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Okay, So We Have Bike Lanes. But What if Cars Just Drive Over Them?

A demo-project bike lane on Sylvan Avenue in West Dallas. Source: the terrible camera in my phone

The blurry photo you see above is a new bike lane, a demo-project one, on Sylvan Avenue, between I-30 and Fort Worth Avenue. It was installed a few weeks ago, and I drive past it every day on my way to work. The problem is that while I drive past it, most people drive through it. It’s a matter of location – the I-30 service road dumps vehicles right onto it; there’s a bottleneck heading north on Sylvan, too – but also a matter of education.

I called Max Kalhammer, the city of Dallas’ bike plan guru, to ask him what the city could do to make sure cars use car lanes, and bikes use bike lanes.

“We’re hoping to improve and increase our outreach about these tyes of facilities, and we’re still ramping up to do that,” he said. “Personally I’ve observed a vast majority of motorists are doing it correctly.”

And maybe that’s true – he mentioned a bike lane on Fort Worth Avenue which has 97 to 98 percent compliance, but that’s a wider road, with better-defined lanes – but the city still needs to do something. Signs are coming, he said, as is a media campaign. And the city applied for an almost $750,000 STEP grant from the Texas Department of Transportation to help finance this campaign; the awards are granted in July.

Until then, here’s a plea: stick to your own lanes.

  • Brent Dudenhoeffer

    What if cars just run stop signs/stop lights? Are bike lanes different?

  • Tim Rogers

    Cities across the globe that have significant bike ridership all know what Dallas needs to learn: bike lanes must be physically separated from car lanes. Painted marks on the road don’t get the job done. The next philanthropist who wants to make a big difference has his (or her) project: The [insert name] Bikeway.

  • Lesli Overton Tuck

    I saw a car driving in the bike lane in that same spot and thought “Am I crazy, or are you not supposed to drive in a bike lane?” I guess it’s there’s a learning curve for some folks. Wow!

  • Guest

    You realize of course that ANY driver making a right turn on a street where there is a bike lane present is required by law to merge INTO the bike lane 50-200 feet before the intersection and make the turn as close as practicable to the right edge of the roadway, right? And that cyclists are to merge into the lane of travel appropriate for their destination? There is a reason that bike lane lines go from solid to dashed prior to intersections…

  • robbiegood

    That particular section of Sylvan is about to get completely resurfaced along with on-street parking, bike lanes and 2-lanes each direction. So anything for the time being is just temporary.

  • Crossbar Faller

    If bikers want bike-only lanes, let ’em pay bike taxes and build their own lanes.

  • hobbyist1

    Street improvements are made using property taxes, which everyone pays regardless of transportation method. Bike lanes are cheap. Stop whining.

  • James Donohue

    Bicyclers pay sales tax on the bikes they buy. Then they pay sales tax on safety equipment-sales tax on a headlight, sales tax on the helmet, sales tax on reflective vests, and sales tax on tires. The same tax rate on all items.
    Some of us cyclists have thought about this, and we think the fair thing to do , is, increase the tax on tires. Think about it- the tires wear out in direct proportion to how many miles the bicycler rides. The cyclist who rides the most, go through three sets of tires in a year. If you buy a bike and leave it in your garage and never ride it, the tires will not wear out (okay, maybe they will dry rot, but when you sell the bike seven years from now, the person who buys the bike will have to buy new tires, and pay the tire tax).
    We think a tire tax would be fair.
    However , the idea that a shoe tax be imposed to pay for the sidewalks, is not going to go over too well.

  • fitzer

    even to this day, drivers are using that bike lane more and more. The sign just south of the sylvan/I30 bridge (going North) that says “Cars in right lane must turn right” is completely ignored and they just barrel through onto the bike lane!