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New Bike Czar Ashley Haire On The Roadblocks To Making Dallas Bike-Friendly

Portland State University

No doubt about it: North Texas is car country. The League of American Bicyclists ranked the 70 biggest U.S. cities in share of bike commuters, and four of the bottom 12 were in North Texas. Dallas came in at No. 65, and the city's new bike czar, Ashley Haire, is determined to change that. She sits down with KERA's vice president of news, Rick Holter, in this week's Friday Conversation.

Interview Highlights: Ashley Haire…

…On the effectiveness of ‘sharrows’ in Dallas:

“I think they work in the right situations. Ideally, they’re really only for roads that have speed limits of 35 miles or less, and when you get that speed differential between cars and bicycles, that’s when it can be really dangerous. That’s when we try to separate bikes from the main traffic stream and give them their own lane.

…On how the city will increase the number of marked bike lanes:

“We’re using the [city’s Bike Plan from 2011], we’re also looking at the old network that was created in 1985, so we’re taking those into consideration. It’s tough. We have a lot of lanes [in the city] that are six lanes wide. They’re full to the brim with traffic and so, those are obviously not good choices for doing anything to, neither for the vehicular traffic or for the bicycles…We’re trying to create a network on secondary roadways that bikes can use safely.”

…On getting past cyclists and motorists’ distrust of each other:

“I think the biggest roadblock we’re going to face in this is letting people know that their mode choice is truly a choice. Nobody’s being forced to be on a bicycle, no ones being forced to stop driving in their car. It’s a very auto-oriented city and I get that.

Ideally, in the future, [I’d like] to get motorists and cyclists to interact in a friendly manner. For drivers to understand what the markers are on the roadway and what they mean, and cyclists who both respect that and the rules of the road.”

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.