UPDATED Driver Arrested in Hit-and-Run Death of Northwest Side Bicyclist

Photo from Houston Police Department
Eduardo Torres, 30, turned himself in to police days after bicyclist Jose Mendez-Manzano was killed in a traffic accident.

A 30-year-old Houston man was arrested in the hit-and-run accident that killed Jose Mendez-Manzano on Saturday. Eduardo Torres was charged with failure to stop and render aid, which as of September 2013 is considered a second-degree felony.

The victim, Mendez-Manzano, was a 63-year-old grandfather who sold fresh produce from a grocery cart tethered to the bicycle he used to get around town. He was struck near Link and Airline, along a two-way road without sidewalks. A white memorial bike marks the site of the accident, only a few blocks away from Mendez-Manzano's home.

Houston police say Torres turned himself in days after the accident.

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Meridian Sale Disrupts Houston Food Park

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Photo by Susan Du
Miguel Villegas and Tirzo Ponce are looking beyond East Downtown to possibly relocate the Houston Food Park.

With the recent sale of the former Meridian nightclub - and by extension its parking lot - the Houston Food Park is prepared to pack up and roll out of East Downtown.

In 2013, the abandoned warehouse at 1503 Chartres St. seemed like the perfect place to open the city's first food truck park. The Meridian's last year in business was rife with management disputes, and owner Gary Katz couldn't find anyone to lease the 50,000 square feet property. Foodie partners Tirzo Ponce and Miguel Villegas offered to take the parking lot off his hands.

As trucks clustered outside, Ponce and Villegas cleaned up the Meridian. They rewired the electricity and fixed damaged water pipes, hoping to build an air-conditioned dining area on the first floor. In return for their investment on the building, Katz offered Ponce and Villegas below market-value rent on the parking lot.

So it came as a shock to the food park partners when Katz, who could no longer afford the building, gave it up in a bankruptcy sale. It went up for auction, top bidder Ecclesia church signed a contract to purchase it for $3.75 million, and by September the food park was sitting on some pretty shaky ground.

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10 Things We Are Sick of Seeing on Houston Cars and Trucks

Categories: Cars and Trucks

Photo by Jennifer Hughes
Sitting in traffic, particularly during morning rush hour, life feels tedious. Your mind wanders. Your faith in humanity wanes. You glance around at your fellow drivers hoping for a glimmer of hope in what feels like a cruel, unforgiving world. Then you see it, out of the corner of your eye. It's a license plate from another state or a bumper sticker from your alma mater. Your interest has been piqued. For one, albeit brief, moment, your attention is focused and you don't feel alone in the universe.

Unfortunately, you start moving again -- crawling really -- and you spy something you hate, something that evokes a visceral response. You drive angry. You don't let people merge. Your day has nearly been ruined by this jackass who so wantonly displays the source of your rage. You're glad you don't have a gun.

First, you might want to look into your road rage problem because, well, damn. But, we don't disagree that plenty of Houston drivers exercise poor judgement when decorating their cars with all manner of adornments. Instead of a murderous rampage a la Michael Douglas in Falling Down though, cowboy, we put pen to paper (or keyboard to pixel) and came up with a list of what vexes us so on area vehicles.

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Food Trucks and Restaurants Bump Against Grease, Drugs and Empty Chairs

Photo by Susan Du
Food truck operators packed city hall for the right to feed the hungry hordes of the downtown and med center.

Let's make Houston a more walkable city, even if people are walking on their way to tacos. Or so went the thinking for dozens who showed up to Wednesday's council committee meeting in support of relaxing regulations for food trucks.

The issues on the line: whether food trucks are allowed to serve in the medical center and downtown areas; whether food trucks need to set up at least 60 feet away from each other and whether they can operate within 100 feet of chairs and tables.

The camps: food truck owners, who swarmed the public comment session, versus the Greater Houston Restaurant Association, which claims brick and mortar eateries are losing business unfairly to the trendy mobile competition.

