Cycling Not a Two-Way Street in Houston
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.
Despite all the lanes and trails shown here, Houston is still a car city.
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.