Friday, October 16, 2015

7 Things You Should Do on a Bicycle in Fort Worth

Partly because I’ve grown bored with riding circles in my neighborhood and partly because I don’t like loading my bicycle into my truck so I can go for a ride, I’ve started looking for places I can go by hopping on bicycle and just going. It got me to thinking, what are some of the things in Fort Worth that it is better to do by bicycle than by car? Of course, there are plenty of things you can do on a bicycle, but many of those things could be more easily done by car. Who, for example, really wants to carry their groceries home with plastic bags hanging from the handlebars? What I’m interested in are those things that might give people reasons to oil the chain on a rusty old bike and air up the cracked rubber tires, because it’s that much better to do it by bike.

Explore the Trinity River

The Trinity River, with its branches and tributaries runs through the heart of Fort Worth. You can’t go from one side of the city to the other without crossing it at least once. You can see it by car, but many drivers cross over it can don’t realize they have. Of course, you can stop at one of the parks or rent a canoe. You can walk or jog along its edge. But if you really want to see all it has to offer, riding a bicycle along the Trinity Trails is your best option. But it isn’t without some risk. My house is four miles from the trail, as the crow flies, but I have to ride more than seven miles to avoid traffic and to deal with railroad tracks and streets that don’t connect.

Visit a Food Park

Once you reach the Trinity Trails, a bunch of opportunities open up. The Clearfork Food Park is located right along the trail. While you could drive your car and park a short distance from where they park the food trucks, why would you? There are plenty of other places you could drive to and eat, but having it right along the trail makes it a much more enjoyable experience if you ride your bicycle. Besides that, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating, since you will have burned a significant number of calories just getting there.

Visit the Stockyards

If you’ve been to the stockyards, you know that most people go by car. There is plenty of parking, if you’re willing to pay for it. But the stockyards is on the Trinity Trails. Quite literally, actually, since the trail runs under Exchange Street. When I went, I didn’t have to look for parking or pay to park. I’m certain that people have a few #baaw (bicycle against a wall) pictures of the Fort Worth Herd and my bicycle. I remember overhearing a woman talking about how tired her feet were. Mine weren’t, because I’d parked much closer to where I wanted to be.

Visit the Water Gardens

I have lived in Fort Worth for eighteen years, but I’ve rarely gone downtown, and though I’d heard about the Water Gardens, it wasn’t until I decided to ride there on a bicycle that I went. It isn’t that I mind the traffic so much as I don’t like parking. First, there’s the question of where you can park and how much you have to pay. I just didn’t care to mess with it. But on a bicycle, that’s not a problem. I followed the Trinity Trail until I reached the downtown area. It is legal to ride bicycles in the bus lanes, so mixing with traffic wasn’t a big problem. And then I was able to park my bicycle at one of the bike racks in front of the convention center, which is just a few yards from the Water Gardens. Much less stressful than parking pickup truck downtown.

Eat Lunch Downtown

Have I said I don’t like finding a place to park downtown? That discourages me from wanting to spend much time there. I remember going to Texas de Brazil with some of my coworkers. We parked at a meter north of the court house and walked to the restaurant, where the guy who drove had to get some more change before going back to his vehicle and feeding the meter. Though traveling by bicycle wasn’t an option for us that day, it would’ve been much more relaxing.

The Water Fall on Farmer’s Branch

A few years ago, people discovered that Fort Worth has a waterfall up near the Joint Reserve Base. The city began to build a trailhead that would allow people to park near it and walk to it, but they haven’t finished it. Some people squeeze past the Bridge Closed signs and walk anyway, but that’s illegal. To follow the Trinity Trail from the other direction is about a two mile walk. That’s not a very far walk, but it’s easier on a bicycle.

Meet the Mayor

While Mayor Betsy Price has made the effort to be accessible in various ways, the way she is known for is her rolling town hall meetings. If your desire is to meet the mayor, I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to do it than to hop on a bicycle and go for a ride. The mayor is an avid cyclist, but these meetings move at a pace most riders can handle.

I doubt that everyone will agree with this list, and for some, the possibility of doing some of these is out of the question because they’ve allowed their fitness to decline to the point that they can’t pedal that far, but there’s something about a bicycle that makes things better. By taking a few side roads and trails, a big city with lots of traffic becomes a much more relaxing place to be.