Transportation

Streets Close To Traffic To Promote Fitness And Family Fun

“Sunday Streets” debuts in Heights and Near Northside neighborhoods.

Leonel Castillo Community Center
Sunday Streets events will also take place at the Leonel Castillo Community Center in the Near Northside neighborhood.

A major route through the Heights and Near Northside will be closed to traffic this weekend as Houston kicks off a new event that encourages people to get active while exploring their neighborhoods.

That event is called “Sunday Streets.” This Sunday afternoon, White Oak Drive and Quitman Street will be closed to vehicular traffic, from Heights Boulevard to Fulton.

We took a walk along White Oak with Raj Mankad. On one side of the street, a wisteria vine covers a fence outside an old bungalow. On the other side, neighbors chat at tables outside a coffee shop.

“And it’s a really lovely section of a street that seems quiet and residential at first, but if you slow down for a second, you’ll notice there’s quite a bit of small retail.”

sunday-streets-400px.pngWalkers and cyclists will pass by historic bungalows on White Oak.

Mankad is hoping more people slow down and enjoy the neighborhood.  He’s the editor of the Rice Design Alliance’s Cite Magazine. Several months ago he spearheaded the petition drive that led to the event known as Sunday Streets. Mankad says once he started circulating his petition, he found a lot of other Houstonians had the same idea.

“I got a lot of excitement. It grew way faster than I’d imagined. We hit a thousand signatures in a few weeks, which was a very ambitious goal I thought.”

White Oak and Quitman Street will be turned over to walkers and cyclists. Along the route there are special events by local businesses and organizations.  Visitors can also enjoy the green space along White Oak Bayou.  

“There’s a variety of spaces that you’ll experience in whatever order you want to, depending on how you get here, if you bike here, if you take the light rail.”

Along the route we also met up with Shakti Baum. She handles special events at the Onion Creek Coffeehouse. They’re helping to re-launch a popular farmers’ market. Baum has been watching more people move into the Heights, but those new neighbors don’t always get to know each other.

Local-businesses-along-White-Oak-Drive-400px.png
Local businesses along White Oak Drive prepare for this weekend “Sunday Streets.”

“With more cars being in the neighborhood, a lot of times you don’t say hi to your neighbor because you’re running to your car. And I’ve noticed that change slightly in over ten years. I find that maybe less people say hi to you sometimes. So let’s get out of our cars, say hi to our neighbor, walk down the street, and have a good time.”

Along with helping Houstonians meet their neighbors, city officials hope Sunday Streets will also promote fitness.

Other street closures are planned for May and June on Westheimer and Washington Avenue.

Hours for this Sunday’s event are 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

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Gail Delaughter

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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