Sweeping the Cycletrack

There are a lot of cycling events in Dallas, this time of year… even though the weather is extremely iffy. It can be freezing, wet, windy, or even hot – but at least it won’t be toxic, like the days of summer.

There were three things bicycle-wise I wanted to do on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but I didn’t commit to them (in this day and age, lack of commitment is a “maybe” on a facebook event) because my son Lee was in for the holidays from New Orleans (my other son was in New York with some friends) and I wanted to be free to spend some time with him.

What was I thinking? He has better things to do than to hang out with me.

The first event was an eleven o’clock sweeping at the cycletrack that runs over the Jefferson Street Viaduct.

In its never ending quest to climb out of the basement of the worst city for cycling in the US – one thing that Dallas did was establish a two-way cycle track across the Trinity River on the Jefferson Street bridge. I think it is semi-temporary and the route will move to the Houston Street bridge once the trolley route has been constructed there – but that will be years into the future.

The route is a lot of fun – one of my favorite rides in the city. When you think of cycling infrastructure that is used for transportation rather than recreation you begin to think in terms of “choke points” – place where you can’t cross easily or safely on a bicycle. Classic choke points are highways, rail lines, and rivers. A huge one in Dallas is the Trinity River and its river bottoms – it divides the metroplex in half and makes it impossible to commute the short distance downtown from Oak Cliff. Routes are opening up – such as the Santa Fe Trestle crossing, but they suffer from lack of connections on each end.

The Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack was a godsend. It runs right from the heart of Oak Cliff into the center of downtown and is a great commuting route with a killer view from the top of the bridge.

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

View from the high point of the Jefferson Viaduct Cycletrack, Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

Bicycle Lanes on the Jefferson Viaduct from Oak Cliff into downtown, Dallas.

The problem was that the city didn’t do a very good job of cleaning the track and it has been collecting a lot of junk, rocks, and dirt… and especially that bane of delicate bicycle tires, broken glass.

So on Saturday, local bicyclists banded together and a group was organized to sweep the entire mile and a half length. I wanted to go but didn’t realize until the last minute that I was able to work it into my schedule. I loaded up my car, dug out an old push broom from the garage and drove out. I have been trying to reduce the amount of driving I do (and have been more successful than I imagined) but today the timing was too tight so I cheated and drove. I parked in the old semi-abandoned parking garage (the place where I took the photos of Reunion Arena with fireworks after the Omni Hotel light show), walked out, and started sweeping.

Working in several crews spread out we swept the whole length in a little over an hour and a half. It was surprisingly fun, though my back reminded me of it the next day.

Sweeping on the Jefferson Street Cycletrack, Dallas, Texas

Sweeping on the Jefferson Street Cycletrack, Dallas, Texas

Sweeping on the Jefferson Street Cycletrack, Dallas, Texas

Sweeping on the Jefferson Street Cycletrack, Dallas, Texas

Sweeping in the other direction, towards Oak Cliff

Sweeping in the other direction, towards Oak Cliff

4 responses to “Sweeping the Cycletrack

  1. Pingback: Black Friday Ride(s) | Bill Chance

  2. Pingback: Dallas Tweed Ride | Bill Chance

  3. Bill: (Pardon if this comment has already come through. I’m easily confused by the Internet’s incongruous combination of instantaneousness and delay.)

    I biked over the Jefferson Street Viaduct yesterday morning on the ride from my home in Oak Cliff to the Apple Store on Knox, and I may not have made it over had you guys not swept the bike lane when you did, as it was indeed covered over again with another layer of grit. I had to pedal very slowly to keep from losing it, plus the glint of silica was rather disconcerting. I kept thinking I was about riding into broken glass.

    • I’m afraid that our sweeping was to no avail. It was very clean when we finished and I was looking forward to a smooth ride on the Tweed Ride this last weekend. But the city had heavily sanded the viaduct during the ice storm and, as you found out, the cars pushed all the sand, gravel, and rocks over into the cycletrack.

      We need to find a way that the city can sweep that stuff out.

      Still, isn’t that a great ride? It’s cool that there is now a way to ride in/out of Oak Cliff – and one with an epic view from the top.

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