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A Soggy Day For North Texas Bike Commuters

via Twitter @TracyHerbert

It's National Bike to Work Day, when commuters across North Texas are encouraged to get out of their cars and push their pedals. Despite the rain, some people took up the challenge.

At dawn on the Katy Trail in Dallas, birds sang and bikes and runners zoomed past. Salome Abad was almost to work. She biked 8 miles this morning to get to her architectural firm downtown.

“At first it was kinda hard, because I’ve never biked to work. I live in the Village, so it’s been a few miles," she said. "It’s been cool. The day has gotten brighter.”

She plans to bike to work more often -  just what the organizers of Bike to Work Day hope to hear.

At an aid station along the trail, people cheered the cyclists on to work. 

“We have orange juice and coffee and breakfast tacos to offer people,” said Amy Tharp, president of the community non-profit Uptown Dallas Inc.

Other rest stops gave out free reflectors, bells, and water bottles. Stops were near DART stations and bike trail heads in Plano, Garland and Richardson. Denton cyclists could eat breakfast at four spots along the commute. Fort Worth had a lunch-time bike rally.

Tharp says the booming population means it’s time to think beyond cars.

"We’ve really outgrown our infrastructure. And for us to keep growing the way that we’ve been growing, we really need to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists,” she said.

Bicycle commuting in North Texas has a long hill to climb. Just .3% of all commuters in Dallas bike to work, .2% in Fort Worth, according to the US Census. But bike lanes are getting painted onto streets every month. Dallas has plans for forty more miles of bike lanes.

“I’m hoping by this time next year we’ll have what will really look like a bicycle network, as opposed to the segments we have at the moment,” said Ashley Haire, bike transportation engineer for the city of Dallas.

Haire tried to bike to five rest stops around town this morning. “Riding a bicycle is fun," she said. "It’s way more fun than sitting in a car in traffic.”

Haire’s job is to make cycling safer and easier in Dallas. Her next big event is this Sunday, called Ciclovia—the city will shut down a few streets to let bikes take over, just for the morning.

The more cyclists are on the street, she says, the more cars will get used to them and will hopefully look out for them.