Bayou Bikers – April 7, 2013 – the Route. Click for larger pdf.
Jay Blazek Crossley, Houston Tomorrow, Apr 7, 2013
I woke up this morning at 6am to make it to the Bayou Bikers ride hosted by Michael Skelly, member of the Houston Parks Board. It was an exhilarating ride on my Houston Bcycle, and amazingly informative. We had the privilege of being led around and educated by Metro Board Member Christof Spieler on a tour of how our expanding light rail system integrates with the expanding Bayou Greenways hike / bike system as well as how neighborhoods and business districts could become more accessible to all users.
We hope to replicate this ride during Houston Complete Streets Week (and again and again). Stay tuned for locations and times for meeting on your bike (or Bcycle).
We started off the ride at Market Square Park downtown with intros from various representatives from park, transit, complete streets, and citizen interests, including an update on Complete Streets in Texas from State Senator Rodney Ellis (on his birthday). Happy Birthday Senator Ellis!
- Cruising down the MKT Heights Bike Trail
The group is talking here about 200 feet above the MKT trail but separated by a grassy hill, barriers, and a glaringly lacking connection to this Near Northside neighborhood. The Houston Parks Board is working on this and other missing connections and work on this one should be under way this year. That will let Near North Side residents bypass barriers like freeways and railroad lines get to jobs, education, and retail by bike.
- Discussing bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure connections to light rail stations while on the under construction North Side Light Rail Line that will open for revenue service next January. Christof noted that no one should stand or bike on light rail lines when not instructed by Metro staff or board who know that a train is not coming along. The new bayou trails tie into the light rail lines at multiple points. That lets bike riders use light rail to get into congested areas that aren’t as bike friendly, and it extends the reach of transit.
Click image or here for a Quicktime movie. Where Everett crosses Boundary and the new light rail line, the built design does not allow pedestrians and bicyclist to cross the street. Older traffic and transit engineering standards often neglect pedestrians, bicycles, and neighborhood access, and agencies like the City of Houston Public Works Department and Metro are having to adapt to create complete streets. METRO and the city are now working on a solution for this particular problem, but better standards would prevent these issues in the first place.
This light rail stop on Fulton near Quitman has a well executed and safe pedestrian crossing at one end. It’s a rarity to find this type of crossing in Houston, and this is a sign of new thinking in public agencies. Nearby, in another sign of new thinking, the city recently installed new sidewalks to connect residents to light rail. (Perhaps a first button powered ped cross walk with warning lights? – Jay)
The bikers look at pedestrian connections to the new elevated Burnett Transit Center / Casa de Amigos light rail station. The steel frame will hold elevators.
- Looking back from the new N. Main elevated Light Rail Station, showing that this neighborhood has a great accessible street grid, but also noting that this area is ripe for development. Local government, nonprofit, and neighborhood policy should focus on making these connections and improvements in the best ways for the neighborhood, health of the residents, and access to transit oriented development for all Houstonians.
- ￼View of the under construction Navigation Boulevard promenade, a partnership of the neighborhood, the Greater East End Management District, and the City of Houston to add kiosks and market stalls in the street to create a more active neighborhood.
Where the East End and Southeast Light Rail Lines diverge just past the Dynamo Stadium. Both lines should be in service next summer or fall (2014).
This is where the Columbia Tap Rails to Trails ends. It shouldn’t. Christof suggests a separated two-way bike lane along this street and winding its way to Discovery Green and the Convention Center, noting that this street has very little traffic at all times.
The end of the ride. Click photo or here to watch the movie.