Howard Draper: Shaping a City
by Lyndsay Knecht
sk Howard Draper to name the biggest challenge in generating a bicycle-friendly culture in Denton, Texas, and he won't tell you anything about resistant historical neighborhoods or slow-going city council initiatives. He will only say, warmly, quietly: "Patience."
Now 35, Draper grew up just outside Dallas, one of the few major cities without on-street bike lanes. Like many of his peers in nearby Denton, he raced to class at the University of North Texas, exploring the city in increments on his sister's old bike. But Draper had to spend a few years away from home to realize fully how bike culture can shape a city.
As a guitarist on international tours, Draper visited Amsterdam in The Netherlands and Copenhagen, Denmark, two cities with bike lanes and sound infrastructure for bicycle use. Back home, his friends were graduating and moving to such cities as Portland, Ore., and Brooklyn, N.Y., also bike-friendly. Draper realized all these places had something Denton didn't—a way to experience everyday life safely without a car.
Anxious to cultivate that kind of freedom in Denton, he founded a nonprofit bike shop called Querencia in 2006, started the BikeDenton blog in 2007, and earned a spot on the Denton Traffic Safety Commission, which he now chairs. Draper saw a major step forward in February 2012, when the city council unanimously approved a bike plan that will add 35 miles of bike lanes to roadways.
Sitting down in Querencia's new space in downtown Denton, Draper talked about how he created momentum for a more bikeable Denton out of a simple concern for people and city.
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Shaping a City (PDF/394KB)