DALLAS — An accident that badly injured a North Texas cyclist is drawing anger from the cycling community — especially since it happened on a key bridge that's been slated for upgrades.
But those improvements been thrown into question after a City Council committee learned last month that the City of Dallas doesn't have the money to re-stripe 840 miles of pavement for bike lanes.
Dallas Torres, 32, of Oak Cliff, remains at Baylor University Medical Center after a car slammed into him while he was riding his bicycle Saturday afternoon on the Jefferson Boulevard viaduct south of downtown.
Torres had just begun his daily 40-mile ride around the city when the impact threw him into the windshield and broke his neck.
Marissa Torres said her husband is talking, and that his doctors hope &mdsh; with therapy — he’ll be able to make a full recovery.
"He knows how lucky he is to be alive," she said. "It's a very, very severe injury."
Jason Roberts, co-founder of Bike Friendly Oak Cliff, was frustrated to learn about the accident. "Sadly, it's one of these things we've talked about that we were afraid was going to happen, so I guess I shouldn't say I'm completely surprised," he said.
Adding bike lanes to the Jefferson Boulevard bridge, a key link between Oak Cliff and downtown, had been considered a priority project until the project's funding suddenly came into question last month.
"This is one of the priority projects. We’re having a very difficult time funding projects right now," said City Council member Angela Hunt. "This is a horrible tragedy; unfortunately, it's not going to be the last."
Last year, city leaders unveiled plans to add hundreds of miles of bike lanes across Dallas. Other cities — including Fort Worth — have embraced the concept of adding bike lanes to streets. However, Dallas planners only realized in December the city didn't have the $16 million needed for the project.
"It's frustrating," Marissa Torres said. "If that project had existed and gone as planned, maybe we wouldn’t be in this position."
She used to join her husband on his cycling trips around Dallas, but fears of an accident stopped her in November.
"If there were bike lanes — a safe place for cyclists to ride — it would be okay," she said.
City leaders are looking in the budget for money for the improvements, but they admit donations will likely have to cover the expense.
Community groups like Bike Friendly Oak Cliff have been raising the money themselves to pay for re-striping streets for bike lanes. Last week, community leaders presented a check for $25,000 to the City of Dallas to pay for 2.5 miles of bike lanes along Fort Worth Avenue west of downtown. The city hopes to have those lanes in place by July.
Roberts said fundraising efforts will now focus on getting lanes added to the bridge where Torres was hit.
"We are actively looking to do whatever we can," he said.