Bike Plan Status Report, Vote delayed

11055319_10152954597177252_4900586271586518578_nUpdated March 8th. What’s going on with the Houston Bike Plan? Here is a short rundown of what’s happened with the plan to date and what the next steps are: 

March 22nd: Anticipating vote by City Council. 

March 8th: Bike Plan at City Council for a vote: vote delayed for 2 weeks by Council Members Knox, Travis, Kubosh, Martin, Le. These Council Members all ‘tagged’ the bike plan and supporting ordinance, which means delay till the Mayor brings it to the agenda again. Council meets again to vote in 2 weeks on March 22nd, we anticipate and hope the plan is on the agenda then. We expect the plan to pass when voted on but each delay matters because there is a real human cost to not prioritizing safe streets. See the video of Council voting session and public session here. Help by: sending in your letter of support.

These Council Members delayed the vote because they have outstanding questions – given that the plan has been underway since 2015, was presented to the transportation subcommittee twice – in June 2016 and then again on Feb. 13th, both the Mayor and BikeHouston think there has been plenty of time to get questions answered. The Mayor asked for Council Members to be sure to get their questions to the administration in advance of vote day. BikeHouston has reached out to all Council Members to answer questions and will continue to do this. Council Member questions were as follows:

  • Knox did not provide a reason for his tag.
  • Travis is primarily concerned about the Bike Plan being used as a hammer to force unwanted bikeways on communities. The Mayor said this bike plan cannot be used as a hammer, given that we have not yet passed it, nor is this what the bike plan will do when passed, as it specifically states that the bike plan is a guide and not regulatory. The Mayor stated he will follow-up individually on this specific project, Kirkwood, and to direct the person attempting to use the plan this way to him. Written on  bike plan maps it says: “This map is intended for planning purposes. The map does not guarantee projects will be funded or designed as shown. Further efforts to design facilities and fund projects are required. The lines on the maps represent transportation corridors that are recommended for bicycle facilities. Public engagement beginning no later than the preliminary engineering phase will be conducted prior to the determination of the specific location and design for all new bikeway.”
  • Kubosh wanted to make clear that drainage fees will not be used to pay for bikeways. The Mayor said the bike plan does not identify funding so nothing in the bike plan or the ordinance can control how drainage fees will be used at all. Kubosh asked for clarification from the City Attorney which the Mayor said was appropriate for him to get.
  • Le said it is a good plan but he wants to know more details. He did not provide a specific question.
  • Martin tagged the plan because he was not able to ask his question before Knox tagged the plan and cut off discussion.

March 7th: Public session on bike plan. Supporters filled Council Chambers. 26 public speakers on the bike plan, all but 2 in support, watch the video. Two speakers asked for tags on the bike plan to answer funding question – see above answer from the Mayor to Council Member Kubosh – and on public engagement.  The plan now specifies that the public will be engaged begging no later than ‘preliminary engineering’ so right from the start in design stage. BikeHouston does not think further delay will help get further public engagement as the plan already calls for it from the start.

February 13th: Houston Bike Plan goes to City Council Subcommittee, Transportation, Technology & Infrastructure.

 February 2nd, the Planning Commission voted to send the Bike Plan to City Council! 

January 19th, 2:30 pm: Houston Bike Plan goes to the Planning Commission!  On January 19th, a public hearing was held on the Bike Plan – where over 19 people and organizations spoke in favor of the plan. This public hearing on the bike plan was the first step in moving the bike plan through City Council.

December 2016: Meeting with Mayor’s Office, Planning Department, and key Bicycle Advisory Committee members, including BikeHouston and Super Neighborhood Alliance. Meeting Outcomes:

  1. All agree to final edits to Ch.33, the city code which will govern bike planning. The edits include a strengthened & codified bicycle advisory committee, a codified process for public engagement on bike plan amendments, and consideration of bikeways in major thoroughfare planning.
  2. The City legal department will rewrite the Ch. 33 bike plan code.
  3. Ch. 33 should be brought to Houston City Council for a vote in the first half of January.

Nov. 2016 – Sept. 2016: Continued advocacy for Bike Plan ordinance to be strengthened and the plan to be passed:

  1. Ongoing community support voiced for the Bike Plan – over 500 letters of support sent to Mayor and City Council.
  2. Super Neighborhood Alliance continues to raise concerns to the Planning Department, City Council and Mayor regarding the Ch. 33 issues listed above.
  3. Oct. 25th: Houston Bike Plan Pep Rally held at City Hall. Over 90 people attend to voice their support for a Bike Plan. We ask the Mayor to work on addressing the final issues and bring it to council for a vote.  
  4. Oct. 26th: BikeHouston, Super Neighborhood Alliance, and Houston Coalition for Complete Streets present joint request for amendments to Ch.33 and request meeting with Mayor’s office and the Planning Department.

Sept. – August 2016: Ordinance language presented to Planning Commission in August, public comments received asking for changes to the ordinance. The majority of public comments focused on:

  1. Public input – how will the public have a voice in seeking changes or updates to the Bike Plan? How can this be specified and strengthened?
  2. Map review and coordination process: requests to update the Bike Plan maps annually and to require coordination with the Major Thoroughfare Plan which governs right of way for all city streets.  
  3. Sept. 1st: updated Ch.33 ordinance on Houston Bike Plan presented and approved by Planning Commission.

July – June 2016: City Planning department drafts ordinance language to put the bike plan into law via city ordinance.

June 2015 – April 2016: Houston Bike Plan developed with the input of 1,000’s of community members, including the Bicycle Advisory Committee and traditionally under-represented groups. Final draft plan released in June to the Transportation, Technology, and Infrastructure subcommittee of Houston City Council. Plan details here. 

  1. The Bike Plan identifies over 500 miles of potential bikeways to build in the next 10 years (see short term projects layer via link). Focus is on ‘high comfort’ bikeways that the average adult would ride. They include trails; bike lanes; and shared lanes on neighborhood streets.
  2. Policies & Programs like Safe Routes to Schools and Vision Zero are included in the plan. Houston aims to become a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly City within ten years. 
  3. The Bike Plan is a guide. Funding must be identified to pay for projects. Detailed engineering and community input is needed before making decisions on exactly what bikeway to build where. FAQs. 

March 2015: City of Houston launches effort to develop Bike Plan  with financial support from BikeHouston, Houston Parks Board, and Houston Galveston Area Council.

March 2014: Mayor Parker embraces BikeHouston’s Goal Zero Fatalities Campaign which calls for a Bike Plan to end bicyclists’ deaths in Houston.

 

 

 

 

 

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