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Free Bicycle Rides Thru Holiday Park in Benbrook End


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#1 John T Roberts

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 09:50 PM

We've discussed this some over on the Fort Worth Bicycling Association e-mail group, so I thought I would post the topic over here. Many cyclists consider the park road in Holiday Park an extension of the Trinity Trails. It is also the gateway to roads in Parker County. Cyclists can use this road as a safe alternative to U.S. 377. Sandra Tomlinson, a good friend of mine was killed in 1995 by a drunken motorist on 377. Unfortunately, the motorist was at the lake in Holiday Park before the accident, and could have easily killed one of the cyclists on the Park Road, if they had been there. Aledo Road also used to be a gateway to the west, but in the 1980's a flood washed out the low water crossing, just to the west of 377 and the road was never rebuilt.

The Army Corps of Engineers is now charging everyone to enter the park and have built a gatehouse on the north end of the park as well. Several years back, many bicycling training rides used the road because cyclists were allowed free admission when just passing through. Quite a few of the rides were out and back, so there were two trips through the park. Since the $1 fee was started, a training ride would be a $2 toll. I was curious what some of the cyclists on the forum think about charging bikes and pedestrians to use the park.

I have mixed emotions about it. The money is not the issue because they have park passes for $30 per year and that is a good way to support the park and save a little cash. Even if I don't go through the park 30 times within the course of one year, it still shows that I am a park supporter. One of the things that bothers me a little bit is that we now have to pay for things that used to be free. I also understand that upgrades need to be made to the park and money for them has to be generated somewhere. The second thing that bothers me some is that the fee somewhat limits access to the beautiful country roads in Parker County from SW Tarrant County residents. I will be getting a park pass very soon.

Below is an article from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

No more free ride for cyclists in Benbrook
Cyclists (and pedestrians) using South Holiday Park now pay for the privilege

By ELIZABETH BASSETT
SPECIAL to the STAR-TELEGRAM

Terry Woods, left, and Cindy Lucio enjoy a lakeside ride. The Army Corps of Engineers is now charging cyclists and pedestrians $1 to enter the park. BENBROOK -- For serious cyclists, the park roads of Benbrook Lake are the way to go.

The route shelters riders from heavy traffic and allows them to easily ride 50 to 60 miles from the Trinity Trails to country roads and points to the south and west, like Aledo. What's better, passage through the park has long been free.

Not anymore.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which owns Benbrook Lake, recently began charging a $1 fee to cyclists and pedestrians who want to use South Holiday Park, on the west side of the lake.

Officials say that the fee is necessary for upkeep and maintenance and that collecting it helps improve security by keeping track of the number of people who enter the park. Motorists already pay $3.

Many cyclists say they'd pay the fee, but others worry about those who may prefer a free but dangerous alternative -- heavily trafficked U.S. 377, known near the park as Benbrook Boulevard.

"Whether it be the hassle or the money, it's going to put people on an extremely hazardous road," said Steve Bales, a longtime area cyclist.

Access fees aren't new

The fee went into effect March 26. Its start date was pushed back because of delays in construction of a new gatehouse.

Corps-run parks throughout the country charge access fees, said Bobby Faucett, the manager for Benbrook and Joe Pool lakes. Parkgoers can buy a $30 annual pass that allows unlimited access to all corps parks.

Faucett said that cyclists, just like people in cars entering the park, use the roads as well as the picnic areas and restrooms. And he noted that access to North Holiday Park remains free.

The alternative, U.S. 377, leads to the same roads the park roads do. But it's a major hazard for riders, according to Bales, who said he has cycled in the area for about 36 years.

The road is especially dangerous in the evening, when traffic is heavy and the setting sun makes visibility poor, Bales said. Sometimes, impatient drivers will pass on the shoulder, where cyclists ride.

Faucett said his staff they considered the possibility that cyclists would rather ride on U.S. 377 than pay a fee.

"Of course we realize that's a problem," he said. "It's never been our intent to restrict any cyclist from entering the area."

Avoiding U.S. 377

U.S. 377 isn't the only alternative for riders around Benbrook Lake. Other roads lead into the country, including Aledo Road and Farm Road 2871.

Still, cyclists say they're concerned about occasional riders who see Benbrook Boulevard as an easy option without knowing its hazards. Seasoned cyclists avoid U.S. 377, Bales said.

On June 25, 1995, Sandra Tomlinson was riding on the shoulder of U.S. 377 with other cyclists when she was hit and killed by a car. The driver, Grant Zane Warren of Fort Worth, was convicted of intoxication manslaughter.

Jerry Trimble, president of the Fort Worth Bicycling Association, said the fee probably won't stop him from riding in the area.

"I just don't know what the answer is to make everybody happy," he said.

