CEDAR HILL — How would you like to be able to eave your house and never have to get in your car?
It's the ultimate goal for Cedar Hill, which has been working on plans for a network of bike paths for nearly a decade.
Now the years of planning are ready to be put into action.
The decisions along the way required a lot of consideration, especially for safety. You might remember the deaths of Meredith Hatch and Mike Alfaro, both of whom were killed on their bikes by a drunk driver in June 2008.
Then, last year, Lauren Huddleston died after being hit by a cyclist jogging on the Katy Trail in Dalas.
Those stories made the city stop and re-evaluate its plan to make sure it's the safest possible — especially before encouraging surrounding cities to join in, to create what organizers are calling the "Central Park of North Texas" in one of the most scenic areas of North Texas.
"We're looking at Cedar Hill as a park because of all of its natural beauty, and putting infrastructure into it that makes it developed into a city," said Rhoda Savage, director of the Cedar Hill Parks and Recreation Department.
The entire city is being re-vamped for cyclists.
"I am hoping people can get out of their houses and never get on a street with a car," Savage said.
To do that, the Parks and Recreation Department will start big, adding bike lanes along major roads, connecting everything.
"It's a huge impact for people coming from Grand Prairie, Duncanville, DeSoto, and eventually the City of Dallas," Savage said.
But in surrounding cities like Duncanville, budgets are tight. creating a seamless path out from Cedar Hill isn't easy in a climate of budget cuts and furloughs.
"We believe there is an opportunity to use Oncor transmission line rights of way to facilitate the process," said Duncanville City Manager Kent Cagle. "Unfortunately, there is no funding for this project at the present time."
And it is expensive. Between sales tax revenue and a county grant, Cedar Hill is spending $3 million to create its vision, using a design that has been tweaked yet again, after a cyclist collided with a young girl jogging on the Katy Trail in Dallas.
The Katy Trail is just a bittersweet success story," Savage said. "There's so much use of that property, but we are very sensitive to that. We want to make sure we have the width and some educational components to our trail users so we don't run into a similar situation."
It could be three years before Cedar Hill residents see this vision materialize. In the meantime, city leaders in Grand Prairie, DeSoto and Duncanville are meeting and talking about doing the same this if they can find funding.
Fort Worth is adding dedicated, marked bike lanes to the west side of downtown. There is a mile of the new lanes on each side of West 7th Street.
Before this striping project, the city only had eight miles of dedicated bike lanes. Fort Worth is trying to triple the number of bicycle commuters to 3,000.