9 Hazards That Come With Parking in Houston

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Photo by Friends of San Jacinto
Do as the sign says and no one gets hurt...probably.
There's only one thing worse than driving in Houston, and it's parking in Houston. It's bad enough that we have to weave our way through a million cars every day, but then we have to locate a place to park and hope it isn't ten blocks away from our destination when it's raining. We also don't have the strongest parallel parkers in the world here, which is why so many spaces in downtown have been converted to slant.

But there are numerous parking hazards around town that have little to do with our own driving problems or with getting lost in a massive parking lot à la Seinfeld. Our issues could get you towed or worse.

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The 8 Worst Spots to Try and Park in Houston

Categories: Traffic

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Photo by Cortney Martin
If only we could drive paddle boats to the zoo.
As much as we all seem to hate valet parking in Houston, there appears to be a good reason for it: parking here can be an adventure wrapped in a nightmare. It's remarkable for a city that tears down as many buildings as we do only to leave empty lots in their place that parking would become such a cluster.

Yet, it is. Still, there are certain places that are worse than others.

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Seven Transportation Projects That Could Dramatically Change How Houston Drives

Categories: Traffic

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TxDOT
It could happen
Traffic sucks. It's a way of life in Houston, a fact of living in a city that is simultaneously one of the most populous and one of the most spread out. The city limits alone cover 600 square miles. Tack on the suburban areas and you have the stuff of nightmares for urban planners. Through the years, we have attempted to patch the problem, curb it (if you will) and expand to fit it. Some of it will absolutely never be fixed because Houstonians remain almost genetically linked to their vehicles, some for substantive reasons and others just because they can.

Unfortunately, we will always suffer from traffic issues in the same way New York City will always be crowded -- try to squeeze 10 million people into an area roughly the size of the space inside the 610 Loop, but ONLY west of I-45, and you'll understand. But, there are ways to improve it, projects that could change the way we think about driving in certain areas of town.

Not all of them would be designed to improve the flow of traffic, mind you. Some would be to make life easier for pedestrians or to change how we see the city. But, all of these suggestions -- many of which have been or remain on the table as possibilities considered by the city and state, or recommended by transportation experts -- would change how many of us view driving in Houston.

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Uber Can Now Legally Drive You to the Airport in Houston for a Couple Extra Bucks

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Uber

New rules that will allow ride-share drivers to pick up and drop off passengers at Houston airports were rather quietly approved by City Council Wednesday.

Under the new rules, which saw no discussion from council members yesterday, ride-share drivers can pick you up and drop you off at Houston's airport if they get the right airport-specific permit. They will also be required to pay the same fees taxi drivers are charged, which amounts to about $2.75 for each departing ride at Bush Intercontinental and $1.25 at Hobby.

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The New I-10 Access Ramp From 290 Is a Thing of Beauty and Wonder

Categories: Traffic

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Jef With One F
Having lived the past three years in Jersey Village, I have been mostly at the mercy of 290 when it comes to getting into town. It's either that or coming around on the tollway and booking it inbound on I-10. Both are often equally annoying, although the Beltway less so since they started the construction to expand 290 over the past year.

So for months I have been stuck in a car with no air conditioning moving at the slow torture of random freeway closures, narrowed lanes, and the constant accidents and endless rubbernecking that seem to plague the Northwest Freeway. That last one hasn't gotten any better now that acceleration lanes are often nonexistent, and the same drivers who simply must creep to 20 mph in order to gawk at a truck with a flat tire seem to find it against their honor to move over and let those trying to join the derby on the road.

Until recently, that is.

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Houstonians Hate Traffic, Have No Desire to Change

Categories: Traffic

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Photo by TexasDarkHorse
Sure, traffic sucks, but what do you want ME to do about it?
Those of us who live in Houston are a diverse lot. We have members of our community from all over the world, never mind the state of Texas. Yet we can all agree that traffic here is god-awful. But what we can't seem to agree on is why or how to fix it. A recent study from Texas A&M University's Transportation Institute points out some rather bizarre discrepancies between how we feel about the traffic we encounter every day and what we want to do about it.