The route of the annual Tri-Benbrook Triathlon Fest goes through Benbrook parks. Jack Weiss, one of the owners of race organizer Ironhead Race Productions, said he has already met with the corps to arrange for the athletes to go through the area. The corps will be paid $1 for each of the anticipated 900 participants, he said.

"It's part of the entry fee, which went up because of the overall cost of putting on the race," Weiss said.

Benbrook and its parks attract riders from all over, cyclists said. Some are just now hearing about the fee from other cyclists.

"Believe me, I'm not pleased about it," Alex Rodriguez said. "I just hope there's more people paying attention to riders on 377 now."

Bales said he hopes that all cyclists, whether they ride regularly or occasionally, get a park pass.

"Twenty-eight years ago I rode on 377," he said. "I'm going to be in line getting my yearly pass like everyone else, because I'm not riding down it again."

PARK PASS

An annual pass for the Army Corps of Engineers parks, including South Holiday Park at Benbrook Lake, costs $30 and provides unlimited access. Visit the Benbrook office at 7001 Lakeside Drive or call 817-292-2400.


#2 Bernd

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 10:05 PM

At first I was unhappy about the charges, but I'm coming around. They're charging cars $3, and runners and cyclists only $1. The annual pass will be a bargain.

I just hope the new fees keep the Riff-raff out. I was shot with a paintball gun from a passing car in Holiday Park a couple of summers ago. Another alert cyclist got the plate number and called the Benbrook P.D., who pulled the car over in minutes (the Benbrook P.D. is fantastic, and very much pro-cyclist, BTW)... I'm just saying, if I'm paying for the privileges of using those roads, they'd better be safe!
The future "best blog" in Fort Worth.

#3 Jim Wilson

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Posted 11 April 2007 - 05:36 AM

I don't even like paying my cable bill, but...
What once was free is now a $1 (or $30 annually)... that's story of our life.

Congress made it possible for the Corps of Engineers to charge access fees back in 1993,
we just had it good since then. (almost all State, Federal, and Corps parks charge some access fee now)

The federal budget has cut support to our parks to the bone,
this and other Corps of Engineer parks run on a shoe-string at best.
This fee is not the result of our local rangers, but rather our federal government funding.

Never-the-less:
The Corps of Engineers at Benbrook have looked into the best ways to work this out.
They researched a reduced annual pass for non-motorized access-
-- this was not possible as any annual pass here must be good across the country.

Hopefully, yes this will reduce the "riff-raff", the motorized "cruisers", and the DUI folks.
Its a great little park, and a very convenient roadway.
Those who say we're not using any of the facilities... the road way is their most expense facility.
I hope the bad after-taste of a new fee passes and everyone recognizes its just a $1.

I paraphrase:
Someone on the FWBA site mentioned we pay $30 to ride in a charity ride,
$2.50 a gallon to drive to it, untold $$ for coffee & meals there and back... this is just a $1.

Currently the annual pass ($30) is only available at the Corps offices (not the gate),
that's up above dam, just south of Pecan Valley Golf Course, on Lakeside Dr.
BTW, rangers say we can cut those annual passes smaller to fit in our jersey pocket- ask them about it.

For a bit more information, and explanation about annual pass...
LMRABC- Benbrook Corp of Engineer's Rules & Information

Happy riding.

#4 Kyle Carr

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Posted 17 April 2007 - 05:33 AM

I reluctantly bought my annual pass last week at the Corps of Engineers office. Quick, pleasant
experience. The gate at North Holiday Park is almost complete and soon you will have to have
the pass or $1. Regardless of how people feel about the issue, I believe the new fee structure
will be a good thing.

The park roads have been blocked for a few months, now, with the construction of the new gate.
It has been nice to have the roads mainly to ourselves (cyclists). Motorists still have access to
lake roads, but they have to pay (from south end of lake) to get onto the roads now.

When the new gate opens they will have better access to the lake roads, but they will still have
to pay. These lake "cruisers" will likely not fork over the money. I believe the drop in motor
vehicle traffic we are now experiencing will continue when the new gate opens.

It may have cost me $30 to be able to ride the lake roads, but with less traffic, it has been much
more pleasant. Summer is on it's way. Let's see if the traffic levels stay lower.

By the way...
I don't like paying my cable bill either. I dropped some of the useless subscriptions to lower
the bill. Don't have the courage to completely drop it. Not, yet, anyway.
Kyle Carr
LMRA Bicycle Club
www.lmrabicycleclub.com

#5 Kyle Carr

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Posted 27 May 2007 - 07:09 AM

I've had my annual pass for about six weeks now. I will say that the ride around the lake has slowed a bit
due to having to show my pass when entering the lake park roads, but not such a big deal. There is a plus,
as well. So far the four wheel vehicle traffic has declined greatly. Some days we cyclists have the roads all
to ourselves. Holidays may bring more traffic, but so far the new gate and fees have been for the better
from my perspective.
Kyle Carr
LMRA Bicycle Club
www.lmrabicycleclub.com




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