Downtown Houston To Get First Dedicated Bikeway

Houston continues its green transfiguration with an exciting announcement.  In the coming months, Downtown will be bisected by its first official bikeway. Here’s the story from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

Houston may get its first protected on-street bike route as early as October, as city officials prepare to convert a lane of Lamar Street downtown into a two-way cycling path connecting the popular Buffalo Bayou trails west of downtown to Discovery Green and points east.

The nearly three-quarter-mile connector, from the east end of Sam Houston Park to the edge of Discovery Green, will be painted green and separated from the remaining three lanes of traffic by a two-foot barrier lined with striped plastic humps known as “armadillos” or “zebras,” said Laura Spanjian, the city’s sustainability director.

Signals will be added at intersections to direct cyclists headed east on one-way westbound Lamar. Officials hope to begin work in September and open the lane in October.

Michael Payne, executive director of Bike Houston, said the 11-block dedicated lane will be a crucial link to safely get cyclists from the Buffalo Bayou trails to the well-used Columbia Tap Trail east of downtown that runs past Texas Southern University. A link from that trailhead to the George R. Brown Convention Center is under construction.

This is big news for area cyclists, who know all too well the difficulties of trying to lawfully cross downtown during rush hour or a high traffic event (while resisting the temptation to ride on the area’s extra-wide sidewalks).  It also sends a message that cycling in Houston is accessible to everyone… not just ultra-sleek, ultra-daring crowds like Critical Mass and others willing to “take over” city streets.

The ever-expanding bikeway system is yet another accolade for Laura Spanjian, the Mayor’s Sustainability Director.  When Mayor Annise Parker hired Spanjian in 2010, few Houstonians could have predicted the rapid pace of innovations and changes she would help lead in the city.  Four years later, Houston has a thriving B-Cycle program, the introduction of car-sharing services like Zipcar, rapid expansion of recycling services, leads the nation in alternative fuels production, and one of the largest bikeway networks in the nation.  As this week’s announcement proves, the work of making Houston a greener city is far from over.

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