Cycling Not a Two-Way Street in Houston

Categories: Traffic

cycling-houston.jpg
Despite all the lanes and trails shown here, Houston is still a car city.
I learned how to ride a bike in the parking lot of the not-quite-completed Greenspoint Mall in the '70s. My first fall was when I couldn't figure out how to steer around a piece of debris and went sailing over my handlebars. Within a couple years I had graduated to a BMX-style bike and was happily riding the trails carved out by other trail riders along Greens Bayou before it was straightened and defoliated. For a kid, having a bike meant having a level of freedom he had never known before. In your mind, you could go anywhere just like an adult in a car.

But, even then I understood all too well the dangers of driving outside my neighborhood. Though I walked frequently to the mall to hit the arcade (yes, I'm old, shut up), I was forbidden from riding my bike there by my parents even though it was less than a mile from my house. The streets around the commercialized area felt like a war zone some days. It was the equivalent of the Dark Forest in Harry Potter novels. You heard the rumors, but didn't investigate.

Reading this morning about charges filed in the hit-and-run death of a woman riding her bike at night along Waugh Drive, I found myself legally ambivalent but morally appalled.

The lack of legal protection of cyclists is alarming, particularly considering the poor conditions of bike lanes on many city streets. It's one thing to have a bump or two. Most cyclist with any real experience riding on the streets have had them. But, the lack of prosecution when a rider is killed by a car is downright shocking.

Despite the addition of forward-thinking modes of transportation like B-Cycle and enough converted hike and bike trails to satisfy most amateur riders, our city is still a car city. Always will be. That is virtually guaranteed by, if nothing else, the sheer physical size of the area. Unlike more compact cities, Houston is massive. Even the most ardent cyclist wouldn't consider abandoning his car when it comes to daily commutes.



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11 comments
Dodd Melcher
Dodd Melcher

I'm all for bicycle rights, but personally stay off the streets.

rachel.e.mckernan
rachel.e.mckernan

I really think there should be more awareness to drivers and bikers of the rules of sharing the road. I also think it will tak time and more bikers to make people get used to the idea of paying attention to them. Like when the law of buckling seatbelt a came about. Newer generations of drivers just know to do it because its always been part of the driving process.

Fit Armadillo
Fit Armadillo

I wish I did! I'd love safer paths so I could recommend more of my clients commuting in this way!

Alethea Drexler
Alethea Drexler

I wouldn't. The streets in older parts of town are barely wide enough as it is. I white-knuckle it on Shepherd even in a car.

greek_fat_azz
greek_fat_azz

At least some responsibility needs to be embraced by the riders themselves. They want to be respected as vehciles on the road, yet all too often, when convenient, bike riders bend the rules. Running stop signs and lights, not indicating turns, riding in huge packs that scoff at traffic laws because of perceived safety in numbers. Or simply choosing to ride in high-traffic areas during rush hour. It's indeed not a "two-way street" in this sense as well.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@greek_fat_azz Nice excuses, why not be a safer driver instead of making excuses for selfish careless and oft oblivious drivers?

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