Houston Bike Paths: "Easing" Their Way to a Glorious Future?

Categories: Ridin' Dirty

easement040611.jpg
Open spaces begging to be used.
About a year and a half ago, as a sidebar to an article we wrote on the perils of urban cycling here in Houston, we cast our battle-tested, road-weary eyes longingly toward the possibility of CenterPoint Energy surrendering their scores of miles of utility easements for use as hike/bike trails. (Click here for a map.)

Then as now, liability was the big sticking point. When cyclists started taking their inevitable tumbles, CenterPoint did not want to be set upon by hordes of wanna-be Jim Adlers, nor serve as an anvil for every two-bit Texas Hammer in town.

That could change very soon, according to local attorney Tom McCasland. He says two identical bills (SB 1793 and HB 3802) are working their way through each chamber of the Texas Legislature that would give CenterPoint protection from personal injury lawsuits and give Houstonians a gargantuan boost to the Bikeways program.

McCasland, who says he is spending about 80 percent of his time these days advocating for this cause pro bono, says the benefits of such a plan would be threefold:

The first is economic. Up to now, the Bikeways trails have been cobbled together piecemeal in a time-consuming, expensive process of land-gathering and permission-obtaining. Property owners are sometimes hard to track down and/or persuade. Numerous agencies have to sign off on every little addition. By contrast, this would free up potential pathways all over Houston, wherever high-tension wires are strung, in one fell swoop with minimal red tape and expense. "The only costs would be construction and maintenance of the trails and insurance," McCasland says.

The second benefit would come with the increased health of a more-frequently exercising populace and the safety and well-being of that same citizenry. Getting cyclists and pedestrians off the roads and into their own turf would likely increase the number of people willing to ride here and also protect them from the careless and occasionally downright malicious depredations of our mechanized fellow Houstonians.

The third is geographical. Much of Houston's existing Bikeways program follows the bayous as they meander more or less east or west. North-south conduits are rare. Add in the CenterPoint easements, and suddenly you've got a giant citywide waffle iron. McCaslan points out that five of the easements run north-south, including one that would run from deep south Stella Link through West U and Bellaire, the Galleria area, Memorial Park, the Washington Corridor/Heights area and points north. Some of the potential easement trails could connect as many as five existing or proposed east-west bike paths.

"These trails would make it very possible to go almost anywhere in the city along bike paths most of the way, and then you could get off and take backways as you got closer to where you were going," says McCasland.

On the campaign's Facebook page, McCasland is showing off letters of support from neighborhood associations, politicians, the Houston Parks Board and Bike Houston. McCasland says that real estate developers and utility districts have also signed on to the campaign.

About the only opponents McCasland says his campaign has faced are trial attorneys, who would apparently hate to see an expanded Bikeways program that was pretty much free of their peculiar form of taxation. McCasland says it doesn't sit well with them that should this legislation become law, any accidents that took place on these trails would be viewed as having taken place in a city park. It's very hard for lawyers to win big cash awards suing parks as opposed to private landowners, he says.

Not to bash all trial attorneys in all circumstances. They are occasionally, indeed often unintentionally, on the side of the angels, as long as those angels have fat sacks of cash under their wings. Not this time.

McCasland says that anyone who dreams of Houston having the nation's best hike-and-bike trails should call or write their elected representatives in support of HB 3802 and SB 1793 and like the legislation's Facebook page.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
11 comments
colorado disability lawyer
colorado disability lawyer

 Due to this regrettable reality, when seeking an experienced personal injury attorney, Denver residents with whiplash injuries should contact Scott

O'Sullivan for a free initial consultation. Not only has he successfully handled whiplash cases, but as a former insurance company lawyer, he

understands insurance company tactics and knows how to counter their methods.

Accident Attorney Denver
Accident Attorney Denver

Working as an auto accident attorney, Denver lawyers can offer a couple of different options to make it economically feasible to hire a Denver auto accident attorney. Many Denver car accident attorneys offer a free initial consultation with the lawyer.  Because of this, it will cost you nothing to speak with an experienced Denver car accident attorney to determine the strength of your claim, as well as learn about what legal options you have available as a no-fault accident victim.  Another way that Denver car accident attorneys make it easier to afford their services is that several work on a contingency fee basis.  

Accident Attorney Denver
Accident Attorney Denver

Auto accidents are definitely not anyone's idea of fun, and especially if you are the victim of an auto accident through no fault of your own.  If this is the case, you will want to get in touch with an experienced Denver auto accident attorney right away.  Denver car accident attorneys can help you deal with insurance companies that are in business to protect their bottom line rather than help you get what you deserve.

Shoe Organizer
Shoe Organizer

Unlike traditional lawyers, Denver auto accident attorneys can be considered rather controversial since they are aligned to represent you in a number of versatile litigations. There are a number of circumstances in which you may need the aid of a Denver accident attorney to include medical malpractice, personal injury at work, disability claims, product liabilities, or simply pedestrian type matters.

 Christopher12
Christopher12

A Denver attorney is someone who specializes in injury claims. Colorado injury attorneys

are accustomed to analyzing personal injury cases and tort laws, and then presenting

those claims to insurance companies.

PatrickNorton
PatrickNorton

Personal injury claims are really very beneficial to restart the stopped process means which is stopped due to some reasons.

Boblawblaw
Boblawblaw

Wow, who would have thought that an article about bike paths would have spent half of it's text demonizing plaintiffs' attorneys. The extra protection is hardly even necessary as this type of premises liability has been effectively eroded by judicial tort reform. I wonder who this article's author is going to call when they get injured as a result of someone else's negligence and have mounting medical bills...

Godot
Godot

Fabulous news. I have had this idea in the part, but could not forsee a way around the libaility issue. The plaintiffs' lawyer opposition is problematic as they more or less own the vote of the Dems. But OTOH they do not control the vote at present, so maybe this has a good chance.

7Valerie7
7Valerie7

When I click "here" for the map, I get someone's Facebook page.

Rider
Rider

Since we will all soon be required to have health insurance maybe we can stop suing people every time we get hurt. If you slip and fall in your house you have to deal with it, if it happens in a grocery store it's a lawsuit. When you get hit by a car and killed riding your bike on the road you aren't gonna be around to sue anyone. I would rather take my chances riding power line trails.

John Nova Lomax
John Nova Lomax

Oh come on, Bob, unlike a great many scribes, I did give y'all some credit.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...