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Watch Valet Crash This $335,000 Lamborghini (VIDEO)

No doubt somebody there's got good coverage.
The concept of valet parking has always been a fascinating one to me.

Here is an item that for many people is one of the largest tangible things that they own, for most second behind their home, and yet when we pull into a driveway at a hotel or restaurant, we are totally cool with just handing over the keys. I don't even trust close relatives to drive my car, yet I'll gladly hand the keys over to Tony the valet guy, even though he might have five DUIs and 20/200 vision.

Why do our brains just automatically assume that valet drivers are capable drivers? Does it strike you as a vocation that is particularly diligent in its vetting process? Maybe it is, but that doesn't change the fact that you're tossing the keys to a complete stranger.

Well, perhaps videos like the one below will bring about the proper amount of pause.

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Thanks to CenterPoint, We'll Get Biking Trails and LED Streetlights

Photo by Thomas Hawk
The LED lights will have a bluish tint. Prettier, no?

We told you last week that a bike plan was on the way for Houston. Thanks to CenterPoint Energy, Houston cyclists have another win to celebrate.

Hiking and biking trails will be allowed along CenterPoint's utility ROWs (that's right-of-ways). According to a press release from the mayor's office, the ROWs will provide north-south connections to Houston's growing network of trails, most of which either run east and west or are planned to do so.

CenterPoint is giving Houston $1.5 million for trail construction.

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What's the Deal with 6737 Southwest Freeway?

Photos by Aaron Reiss
The three cars in the showroom have been there for years.
"Thank you for calling the Tennessee Titans. If you know your party's extension, please dial now."

Maybe you're like me. Maybe you've seen it and wondered what the hell it was doing just sitting there.

At 6737 Southwest Freeway you'll find an abandoned car dealership. For years, as I drove on 59 South toward my mother's office, I passed the dealership. Three cars in a showroom. Another car in the lot, where a security guard sat.

At night, the lights turn on, illuminating the emptiness.

It wasn't until I started working at the Houston Press a few weeks ago that I ever had an outlet to investigate the property. Who owned it? What are their plans for it? Hell, why not at least lease it rather than just let it sit there?

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Bud Adams

"Visual Blight" or a Cheaper Bridge for METRO?

Photo by Gulf Coast Regional Blood Bank
City Councilman Robert Gallegos, right, is not down with METRO.

Updated May 29: This story was updated to include information from an interview with METRO Board Chairman Gilbert Garcia.

Members of METRO's Board of Directors who were in attendance at a meeting last week voted unanimously to build an overpass at Hughes Street. The problem: Some East Side residents don't agree with that move.

The overpass will connect METRO's new Green Line, which will open in the fall, from Hughes Street to the Magnolia Transit Center. Until the overpass is finished, the line will only run from the Theater District to Hughes Street -- a total of seven stops.

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While You're Out There Driving, Don't Forget the "Click It or Ticket" Campaign

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Photo by TexasDarkHorse
Whether traffic is bumper-to-bumper or nonexistent, the Texas Department of Transportation wants drivers to buckle up.
Police officers will be on the lookout for drivers and passengers (drunk and sober) who aren't buckled up this Memorial Day weekend. The Texas Department of Transportation will be conducting its 13th annual "Click It or Ticket" enforcement campaign in the Houston area until June 1.

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10 Things Houston Drivers Should Relearn From the Driver's Handbook

Categories: Cars and Trucks

Photo by TexasDarkHorse via Flickr
Houston has some of the least courteous drivers in the country, a study shows.
Driving in harmony in Houston is a rarity, especially during rush hour. Drivers here might just be a little more difficult than motorists in other cities, too. According to the In the Driver's Seat Road Rage Survey released this week, Houston ranked first on the least-courteous-driver list.

So we thought we'd share the ten things that Houstonians need to relearn from the Texas Driver's Handbook.

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