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Cyclists Discuss Whether Houston Is A Safe Place To Ride A Bike

Officials say they're taking steps to make Houston a more bike-friendly city, but cyclists are calling for better infrastructure to accommodate bikes on local streets.



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Cycling enthusiast Ian Hlavacek says like many Houstonians he grew up in a car-centered lifestyle, but now he tries to ride his bike as much as he can.

But there was a scary experience that happened before Houston's Safe Passing ordinance went into effect.

Hlavacek says he was riding on a quiet Sunday morning a couple of years ago when a speeding vehicle came too close.

"It was a very frightening experience because I could hear him coming up behind us."

Hlavacek says he wasn't hit, but he lost his balance and tumbled to the curb.

"I was actually knocked unconscious and taken to a hospital, and so I had that experience and it was less than pleasant."

Tom Gall, Zach Lockrem and Ian Hlavacek talk about their experiences cycling in Houston

But despite his friends' concerns, Hlavacek didn't stop riding.

"It looks dangerous, but because of the health benefits you're actually expected to live longer so that's my answer to a lot of their concerns."

A Houston City Council committee will hear stories like these when it holds a public hearing next month on bike safety, and continuing calls for a bike master plan.

The hearing follows recent hit-and-run accidents that left three cyclists dead.

So is Houston a bad place to ride a bike?

"I've had people wave at me with special fingers once in a while."

That's Tom Gall, an urban cyclist who develops public projects for the Westchase District.

We caught up with him at Houston's recent Bike Summit.

"I try to wave back with all five of my fingers, and I just haven't found it to be a frightening place to ride a bike."

Gall says to keep from getting in an accident, it's important for cyclists to make themselves as visible as possible, and to obey the rules of the road.

But Houston cyclists find themselves in tricky situations because of what he sees is a lack of bike infrastructure.

"The problem is there are a lot of points in our infrastructure where we come together, and we have to get under things like I-10, which is here right behind us. And we can only get under that great divide, you know, you might as well be trying to cross the ocean."

The City Council public safety committee will discuss bike issues on March 25.

Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

News Anchor

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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