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The Houston Bike Summit returns to discuss concerns over the city’s cycling infrastructure

As the city’s bike network continues to grow, cyclists say more needs to be done to maintain on-street bikeways.

Man Rides his Bike in Houston on Jan. 5 2021.

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After being held online last year because of the pandemic, the Houston Bike Summit is back. This year they're having both virtual and in-person events, including their first-ever group bike ride.

One of the big topics this year is Houston's growing bike network and where it needs to go next. Bike Houston Executive Director Joe Cutrufo spoke with Houston Public Media about big challenges the city still faces when it comes to maintaining its bikeways.

On the big issues Houston cyclists are talking about right now:

One thing on the minds of a lot of folks that I talked to who ride around town is the quality and the maintenance of our bikeways. Houston is not known nationally as the most bike-friendly city around but we’ve actually had a bike network growing right before our eyes. We’ve built miles and miles of new protected bike lanes on streets, and lots of new miles of trails around town. But we’re not doing a great job maintaining them. On top of that, a lot of the lanes that we are building are aging, they’re not being maintained in a way that shows the city believes that this is a critical piece of transportation infrastructure. It’s a problem when you start to hear people say, ‘well, maybe we should have volunteers cleaning up bike lanes.’ But we don’t ask homeowners to fill potholes in front of their houses. This is critical transportation infrastructure. The city should be maintaining it.

On what was learned about cycling in Houston during the pandemic:

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I got here towards the end of 2020, from New York City. And it was the same phenomenon there as it was here. More people on bikes than anyone could have predicted, because either people weren’t going to their gym because it was closed, or they were looking to just get outside and get some physical activity. Or because there were fewer cars on the street, they felt safer, being able to ride for transportation purposes. Now we know the bike boom is real. You talk to any bike shop owner, and they’ve had a really hard time over the last couple of years keeping up with demand, especially for lower-price bikes that are good for basic transportation and recreation. We saw all this new demand and we’re yet to see governments respond in a serious way.

On drivers and cyclists in Houston safely sharing the streets:

It’s all about design and engineering. Some people will tell you that education and enforcement are the way to make people behave. And not to say that there’s no role for enforcement — of course there is — but when you get the design right, education and enforcement to a degree sort of take care of themselves.

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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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