Category Archives: Blog

Pedestrian Pete walks the Museum Park Neighborhood

Pedestrian Pete is the alter ego of founder and director of BetterHouston and former Houston City Council Member, Peter Brown.

Pedestrian Pete walks the city of Houston looking for missed opportunities and great examples of walkable urbanism, and then reports back on what he discovers.

He is doing a series of three videos during Houston Complete Streets Week to discuss Complete Streets and explore the situation in the Museum Park Super Neighborhood.

City of Houston proposes Safe Passing Ordinance

The City of Houston Public Safety Committee discussed a proposed Safe Passing Ordinance (pdf) on April 10, 2013, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Houston is the only large Texas city without a Safe Passing Ordinance, according to the City of Houston presentation (pdf) by City Attorney David M. Feldman.

A Safe Passing Ordinance “requires motor vehicles to maintain a safe distance for passing or trailing vulnerable road users: 3 feet required while passing; 6 feet required while trailing [and to] vacate the lane in which the vulnerable road user is located if the highway has two or more marked lanes running in the same direction and such action can be taken safely,” according to the presentation.

The Houston Chronicle asked in a blog post if the City should pass the ordinance leading to a lengthy debate in the comments.

The City of Houston is asking people to comment on the proposed Safe Passing Ordinance online.

The Houston Coalition for Complete Streets has called for passage of a Safe Passing Ordinance by the City of Houston as part of our 15 point plan to begin making Houston streets safe for all users.

Fox 26 news covered the proposed ordinance for Houston Bike to Work Day:
Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Bayou Bikers – Complete Streets, Light Rail Transit, and Bayou Greenways Ride

Bayou Bikers - April 7, 2013 - the Route

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 and a brief introduction from State Senator Rodney Ellis (on his birthday!)

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
Cruising down the MKT Heights Bike Trail
The group is talking here about 200 feet from the MKT trail but separated by a grassy hill, barriers, and a lack of the connection to this Near Northside neighborhood.

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.
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.
CrossingQuitmanRail_VideoClip

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 with a button powered ped cross walk with warning lights? - Jay)

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)

Pedestrian connections to the new elevated N. Main Street Light Rail stop, with accessible elevators in the works.

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 toward the neighborhood 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, so that local government, nonprofit, and neighborhood policy should focus on making these connections and improvements in the best way for the neighborhood, health of the residents, and access to transit oriented development for all Houstonians.

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 new way to do walkable urban infrastructure in Houston.
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 are expected to be in service next summer (2014).

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.

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 to watch the movie.

The end of the ride. Click photo or here to watch the movie.

New bike rides in the making

Hey everybody,

We’re working to add several fun bike rides to the week, including perhaps a rerun of the Bayou Bikers Complete Streets, Light Rail Stations, and Bayou Greenways Ride that happened Sunday, April 7.

Stay tuned for more info.

 – Jay

Bayou Bikers Ride - April 7, 2013 - East of Downtown, just on the north side of Buffalo Bayou where the trail ceases to exist.

Bayou Bikers Ride – April 7, 2013 – East of Downtown, just on the north side of Buffalo Bayou where the trail ends