Bogus bike lanes appearing on Dallas streets

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on October 11, 2012 at 8:26 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 12:22 AM

DALLAS — As Dallas stamps miles of its streets with new bike lanes, some people — apparently frustrated that city workers aren’t moving faster — have been doing the work themselves.

Fake bike lanes have started appearing on Dallas streets, and they're so convincing that drivers are being fooled and City Council members are confused.

Cyclist Scott Yockel pedals over the fake lanes daily on his commute to work at a local university.

"It was amusing," he said. "I think it proves a point that people are not going to sit around and let the city drag its feet."

Bicycle markings in white paint quietly began appearing on downtown streets in recent weeks. Bicycling magazine has twice labeled Dallas the worst in the country for cyclists.

Facing pressure from cycling groups, the city sprayed markers on nearly four miles of downtown streets.

The correct symbol shows a white bicycle and two arrows. At first glance, passersby could probably spot the forgery. The fake markings are often painted green or yellow. The spacing is sporadic, and the lanes suddenly end.

Yet even in their sloppiness, they’ve tickled cycling enthusiasts.

“You know anything about Oak Cliff, we’re a community of do-ers,” said Andrew Howard with Bike Friendly Oak Cliff.

His group has been pushing for more bike lanes. He supports the fakes, but has no idea who’s behind it... nor when exactly they appeared, although some recalled first noticing them as early as April.

“I think it was just to show the possibilities,” Howard said. “It’s just spray paint... it’ll come up.”

The city is only aware of fake bike lanes on two downtown bridges — the Houston Street and Jefferson Boulevard viaducts over the Trinity River. Both bridges are popular routes for cyclists moving between Oak Cliff and downtown.

The bridges have also been the scene of serious collisions between bicycles and cars.

“Most motorists treat cyclists less than they would treat a dog crossing the road,” Yockel said on a recent ride across the bridge to his Oak Cliff home. Cars often buzz past him as he pedals. Near-misses are common.

Yet the unofficial markings are confusing drivers and even City Council members, who mistakenly scolded city staff for the shoddy work.

“We have some bicycle lanes on there, but they're not the entire length of the bridge,” Council member Sandy Greyson complained to a city staffer at a meeting Wednesday to discuss new laws governing the bikes lanes.

“I came this close to hitting a cyclist,” she explained. “As we put these bike markings down, we have to make sure they're consistent, and they're easy for the motorist to follow.”

Later, Keith Manoy, a senior transportation planner at City Hall, had to explain to Greyson the lanes she encountered were forgeries.

“The ones actually on Jefferson were not put up by the city,” he said during the meeting. “They were put up in the night.”

Manoy said the city is now working to have the illicit stripes removed, which prompted Council member Linda Koop to add her frustration with the fake lanes.

“I was on there, too... it is very confusing,” Koop said. "This is one of the reasons why we don’t have citizens putting them up... it is inappropriate.”

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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