DALLAS — A 66-mile continuous regional bike trail from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas: It’s been in the planning for two decades and it’s finally just a couple years from completion.

North Central Texas Council of Governments Senior Program Manager Karla Windsor knows firsthand how patient bikers have had to be. Back in 2013, she pushed for the mayors of the five major cities — Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, Irving and Dallas — to commit to this "superhighway."

“We needed to do something to get this thing moving and get some momentum behind it. So we brought in the mayors and we said 'there's a lot of places where we could build trails in the region, we think this is important. It'll bring economic development. It'll bring tourism. What do y'all think?' And they were really supportive of it and said, 'let's focus our energies here,’” Windsor said.

She hopes this will get even more people from outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area into the region, even people from across the United States. Windsor said it will be a “jewel” for the state of Texas.

“We really want this to be a statewide attraction. We want you to come visit DFW and come rent a bike or ride this trail because it's going to connect to science centers, it's going to connect to all kinds of nature preserves, it's going to connect kayak launches, it's going to connect to entertainment districts. The novelty of this Fort Worth to Dallas trail and just being part of it will encourage more people to get out and be more active,” Windsor said. 

Windsor said while the rate of statewide bicyclists is low, it’s not as low as you may think. Data only counts bike commuters to and from work, not the little trips taken to the store or laundromat, etc.

"Now we have bike counters on several of the trails. And we've been counting for the last several years how many people are out riding the trails. During the pandemic, the numbers exploded. The numbers on the road, on transit, on the airport dropped dramatically and bike shot up over 60%. So we know that there's latent demand out there. We know that when people want exercise, thinking about mental health, thinking about social distancing, the trails were a great alternative to that and the numbers are still really high,” Windsor said.

The Fort Worth to Dallas Regional Trail will hopefully have counters across the trail to stoke some friendly competition between the cities. Windsor also hopes to have a name and branding for this lengthy trail, and input is being solicited from regional stakeholders and the public about this.

"We're talking about putting dynamic counter signs in all five cities and sort of starting the clock and seeing which city has the most activity or the most people out there,” Windsor said. "And we're currently in the middle of a branding project. We've hired Alta Planning + Design to come out and figure out a signature name to connect the five cities. They each have unique trails which are fantastic, but how do you know you're on something special that connects the five cities?”

In terms of when we may see the 66-mile trail fully complete? It’ll be here in no time, by the end of 2023.

"The southern alignment of the trail is fully funded and the final piece connecting Fort Worth and Grand Prairie is currently under design and environmental clearance. They hope to go to construction in the end of 2022 or early 2023. And hopefully the full trail from end to end will be available by the end of 2023. That's our current goal,” Windsor said.

The completion date is welcome news for Chris Garcia and his son Nicholas. The pair is a classic father-son duo working at Red Star Bicycles in the Design District in Dallas. Garcia also has a second location located in Deep Ellum. Garcia is eagerly awaiting the opening of a 66-mile superhighway bike trail that will run right behind his shop all the way to Fort Worth. In fact, that future trail is the very reason he opened Red Star about a decade ago.

“We picked this first location about 10 years ago because we knew about the big plans. The connection that we need from here to Fort Worth, it's not even finished yet but people are excited already to ride it. Everybody's been expecting for this trail for almost 15 years now, to be done,” Garcia said. "Of course, having this big connection from Dallas to Fort Worth, that's going to be the biggest exposure for a bike trail in Dallas. Once it's done, it is going to keep bringing more people, more business."