Jonathan Braddick is in love with bicycles. He loves them so much, in fact, that he feels compelled to share them — nay, evangelize them — to Oak Cliff and Dallas, and maybe beyond. To help his effort, Braddick has launched Oak Cliff Cargo Bicycles with friend Brennan Bechtol. The pair construct handmade bikes that can carry just about everything, including other people.
He's about as active as active gets in the Oak Cliff community. He's the president of the Kings Highway Conservation District Neighborhood Associaion, and if you go to a city event or a neighborhood get-together, you've probably seen the tall, friendly gentleman who can talk your ear off about zoning or urbanism or bike lanes.
We wanted to know more about Braddick and his love for bicycles, and thankfully for us, he took a few spare moments during his busy holidays to answer five questions. Enjoy.
— Jo England
BubbleLife Media: You started buzz about a car share program for Oak Cliff a couple of years ago. Since then you've been a huge advocate for bicycle culture in Dallas, specifically Oak Cliff. What was the impetus for your activism?
Braddick: After returning from the Peace Corps and living in eastern Europe in 2002, I had lived without a car and was very focused on environmental issues and living below my means. I've always been a huge cyclist, racing MTBs and then getting involved with triathlons for a time.
During those years, I started to commute to south Oak Cliff from East Dallas a couple of days a week. I was on a commuting forum setup by DORBA (Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association), that really started my activism at the time. I got onto DART's bicycling panel, and worked on it helping to implement the roll out of the bicycle racks on buses and the new bicycle policy on trains and buses. I then moved to Oak Cliff in 2006 and became more focused on my house.
It wasn't until BFOC (Bike Friendly Oak Cliff) started, that I started to pay attention to those issues again. I had developed a non-profit organizational plan for bicycle commuting, and wanted to get it off the ground. BFOC had already gotten off the ground and had a huge following. After working with Jason (Roberts) during the Better Block project and developing the car share plan, I was asked to be a board member in 2010.
BLM: You don't see cargo bikes very often, and when you do they tend to be head-turners. Are you hoping that the Dutch-style cargo bikes will do for bike culture in Dallas?
Braddick: For the exact reason you point out, that you don't see them, is one of the reasons we're starting this venture. Look around the country and you won't find anything in the middle of the country where you can get these types of bicycles. They're only being imported or made on the east and west coast. So, we've got a fresh market to tap into, and will be first in the marketplace.
Also, I believe that one of the important linchpins for increasing ridership is to bring in women. They are still the person in the household responsible for child care, thus they do a lot of "trip chaining," i.e., taking trips from place to place to place. Cargo bicycles help to solve that issue, because you can take the kids to school, drop by the laundromat and grocery store, head back the school to take the kids to sports, then head home. You can do all of these things at once with these bicycles.
BLM: I know you've been disappointed with the city's progress on installing bike lanes. What goals do you have for 2013 when it comes to creating a safe place for cyclists on our roads?
Braddick: Yes, we were disappointed with the rate at which the city moved to start implementing the 2011 Bike Plan. However, we're always looking forward and we're planning for 2013 piece by piece and have intense focus on Oak Cliff while eyeing various projects around downtown and West Dallas.
Some of our top priorities are the Continental bridge not having separate bicycle infrastructure, Sylvan and Fort Worth Avenue projects, Colorado Avenue from Bishop Avenue to Beckley, increasing educational opportunities for existing and new riders, and continuing to do great and fun events. We expect to see a lot of new paint on the streets next year!
BLM: You're the president of Kings Highway Conservation District, so I'm sure you're biased, but what's your favorite spot in Oak Cliff?
Braddick: My favorite spot in Oak Cliff isn't a hot spot. It's my front porch. I really enjoy hanging out, seeing and conversing with my neighbors, and taking pleasure in living here.
BLM: You can only listen to five albums on repeat for the rest of your life. What are they and why?
Braddick: Radiohead. Any album. I don't know why but it calms be down, puts me in a good place, although it's kinds of depressing music.