There are a few things that are certain when one peruses the data, however. We all think traffic is awful. We agree more money should be invested in transportation issues. We should not raise taxes to do it. Public transportation is both inconvenient and under-utilized. And, as cute and quaint as the notion of cycling and walking might be, you can pry the keys to our big cars from our cold, dead hands.

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Worst Freeway Interchange in Houston to Get Partial Makeover

Categories: Traffic

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Photo by TexasDarkHorse
Traffic at every interchange in Houston, but will it improve with a new change?
In February, I wrote about what I considered to be the three worst freeway interchanges in Houston. One of them, the 290/North Loop/Interstate 10 mangle that came in third, is undergoing extensive renovations slated to be completed in January as part of the larger project to widen and improve Highway 290 out to the Grand Parkway. Now, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle, the number one worst interchange on the list is about to be given a two-year, multimillion-dollar makeover.

The Texas Department of Transportation has decided to change the way traffic merges onto Highway 59 from Interstate 45 South as it moves north into downtown, creating elevated lanes parallel to the existing raised stretch of road that deposits drivers in downtown. The project is meant to ease the awful traffic that occurs when drivers, unclear about how or where to be so they can merge onto 59, weave all over the road.

It is certainly a serious problem, but will the change make a substantial difference to the entire interchange?

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YouTube Channel Spotlights Houston's Dumbest Drivers

Categories: Traffic

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YouTube screen grab.
One of Houston's dumbest hard at work.
We see them every day, especially if we have to spend any time at all in traffic. They are inconsiderate. They are dangerous. They are inattentive. They are Houston's dumbest drivers and one man started a YouTube channel recently to highlight people behind the wheel in our car-obsessed city.

"I see a lot of crazy driving on my drive from Clear Lake to Downtown every single day," says Ian Henderson, a legal word processor who started the Houston's Dumbest Drivers channel in August after a discussion about road rage on Reddit. "I just wanted to start a channel to sort of publicly shame some of the erratic and sometimes downright scary driving tendencies that a lot of people complain about."

Henderson, 22, began collecting videos from willing participants and now has a handful of snippets of drivers going in reverse on city streets, driving the wrong way on a one-way roads and creating near misses with other drivers, all captured via mounted dashboard cameras. "I do not doubt the normal Houstonian driver's intelligence, rather the drop of intelligence once they get behind the wheel," he told us via e-mail, recounting a story of a Ford truck that flew past him this week doing way over the speed limit and nearly causing him to crash into another car. Unfortunately, his camera wasn't on at the time.

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Texas Has Fastest Average Driving Speed in the Country

Categories: Texas, Traffic

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Welcome to Texas!
Setting aside for the moment that Cars.com referred to Texas as the "Longhorn State" (some Texans might fight you over that one), they do paint a picture of the LONE STAR state as a place for wanton speeders in a report about speeding in America. In their report, Texas ranks higher than any other state at 78 mph. Not all that surprising when you consider the 80 mph speed limits on highways, also the highest in the nation.

On the other end of the spectrum were Alaska and the District of Columbia coming in at a modest 55 mph. Of course, in Alaska there are probably more off-roads than roads. And does D.C. even have a freeway?

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Uber, Lyft Now Legal in Houston After Council Vote

Categories: Traffic

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Now all new and legal!
A friend who is coming over for dinner this weekend included the phrase in a response e-mail, "Uber!" Another responded that he recently used Uber and got a date...with the driver. Such positive experience from an essentially outlawed form of transportation until now. On Wednesday, City Council voted 10-5 to allow car services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Houston. It took five hours of deliberation over a series of amendments, but they did finally get it passed.

Amendments that made it through included some protections for citizens with disabilities including requiring five percent of fleets must be wheelchair-accessible within three years. Companies must provide equal access or face suspension of licenses. Key insurance provisions were also included requiring insurance on passengers from beginning to end of trips. There had been some concern over insurance for passengers of Uber and Lyft.

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