Some North Texans ditched their cars this morning. It was Bike to Work Day, one of the largest cycling events across the country. While North Texas isn’t well-known for being particularly bike friendly, many cyclists wanted to prove otherwise.
Bike to Work Day kicks off in Oak Cliff
At the Oakenwald Streetcar Station in Oak Cliff, a Mariachi band strummed buoyant tunes on the sidewalk, while the early risers fueled up on breakfast tacos from El Taxqueño. The band and the tacos are both part of an annual tradition, set up by Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, to support bike commuters on Bike to Work Day. At 7 a.m., only a few cyclists have rolled up, but Bike Friendly President Dylan Holt is confident more will show.
"It seems year after year, more and more new faces are choosing to take their bikes as a form of transportation instead of just for recreation," said Holt. "They understand that cycling is a really important part of the solution to the transportation problems we have here with parking and congestion."
Two friends, two takes on bike commuting
Todd Brashear showed up with his friend and coworker Kevin Krekeler. Brashear is no stranger to bike commuting, but Krekeler is a newbie. They’re both competitive racers in their spare time, though. They live in Oak Cliff. Their destination: an advertising agency near the High Five Interchange in North Dallas, where Interstate 635 and North Central Expressway cross.
The trip is 22 miles each way, which might sound a bit crazy. Brashear said he commutes to the office about two to three times a week, and it’s worth it.
"I started doing the math, and I was like, it takes me almost an hour to drive there anyway. I can ride there in an hour and 10 minutes, so why not spend it on a bike," Brashear said.
His friend Krekeler has always wanted to ride to work, but found the idea a bit cumbersome.
"I ride bikes to relax and get away from all the worries that we have, so just to get on my bike to get to work and make sure [I'm] on time and having to go all these different directions, it just doesn’t seem as pleasant or totally in sync with how I like to ride my bike," Krekeler said.
For him, Friday morning was the perfect day to finally take the plunge. It was a crisp 60 degrees with a clear sky.
"In my jersey, I have a Cliff Bar for some energy. I have a tire-flat repair kit. I have my cell phone – just the essentials. I brought everything I would need to the office prior to this," he said.
The long ride
So after a few breakfast tacos, Krekeler and Brashear sped off down Zang Boulevard across the Jefferson Boulevard Viaduct into Downtown Dallas and then into Deep Ellum. They then navigated up the Santa Fe and White Rock Creek Trails into North Dallas to the High Five.
North Texas isn’t well known nationally for its cycling scene. The League of American Bicyclists ranks Dallas number 58 on a list of the 70 largest bike commuting cities. Fort Worth is 64th and Plano is 69th. The League has noticed North Texans wanting to ride more, though. They say there’s been a more than 200 percent increase in cycling in Dallas in recent years. Dallas-Fort Worth has been embracing the shift – with more bike lanes and plans to connect North Texas trails into a 1,700-mile “veloweb.”
One and half hours and 22 miles later, Todd Brashear and Kevin Krekeler arrived at the office, washed up and changed out of their cycling gear.
"It’s like we didn’t even ride a mile," Brashear chuckled.
"It was a awesome!" Krekeler said. "I definitely want to ride to work more often."
Krekeler continued: "One of my favorite things was when we were riding through Downtown and Deep Ellum, and you kind of had this feeling of watching the city wake up. Despite what we may think, Dallas might be more bike friendly than we give it credit for."
There was talk of a possible squirrel fatality, but it was a good trip overall.