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Denton needs safer paths for people on bike and foot, residents say

In recently published survey results, a majority of Denton citizens felt the city’s sidewalks, bike lanes and connectivity to necessities did not meet their needs.
DRC file photo
In recently published survey results, a majority of Denton citizens felt the city’s sidewalks, bike lanes and connectivity to necessities did not meet their needs.

Though it could be some time before changes come to fruition, the city of Denton is looking to citizens for how to improve its infrastructure in the long run.

In recently published survey results, a majority of citizens said the city’s sidewalks, bike lanes and connectivity to necessities do not meet their needs.

A total of 469 people filled out the 2023 Pedestrian and Cyclist Public Safety Survey, but not every respondent answered each question.

The survey assessed residents’ satisfaction with the amount of sidewalks, bike lines and access to necessities without a vehicle in their neighborhoods, district and the entire city.

Across each question, respondents were more likely to answer negatively than positively.

“People generally felt the same across all the geographies we asked about: their neighborhood, district and citywide,” City Auditor Madison Rorschach said.

Across their neighborhoods, districts and the entire city, respondents were less satisfied with the network of bike lanes than they were with the network of sidewalks.

“In general, we found people’s big issue was that they thought there wasn’t really a lot of connectivity between all of the bike lanes and the sidewalks,” Rorschach said. “We also found a lot of people mentioned traffic signal issues or not having crossings where people thought they should be … [and] motorist behaviors as well.”

The greater dissatisfaction with bike lanes than sidewalks could also be a result of where the majority of respondents live, Rorschach said.

At about 41%, a plurality of respondents reported living in Denton’s District 2. This district encompasses a significant portion of downtown Denton but also areas northwest of U.S. Highway 380, extending nearly all the way to Ray Roberts Lake.

“It seems that [District 2] has more biking infrastructure than some other areas,” Rorschach said. “So, maybe that plays into why there was more response there.”

District 4, however, was the most likely to respond positively. This district spans the southern- and westernmost portions of the city. Rorschach said that makes sense as District 4 has more sidewalks than any other district.

Respondents were more likely to feel negatively about access to food and necessities without a vehicle than they felt negatively about sidewalks and bike lanes. Additionally, as the geographic area grew larger, respondents felt increasingly negative about access without a vehicle.

The survey also asked how many respondents had been in an accident or near-miss accident while using a sidewalk or bike lane in Denton. At 54%, more than half of the respondents said yes, they had.

In an open response regarding their accident or near-miss, one resident said, “It’s really scary to navigate Denton without a car.” Another said, “I take my life into my own hands riding around Denton.”

A different respondent who described themselves as a regular bike commuter said they are “nearly hit every day” on streets such as University Drive, Bell Avenue and Sherman Drive. Other problem streets respondents cited included McKinney Street, Mayhill Road, Bonnie Brae Street, Carroll Boulevard and Loop 288.

The survey results will be presented to Denton City Council on Sept. 19, Rorschach said.

It’s possible that city staff from the Engineering Department and Development Services will hold a focus group on the survey and how it could influence Denton’s infrastructure. But that could still be a ways off. Rorschach said the city is still hiring for the role that would initiate a focus group.