Transportation

Houstonians Say Better Sidewalks Could Help Ease The City’s Traffic Woes

People are always complaining about traffic, but according to a new study they don’t think building more roads will solve the problem. Many of their suggestions don’t have anything to do with cars.

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  • A stop on Sampson Street that was  upgraded by the East End Management District. (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    A stop on Sampson Street that was upgraded by the East End Management District. (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Bus stop on Sampson St. in the East End
    Bus stop on Sampson St. in the East End
  • East End bike path
    East End bike path
  • East End bike path
    East End bike path
  • Bike rack at Magnolia Transit Center
    Bike rack at Magnolia Transit Center
  • Magnolia Transit Center in the East End
    Magnolia Transit Center in the East End
  • Rail stop at Magnolia Transit Center
    Rail stop at Magnolia Transit Center
  • Intersection of Harrisburg and Lockwood with historic coffee plant in the background
    Intersection of Harrisburg and Lockwood with historic coffee plant in the background
  • Riders exit Metro bus near vintage Kopriva service station at Harrisburg and Lockwood
    Riders exit Metro bus near vintage Kopriva service station at Harrisburg and Lockwood
  • A rider puts his bike on a bus at Harrisburg at Lockwood
    A rider puts his bike on a bus at Harrisburg at Lockwood
  • Rail stop on Harrisburg at Lockwood
    Rail stop on Harrisburg at Lockwood
  • Rail station on Harrisburg at Lockwood
    Rail station on Harrisburg at Lockwood
  • Path at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg and Lockwood
    Path at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg and Lockwood
  • Path at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg and Lockwood
    Path at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg and Lockwood
  • Path at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg and Lockwood
    Path at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg and Lockwood
  • Path at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg and Lockwood
    Path at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg and Lockwood
  • Sculpture at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg at Lockwood
    Sculpture at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg at Lockwood
  • Bike rack at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg at Lockwood
    Bike rack at Jenkins Garden on Harrisburg at Lockwood
  • Sidewalks reconstructed by the Greater East End Management District.
    Sidewalks reconstructed by the Greater East End Management District.
  • Greater East End Management District sidewalk medallion
    Greater East End Management District sidewalk medallion

To find out what Houstonians want to do to ease the city's traffic problems, the public policy organization Glasshouse partnered with local groups for a crowdsourcing project. They had public meetings and they also did online surveys.

So what was the result? The study found that one of the main things people want is better sidewalks.

Diane Schenke with the Greater East End Management District says it's a big deal in her neighborhood and they've been trying to do something about it.

"A lot of the light rail stations, the streets coming to those stations did not have sidewalks," says Schenke. "So the focus of our 35 miles of sidewalk is connecting neighborhoods both to those bus stops and light rail stations."

People taking the survey said it's also time for City Council to approve the Houston Bike Plan, which lays out a network of on-street bike routes. Schenke says a lot of people in the East End bike to work because it's their most-affordable option. But it's not always the safest.

"We've got several on-street bike trails here," explains Schenke. "And the streets have been re-paved so often you've got a high crown in the middle. And then the bike trail lands up right on the edge of that asphalt and in the gutter. And it's not terribly safe riding."

As for other ways to improve mobility, Houstonians said they also wanted more discussion on commuter rail projects. They also called on the city to do away with minimum parking requirements for businesses. Another suggestion was to institute congestion pricing on toll roads.

Have a look at the complete study here:

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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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