Saturday, May 12

Walk Versus Talk

This Scene Captures a Sense of What FW is About - Strictly IMO
I Might as Well Have Used the PANTHER PIC - Foisted on FW by D
OR "A Tale of Two Cities"

To the outside world, "DFW" is all one place. However, it really isn't. Like many metropolitan areas, DFW has many individual cities within in it. To my "Yankee" eyes, the DFW Metroplex has a more, distinct, bipolar nature than other places I've lived or visited extensively. While Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma are all distinct to those that "know," they are clearly birds of the same species. Ditto for Los Angeles and the South Bay cities - or even Anaheim. In DFW, sometimes it reminds me of an echo of life on either side of the Berlin Wall. I was reminded of this yesterday when I happened to have to go into Downtown Fort Worth on the same day I checked into "Bike to Work Day" options. First, however, a few observations for my loyal reader to consider. Henceforth in this post, "D" will refer to Dallas and Dallas County while "FW" will refer to Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
Scene Captures What Dallas is About - Again, STRICTLY IMO
I'm Glad I'm NOT a Democrat that Needs to Recover
  • Up until recently, commuter rail (the TRE) charged extra to travel a single stop if it crossed the D/FW line
  • Each has its own separate branch of I-35
  • Politics in each is a bit sleazy, but totally different from each other
  • Cycling on roads are quite different in the two places. My regular reader KNOWS better than to ask my why I think this is so.
  • D has light rail nobody rides, FW has buses nobody rides - but the FW buses had bike racks on their YEARS before they retrofitted the D (DART) buses
  • Each has its own airport despite DFW, which was built to put an end to such nonsense
  • Each has its own newspaper, that are joined only in that each mostly doesn't report much about the "other" place
  • Each place has television stations - and you can tell them apart fairly quickly when you listen to news, weather, or traffic.
  • If I wanted to be really unfair, I could note that Oswald shot Kennedy in D, but is buried in FW (remember that per my shortcut, anywhere in Tarrant County is "FW")
  • And the list could go on, but here is one developing "Tale of Two Cities."
Prompted by what I thought were some incredibly cynical statements about the LAB-sponsored "Bike Month" and "Bike to Work" promotions, I resolved to definitely go to one this year. Cynics DO spur the rest of us to do things we might not otherwise do. I ride to work daily, so these events are more like encouragement and a celebration to me than actual "YOU ought to change something." After all, aren't we supposed to appreciate those we love on days other than Mother's or Father's Day as well? Last year, I got some loot at the Fort Worth Bike Day event, but lost my camera. What's more, I had to go to REAL work before the main festivities. Not all of us start work after 9AM, after all. This year, spurred on by the cynics, I briefly considered making the day an excuse to fly to an event in another state - which prompted my response to this post, but the logistics don't work. As a result, New Mexico won't see me. Not that the failure should be any real cause for concern. After the travel though, this year, I thought it still might be cool to "head east, young man" and link up with the D festivities. Yup, another famous Steve A "compare and contrast" post.

Searching for "Bike Week" Events on the LAB Site
Well, I got reminded once again that D and FW approach things differently. Both places have politicians that claim to support cycling, but I know that Fort Worth has some important ones that also "Walk the Walk." I do not know how often or whether the mayor of Dallas rides. I DO know that the mayor of FW, rides and actually leads rides around FW. I actually got to meet Betsy in 2010 before she ran for mayor. At the time, I was being awarded "Bicycle Commuter of the Year" and she was the Tax Assessor. When we talked, it took about 15 seconds to realize she was not a political cycling poseur. I don't claim to be a real quick study. At that time, she regretted that she could not often cycle to work because the Tax Assessor often had to travel to several satellite offices. At the time, having to occasionally have to move 30 miles from one work site to another, I understood what she was referring to. John Forester, in EFFECTIVE CYCLING, makes much the same point in his discussion of cycle commuting.

The difference was reinforced in NCTCOG pages about "Bike to Work" events. The head of the FW transit is leading a ride. Betsy is talking. There is loot getting handed out. When I was in FW yesterday, I was SHOCKED at the plethora of well-located sharrows and other cycling enhancements like REAL bike racks in place of the artsy ones that used to dot FW. I shall have to do a remake of the "bus lane" post. The rules have changed. If you get outside the central core of FW, the bike plan still consists of lines on a map that do not relate to any current or potential reality, but FW has made some real changes and I do believe those changes will result in better quality of life - even for the urban motorist. I pray that pedestrians may benefit at least as much as cyclists. Are some of these facilities suboptimal or even potentially dangerous? No doubt, and I will point out such features when I see them, so my loyal reader stays safe. But FW has elected to begin a process and they will get better at it as they move forward. Despite my own "cynic aspect," I say "YOU GO GUYS - LIGHT THAT CANDLE!"

Meanwhile, in D, the news is how they can't do anything. The flashy new bridge prohibits pedestrian traffic - and I suspect bikes and dogs are not welcome, either. As for "Bike to Work?" Well, look at the photos to see the contrast. In my strictly personal and unofficial opinion, Dallas remains even more mired in the failed politics of the past than ever. I can ride safely in either D OR FW, but why would I WANT to travel to D, when the coffee is cheaper in FW, the mayor of the city cycles, and there's a real chance I'll see a horse walking around downtown between the skyscrapers. Heck, now I hear that even a feature of FW I've sneered at - the fact that Sundance Square is nothing but parking lots (NINE, to be specific, along with related businesses), is going to change. Personally, I think DURANGO deserves the credit for the change in FW direction. Which points me to a future post in which I discuss the differences between advocates and engineers. But I get ahead of myself.

I guess, this year, I'll join the Bike to Work stuff in Fort Worth once again. Fort Worth may not be making the rest of the world "green with envy" the way it might like to believe, but it might well make the rest of North Texas do so.

One jarring note remains: I do know some really NICE people that live on the wrong side of the county line that divides D from FW. I guess it is a reminder that the Berlin Wall wasn't built to divide good from bad either. As in D versus FW, sometimes it is simply good or bad fortune. Chandra, let me know if you need some help moving! Ditto for all of y'all living in Richardson...

NCTCOG Encompasses BOTH Spheres - D and FW

Despite The Warts, Fort Worth Embraces Things the Cynics Despise. In this Respect, I'm WITH FW

The Dallas Morning News Mutes His Frustration with the LACK OF RESPONSE From the "Big D"
In CASE You Missed it "It's almost like ... are plugging their ears, going..." Perhaps the People that Didn't Like the Past
Bike Guys are Wondering "...New Boss, Same as the Old Boss" From the Rolling Stones?
Official Dallas Website Offers Little More than the Dallas Oberver Writer's Notes
In the words of the Verizon Guy, "Do you hear me now?"

A Search on the Dallas Bike Guy's Name Offers Little More


Maybe YOUR Google on Dallas Bike to Work Can Give me a Reason to Head EAST Instead of West?
In Summary, FW May not be Perfect, But the Bar they Have to Jump Over is Pretty Low.
Finally, one las time, Strictly in my PERSONAL and strictly UNOFFICIAL Opinion.
Yes, I'm GLAD I don't live in D County

 

4 comments:

Durango said...

I was bobbing my head in agreement, particularly liking the Berlin Wall analogy and then was totally surprised to see my name mentioned. I have seen my name referenced in a similar context times previous and it always surprises me.

Steve A said...

Durango, expect to be surprised from this blog again in the future. Mostly, from me... I was in the process of figuring out how to make a Durango surprise when I saw your comment...

Steve A said...

Durango, simply take the credit. 'Nuff sed...

Chandra said...

I will let you know if I move to Seattle!

Paz :)

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