Transportation

Houston Takes First Steps Toward Developing A Bike Master Plan

After string of bike fatalities, Mayor Parker launches public safety campaign.

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Mayor Parker appears in a new public service announcement on bike safety.

Following outcry from Houston cyclists over bike safety, Mayor Annise Parker has announced a new effort to educate the public about the city’s safe passing ordinance.

Parker appears in a new public service announcement that appeals to both motorists and cyclists to follow the rules of the road.

The announcement is part of the mayor’s new Zero Fatalities campaign. As part of that campaign, HPD will ticket drivers who violate the ordinance, which requires drivers to give bikes at least three feet of room when they pass. Police will also ticket cyclists who break the law.

Following recent bike fatalities, Parker says she’s also putting up $50,000 to go toward the initial work on a bike master plan. Houston Sustainability Director Laura Spanjian says the plan is needed.

“We have maps that show where in the future we want to put bike lanes or trails, but we don’t really have a plan that really discusses different options for bike infrastructure, both bike and street.”

And speakers before the City Council Public Safety Committee say having the right infrastructure is crucial to keeping cyclists safe.

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Speakers wait to appear before the Houston City Council Public Safety Committee.

Michael Payne leads the advocacy group Bike Houston.

“Really, as leaders of our society we need to build an environment that people feel comfortable going out and walking in, cycling in, and just being out with their families. Right now we’re not doing that adequately.”

So what dangers do cyclists face riding on Houston streets?

Cynthia Mafridge says her brother was involved in a serious crash while riding near the light rail tracks at Braeswood and Greenbriar.

“There was a vehicle that caused him to swerve, and as a result his bike was caught within those tracks. He was severely injured and is undergoing care. We thank God his injuries are the type he will recover from.”

And cyclist Jeff Hunter says it’s not always easy to find safe routes when you’re biking across town.

“It would be great to have corridors through the city, and there are east-to-west corridors along the bayous which make commuting and transportation fine and safe, but there’s no real north-south.”

The committee also heard from cyclist Kelly Robinson, who says all she wants is a little consideration.

“We’re humans, just please understand we’re humans and we just use a different mode of transportation.”

Mayor Parker says it’s her goal to make Houston one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

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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