

Written by dickdavid

July 10, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Route Artifacts

Tagged with ,