Mansfield looking at bike plan

Posted Monday, Oct. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Placing sticky dots on city maps, City Council and park board members gave their first input Monday in a study that could make Mansfield streets more bicycle friendly.

The consultants on the project came up with the exercises to find out what areas of the city the officials would like to ride bikes, and areas where those who ride bikes have encountered problems.

They're working on a bike-route master plan that would recommend short-term and long-term schedules for street improvements in certain areas of town. The improvements could include striping street shoulders for bicyclists only, marking lanes for bikers and motorists to share and posting signs to warn motorists to look out for cyclists.

“Is there such thing as a bicycle toll road?” Councilman Darryl Haynes asked with a smile, apparently referencing the state’s plan to extend Texas 360 through Mansfield as toll lanes. “I'm just thinking of ways to pay for this.”

Mayor David Cook also asked the consultants to break down the proposals into “low cost, high cost” lists.

Councilman Stephen Lindsay, an avid biker, said the council and citizens should look at these improvements as an investment in helping the city attract quality residential and business development.

“Don't look at it like ‘oh, we're going to spend money just to put in these fancy bike trails and not get anything for it,’” he said. “We’re basically building a better product.”

The $65,000 study, which started in mid-August, isn't far enough along to talk about costs or even options, said the consultants, Jeff Whitacer and Drew Brawner of Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

“Financing is always an obstacle,” Brawner said after the meeting. “But improvements could range from a couple hundred bucks for a sign.”

At the top of the high-end options is building a bike lane on an existing road. But, Cook said later, “That would be the most costly and the least likely.”

Less costly would be adding bike lanes as roads are being built, officials said.

James Fish, the city's senior park planner, said a draft of the bike master plan would be ready for a public viewing in December. He estimated the final version would be presented for a council vote early next year.

Several bikers who attended the meeting noted a particular annoyance at intersections, because bikers and their bikes aren’t heavy enough to trigger the traffic light to change. They want the city to look into special sensors that are planted in pavement at intersections and change the lights when a cyclists stop on them.

The bikers said it also would help just to post signs that educate motorists about biker’s rights.

“My opinion is that most citizens are unaware that bikes are allowed on the road,” said Silvia Duncan, an avid rider. “If they were educated that bicycles have the same right to be on a road as a car, they might still be annoyed, but I think they would at least be aware. And it would be safer for both motorists and cyclists.”

Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann

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