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This Dallas resident wants you to ditch the car and try public transit

Hexel Colorado poses in downtown Dallas between two light rail trains.
Dallas Urbanists
Hexel Colorado believes using public transit more often can help make it better.

Hexel Colorado is an advocate for better walkability, more public transit and parking reform in Dallas. He documents what it's like to live here without a car using the social media handle Dallas Urbanists.

Born and raised in Dallas, he decided in 2021 to get rid of his car and get around town solely using alternative mobility options. What started as a year-long lifestyle experiment turned into two years — and now he says he can't imagine living any other way.

“I have this huge pet peeve when people say there's no public transit in Dallas,” he said.

Colorado recently visited KERA and sat down with growth and infrastructure reporter Pablo Arauz Peña to talk about how he gets around Dallas, tips for going car-free, and why Dallas wasn’t actually built for cars.

So how did you get here today?

Today I took a Lime scooter. It's in the middle of the afternoon. It's not too cold, a little chilly. And so every time I leave the apartment to make a trip, I kind of make this game time decision about what mode of transportation I want to use or how I might mix things together. Using Lime scooters seem to be the most convenient and most direct.

For anyone who's not familiar, tell us what Dallas Urbanists is.

Dallas Urbanists is a social media channel. And I say channel because right now, it's primarily Instagram. But if there are people out there who cared about walkability cared about public transit, cared about housing, and they were feeling like they were the only ones or they were the only ones who identified as urbanist in some kind of way, I wanted to create this channel so that people could find each other.
And so that has been the most exciting thing, seeing in the comments, people discovering what other advocacy groups are doing and what I've been doing. So that's number one, creating this space for people who care about these issues to find each other.

The second purpose of the channel was to do some public education. I have this huge pet peeve when people say there's no public transit in Dallas, or if only we had greater investment in this place, in that place. ... The whole there's no public transit in Dallas thing, it always gets to me. And I found that if people don't believe that we have at least something, maybe it's not perfect, but we have something and there are things we can do to improve it. And we can use it today.

You posted a video on social media that got a lot of views about getting around Dallas without a car. You made it across across town on a bike, light rail, scooter and a bus. How long did it take you to get around?

It took less than an hour to do that particular trip. And it was during rush hour. But that itinerary of that video, I planned that out. And so it went smoothly, and it went, I kind of do feel like it was a miracle that that video worked out the way that it did.

What transportation options in Dallas have you found are the most useful?

The underrated, low-key answer, good old buses. Plain old buses. And the reason that they're the most useful is compared to light rail, compared to a fixed rail system, a bus has the possibility of being right at the front door of where you're trying to go. And even perhaps right at the front door of where you start. So it's like the closest thing you can get, if the route is planned well, and the city also planned well around those routes, you can have basically car-level, SUV-level convenience.

You've pushed against the idea that Dallas was built for the car. You've said there's a "clear line of sight" between where we are to a more walkable transit-friendly, bikeable city in a recent story. So, tell us what was Dallas built for, and can you kind of tell us where we are now and what we could be?

It's very tempting to say Dallas was built for rail, because rail did play a massive role. And I will say Dallas grew and it went from a town and into a city because of rail. I'll say that. But in terms of what Dallas was built for: diversity, a mixture of different races and people and income classes.

A fun fact I love to throw around is that before the highways became the borders that dictated where neighborhoods start and end, South Dallas would have been considered what we now separate into Cedars and Fair Park. Before we divided that up, South Dallas was the largest Jewish population in Texas, plus Freeman towns. The point is, what was Dallas built for? That's what Dallas was built for. Mixture, diversity, people living together, dealing with and surviving the conflict. Because there's some terrible tragic things that's happened. I don't want anyone to think that I'm looking at the past with rose colored glasses, like, we lynched Black people in downtown in the 20th century. But instead of choosing to go through that conflict, and come out a stronger and more equal city, we destroyed it.

The places that neighborhoods was the most racial integration became highways. The buildings and establishments and the homes that would have been the basis of intergenerational wealth became parking lots. That's what we lost. We destroyed what Dallas was built for in order to accommodate cars.

So what do you think Dallas and other North Texas cities can do to be more pedestrian friendly?

Number one, among the staff and planners, go on YouTube, watch some videos, pick up some books, because I'd say if someone like me who's not a professional, if I had to explain to a traffic engineer what induced demand is, and I'm not going to name names, but I've had to do this to like some TxDOT engineers, we've got a problem.

And then number two, number two way in order to improve walkability in your neighborhood, walk in your neighborhood. Because, heck, even if you didn't do the continuous education track, just walking and give yourself permission to be selfish, in your policy planning, right? Because I have this like, in my head, I imagine, imagine if every single council member was forced to use public transit or use any means other than a car. And then once they do that, you don't have to tell them to be selfish in their planning, they naturally will be.

And if every single council member was selfish in what they demanded out of our transportation system, what would happen? They would all want faster public transit, or better bike lanes, or fill in missing sidewalks. The entire city would have better transportation.

If someone wants to go without a car in Dallas, what advice do you have for them?

If you want something really easy, it's OK to get on a bus, ride a few stops and then get off. Like, that's not against the law. Someone literally posted that question online. I was like, go for it, dude. They don't care. That's number one. Just start small, baby steps. As long as you commit to baby steps, that'll teach you more than like social media can. Just trying it.

Expect to mess up. You'll miss your bus or the bus might miss you. Like, dealing with the mess ups and the mistakes on either side of the equation, that's also a part of learning to deal with not having a car, in the same way that having a car involves learning to deal with traffic jams and accidents and insurance. Expecting perfection from anything, whether it's driving or not driving, you're gonna set yourself up for disappointment if you think everything is gonna go perfectly and swimmingly, but just keep trying it and that's really how you learn.

Got a tip? Email Pablo Arauz Peña at

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Pablo Arauz Peña is the Growth and Infrastructure Reporter for KERA News.