Tag Archives: Houston Sustainability

Houston: Get Ready For More B-Cycle

Just 5 years ago, the thought of a city like car-centric Houston having a bike sharing program was still something of a fantasy.  Even those working to start such an endeavor were unsure whether or not it would catch on.

But since it’s commencement in 2012, Houston B-Cycle has grown at a consistently higher rate than anyone could have expected.  And would you believe that some of the highest months of ridership are in the midst of the area’s most oppressive heat?

With these facts in mind, the program has announced plans for a big expansion.

Here’s the info, via City press release…

Houston’s Bike Share Program is growing!

Today, the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) approved $3.484 million of Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) dollars to expand bike sharing in Houston. The funding will enable the bike share program to increase three fold over the next 18 to 24 months, expanding from 29 stations to 100 stations and nearly 800 bikes when the phases are completed. The program will stretch from south of the Texas Medical Center to the north up into the Heights and from the west to Memorial Park to the Greater East End.

“Following on the heels of our METRORail expansion and METRO’s New Bus Network launch, this is a great day for transportation in Houston. Bike Share is an extremely successful and sustainable transportation initiative, and with the support of our regional and federal partners, we are able to expand the system into a large and thriving bike network, providing a real commuter and recreational transportation option for workers, residents and visitors while also improving health and quality of life,” said Mayor Annise Parker.

The expansion will be divided into three phases, with community input. The first phase will populate the Texas Medical Center, Rice University and Rice Village. Phase II will focus on creating greater station density; primarily in the Museum District, Midtown, Montrose and Downtown. Phase III will broaden the footprint into the East Side, SE around Texas Southern University and University of Houston Main campus, up into the Heights and west of Downtown.

The expansion will also create the largest bike share program in Texas and the Southwest.

Students at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University have been eyeing the B-Cycle program for a while.  For those that live on campus without a car, it will make for much-improved trips to places like the closest grocery stores and pharmacies to those campuses.  The only question so far would seem to be around the station densification plans for places like Montrose and Downtown.  As a casual observer, it seems that after Phase I, the most logical route would actually be to implement Phase III before working to fill in the already established areas.  But that assumption is made without looking at the proper data of which stations are most heavily-used.

In any event, this is great news for Houston’s growing bike culture, and overall transportation needs.  Let’s hope they can continue the expansion effort and bring all the benefits of bike sharing to places outside the loop as well.  The Energy Corridor, with rapid trail expansion and it’s new Portsmouth Street Woonerfis ready to go.

Have you tried B-Cycle?  What are your thoughts on the expansion plans?  Leave them below in the comments.



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.