Walking, Public Transit and Bicycling in Denton, TX

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We’ve been staying at Post Oak RV Park in Denton, TX, a city-suburb north of Dallas. The park is nothing to brag about, and Denton itself is a bit of a suburban sprawl, at least as far south of town square as we are. The main downtown area itself is actually pretty cool, with three mildly-to-moderately hip coffee shops in a three block radius, several antique / thrift stores where we found a host of great finds, and apparently quite the bar and music scene, though we haven’t tested that aspect out for ourselves (though one of my favorite bands, Midlake, is from here, so that’s a bonus in my book).

When you’re not in Denton proper, however, this city is a real drag if you’re trying to get around without a vehicle. There are practically no sidewalks, and those that do exist often only last for 20 feet or so before disappearing into someone’s lawn. Even while walking around downtown, where sidewalks and crossing lights are abundant, it was obvious from watching other pedestrian locals and the shouts of motorists as we crossed the street that foot traffic is the territory of second class citizens.

And bicycling is no different. Denton’s neighborhood pockets are all broken up, so that you often have to take a highway or major, four lane road to get from one suburban neighborhood to the next. I believe designs like this are created to slow traffic, so that you only get people living in those pockets driving through them, and therefore cut down on both volume and the recklessness of drivers in the area. But it also means that if you want to take a bike from here to there, plan on crossing dangerous highways, riding along the shoulders of busy main roads, and often finding yourself forced into parking lots, trying to dodge parked cars and finding routes from one lot to another.

That leaves us with the public transportation aspect, and here comes the accompanying good news. For being a relatively small city (though considering it’s somewhat simply an extension of Dallas that could easily be debated), Denton seems to have a really good public transit system. It’s cheap, $1.25 a ride, and buses travel fairly regularly (about every 45 minutes on the route we took) which is something that many large cities can’t seem to manage. The buses have a glass jar on them in which you drop your cash, no machine counting or fanciness, the driver basically just trusts that you drop the right amount of money in and then records your presence on a chart of some kind. I was quite impressed with the entire bus riding experience here in Denton.

It’s too bad that the city, which according to Wikipedia prides itself on being an artsy scene and “Many in the creative community see Denton as the antidote to the ballooning traffic and population concerns of larger cities.” I’m not sure what the antidote to ballooning traffic is, but maybe relative to Dallas, Denton is a slow town mecca.

All in all, I’d have to say that Denton’s downtown is pretty swell, it’s just too bad you’ll need a car to get there.