Have you ever crossed the treacherous North Central Expressway walking from SMU to the delicious Café Express, only to be stared and honked at by a plethora of vicious Dallas drivers? Because I have, and I’m not a fan. Not a fan of feeling uncomfortable merely walking around a city that I love.
I didn’t have a car in college until my junior year, and by that time I was pretty much over walking Hillcrest for the sole purpose of acquiring Chick-Fil-A. I needed new options. So that left me to walk farther distances (Mockingbird Station) for shopping purposes (I’m an Urban Outfitters addict) and meals between my spaced-out class schedule. Sans wheels, I was left to tread the uncharted path across 75, which I had no problem doing. I’ve always loved walking. I feel fortunate to be ambulatory, and the outdoors are more exciting than sitting in a classroom, inevitably staring out the window. So why, in Dallas, is a pedestrian lifestyle so out of the question?
I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the pedestrian-friendly continent of Europe, and recall a conversation that I had with an English gentleman during a train ride from Paris to Amsterdam.
“You Americans are silly,” he began, “It seems like you have to get in your car to go almost anywhere.” I remember being appalled by his observation because he was completely accurate.
Now that I have my own sweet ride (perks of having a real job), there have been times when I’ve gotten in my car to drive five blocks down the road. Totally lame, I know. So I’m making it a personal goal to gain my grit back and walk the streets of Dallas – and now there’s a team helping pedestrians gain the streets back.
This past weekend, Ross Avenue between Hawkins and Pavillion was turned into a pedestrian-friendly block complete with a variety of vendors, pop up DART stations and a Pooch Park. Modeled after Las Ramblas in Barcelona, “Ross Ramblas” was the first installment of the Dallas Complete Streets initiative, inspired by Team Better Block as a way to demonstrate the need for road redevelopment. Surrounded by neighborhood-inducing shrubbery, Dallasites showed up from 11-4 on Sunday to indulge in popular food trucks, snowcones and sweet salsa from the Dreadhead Chef.
We’re looking forward to more Complete Streets events, as any project that Jason Roberts touches is a miracle in the making. Dallas drivers, keep your eyes open for an influx of pedestrians. We’ve got the right of way.