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Houston’s Potential To Be A Walkable City

Intersection of Memorial Drive at West Forest.

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Houston can be a walkable city but, to achieve that goal, it needs basic infrastructure such as more sidewalks.

That's what Kyle Shelton, director of strategic partnerships at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, told Houston Matters Wednesday as he discussed local mobility issues.

The Kinder Institute will soon release a study about mobility in Houston’s neighborhoods and Shelton noted that the hot local climate shouldn't be a deterrent to walk more. “There are all sorts of cities across the world and across the country that deal with other elements that are challenges,” he said “and it’s really about creating the opportunities for people to be as comfortable as possible.”

Shelton underlined the importance of giving options to people who are blind or have accessibility problems because, for example, they have to use a wheel chair. Referring to the relevance of sidewalks, he said people won't choose to walk if their only option “is to go on a major thoroughfare where there are cars driving 45 miles an hour and you may or may not have a sidewalk.”

Shelton also said Houston's bayou network is a useful asset when making the city more walkable. If local governments build more bike paths and walking trails along the bayous “that can also become a mobility option that is away from street traffic and is, ideally, a safer space.”

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