Who will use the Sylvan bridge bike lanes?

Nice view.
Nice view.

The city installed bike lanes over the Sylvan Avenue bridge between West Dallas and the Design District recently.

Soon, that mile or so of bikeway will get those sturdy white pylons like the ones on the Jefferson Viaduct bike lane. The Design District is so close to our neighborhood. It could be an ideal commute for cyclists who live here and work there. But I wouldn’t do it with any regularity. Not yet, anyway.

From West Davis, it’s easy enough to cruise down to Kessler Parkway and ride that peaceful street (or the Coombs Creek Trail) to Sylvan, which has bike lanes between Interstate 30 and Fort Worth Avenue.

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But then comes the dangerous part. The speed limit on the stretch of Sylvan between Fort Worth Avenue and the bridge is 40 miles per hour. There is a right-turn only lane at Commerce, and traffic is very heavy during rush hour. It’s a scary stretch, even for an experienced rider in mid-morning, when traffic was light.

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photo 2
Nearing the top of the bridge

It’s a relief to reach the relative safety of the bike lane on the bridge. But then it’s work time. My guess is that it’s about 60 or 70 feet of climbing to the top of the bridge; a good bit steeper than Jefferson. I managed to putter up it in the granny gear of my commuter bike, but it would be a challenge for say, a one-speed cruiser.

The view from the top is worth the climb, and your heart and lungs will benefit. After all, bike commuting is so great because it’s transportation AND a workout.

Go ahead and let her fly down the other side of the bridge.

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Irving Boulevard, end of the lane

But then you come to Irving Boulevard, where the bike lane ends. This is tricky. When the light turns green, please look to see what the cars in the right-hand lane are doing. If you immediately go forward through the fresh green light, there is danger of being nailed by a driver turning right.

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Riding through the light, you can connect to the Trinity Strand Trail by making a left turn about halfway up the block just past the light. Be careful though because you have to cut across four lanes of traffic, and there are no curb cuts to the trail.

The Trinity Strand Trail is one of the coolest new public amenities in Dallas. Irving Boulevard, despite its wealth of roadway, is not bike friendly. Avoid it when possible.

The City of Dallas now has about 40 miles of bike lanes, and about 57 miles more are planned in the next few years. We should be able to ride our bikes safely to a neighborhood that’s five miles away across the river. With a few more bike lane connections, especially along Sylvan and Beckley avenues, it will be no problem.

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  • Gary Perrone

    I have cycled across the bridge several times, in each direction. As far as “hills” go this is a fine workout. I agree, the stretch of Sylvan from Ft. Worth Avenue to the bridge is dangerous. It looks like it may be repaved, but why fantasize?

    I often take Vilbig north to Canada and then east to the southern foot of the bridge. A little farther out, but a nice ride and somewhat safer.

    I also agree the transition from Irving Blvd. to the Strand trail was poorly executed. The city may have added more miles of paved trails, but they are far from connected.

  • Willie Stark

    You could hop off the bike and use the crosswalks as a pedestrian to make your way to the Trinity Strand Trail across Irving Blvd. That’s what I would do.

  • kduble

    “I managed to putter up it in the granny gear of my commuter bike, but it would be a challenge for say, a one-speed cruiser.”

    This is like lamenting it’s a challenge to parallel park a Ford Excursion on Main Street. I mean, who cares! Anyone who rides a one-speed cruiser is more interested in making a fashion statement than serious commuting.